Welcome to Powerful Leaders, No Apologies.
Beth and Debbie talk with Rachel Clar, founder of Interconnected Us, as she shares her journey from the legal field to entrepreneurship and her mission to empower ambitious women lawyers. Through personal anecdotes and insights, Rachel discusses the importance of compassion, self-reflection, and breaking free from the compulsion to constantly be productive in order to truly prioritize personal growth and well-being.
Links from the episode:
[3:36] Joining the women lawyer community
[13:57] The enemy is the brave face
[21:58] Letting your ego fall away so you can grow
Debbie Foster (00:03):
Welcome to the Powerful Leaders. No apologies podcast, a 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 website affinityconsulting.com slash powerful leaders. Here’s the show. Hi Debbie.
Debbie Foster (00:35):
Hi Beth. I can’t believe we’re here again. We have another fabulous episode that we are getting ready to record and I don’t know, it’s just been so much fun. It has been so much fun. I went to Inbound last week or the week before or whatever that was, and there was someone up on the stage who said, do you want to know the secret to maximizing the number of people that download your podcast? And I was leaning in to listen, and she said, produce two episodes a week. And I was like, oh, no, no, no, we can’t do that. We do one every other week. But I thought I was going to get the secret sauce. And then it was like record four times more episodes than what we’re recording now. So I was like, I don’t know if we’re going to actually do this.
Beth Thompson (01:20):
If that was our full-time job, we could manage it. Right? But this is like a side project for us. This is our side hustle that we don’t get paid for.
Debbie Foster (01:28):
Beth Thompson (01:28):
So we enjoy what we’re doing, we immensely enjoy what we’re doing. And a little birdie told me our merch is ready, and we’re going to have the link up in the show notes for this episode. So now folks can get their Powerful Leaders, No Apologies, had some water bottles and hoodies and all the things. Awesome.
Debbie Foster (01:45):
Yes. That’s very exciting. And our guest today, I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel at an ABA meeting for the first time just four or five months ago, and we connected instantly, and I thought she was amazing instantly, and I knew she had to be a guest on our show. And so I want to introduce everyone to Rachel, Clar and Rachel. I’d love for you to give us a little bit of background. Tell us your story, what you’re doing now, give us the whole thing.
Rachel Clar (02:17):
You got it. All right, my pleasure. Thank you so much Debbie and Beth for having me here. And Debbie, that was an awesome introduction. Thank you. You can just come live with me and travel with me. I’d love it. Maybe convince my sons about my greatness. They’re not persuaded.
Debbie Foster (02:33):
Rachel Clar (02:33):
Okay. So I’m an attorney. I practiced very briefly, got into real estate development and into different progressive sectors. And as my career advanced, as I grew and went, lived through life and challenges, became more aware of who I am and my best strengths and was realizing that my corporate career was really getting off kilter. And so I wanted to make a change that would really lean into what I’m good at and what I like to do. And so that’s building community and having authentic conversations. It’s personal growth. And so all of that comes together in my new business, which is interconnected us, interconnected us as an online community for women, lawyers who are ambitious, who are influential and want to grow their impact. We have masterminds right now that I facilitate. Soon they’ll be facilitated by others and pretty soon we’re going to be launching an online community.
Debbie Foster (03:27):
Ooh, that’s so exciting. So who’s the women? Lawyers obviously, but who is the ideal women lawyer for your community?
Rachel Clar (03:36):
Thank you. So the ideal woman lawyer for my community is someone who wants to grow. And that can mean a lot of different things. It could mean she wants to write a book, she wants to start speaking more, she wants to start a business or a nonprofit or it could mean it’s not ambitions in the outside world. She wants more control over her time, she wants to set better boundaries, she wants to upgrade the circle she runs in. So it can mean a lot of different things, but there’s a feeling of forward movement and it’s someone who’s really in a growth mindset and is really ready to make some changes. They’re going to join a sisterhood that speaking the same language. And I create very safe spaces. I always say safe spaces where lioness have a den they can go back to or pride, and that’s what I create. It’s a safe space where we can take off our mask and really get what we need to get ahead.
