Welcome to Powerful Leaders, No Apologies.
Beth and Debbie talk with corporate trainer, Sherine Clarke, about her journey to becoming a powerful leader. She credits her success to women who have mentored by example and has turned that into her superpower of inspiring others.
Links from the episode:
How Women Can Stop Apologizing and Take Their Power Back
[03:11] Follow your gift
[08:06] Who are the mentors that shaped your career?
[25:35] What is your leadership superpower?
Debbie Foster (00:03):
Welcome to the Powerful Leaders, no apologies podcast, the show about women who are ready to own their power and change the world. My name is Debbie Foster.
Beth Thompson (00:12):
And I’m Beth Thompson. Our guests are fierce and fabulous women who are making a difference in their personal and professional communities. Are you ready to be inspired? If so, stay tuned and also check out our firstname.lastname@example.org slash powerful leaders. Here’s the show,
Debbie Foster (00:34):
And we’re back for episode two. We don’t have any hats yet. The comments about the hats and episode one keep flowing in, Beth. So I think we’re going to have to figure out how to get some hats.
Beth Thompson (00:45):
There’s no question. In fact, I was thinking about that last night. I feel like we need a whole line of, I’m not sorry, and all kinds of new merch. Merch. So yeah, we’ve got to get on it. Got to get
Debbie Foster (00:56):
On it. I know. I feel like a merch store. I, I’m pretty excited about a merch store. Yes, so I’m a really excited for episode two today. I want to tell you a little bit about how I met our guest, a good friend of ours and a good friend of the legal industry. Ari Kaplan hosts a virtual lunch. It was kind of a crazy idea he had during Covid, like, let’s give everybody a place to just come hang out at 12 o’clock today. And it’s turned into a phenomenon, I don’t know, is that the right word? It’s turned into a thing that just happens every single Monday through Friday. I think he skips Yom Kippur. But aside from that, I think it’s like every single Monday through Friday where a bunch of industry people get together and have lunch. And during one of those meetings, I met Sherene Clark, our guest for episode two.
And I was super impressed with her, and I asked her to be part of a conference that I put on with a good friend of mine, Alan Wilson, called Lemonade. We were brainstorming about how do we get people engaged and plugged in during a crazy time of chaos in our country with the pandemic? And we created this virtual conference called Lemonade, and we had a panel called What’s Keeping You Up at Night? And lots of things were keeping people up at night, and we asked Sheen to participate in that. And our lemonade loved her, and she’s really amazing. So Sheen is going to give us her background. I’d love for you to just share with our podcast community a little bit about yourself, of how you got started and what you’re doing now, and then we’ll go from there.
Sherine Clarke (02:31):
Absolutely. And I want to say, Debbie, one of the best things. There’s so many, and when we first had the pandemic, everybody talked about all the things that they lost, and I decided to look at it differently. All the things that I gained and meeting you was one of the things that I absolutely gained from Covid and from the pandemic being locked down, you just expanded your network of people. So I’m very, very grateful and was truly honored when you asked me to be on Lemonade. Just to let everyone know, I’m a corporate trainer and I’ve been a corporate trainer for over 20 years. I hate saying it because that just says how old I am, but I actually got into training quite by accident. And this is something that I always tell people in my seminars, listen to what people say that you should be doing.
Because in my early twenties, people would say to me, oh, Sherine, you know, have such a great gift for speaking in public. You really should be a public speaker. Oh, no, no, no, I’m not good at that. And I always tell you, when you deny what you should be doing in life, you really want to then tune in. God does something, the universe, the whatever it is, life, whatever you believe in, will knock you over the head and force you to actually do or get onto the path that you should be on. And so even though people were telling me you had this real gift, I honestly thought that wasn’t for me. I admired other people who did it. And then someone said to me, oh, can you give this talk to a group of young entrepreneurs about how to market their business? And I did that, and that was a start of my actually speaking career.
And I actually auditioned for a seminar company many, many moons ago. And in my basement while I was practicing, I was Oprah, I was flawless. And then they turned on that camera and I turned it to Guppy Girl. And I couldn’t get, it’s not that I, like the words came out, but it just wasn’t as smooth. It wasn’t as polished as I thought it would be when I was actually practicing. And I thought to myself, this is a skill that can be learned and absolutely can. And then I joined Toastmasters, which many, many people do, and this is one of the things that I make sure that I always suggest to people is that this is one of the skills that once you have it, it is amazing where it will take you. So I decided that I’ll go to Toastmasters, polish my speaking skills, and I did that.
