The Career Activist with Treasa Fitzgibbon

"Don't spend 10 years banging your head against a brick wall before you decide to take action. Do something about it, find somebody who's in the job you want. And get some advice and guidance on how they got there."
Treasa Fitzgibbon
Treasa Fitzgibbon
Career Coach & Mentor

The Treasa Fitzgibbon Story -

Transcript

This is the She’s All That video podcast; “conversations with women doing awesome shit”. I’m your host September Smith. And in this season, it’s all about the transformation that women are making in the aftermath of the ‘midlife bomb’, as I call it. Those unforeseen events, illness, loss, a career termination, a battle and awakening, a transformation – 

Treasa Fitzgibbon

events that are lobed into our lives like a grenade, detonating the life that we’ve been living for decades and making it impossible to ever go back. When this happens, we are left to dust ourselves off, figure it out and find our own way forward. While the lens of popular culture is often on the tragedy in the trauma and the injury and damage that it inflicts, I want to celebrate women who are only made stronger but what they experienced. We need to hear those stories to know that building that new life, that new incarnation, from the pieces of what was is not just possible, it may be the best thing you’ll ever do. She’s Hi, and welcome to the she’s all that video podcast Season Three in season three, I’m talking to women who have come from one incarnation in their life. And somewhere along the way, midlife, they’ve had a complete change. And they are now doing something amazingly impactful and different. And today, I’m speaking with Treasa Fitzgibbon, she’s joining me here today to talk about her transformative life change. Welcome. Nice to have you here Treasa.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Thank you so much for having me. I’m delighted to be here.

September Smith

What I wanted to talk to you about was your transition you had been in the finance industry, working in banking on two continents high power job, and it is not what you’re doing right now. And we’re going to get into that. But I would like to know what was it that you were doing in that first incarnation Treasa Fitzgibbon, Career 1.0?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

I spent about 22 years in banking. So I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work in Dublin, London and New York. And I did a variety of different roles, but predominantly sales. So both as an individual contributor, and then later in my life in New York as a head of a global sales team. So as you can imagine, pretty high pressure, long hours, a lot of travel. And I don’t think anybody warned me moving to the US quite how much travel but also, if you forget, sometimes the distance you have to cover right in London, it’s it’s an hour flight to Dublin, or to Zurich, or to Paris versus, you know, four or five hours to get from New York to the West Coast, potentially. But that was that was my previous life, as I like to call it.

September Smith

So whether people have heard of it or not, the situation of the number of women in finance, in banking, are we at a situation where it’s pretty much 50-50 now?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Ah, nowhere close unfortunately. All the banks have slightly different titles, but if you look at what we would call in the banking industry, VP level, it’s pretty much 50-50, men and women, so that tends to be somewhere between five and 10 years into your career, you know, grad student, etc, it tends to be fairly representational. However, once you move up to the next two grades, which are really director and the Managing Director, that’s where the numbers start to fall off quite significantly and, it varies by bank, but on average at director grade, your sort of talking more between 60-40 or 70-30, men and women. And then by the time we get up to the managing director level, it’s more like 80-20. You know, maybe some parts of the organization might have slightly higher statistics or higher representation of women. But it definitely is on the low side. And not only is it on the low side of gender, it’s also on the low side of what I would call intersectional gender, so very much weighted heavily to white women who are represented and unless some of the minorities and you know, less representation from mothers, a lot more single women or childless women in those more senior roles as well.

[The ratio of women to men among the managing director level] is definitely is on the low side. And not only is it on the low side of gender, it's also on the low side of intersectional gender, very much weighted heavily to white women.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

and less some of the minorities, and less representation from mothers or single mothers.

September Smith

Does that bare out on the male side? Like, once you’re a father, you don’t tend to be promoted?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

No, it does not at all. You know, in my experience, and obviously, this is through my lens and my own experience. 

 

I predominantly worked with men, who once they got to the very senior roles, a lot had stayed home wives. So they had that sort of flexibility to come into work and not really be thinking about the children at home...Whereas most of the women I worked with were of two income households.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

So they were obviously working on splitting that with their partner. There was less, there was some but less senior women in senior leadership roles would stay at home partners.