Debbie Foster (04:28):
So since we’re talking about animals, especially jungle animals,
Rachel Clar (04:32):
Debbie Foster (04:33):
I’m sure you’ve already seen this, but the story about the women, the female elephants, what happens when a female elephant is hurting and all the female elephants surround them and stomp and make noises to protect? Do you know this whole story?
Rachel Clar (04:49):
I love this. It’s so funny. I think I know this story. And just yesterday I was going through my old files and came across a printout I had made about female elephants and I was like, no, no, when will that come up?
Debbie Foster (05:00):
I’m telling, I just read something. I think it was on LinkedIn and they were talking about a female elephant who’s having a baby elephant and how vulnerable they are during that time and how I could get teary eyed just thinking about it, how the circle of female elephants come around them and smash their, they stomp and they make noise and they kick up the dust so their predators don’t know that there’s something going on. Or if they do, they see this strong circle of women, female elephants around this vulnerable elephant. And so when you were talking about the lions, I was thinking about that very cool story. So we should find that and post that on LinkedIn because what I wanted to say to everyone who’s listening to this is follow Rachel on LinkedIn. I think your LinkedIn content is incredibly inspiring and it talks a lot about women empowering women and creating those safe spaces. So I love that.
Rachel Clar (06:01):
Oh, I’m so touched. Thank you. That means so much, Debbie. It’s been a year of really finding my voice and LinkedIn, while it has not led to a single customer directly, it has really been this awesome platform to learn who I am and how I’m different and unique and what I’m here to do.
Beth Thompson (06:18):
But it’s also the indirect, right? Because you never know where folks are going to come from. Look at you guys meeting and now here you are. I love the parallel between the elephants and what you’re doing and what is so amazing about this. To me, I think we all can remember the days not that long ago where we would’ve been fiercely competing with each other. We would’ve been clawing and scratching and we wouldn’t have wanted to support each other. This whole supporting each other thing is relatively new. A lot of our listeners may not have had to come up in the days where women weren’t empowering one another, they were absolutely enemies and you would have to claw and fight each other for positions and friendships and relationships. And it’s crazy how far we’ve come just I love it.
Rachel Clar (07:07):
I totally agree. And Debbie just exemplifies being so collegiate, such a mentor to me and a sponsor and just using all of her established self and being able to open doors and help me out. And she’s been so gracious commenting on my posts and inviting me to things. And I mean, Debbie is the case study of someone who is a sister and elevates the whole sisterhood.
Debbie Foster (07:31):
I really do think that one of the things that I accidentally did that I’m probably most proud of in my career is always finding a way to make room for more people. And that was true even. And sometimes I face this resistance in our own company when we are really friendly with people who compete with what we do, and I’m just more great people, is great for everyone. And the more great people there are, the more people that are going to learn to be great. I think we just share what we know and let the chips fall where they fall. And I love seeing other women being successful. I love to see other women finding their voices and planting their flag and saying, here I am and this is what I do. And I think you’re doing a really great job of that on LinkedIn.
Rachel Clar (08:25):
Thank you. That means a lot. Thank you. It’s funny, just recently I updated my profile and my heading, my whatever, my title, my job title, and I put in there these words that have been in my head for a year now. And I used to think it’s not relevant at all to others, but just the whole year I keep coming back to these a Venn diagram in my head. It’s like MasterCard, logo, compassionate and disruptor. And Debbie, we connected about that. We did both being disruptive but also both wanting to do it in an elegant, strong leadership way, not being a bull. And for me it’s been a very, I mean, I’m a lawyer. It’s a very circuitous journey to learn to do that with some manner of grace and skill. I’ve truly hit the books and studied how to unlearn certain things.
Debbie Foster (09:09):
I don’t know, there’s something that I just recently read or maybe it was a podcast that I listened to about unlearning or maybe you wrote that on LinkedIn.
Rachel Clar (09:18):
I use that word a lot. Yeah, I use that word a lot in my post. That’s how I see it. I see myself as, because I didn’t practice for most of my career, I feel like this, I don’t know if it’s true or not that I need to make the case why my voice is relevant here. And to me it’s the psychology of why anyone goes to law school that I have peeled back layer by painful, slow layer. And so I feel like in peeling those back with Buddhism, with learning nonviolent communication, with all the things that I’ve done, I now have this toolbox and I want to help others.
