November 16, 2020

Grow with the flow by Katie Mehnert

Valentina Coco Website Profile Picture
Valentina Coco

In this very first episode, we talk about 'Grow with the flow' by Katie Mehnert.

From the book blurb, Katie Mehnert has spent decades building her career as a health and safety executive working for Shell and BP. In 2014, she leaned in to form Pink Petro, a startup that's addressing the intersection of an inclusive workforce and the energy transition. When Hurricane Harvey uprooted her work and life in 2017, she began to think less about controlling energy and more about how to grow from it. Grow with the Flow is all about personal evolution because personal evolution is about planetary evolution.

We will be discussing the fear of stepping out of our comfort zone, and three of the many learnings I took from this book.

Additional perk: we quote Sallie Krawcheck of Ellevest https://www.ellevest.com/our-story

Episode Transcript

Podcasttranscript. Episode 1. Grow with the flow.

Hi, and welcometo that’s what she read.I'm Valentina Coco, and as your host, every other Monday, I will share with youmy take on a nonfiction book. For this first episode, Today, we're gonna talk about grow with the flow. By Katie Mehnert. I'm gonna get really,really crazy and excited here, and lose my calm podcasting voice, to tell you that Iabsolutely love thisbook. I can't even start describing how much I loved reading this book, the quotes insideof it, the message, the experience, the way Katie can make everything so relatablereading this book. It's like meeting that friend of a friend, everybody keptsaying you should meet, because you will get along so well, and you could have such greatconversations, and, you know, you're always just too busy and you push it off and you say yeah eventually, and then one day youactually get to me at some kind of event (I'm talking about the prelockdown times), and you get along and you justcan't stop talking.

You know that feeling. That's what I had when I was goingthrough grow with theflow.

It gotme from the beginning. I was reading the intro, which I actually rarely do. AndKatie was mentioning her fears about writing the book, getting out there andher story, and stepping completely outsideof your comfort zone. I have to say,this is the first book that got me interested from the intro. BecauseI think everybody can relate to getting out of your comfort zone. And for me,specifically, I have been thinking about this podcast for a long time. I lovebooks. I read a lot,and quite fast, and I'm always running short of people with whom I can discussthe latest book that I read and whatI know about it. And at thesame time getting in front of the microphone and started podcasting was scary. So, I could relate to what Katie was saying, and I asked myself the samethings that she asks, which is, imagine if my comfort zone had won. And I could. I totally could. I saw myself in my usual dailylife, reading, hundreds of books in a year, writing about them on LinkedIn oron my web page and looking for ways to share the love and the messages andconnect with people,looking at podcasts and just never have thecourage to try. AndI didn't like that.

So, as Katie wrote her book, I also decided to record the veryfirst podcast, and well that just felt like there was no other book that Icould choose for the first review. I also have to say that I was sceptical. I've read a lot of books fromexecutive women, highpowered women, successful women, you get it. And the majority of them had some kind of privilegedbackground. And werealso white. So, when I got this book, I thought, okay, great. Another book about lessonsfor growth, and thestruggle of a privileged white woman. What surprised me though, is that Katiedoesn't pretend not to be privileged. She admits that she had privileged in her connections, in her upbringing, in her situation, ofcourse, there was some form of it. And at the same time her honest take of all of her experience, make it souniversal that while people with different backgrounds mighthave more struggles, ordifferent struggle, (thisisn't a competition),the lesson that we can learn can apply to any one of us, at one moment or another in our life.

It doesn't have to be everything for everyone, andstill, it can be the one thing you need at some point in your life or careerjourney.

So, what are the key lessons that I took out of this. Well,first of all, personally for me,the first one is that the key to everything is to know your purpose. not only to know it, but to own it. I think aswomen, we are judged,way more than men, andyou can debate with me for hours on this (I might concede some points). And of course, I can't talk here for every woman everywhere.This is just my personal experience in my own bubble. Still, I feel it's afairly valid point. At the same time, weare also raised, and we are impacted by theway society judges women, tocare a lot more about what others think of us. She mentions it, and I for sure sawmyself in her description about how much she tried to fit in, in her firstroles, or in different environments, and how those feedbacks, sometimes about being too loud to takecharge, too extroverted,too colourful, feltpersonal.

Well, I canrelate very closely. And I also spent years, telling myself that I shouldn'ttake it personally. It'sbusiness, andit's not meant in a personal way. You know what, again, it is personal. That'swho I am. I am who I am. I have values, I have principles. I also have style preferences in terms of bright colours.I have a specific way of talking, I move my hands a lot.