September Smith

Oh, yeah. When you were talking about that, I was thinking oh, so is it the kind of career that one needs their own team at home to do take care of everything because it’s so demanding. You need every waking hour to put into this kind of career.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

In theory, yes, you know, listen, it’s not a nine to five job, especially if you’re in one of those more senior roles. And, you know, even if it’s an eight to six job there is obviously it’s not a six o’clock and go home and don’t turn on the computer till tomorrow morning type job either. There’s also a lot of travel depending on which part of the organization you sit in. Obviously, with me being in sales, you have to go see clients, you go to where the clients are. So there’s a lot of time away from home. And, you know, my first year in New York, I was probably on a plane personally and professionally, maybe 48, out of 52 weeks a year, it was insane. And, you know, to do that, as as a mum, or as a dad, who doesn’t have a stay at home partner becomes very, very difficult to manage even just the logistics of that never mind any emotional or mental energy, just the actual logistics.

September Smith

So the question occurs to me, for the last 20 months, there has been a curtailment of our ability to do that sort of thing. So has the financial industry crashed, like people can’t be on planes 48 weeks at a 52. So have they learned a new way of doing it?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

I think they have. You know, I think this was a real reckoning in the industry of this and nothing will ever replace, I think face to face building personal relationships. But did we need to be on a plane or physically in front of clients, as much as we used to be? Clearly, as you said, the industry hasn’t come to a standstill, there’s still revenue being earned, there still deals being made every day, people have definitely got much more open to connecting on Zoom. And, you know, when I was still in banking, pre COVID, that was really, really difficult. There was a lot of firewall issues, right, as in, you know, between corporates and the banks, we don’t want to necessarily allow you behind our for firewall or vice versa, there was a lot more concerns, I think about the security of zoom. Some of those have gone away over time. And but there’s, you know, there’s such a variety, whether it’s zoom, whether it’s Microsoft Teams, whether it’s WebEx, I think every organization has sort of found their feet a little bit more on on moving away from the need to be in the office or physically in front of clients all the time.

September Smith

That might actually help this situation somewhat, but more about you. So that is what you were doing. You were and I mean, you were climbing the corporate ladder, you were really making strides in the world of finance. Yeah, obviously, that you’re recognized and sent to America to be doing this. So what happened? What was the event? Or I don’t know the series of events? That was a pivot point for you? And was it a pivot point? Or was it more drawn out?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

For me, it was quite a drawn out pivot point, I think. So if I go back to 2013, which tells me how long of a drawn out process this was, I was living in London and career wise was going great. But I felt in a bit of a personal rush, I felt like all my time and attention was going to work. And sort of the leftover bits at the end of the day, when to everything else, whether that was my own health and wellness, whether it was my family, whether it was more social activities. So I got this opportunity to move to New York at the end of the year and end to 2013. I thought, This is fabulous. I’m going to go to New York and totally change everything. And got to New York and I got about a year ago and I realized I basically replicated my London life in a different geography. And I really had this aha moment I suppose of why did I believe that being the person I am just by changing geographies, I would change the way I behaved. So I really had that aha moment of everything in between my ears the way I think the way I talk to people, the way I prioritize my life remains the exact same, I’m just now doing it, you know, three and a half 1000 miles away. So that actually led me on a journey of getting a life coach myself, I felt I needed somebody external to my industry to help sort of get me me through all of these thoughts that were going through my head. Why? Why was I living my life this way? Was it the way I wanted to live my life? What changes did I want to make? And thankfully, somebody hold me accountable to make some of those changes, right? Because it’s very easy to say I want to do it. But you know, we all sort of revert to our old habits, or old behaviors or old routines. And so most of 2015, I worked with that coach and I had phenomenal results. And I’ve always been fascinated with the psychology of you know, why are some of us glass half full and glass half empty? Why do some people achieve every goal they ever set and others don’t? And that made me decide I was going to go off and actually train to be a coach myself in 2016. And I had video departure. But becoming a coach, no intention. I did this part time while still holding on my full time job. I just enjoyed it up. But honestly, if you’d asked me back in 2016, there is no way I would have predicted the future and said I would end up coaching and 2017 I qualified and I was doing some coaching I would say on the side, and I just sort of hit that pivot point in about 2018, where I was like, Oh, I’m enjoying coaching more than I’m enjoying the day job. And I haven’t got to that tipping point before the end, it was, you know, I’m very fortunate to say, never hated my job. I never hated my industry, I never hated the people I work with. So I think because of that, it was a very fluid ongoing, you know, my subconscious working behind the scenes, changing my priorities. And it took my conscious mind a couple of years to catch up. And realize that, you know, in my 20s, and 30s, my career was my number one priority, and I lived my life that way. But somewhere in my early to mid 30s, my priorities started to change and my family became even more important, health and wellness became more important nature and being outdoors. And here was I living a life that was totally on aligned to those values. You know, family was my number one priority, I was three and a half 1000 miles away for my entire family who were based in Ireland, if nature was important to me, I was living three blocks from Macy’s. So you can imagine how much nature was in my day to day life, health and wellness. Yeah, I always tried to prioritize it, but it sort of got forced into whatever slots were available during the day. And that for me was that pivot point of, okay, something dramatic has got to change if I want to live the life that I keep telling myself and other people I want to live…