Debbie Foster (09:52):
Yeah, I love that. So we talk a lot on the powerful leaders know, apologies podcast about leadership being a journey. I’d love to know who inspires you, what are you reading, what podcasts you listen to, what’s making you elevate your game?
Rachel Clar (10:09):
Well, we’ll start and end with powerful leaders. No apologies.
Debbie Foster (10:14):
Of course, of course.
Rachel Clar (10:15):
Let’s just close the show. In addition, other ones I really get a lot from. There’s so many, honestly, I’m a reading four books at once all the time kind of person. So I’m constantly getting urged to start reading fiction and I just feel like I’m so hungry to learn. It’s like a bit of a pull. Anyway, my favorite podcast, I think the one I hit the most often and I’m listening to them daily, I would say is 10% Happier with Dan Harris. I get a lot out of that. I get a lot out of that. But I also listen to a lot of business podcasts and legal podcasts and I hop around, I’m all over. I mean, I’ve been in this business, has been going for a year, and I’m really building my network very quickly and trying to learn who’s got fresh ideas, who’s aligned, really this compassionate disruption thing as I kind of hone in that, that’s where I want to play.
It’s partly about wellness and it’s partly about growth and it’s all about women or people who identify with women’s communities. And it’s all built around what I consider my strengths and where I like to play that, my values that I want to advance. And so business and personal is just kind of melting away. So anyway, to get back to your question, the books I’m looking at, the books I’m reading, I just finished Adam Grant’s book, give and Take. He wrote it 10 years ago. I wanted to know, and you guys probably maybe can relate as a giver, how the givers are the most successful and the least successful. So what separates those two is boundaries. And so what does that look like? So I was really excited to read that. Definitely have paid some expensive life tuition with having poor boundaries and live and learn, live and learn.
I’m getting stronger as I get older. It’s good. It’s good. So my doctor is around my age and she’s like, I earned those gray hairs. And I was like, damn right. Anyway, other books, I’m looking at one called Buy Back Your Time, I’m reading, buy Back your Time, always kind of curious about productivity and time management, but then balanced with Buddhism. So it’s like you want to free up your time, not so that you’re endlessly productive. You want to be able to give your brain a break. And so what does that look like? And I’m an artist in a sense. I mean the art around me is not mine, but I’m a creative. And so managing time is a challenge. I’m not a linear thinker. So there’s that. I’m reading one, I love the title. It’s called How to Start a Cult. And that person who recommended it goes, unfortunately, it doesn’t literally teach you how to start a cult, but it’s how to build a community and how to have them have, I mean the word tribe apparently has gone by the wayside, but have them have a language, build enthusiasm, create unity. So it’s a really great read. I’m enjoying it a lot.
Beth Thompson (13:06):
Those are all great recommendations. I will say before I ask this next question, I too recently started listening to the 10% Happier podcast, and I really also thoroughly enjoy it. It’s on my list of regular plays. So you describe yourself as a compassionate disruptor. Oftentimes compassion comes from having overcome obstacles, figuring out how to help yourself, heal yourself, help others. Maybe describe for us a few examples of some obstacles that you might have faced in your career, in your personal life that you overcame that could be helpful guidance for some of those out there listening that maybe haven’t yet come up against one of those obstacles. Or maybe they’re right in the middle of, or maybe they handled it and didn’t handle it the right way. For sure. Describe some of that for us.
Rachel Clar (13:57):
Yeah, so it’s really interesting and just this, I’ll be answering your question, but in the book I just mentioned how to start a cult, one of the things you rally the cult, you rally the troops together is by having an enemy. And so I’ve spent the last few months, the hell’s the enemy, I’m a Buddhist, so we’re not here against the patriarchy. It’s kind of generic. Yeah, of course. But what exactly is the enemy? And to me, the enemy, I’m like, the enemy is the brave face. It’s that mask we put on where we’re not being our authentic selves. Maybe that’s the enemy. And I just have been thinking about that a lot. So I guess in a more basic, I’m not sure I’m going to save the brave face for my future answer, but maybe you have me come back. But for now, I think my answer is ego, which is just a very classic Buddhist answer.