And then I auditioned again, and eventually I got the job as a corporate trainer. And it’s been wonderful the past 20 years. I’ve traveled all across the United States, all across Canada. I have trained in England, in Scotland, in Ireland, and also in Australia. And I do a variety of topics, and I have everything from communication to time management to the Women’s conference. I have done so many different topics and I have a lovely view of teaching and inspiring people. It’s one of the things that I really like, and it’s also one of the things that some people say that I do best is to inspire people to either make a change or do something different. Now, when I was in the corporate world, I’ll tell you when you’re talking about leadership here, when I was in the corporate, I saw some really bad examples of leaders.
And I remember my first boss, and she was pretty scary, I’ll have to tell you, she was pretty scary. But one day she was giving me my performance review, and she sat behind her big oak desk and she had those bifocals, the bifocals where you can look very condescend down your nose at the person. Oh yes. And she said to me, well, sheen, you must remember you are low man on the totem here. And I thought, that’s what she thinks of my job. But she was the very first example I had of a manager, a special female manager who didn’t know how to make someone feel good about the job that they were doing, didn’t know how to make them feel like a v i p, a special person who was working with them. And so when I became a manager, I was determined that I was not going to be her.
So she was my great example of what not to do. But I’ll tell you what I decided that I wanted to change my profession was my very last corporate profession was at a training and marketing manager for a computer firm. And I decided it’s time for me to step out on my own and actually start that training company. And that’s when I decided that that’s when I’m going to audition for these seminar companies. And it has been so wonderful because I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it is when you are able to stand in front of an audience, different cultures, and learn how people do things differently than even though we’re different, you realize across the board how we’re so much, very much alike, very much alike when you, in terms of our problems are challenges and the things that we want to achieve in our lives. So it’s been a big, big lesson.
Beth Thompson (07:00):
Wow, you’ve got a very inspiring story. I think that a lot of us can relate to your example of a female leader that you don’t want to emulate because a lot of us have had that bad experience. And unfortunately, when you have that early on, unless you can then go on to have some more aspiring leadership, it really can impact you. And I think that’s a really good segue. One of the goals for our podcast is to empower other women, and part of that is through mentorship. So whether those of us on listening or those of us here on this call that can be mentors for others, or if you are just starting out in your career, you want to look for a mentor or someone that you look up to so that you can learn from that person and that can help you to forge your path and to be able to pay it forward. But can you share with us maybe a couple of you talked about a bad experience. What are some of the leaders that you’ve met along the way or mentors that have really helped shape your career?
Sherine Clarke (08:06):
I’m glad you asked that because there’ve been many, even though I’ve just told a story about one that I didn’t want to emulate, there have been more inspiring women and inspiring leaders than they have. I’ve come across the bad ones. So I have to say that definitely just from a personal point of view, it’s been my mother, my mother and my grandmother, very, very strong women who decided that, and this is nothing against anyone who chooses to have a man in their life, but these women were very strong without the influence of having their husbands dictated that my grandmother lost her husband very early and my mother was a single mother. And I’ll tell you, they really inspired me that when you have a goal and a vision for yourself, dream big, dream big for yourself. There isn’t anything wrong with that. So I remember someone once said to me in a, she came up to me at conference, she said, you know what?
You’re thinking too small. And she got me and I thought, you know what? She’s absolutely right. And I said, I’ve always had these women who thought big, they came from very little and they said, I’m going to have this and I’m going to work very hard and there’s going to be obstacles. Yes, but I’m going to overcome those obstacles. I mean, when we first moved to Canada, no one would rent them a house because they were black. And what they says, they said, okay, if we’re not going to do that, then what we’re going to do, we’re going to pull our resources and we’re going to buy a house. Well, now my mother owns four houses and she now rents to people. So it showed me growing up that when you have an obstacle, don’t look at that obstacle. Something’s going to stop you. Look at that obstacle, something you’re going to go over, you’re going to over that.