I couldn't just adapt the lifestyle I had slightly. I had to, in theory, blow it up to create something totally brand new.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

September Smith

That must have been terrifying.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

It was but you know, what was interesting is I continue to have coaches through all of this period of time, people who helped me process and I remember sitting down with one of my coaches in midtown Manhattan in 2018 in the summer and sent her, I said, I want your life, I want your lifestyle. And she was like, Well, why can’t you and I kept coming up with reasons. Now in my head. They were very rational reasons to her. They were just excuses. They were a manifestation of the fear I had. So I would say to her things like, well, I’d never afford to live in Manhattan. You know, if I was a coach, and she would throw back at me, Well, do you have to live in midtown Manhattan? I was like, Oh, I suppose not. That’s because of my job that I currently live there. And she was like, I was like, Oh, I can never make the same money. And she’s like, but do you have to make the same money if you don’t live in midtown Manhattan? Or what belief system do you have that says you can’t make the same money as a coach, let’s start breaking down that. So having those sort of outside forces challenging me and sort of giving me answers back to what she would call my excuses, really helped me shift some of that mindset and some of the limiting beliefs I had around the life I pictured versus the life I wanted. And I thought the one I pictured which was sitting in banking was the only one that gave me what I needed in life. And and she helped me dispel some of that, that that belief system.

September Smith

So what it is, as we briefly touched on here, what you’re doing now is working with women in finance, and banking. So just in case anybody’s thinking, Yeah, well, okay, that’s pretty nice. And it’s not that important. It’s just specifically for women who are interested in being in finance. Um, there’s what’s at stake for those women, if they don’t have guidance and mentorship and someone to help them chart their course through this. But societally, for all of us. And the population as a whole there’s, there’s an importance in getting a little bit of on how about a lot of diversity and more of an equal distribution of individuals in this industry? Why is that so important?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

let’s take a little bit of a step back if we think about the women I used to work with, and I’ve worked with some amazing, phenomenal, hardworking, technically skilled, fabulous women. And I’ve seen so many of them not get the recognition that they believe they deserve. So when somebody comes to me and by the way, yes, I nation to finance because that’s my background, but I also work with lawyers and women in in basically high pressure, corporate type roles. Gender, generally, when they come to me, they’re there banging their head against a brick wall is what I would call it and listen, I’ve been there in my career, you get to a certain point, and it’s like, I’m working so hard, and I’m doing all this extra curricular. I’m on this committee and that pride, but I’m not getting whether it’s promotions or pay or recognition. So they often use words like, I feel stuck. I’ve lost my mojo, and I’m feeling underappreciated under valued, you know, unfulfilled, lacking purpose. Those are all the sort of emotions, I think that come with it. And often, it’s about learning that you know, what it takes to get you to a certain point in your career that 10 or 15 years into your career is not necessarily what takes to get you to the more senior roles right this these junior roles is all about working really hard and a strong work ethic and meeting deadlines and being a great team player. Once you’re gonna get further in your career, it’s about leadership. And being the hardest worker on your team does not mean you’re equated to being seen as a future leader of an organization. And I think, you know, whether it’s through natural mentorship and sponsorship, I think 