So I can tell you infinite stories about my ego getting in the way of my own growth. And I don’t mean arrogance per se, I just mean all manifestations of, I mean the words we use in Buddhism is like greed, anger, and delusion. But really, I guess I would start with anger. And so being trained as an attorney, having a certain posture that I had way before I had a jd, I had it in kindergarten. This goes back to childhood stuff. And so learning to relate to conflict differently, I feel like it’s not about the degree, it’s the psychology of why we got the degree is what I’m here to talk about and build community around. I mean, that’s not the only thing. I also care about us using the degree to do good in the world. It’s both. But as it relates to the compassion part, I think the compassion part is probably more relevant to my leadership journey than the disruptive part.
So far the disruption is like you have to come the really good juicy stuff. And I can tell you stories where I learned compassion both personally and professionally. So I’ll tell you a personal example, and it’s pretty obvious how it translates. About a year or two ago, my father was a very strong-willed man, said to me that he was really concerned I was being too controlling with my now 14 year old son. And he’s like, Rachel, you’re not giving him any freedom. You’re being such a control freak. And now many women, powerful women including lawyers who have separated from their parents who don’t talk to them, that kind of thing might put you in the, what do we call it? The penalty box for infinite time. And he said that, but because I had studied how to approach it differently, it didn’t go the way all the previous conversations went.
I mean, I certainly still had the thought, oh, guess who installed the control button? That’s precious. I still had the thought. You don’t lose anger, you gain a way to relate to it. And so he said that and I was like, boy, dad, you really want kid’s name. You want him to be independent. You really value his independence and his autonomy and his self-confidence. And he was like, yeah. And I was like, so and so we connected about our shared values, and that was very deliberate. I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I wouldn’t have known that path existed. It was like a secret door. It’s like this is not a gauntlet. One of us does not have to win, which by the way is never me. So in this perverse way, I win because there’s no argument. It’s great. So I was like, yeah, you’ve given me something to think about.
Thanks. And honest to God, I laughed and I thought about it. Yeah, I’m doing what I was taught. Hello. But yeah, the kid does need a little more autonomy. I mean, was dad overstepping? Absolutely. I’m the grown up in this house, but it doesn’t matter. We’re on the same team and it takes a village so that that’s an example at home, but it’s easy to translate how that can come up at work where you’re seeing the other person’s intentions. And even if the delivery sucks, you can focus on what you have in common and speak to that and the benevolence behind whatever they’re saying, even if they deliver it in a really crappy way.
Beth Thompson (17:55):
That’s really great advice because that’s a great example of growth because as you were speaking, I was getting defensive on your behalf. I was thinking of what I would’ve said.
Rachel Clar (18:05):
I love that story because everyone does. Yes, yes. That’s great. Yeah. So after I got divorced, when I got divorced, some of the people, unquote on team Rachel would start dogging my ex. And we have an amicable divorce, but just trying to demonstrate their loyalty, and it was like, I appreciate the loyalty, but that’s not the direction I’m trying to take my life. I got enough resentment. We going to find the positivity here, but also not labeling them, they’re trying to help. It’s like thank you for being supportive. And I would kind of privately be careful. Very tempting road not going there.
Debbie Foster (18:43):
Rachel, I feel like I’ve kind of, in the last week or so I’ve talked about this book more than I’ve talked maybe about any other book, but the book, radical Candor by Kim Scott. I just posted something about that because I heard her speak at Inbound and I’ve read the book before and read it again after I heard her speak. And this happens to me a lot when I reread something or I rehear something and it just kind of lands differently than it did the first time. But the idea around radical candor, and for me, especially when my stress level is high, the way that I might be able to respond to my dad saying something like that to me if my stress level is high is really different than if I’m having a really great day, I might actually be able to take the time to think about it.
And I’ve been super conscious in the last week of, there’s a lot going on at work and my stress level gets high, and I’ve been super conscious of avoiding, specifically avoiding the obnoxious aggression and removing how much I actually care for someone to make my point and figuring out how to connect with them in the same way you did with your dad. Like, oh, so you want the independence me to say, before we talk about this, I want to say how much I appreciate you digging in and trying to figure out what’s next for us or whatever that is. How do we start off at a place where we can connect and agree on something and then talk about something that’s hard because it’s so easy to just get wrapped up in the shortcut to just jumping to the hard conversation and emotions get high.