And so that’s why when people say, well, you’ve got triple jeopardy. These women have two jeopardy women and they have to struggle. You’ve got triple jeopardy. You’re a woman and you’re black. And I thought, no, this is something that I know that when you have obstacles, because I’ve seen that in my life, you can definitely overcome it. So that’s why when things come my way that other people would say, that’s an obstacle. That’s something that’s stopping you because you’re a woman. I say Uhuh, it’s something that I have to rise above and it’s something that I have to find a way to go over it. And so that’s why they’re so inspiring to me and they really didn’t say it or give me these life lessons. They just did it by their actions. That was it. I just watched them do it. Now, obviously famous people living in dead famous people of her, obviously one of my biggest inspiration has been Oprah Winfrey because obviously I do that.
I’m a speaker. And so far she’s been a real inspiration. And I’ll tell you, Eleanor Roosevelt as Roosevelt to the time that a woman in the 1930s, it was just phenomenal what this woman would do and what she would say and the inspiration she left with people. So those are my two biggest inspirations. And there are so many, it’s hard to count. And I also look at the fact that I can learn from everyone. And anyone who crosses my path, I make sure there’s, rather than being envious of them, I always ask, what can I take away from this? And it’s really funny that just the other day there is, there’s an actress, I was thinking, oh my God, her life is so wonderful. We’ll look at that. And there’s this little tinge of jealousy. I said, why am I feeling this? And that little Tinder jealousy was saying, that’s what you need to work on you. It’s not something for you to be jealous of. It’s something that you need to work on. So when you’re looking for people to inspire, you look everywhere. And when you feel that I should have what other people have or the look at why you feel that way, maybe it’s something that you need to work on. Those are my biggest lessons that I’ve learned.
Beth Thompson (11:36):
I love that. And it sounds like really mentorship by example, more than just words that are being said, but it’s really how they’re living, how they are representing, how they’re showing up. And that if you can watch that, that’s really where the power is. That’s amazing.
Debbie Foster (11:52):
Sherinee, as you were talking about that I’m, a lot of people who have heard me speak, have heard me talk about my little people on my desk. If you’re listening to this podcast, I’m holding up a little figurine of Mrs. Incredible. But I have another one right here of Miranda Priestley, and they’re kind of like opposites, right? Miranda Priestley is the offensive, she’s not really very nice to anyone. And Mrs. Incredible is just that incredible. And these two little plastic things are reminders, not just, I love what you said about looking everywhere for inspiration, but also on my worst days, I can tend to not be the easiest person to get along with. And so I’m always looking for ways to remind myself too, who’s watching me right now and who’s learning from me right now, and how do I make sure that I am every moment possible, giving my best to whoever I’m talking to or whatever meeting I’m in, or whatever kind of presentation that I’m doing. How do I make sure that I’m giving my best?
Sherine Clarke (12:55):
Yes. And I wanted to say, when you talk about membership or mentorship and looking for mentors, also don’t be afraid to be one years and years ago, I remember someone came up to me and she said, I would love to be mentored by you. And the moment she said that the imposter syndrome came in, oh, I don’t know enough. I’m not old enough. I don’t think I’ve achieved enough. Realize something that you are always several steps ahead of somebody else and they’re looking to learn from you. And looking back at it now, I really should have done that. It would’ve been a great experience for me to mentor someone else, but instead I had allowed the imposter syndrome my own insecurities to stop me from doing it. So I really want to emphasize that. Don’t make that mistake that I made thinking that you don’t know enough, you’re not enough, you haven’t achieved enough. Wherever you are, someone else can learn from you.
Beth Thompson (13:42):
So true. I think this is a perfect segue into our apologies or no apologies segment of our show. When we were talking about brainstorming ideas for the name of the podcast, we were really fixated on this fact that women just are constantly apologizing. Plus, we did want something that would look pretty cool on a hat, and that would be our merch. I mean, I’m not going to lie, that was a big part of the inspiration for the new apologies part. I did something last night, Debbie, you’re going to laugh at this, but I decided that I was going to go in and search my outlook on my folders for the word sorry, or my apologies or anything of the nature. 72 times did I find one of those words. Now, it wasn’t all me, it wasn’t all females. Sometimes it was justified, but that’s a lot of apologizing.