Men are guided on that journey [of natural mentorship and sponsorship] more naturally in an organization.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Because if I look up, and the role I want is 70% men and 30% women, there’s 70% men who can guide me on that journey as a man, the 30% women, it’s a smaller cohort that I have to go to. And often what we do is we give advice through the lens of our own experience this work for me, so you go do this. And it’s like, hold up, what worked for me will not necessarily work for you. How do you find your authentic voice and your authentic way of navigating those politics? Because maybe I did it this way. But x worked for me, why might work for you. So it’s about brainstorming that type of stuff. But on a whole scale, I know, we talked about this before. For me, I want to create a world where I don’t need a job. I work myself out of a job, right? Because I think if we can change societal conditioning for young girls, as they start their path in life, we will end up with young women and older women who don’t need my services. Because there is a society that we live in that values women as highly as it values men, that it values, the traits and men and women, right gender intelligence shows we innately are different. That doesn’t mean one is good, and one is bad. It doesn’t mean I’m saying women are better than men. But 

we want a society that appreciates the values we both [men and women] bring to the table. All of the research shows...the more diverse voices you have at the table, the better the results as a company are.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Yeah, right. You know, this is where unconscious bias plays in. And often when I say unconscious bias, people immediately think, oh, you know, she’s off about how men have unconscious bias on women. And that’s not my message. My message is

every single one of us has unconscious biases.

September Smith

We have been coded in the same society.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

100% And my, as a woman, I can have unconscious biases against other women. Think of how many times have you heard in the last couple of years? Oh, millennials. That’s an unconscious bias. But it’s actually a conscious bias, if you actually pay attention to it, or ageism, or sexism, or race, or religion, or sexual orientation. They’re all in that mix. But what we need to be doing is bringing awareness to that and going, listen, and I’ve been a victim of that, by the way, I ended up with a team that was predominately women. So I now look back and go, Oh, where did my unconscious biases play in that I built a team of women similar to me, because one of our unconscious biases is his likeness. It’s easier to work with people who look behave Act have similar backgrounds to us, it takes a bit more of a challenge, to have a team that’s diverse, because we don’t immediately just get each other, we don’t immediately have the same upbringings or conditionings or, or skills, it takes a little bit more work. But what you get in return for that makes that work. So so worth it.

September Smith

Yeah, I can see that from the point of view of say, somebody, a leader who’s putting together the team is like, Oh, I don’t know how they’re gonna react. And I don’t they always see it this way, it’s just going to be so much easier, we’ll get everything done so much more time. Like, if I just have my my usual team there. But then you just get the same results that you’ve always had, and nothing changes.

 

And because the results aren't bad, per se, and it's hard to quantify what you're not getting [in a non-diverse team], you don't realize what you're leaving on the table by not having that diversity.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

September Smith

and the success of last year or five years or 10 years ago to you that success. So if you keep replicating that, that thing? Yes. But on a wider scale societally, globally? I mean, some someone might think, Well, then why if it’s so tough, why don’t want to just stay out of finance? I mean, what role does the financial industry does the banking industry, it just turns on aft even be asking now, what role does they do they play a larger stage that makes it so important that we have more equitable, diverse in banking?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

We could I could talk about this all day. So I’ll hit the point points. But suffice to say that, you know, right now in Europe, we have the climate action group going on, right, so we’ve got cognition this week, I can tell you that every bank has representation sitting at that event this week. So if you think of Davos, and who attends Davos, which is, you know, all of the global leaders, it’s also all the CEOs of the big global banks. And listen, I am sure there’s people listening to this call, you know, if we think of 2008 and we think of the financial crisis back then if we think about more recent crises there is responsibility on the banks, right? I mean, clearly, especially in 2008, right, a lot of the activity was, and I know there’s many that feel the banks didn’t get held accountable or pay the price for the work that they did. However, that doesn’t change that you’ve got a bunch of individual people within the bank who are working really, really hard, and who have great ethics and great morals, right? You can’t just lump finance into this big thing and go “all finance is terrible.”