So I love that story and I love how even personally, because sometimes, as we all know, those we love the most are the ones that we’re willing to treat the worst, right? Oh yeah. And say the pause out. I love the example of how you turn that around and it’s something that just really resonates with me right now because I’m really starting to think about how do I stop that stuff? We joke, I have my little Mrs Figurine on my desk, she is always sitting here available to me and I’m thinking about how do I be very intentional about my next response or my next step or my next action, not trying to figure out what am I going to do next week, just the next thing that I’m going to say.
Rachel Clar (21:05):
Debbie Foster (21:05):
Yeah. So love that. I love that story and I love how you told it in a personal way.
Rachel Clar (21:10):
Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. Thank you. I mean, Debbie, I think our brains are wired so alike. I mean, when I first learned about all of this, it felt like this project and there’s all these steps and dah, dah, dah. But now that I’ve been doing a few years, I mean the guideline is compassion. You have compassion for them, even if they’re leading with ego, if they’re attacking you with anger or they’re showing up in a critical way or being whatever, disrespectful or insubordinate or whatnot. But underneath it it’s is gold. And so it’s just seeing the goodness in others. And it’s also, I mean, honestly, one of my hacks, and I like to think I invented this, but I’ve now noticed there’s all these famous coaches and whatnot that it’s their hack to, it’s like you turn it around, someone’s obnoxious to you.
Dad’s speaking to me that way, huh? Have I been judgmental to anyone ever? Let’s think about that one for about a millisecond. How hard can I be on him when I do that too? Have I held others to standards that I don’t live by parenting every day? I mean, have I ever not said thank you? Have I ever been short-tempered? Have I been interrupting someone disrespectful? On and on and on. And once you turn the tables, I mean, it’s horrible, right? It’s hot freaking shame, but to me it’s kind of a good, it’s a productive shame if that’s even a thing, because part of your ego chips away and falls down and you grow. You don’t have to join interconnected us. This is my shtick, this is what I like to talk about, teach about, write about, coach about. But I mean, that’s not what the community per se is about, but I’ll be offering a lot on it within and hopefully without,
Beth Thompson (22:56):
I like that term productive shame because that just suggests you’re learning something. As long as you’re learning something in the process, it’s been productive.
Rachel Clar (23:05):
I think it’s necessary. I mean, I call it an emotional bed of coals. If you want to drop something in a buddhistic sense, you want to let go of a negative behavior or pattern. And something else I learned that was slapped across the face as well is whatever triggers you in others is probably what you do. So I mean, a year or two ago is when someone comes out like, guns blazing. I lose it. I don’t like that at all, but it’s like, oh, dang. It’s a constant evolution. I mean, yeah.
Debbie Foster (23:47):
One of the things that I’m curious about, this will not turn into a therapy session for me, I promise, but
Rachel Clar (23:53):
I love it. Let’s be clear. It’s like my favorite is the vulnerable Secrets
Debbie Foster (23:59):
Too late, too late for that. I feel like we’re, we’ve already been in therapy for 25 minutes, so it’s all good.
Rachel Clar (24:05):
Debbie Foster (24:06):
Well, one of the things that I think is such an important message for women who are climbing the ladder and trying to figure out what’s next for them and wanting something or thinking that they want something that they might not really want your advice about this self-reflection and just thinking about what that might look like for you and how you might feel about maybe not taking the next step or prioritizing your own wellbeing. Maybe that’s a better way to put it. No matter what it is that you want in the world, if you start off with you and you start off, I can have a tendency to say, if I just work this hard for three more days, I’ll finally be caught up. Even though I know that’s actually not true. There is no universe where caught up is a thing.
Rachel Clar (24:59):
Debbie Foster (25:00):
That minute to just think about your own priorities and your own health and wellness and just the pause before whatever it is, the next thing you’re going to do is really great advice and something small that people can start doing right away.