I want to just take a couple of seconds here to talk a little bit about an article that was in Forbes Magazine. We’re actually going to be linking to the article in our show notes. But the article was called How Women Can Stop Apologizing and Take Back Their Power. And there were a couple of things that I would love to get your input on this Sherinee, but one of them obviously is just to be more self-aware. And I’m actually going to take this challenge, and for the next week, every time I use that word, I’m going to make a notation of it so that I can figure out how many times I’m saying or writing, I’m sorry. So I’m going to do that. And then the other I found very interesting is really changing your vocabulary. So some examples that were cited in the article are, sorry, could you send me that report?
Sorry, I won’t be able to make it that day. Sorry, could you repeat that? Just all of these opportunities that aren’t really reasons for apologizing, but if you change that to, could you please send me that report or unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it that day. Or how about, excuse me, could you repeat that? And then lastly, and I’m going to start using this when I show up to a meeting, maybe right on time to me, I go in apologizing that I’m not the first one on the call, but from now on I’m going to say thank you for waiting for me. And so I would love Sherinee to get any insights that you have on this whole women apologize too much.
Sherine Clarke (16:05):
Beth, let me tell you something. I’m an expert at this because I’m Canadian, so this is double whammy for me. Canadians, we are notoriously polite to the point where someone said, we are the only country where someone will step on our toes and we’ll turn around and say sorry. And it’s so interesting that in my seminar I said someone she put up her hand and she told me that they were in Taiwan and they were traveling and they were in this subway. And they’d bounce somebody touch upon somebody and they would say, sorry, because being Canadian, sorry. And the Taiwanese people would look at them with a strange look, why are you saying that? Because to say sorry in Taiwanese means that I have grievously harmed you to the point where I must say I’m sorry. It’s such a profound apology. So it really left an impression on them as to how casually we throw around, sorry, as Canadians, but we also do it as women.
And the reason why is because women were taught and we’re socialized that we have to be that nursery rhyme, sugar and spice and all things nice. That’s what who’s made of little girls. So you’re supposed to be nice. So if mother says something, she says, be nice to your little brother. Don’t say that. Be nice. And you’re taught I have to be nice. So what I have to do is sometimes preface what I have to say with what we call a discrediting preface. So I’m not too sure if you’ll agree with this, Beth or everyone. This might not be important. We start to discredit the things we’re going to say immediately. And we don’t realize that every time we say, I’m sorry, you erode your credibility because every time you apologize to something you’re not responsible for, you are eroding your credibility. So what you want to do is exactly what you do.
Catch yourself no one. And Beth, I’m going to give you kudos for being self-aware and actually going through those emails and catch the amount of times that you do. But for everyone else, I want you to listen to the amount of times that you say, sorry, number one, listen times. You write it and listen. Times you say, sorry, we’ll have in the business world, someone will say, so where’s Tim? I’m sorry, he’s in a meeting. Well, if that’s Jim’s job to be meetings, what are you sorry for? Or they’ll say, is Debbie available? I’m sorry, Debbie’s. Debbie’s out of the office. If that’s where she is, then that’s where she is. You don’t have to apologize for that. So catch yourself with the amount of stories that you, and take inventory of them, number one, and then do exactly what Beth just said. Find other ways.
Now, actually, sometimes it’s called a throwaway word. When we are, we’re feeling our vocabularies with actually, but find those different words that you can use until you can finally get sorry out of your vocabulary. Doesn’t mean that you never say that you’re sorry, but when you truly need to apologize to someone, that’s when you say it. And so realize where it’s coming from. It’s coming from our deep socialization that we have to be nice and we have to make sure that everybody sees us as nice. And you’re nice when you apologize and you put yourself just, you dim your light a little bit. That’s where it’s from. Love your perspective on that. For sure. Yes, the nice part. You’re absolutely right.
Debbie Foster (19:05):
Yeah. It’s so interesting listening to you because it wasn’t just, you gave us even more than that. Not just the apology, but how we sometimes discredit what we are about to say in advance. I have an idea, but you’re probably not going to like it. Yes. Why do we start off with that? So no, it’s like, own your power. That’s what we’re talking about here. And that’s not to say that every idea will be a great idea, but let’s let it land on the table first and then talk about it in brainstorm. Let’s not throw it out there with a big giant caveat attached to it. Right?