September Smith

Now, will diversity help address this?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

I think partly because if you are realistic about what are considered masculine leadership traits and feminine leadership traits, now when I say masculine, that doesn’t mean they are all held by men, or by women and vice versa. But masculine leadership traits are considered things like very decisive, risk taking. When you look at more feminine leadership traits, it tends to be more empathetic, more humble, but it also tends to be less risk taking. So I think the more voices you have at that table, and of course, I’m going to masculine feminine, there’s non binary, there’s every version under there. So I don’t want to exclude anybody, the more voices you have at the table, if I’ve got one person advocating for risk, and one person advocating to not take the risk, at least the conversation becomes much more nuanced, much more detailed than just one person going, let’s do it. Right, the return of the risk is worthwhile. And I think everything in life is a risk reward return right? You know, COVID, I think is a prime example of that. Here’s what my risk is. Here’s what my reward is, am I willing to take that risk? And let’s be honest, the answer today might be different tomorrow and the next day, but getting more women more diversity across just not just gender, but all the other, the other sort of my experiences, perspectives, life experience, and perspective. And if you think of women today, globally, because we’re talking about the societal conditioning, right? Think of young girls, they’re being told generally their messages is be convenient. You know, don’t be too loud, if you can stay in your box, and just just keep your head down and work hard life will play out for you, you will get your just rewards. And then all of a sudden, we put them into a work environment. And we’re like, oh, you’re not confident enough? Oh, you’re not outspoken enough. We don’t hear your voice. And it’s like, well, you just spent the first 1020 years of my childhood telling me not to be those things. And now, you expect me to undo 20 years of conditioning to morph into this brand new person. And that’s what I meant earlier, when I said, if we can change the conditioning of our young girls, I will have a job. And I would very happily retire if I knew it was because we have now conditioned these young girls to be themselves have their voice heard, be bossy be leaders be go getters be aggressive if that’s the word you want to use. 

September Smith

We use the word bossy, but have you ever heard anybody call a boy bossy?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

And listen, I shared with you, you know, I became an entrepreneur first time during lockdown. So I don’t have children. This is my first experience of what I called parenting as an ENT. And I’ve had this conversation with my sisters, because we realized my niece is very curious. We were using the word nosy. And we all had to stop and have a conversation. say she’s inquisitive. She’s curious, because if she was a boy, we wouldn’t be calling her nosy. It’s a very nice hiker. Or we’ll say, oh, somebody knows her mind. Isn’t that a great thing? Whereas I think 3040 50 years ago, she knows her mind was like, Well, no, no, no, you just conform to what we tell you to conform to. Now, what will be interesting is when she goes to school, right? Let’s be honest, if I’m a teacher and I have 30 kids in a classroom, I have to manage them through convenience, because I’m 30. But what does that do? You know, boys, we say boys are just boys, boys will be boys. They’re boisterous. They’re loud. But we expect a totally different behavior from our young girls.

September Smith

Well, you kind of hope for that convenience of at least 50% of the class being more malleable, as a teacher, which is a detriment to the development of the girls.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

And you know, how many times have you heard things like, Oh, we give allowances for boys, they mature slower, you know, they’re there. And they do, right? That is proven biology in their brain. But we never say to boys, actually, you should aspire to be the girls who have maturity quicker than you. You should look to emulate their behavior. We turn to our girls and or we tell girls things like, oh, he hits you in the playground. He likes you. Yeah, conditioning. Is it telling girls that violence in any form, whether it’s verbal or physical? is a sign of he likes action? Yeah, kind of affection. And then we wonder why women stay in domestic violence situations.

September Smith

Yes. Why is she still there?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Why is she still there? Because you’ve spent years telling her that just because he’s violent does not mean he doesn’t love you or that he doesn’t value you or he doesn’t. So all of that leads to where I get clients, they tend to be miserable. You know, maybe professionally I’m personally right because if you think about most, a lot of women are perfectionists, right? We spend a lot of time thinking we have to deliver a plus work all the time. But that protects us.

September Smith

It protects us from criticism or punishment.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

100%. And we are sort of told you can never get it wrong, you can never fail, actually, you can fail multiple times. And Abby Wambach, who I’m sure the Americans will know is an ex soccer player for the US. And I will totally get this quote wrong, but I love it. She’s says:

 

imperfect men have been allowed to rule the world for years, it's time for imperfect women to allow themselves the opportunity to lead.

– Abby Wambach

Perfection is not a prerequisite to leadership. But it’s not surprising that to believe it is. And now her message is basically like, you know, if we look at the political scene, How many men do we have ruling countries across the world who have failed a time to have made mistakes and who have been forgiven and overcome them? But where’s the bar for women? What bar? Do we think that we have to cross the hurdle of before we’re allowed to compete?