I have a way of connecting with people in the room, or thesedays on zoom, I am extroverte, warm, I'm loud. Sometimes I'm too much,wanting to take charge, and just getting things done. And worrying about being perceive the way I actually am. It'ssuch a waste of energy.

Becausepretending to be somebody that we're not, it's actually gonna first ruin us. And second, it will align us and bring people incompanies and culturally in our circle that are completely wrong for us. Andwe're doing a disservice to ourselves and to them, when we pretend to fake it. And whenwe don't show up authentically,we're doing a disservice to ourselves because we deserve to be not justmerely accepted or tolerated for who we are. And for sure not being asked tochange. We deserve to be celebrated our careers for our specialties are whatgives us purpose, what makes us different. And we're also doing a disservice toour friends, our companies, ourenvironment, not showing up in anauthentic way. We'repreventing them from either celebrating us the way we deserve to be celebrated or, giving us clarity, that is just notgoing to be a good fit. And therefore, we both should look for something else.

I still worry about what others think of me. I know I talk abig game how we shouldn't reality is, Istill do. Before every Linkedin post, I worry about how it isgoing to be received. Before every comment and every sentence, I said until now, I worried about whatreaction was going to cause. Ijust now consciously, try to remind myself that it doesn't matter. It doesn'tmatter how it's gonna be received. It is what I have to offer. It is who I am,and it has to be enough.

Asecond learning that I took out of this book is that culture and values, reallyare everything. You can't believe how relieved I was when I read it. I've always had this dichotomy in my head, about values andprinciples, and what I stand for and what I want to see in the world, andreality of life.

And I'm not saying corporate life or private life it's justreality of life where nothing is ever perfect 100% of the time. The realitythough is that things can get tough things can be difficult. There can be hardmoments that can be crisis, yourvalues, aren't to be takenlightly. And they aren’tmeant to be flexed, they are inflexible. Your values are the core of who you are. And here I'm quotingfrom this book. We can always learn, of course from experience how to adapt,how to respond to different situation. The reality is, though, that if it comesto our ethics versus a job as Sally Krawcheck says, the founder of Ellevest, we should always choose our values, therewill always be another job. Andthere are jobs that areethical. Trust me, I found a few.

Last but not least, one thing that struck me is the conceptof giving up theillusion of control. Again, Ihaven't gone through the same hardship that Katie has. I haven't gone throughhurricanes. Luckily, I've been privileged enough not to lose my house, due to the water and not having to rebuildeverything that my life was. Atthe same time, I'vealways thought of myself as the person that gets it fixed. I imagined that if crisiswhere to strike I would be rollingup my sleeves, getting things organized, finding what to do. Helping people around me. Justkeep moving. Get going. Don't stop. Reading Katie's journey through the crisis, I realized thatthat's a mighty assumption tomake. We don't know how we're gonna react to crisis. And we can't reallycontrol it either. We can't control when a crisis can have will happen, or ifit will happen. We can't control how we will react, what will we do, we might be paralysedin fear, we might not be able to be prepared as we think we would. The thing wecan control is our thoughts, and the attitude, with which we respond to crisis.What I mean with our thoughts. Ithink straightforward positive thinking, not dwelling on the negative, accepting that what is meant to be it will be, not obsessing about things that didn'twork, not increasing panic. These are things that we can control. I know it'sharder in certain situations than others. I do understand the limitation ofanxiety in this day and age, I personally live with it, yet it's something that we can work onand try to control best as we can. The only other thing that we can control isthe attitude, with which we respond to a crisis. We can't control if fear will paralyseus, we don't know. We can control how much we're gonna lose. We can’t control If we are gonna be able totake charge and direct everybody,and you know, be the one supporting everybody else, rather than asking forhelp. We don't know how hard the crisis is gonna hit or what is going to be.But we can control our attitude, we can control how, no matter what life throwsus, or pours on us, asin the case of cake, weadapt. We keep thinking positive we keep find ways to make it work. We keep on.And as she says, we grow.

There are so many otherpoints in this book that I love that it's highlighted almost from the beginning to the end. What I also love is thatshe says that a woman with too many priorities It's a woman with too manyproblems. And I tend to agree. I also don't want to give it all awayand spoil it for you if you have time, and the inclination to read it, Istrongly advise you advise you to.

So, fortoday. I'll leave you here. If you enjoyed today's talk, follow me onSpotify, Apple podcasts or any other platform where youget your podcast from, and subscribe so you won't miss the next episode. I'llsee you in the next book.

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Valentina Coco Website Profile Picture
Valentina Coco
inclusive leader

I'm a connector, leader, change-maker, mother and coach. My experience of going through many burnouts motivated me to find solutions to improve the culture in the workplace and achieve more.

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