Sherine Clarke (19:39):
Absolutely. I love that. I have an idea that I’d like to pass, like to throw it there. Yeah. Much, much better than discrediting it the moment you say it. And then we have little tiny ones, hedgers. I wonder if, I guess we could perhaps we might. Those are another thing. It’s immediately discrediting what you have to say, and all it does is add to our vocabulary to make us sound powerless, to make us sound less than.
Debbie Foster (20:02):
Oh, ouch. I’m going to have to rewind and re-listen to that last sentence, like six or seven times.
Sherine Clarke (20:08):
Debbie Foster (20:10):
Sherinee. Tell us, what are you listening to? What’s your favorite podcast? Are you reading any amazing books that should go on all of our lists right now?
Sherine Clarke (20:19):
Well, I’ll tell you, my absolute favorite podcast is Archetypes by Megan, the Duchess of Sussex. It is such a great listen. It’s been fantastic. I’ve been a fantastic learning lesson for you. Number one, it’s 12 episodes where she talks about the archetypes of labels that women have been saddled with over the years, and it covers a variety of things. Everything from the diva, the B word.
Debbie Foster (20:43):
You can say it. You can say it.
Sherine Clarke (20:45):
Oh, oh, good. The bitch <laugh>, the bitch being ambitious. Can you imagine that being ambitious is a bad thing when it’s a woman? Everything from the dragon lady, the dumb blonde, the bimbo, the angry black woman. And at the end of the 12 weeks, I realize that every culture has these labels that they have given women to shut us up, all to shut us up. And that’s what I got to the end. Every time it’s been, it’s turned around into a negative. If you’re passionate, then you’re angry. You want something more than you’re ambitious. And how dear you want more. If you’re assertive, then you’re a bitch. And if you ask for things done your way or to be because you want it done a certain way, then you’re a diva. And it was so profound. And what I walked away from after listening to that podcast is that I’m not going to be silenced.
I’m not going to let these labels that society has put on me to stop me from saying what I need to say. If I know that I need to say it. And I’m the type of person, if I don’t have something good to say, I’m not going to say it. And if I do have something that I want to say, and then I am going to open up my mouth and say it. Right. So it was a really profound 12 weeks. I looked forward to every Tuesday to listen to it, and I highly suggest that people listen because it was such a learning experience and so inspiring.
Debbie Foster (22:07):
I can’t wait to listen to it. I’m, I’ve already written it down. I would love for you to talk a little bit about, speaking of what people are listening to, I’d love to hear your story about how you got into legal. Oh, yeah. Because I think that would be interesting, and I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about your new podcast that’s coming out and the lawyer summit that you do.
Sherine Clarke (22:27):
Oh, absolutely. This is another thing, going back to what I said the very first time we started is to listen to what other people are saying that you should be doing, or the clues that the universe is life is leading you as to what you should be doing. So I would have lunch with a friend of mine who works in a large law firm, and she would complain, and this lawyer said this. This lawyer said, you wouldn’t believe what this lawyer said. I thought, okay, say this, handle it like this. And she says, you know what? You really need to be teaching lawyers this. And I said, lawyers are great communicators. They don’t need my help. And then I started to do some research, and I found out, wait a minute, there’s a lot more to this Anderson. You thought that, I thought, because I always thought that lawyers were self-confident and bold and brave, and they were great communicators.
And I started to learn some really incredible statistics that it’s such a demanding job that they are so busy, that it’s such a high pressure job that a lot of lawyers are depressed, anxious. They turned to substance abuse, depression, and there was an inor inordinate of suicides. The very first summit that we did, four of the speaker had either close friends or colleagues who had committed suicide among 23 speakers. Wow. Four of them. That tells you, that’s an awful lot of lawyers who decided that I no longer want to live. So I thought something has to be done about this. And so I decided that, why don’t I bring in experts to talk about just the personal skills that lawyers need for success. So we’re not going to talk about the law, we’re going to talk about emotional intelligence, the imposter syndrome, time management, money issues.