September Smith

I kind of have think that that’s because there’s just this subconscious underlying belief that you probably can’t do this. There is mistake, see, see, okay, bring bring a guy back in.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

But that’s exactly that men are allowed to be imperfect. And it doesn’t stop them going after whether it’s CEO of a company, whether it’s a president, whether it’s a senator, whatever. But it’s like women have a higher bar to to hurtle past. And I suppose the work I do with women is trying to break down some of this societal conditioning to say, you don’t have to be perfect, how much misery is coming in your life from holding the bar up here, not just as an employee, but maybe as a wife, a partner, a mother, a daughter, a sister, or whatever, when the bar is up here, it’s unattainable. Perfection is on attainable for anybody. How much time and energy do you waste and emotional energy, which is exhausting by the way of beating yourself up because you didn’t reach the bar. And what you do is you double down and put all your energy into reaching the bar, but actually, my message is, the bar is in the wrong place, the bar needs to be significantly lower, to be realistic. And, you know, when I talk to these women, they tell me what they’re achieving in life, and I’m blown away. And all they are focusing on is what they’re not good enough at. And you know, my wish for them. And I’ve said this to a client last week is my wish is that you could start seeing yourself through the lens that I see you through. And the lens ICU through is you as a Wonder Woman, but the lens you see yourself through is I only spent two hours with my kids today, not three, I only work 10 hours, not 11 I got 19 things on my to do list. I’m not 20 I you know, and that lens needs to change, we need to start giving ourselves credit. And by the way, a lot of it comes because we compare ourselves to other women. And we think they have their fit together. And it’s us who doesn’t?

September Smith

Well, that doesn’t help that I would love to see what the breakdown is, you know, when it comes to the Insert because we know just recently with the whole whistleblower thing from Facebook, with the sorry, I forget right off the top my head who had said that Facebook knew that Instagram was actually having a negative impact on the emotions and then the well being of young women. Do guys get the same you know, like as you say, they’re comparing themselves to other women, because she’s doing so much more to do men have felt safe. And I wonder?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

I think they do. I think you know, when you think when imposter syndrome started to be talked about, it was very much a women’s thing. And I hate using the word syndrome by the way, I use imposter ism. And the reason being syndrome makes it sounds like it’s your fault. You’ve done something wrong, you need to fix yourself. But actually, it was Caroline Caldwell, who’s an author in the US who said you know we live in a society that profits from your self direction so and I do think men are under that but maybe to not it doesn’t seem quite as blatant you know if you think about makeup, I love makeup I know loads of women who do but it is sold from the perspective of you would be better if you were more of this at the diet industry worth how many billions a year is all on the basis of women will be better if they are smaller, you’re more important you’re more valuable you know when we talk about intersectionality of gender anybody who is of a larger size there’s an extra prejudice so you get a prejudice as a woman then throw in that maybe your other larger size you say face a second prejudice

September Smith

I mean bit off topic here but I think that that is more of a woman thing because maybe I can tell you how many times I’ve seen you I mean women getting ready to go out and you know like festival spas guys, middle aged guy, balding potbelly yesterday shirt on perfect looks in the door. 

Treasa Fitzgibbon

You know, the research shows as well that we don’t buy or we don’t behave If big for pleasure, we actually behave to avoid pain. Right? So if you think I want to go to the gym, and I want to because it’s good workout, and I feel good. And that’s not what motivates most people to go to the gym, it’s to avoid the pain and the pain could be a physical pain, it could be an emotional pain. It could be I don’t want to look like this anymore. And I’ll be the first to say I I’ve never had an eating disorder. But I’ve spent years and still struggle with disordered eating that all or nothing approach, right? Because again, for a long time, my health and I put it in commas journey was about size and weight was really about health, it was under the guise of health. But really, it wasn’t about health, it was about how you looked what size you were, how much you weight. And, you know, thankfully, there’s a whole movement now about body positivity, and that you can be healthy in multiple different body types. It is not, you know, and you can be very unhealthy. In multiple different body types. Being small does not equate to healthy. But we as women are constantly bombarded by a women’s magazine I refuse to anymore. And look at the pictures. Look at the adverts. They’re never about you know, your fabulous as you are, it’s always about Yeah, but if you bought this dress, or if you looked that way, or if you had, I mean plastic surgery, booming industry, right? And listen, a lot of women, I genuinely believe do this for themselves. It’s not for other people, it’s for how they feel about themselves. But something is made them feel not enough.