Rachel Clar (25:15):
I totally agree, and it’s so ironic because I’ve been a member of the Zen Center for between five and 10 years now, I think close to 10 years, yet I still resist sitting still. It’s like our culture, that productivity thing, no matter how much I read, no matter how much I know, and I have sat and done retreats and all this stuff, but there is still this compulsion to do, do, do. It is very hard to take a break, and I’m learning honestly that the hardest guardrails to help me correct that is entrepreneurship. It’s like I will flame out on a weekly basis if I don’t do that. And so I know I’m not the only one in this room, has a very high vibration, lots of energy, and managing that and keeping that as my north star of how I spend my time, you cannot lean into your high energy all the time.
You have to sometimes stop and breathe like, right, that fiction that yeah, you can grind out more, but first of all, you’re not going to get any further because a riddle, and secondly, your quality’s not going to be as high. I just read Ariana Huffington’s, the Sleep Revolution, it came out like five, 10 years ago, and she talks about how Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, all these huge leaders take naps like daily naps, and on the comm app, who was it, huge basketball star who also talked about how he takes naps as often as he can and it’s like, damn, if they can all do it at their success level, I’m allowed to walk the dog. I’m allowed to take a bathroom break and to eat and to look at the clouds. I’m really trying to not be consciously think this might be a very Buddhist concept, but not trying to be in my head all the time trying to get in my body less. It’s not always thinking. It’s like definitely not always multi, don’t want to be always multitasking, but also trying to get out of this constant intellectual space and they call it get in your body. Feel what it’s, I mean, everything relaxing. It can be spacing out, it can be intentional, but not consciously trying to advance yourself every waking second. It’s hard when you’re ambitious. That’s really hard.
Beth Thompson (27:26):
It’s been a while ago, but I did read there are some companies that actually have nap time and they have little, almost like little kindergarten mats. You pull out your little mat, your little cot, you take your little power nap and then you go back to work.
Rachel Clar (27:38):
I love that. I cannot imagine being relaxed enough to fall asleep around my coworkers. No,
Beth Thompson (27:44):
Rachel Clar (27:45):
Me neither. Yeah, and how awesome to be entrepreneurs. We can fall asleep on our couch with the dog and it’s like, it’s pretty awesome.
Debbie Foster (27:54):
Well, let’s ask you our last question. So we ask the same question to every one of our guests, and we want to know what your leadership superpower is.
Rachel Clar (28:05):
I think my leadership superpower is my authenticity, and that word is really overused, so I’m going to do my best to explain what I mean. People say to me, you’re so authentic. That’s what we like the most. And it’s like, what the hell does that mean? I have to Google it again. No matter how many books I’ve read about being authentic, it’s like, I don’t know. Anyway, I don’t put on a brave face. What you see is what you get. I’m really open about when I’m nervous, when I’m super excited, if I’m upset, I’ve learned how to do that in a more compassionate way. So if I had a conflict with one of you, I’d be like, we were on the phone last time. Something didn’t sit right when you said dah. Or I might start with like, Hey, what do you mean? What did you mean by that?
I was thinking about when you said dah, dah, dah. I was curious, what do you mean? And to me, that all, they might sound like different leadership skills, but to me, they all go under this umbrella of authenticity. I’ve made a lot of life choices that this is a longer story, and we’re at the end of the podcast, but about five years ago, I looked left and right and I was like, somehow my life had gotten way out of line with my values and what I’m here for and what I want. And so I’ve made a lot of changes in the last several years, like trying to turn the Titanic, and I think that has really cultivated this very, very strong sense of who I am and what I’m here for. It’s very intentional and I’m willing to disrupt, to honor who I am and what I’m here to do.
Beth Thompson (29:37):
That’s a great ending. We really appreciate you being here. Rachel, it was lovely to meet you, Debbie. Great call on inviting Rachel to be part of our podcast. We thank you so much, Rachel for your time and for introducing our audience with you, and we look forward to hopefully having you back.
Rachel Clar (29:57):
Thank you, Rachel. Thank you. I’m not going to sleep a wink. Thank you guys. This is great, Beth, it’s wonderful to meet you. And Debbie, I’m such a fan. I can’t wait to see you on Tuesday,
Beth Thompson (30:11):
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 sharing our show with your network,
Debbie Foster (30:21):
And check out our show notes affinityconsulting.com/powerfulleaders for resources and ways to connect with us. See you next time.