We’re going to talk about what do you need to personally be successful in surviving your career from a lawyer’s perspective. So I had coaches, lawyers, former lawyers partners, everyone who spoke to lawyers and had a really interesting, interesting advice and perspectives to come to this or to, it was a virtual conference to take part in this virtual conference. This was a year before Covid. So I was a little ahead of my time there, and we’re going to have this virtual conference to see if we could just impart some knowledge to save people in the profession. And another thing that I really wanted to do was to make sure that women stayed in the profession. Because even though I’m not a lawyer, I thought it’s such a shame that these women spend so many years and lots and lots and lots of money to become a lawyer. And they were relieving the profession in droves. And that saddened me, and I really wanted to make sure that I could do something about that. So that’s how it all started.
Debbie Foster (24:55):
Awesome. And tell us about your podcast
Sherine Clarke (24:57):
My podcast is called The Lawyers Path to Partnership, and it’s all about what we just talked about, the personal skills they need for success. So I’m going to have a variety of experts and lawyers talk about their experience and how they overcame some of the challenges, and also have some experts talk about how to do your job the best way you possibly can and enjoy your career and stay in your career.
Debbie Foster (25:19):
Awesome. Well, when you release that, we’ll definitely link back to it in the show notes so people can, I think you’re aiming for next month, right?
Sherine Clarke (25:27):
Yes, yes. I would love that. So the end of February, looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good one. I cannot wait, so I hope so. Stay tuned for that.
Debbie Foster (25:35):
Awesome. So the last segment of our show is all about leadership superpowers. One of the other things that we know is true for a lot of women is it’s hard to toot your own horn. It’s hard to talk about the things that you’re really good at. But I would love to hear from you, what is your leadership superpower? What is the thing that you do as a leader that you are most proud of?
Sherine Clarke (26:01):
I would definitely have to say it’s be inspiring to be inspiring. And as a corporate trainer, I never want people to leave one of my seminars without saying to themselves, I’m going to change something. I’m going to do something different tomorrow than what I did yesterday. I always make sure that there’s something that they can walk away with, that they can make a lasting change. And one of the best things and the best, the amount of feedback that I get, I’ll never forget, a woman came into my seminar, and then two years later, she came to another seminar and she said, do you know that after I attended, it was the women’s seminar that I gave? She said and we talked about, are you doing what you love? So the job that you’re in, are you doing what you love? And she said, I walked out of the seminar and I took stock of the job that I was in and asked myself why I was so unhappy.
And what you said really helped me to make that change. And I left that job. I’m now in a job where I actually love it. So as a corporate trainer, that was just this great feedback, and it’s happened to me several times now where people have said that either I took that piece of advice that you gave and I did something with it. And I’ll tell you, that makes me the happiest to know that something that I’m parted, something that I said to someone, made a difference in their life so they could make a change. I love that. And so I would have to say that’s why superpower.
Debbie Foster (27:20):
Wow. Well, you certainly, I mean, I think I speak for both of us. You have definitely inspired me. And oh, Beth, I’m sure that’s true for you too. You’ve given us some really important things to think about.
Beth Thompson (27:32):
A hundred percent. Well,
Sherine Clarke (27:34):
Thank you so much.
Beth Thompson (27:35):
You have been an amazing guest, and I know that everyone listening will take something away. And now, Debbie, I feel like we, oh, a big thank you to Ari Kaplan for the initial introduction to you, sheen, because I think that this is going to be a long friendship in the making, and we maybe we’ll have you back. We would love to have you back. I have a feeling we’ve just scratched the surface of what you have to share with our listeners. So
Sherine Clarke (28:03):
I would love to come back anytime.
Debbie Foster (28:05):
Inspiring. That’s one of our words, words in the description of the show, is we wanted to bring on women who were going to inspire other women and other leaders, not necessarily just women. And you’ve certainly done that. So thank you for your time today. We’re going to wrap it up now, and we’re going to have all the information that we talked about in our show notes and just want to say thank you to everyone for listening, and
Sherine Clarke (28:27):
Thanks for having me.
Beth Thompson (28:28):
Thank you. And that’s a wrap. Thanks for listening to Powerful Leaders. No apologies. Be sure and subscribe to our show and help us spread the word by Sherineg our show with your network,
Debbie Foster (28:42):
And check out our show email@example.com/powerfulleaders for resources and ways to connect with us. See you next time.