September Smith

Exactly. You weren’t born feeling, “I need to go under a knife and pay exorbitant amounts of money to somebody.”

Treasa Fitzgibbon

You don’t girls, their confidence peaks at nine. After that it’s a downhill, right? Nine years of age is the peak for young girls. Because up until that point, they don’t really do the comparison piece, right? They don’t really look at their friends, they might to a minor extent, but they’re not really. But that’s also the age a lot of them are starting pre puberty or you know, coming into the puberty ages.

September Smith

It’s not strictly bound with puberty. It’s not like puberty makes you feel self conscious. No, no, maybe to a small extent. But it’s thick, all the conditioning that suddenly on them to exert feeling that way about themselves. So you’re looking at, you’ve got clients coming to you who are they have that whole thing. Then there’s the whole professional mentorship piece as I think the numbers I’ve heard are 75% of professional men or men within industry corporations report having had a mentor where it’s only 25% of women can say that, because for a variety of reasons. I mean, women haven’t had that much of a population representation within the industry or corporations for a very long time to have built up this tradition. So people come to these professional women come to you. And you’ve got to help them not just navigate that corporate path and their career, but also untangle this whole other emotional side of things. Do they come knowing they need this?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Quite often not. And, and quite often, when somebody comes to me, they have a problem they want fixed. I’ve this situation, I need your help. I’m like, it’s not that simple, right? I’m not the type of career coach will sit here and write your resume with you. I will if you need it, but that’s not my job. And when I say to women, you know what, I do a 12 week program and the career activist program. And I talked to them and I say the first four weeks is all about you and your mindset before we even talk about the corporate world. A lot of them are like why? And I’m like, but we need to understand how you see it. Some of that’s going to be serving you well. Some of that’s not going to be serving you well. if we don’t break down your beliefs and figure out the good ones and the not so good ones. If we don’t figure out where am I to be self sabotaging today. And self sabotage sounds like such a horrible word. But, you know, perfectionism is a form of self sabotage, because that fear of not being perfect means I won’t do things, I won’t try new things, because I may not be perfect, but by not trying them. What’s that leading to? Or what’s that stopping me from going after? It’s things like procrastination, right? We all do it. Procrastination is a massive form of self sabotage. But, you know, often when people come to me, they say things like, I want you to stop me feeling like an imposter. And I’m like, well hold up, the feeling isn’t the problem, the thought, that’s the problem. Because the thought is what led to the feeling. And then the thought was created by the belief system that you have. So if we don’t take those multiple steps backwards to figure out where the belief system came from, then how on earth will we ever change the feeling? It’s, you know, I think people have this backwards view that the feeling is the problem. Like no, no, no, we need to understand the belief. So it can be a little bit of struggle to get your mind around the fact that this is part of my coaching. 

I believe that that is where you have the AHA biggest moments. If you can start to practice not being a perfectionist, that impacts your career and your entire life, if you can quiet that inner critic, imagine what an impact that has on your life.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

If you can figure out where self sabotage is showing up and come up with strategies to overcome it, what’s the impact of that on your life? So all of that, to me, is so critical before we go on to Okay, here’s the politics in the corporate world. Let me educate you a little right, because I’ve sat in the promotions committees, I know what’s talked about I know what’s what’s looked at what traits are looked at what behaviors but I, you know, there’s no success by coaching, by the way, this is where coaching differs from training is training is here’s the tools go do it. Coaching is no, no, no, I want you to understand at all. So as at the end of our time together, you don’t need to see me every week, we don’t become this codependent relationship, you don’t need to see me every week for the rest of your life can if you want to, but you don’t have to, you actually now have the entire toolkit to go do it on your own. And that’s different from just here’s a training book, follow these five steps.

September Smith

Yeah, I mean, it totally makes sense. You’ve kind of got to unravel some of the emotions and the unexamined beliefs that underpin the way you’ve been operating today that is problematic. So actually, you removed yourself because, you know, when I when I first heard about your journey, and then how this, as I call it, phrase of its given career, 1.0 did this big pivot, and now you’re doing the coaching and consulting. It’s like, Oh, my God, we had a brilliant, talented, capable woman in the industry. Who was it? I went a row through there. I mean, you weren’t the only woman. But the more representation there is. And it’s like, oh, the industry lost that. But you’re actually creating and facilitating, should I say, an army of other other capable brilliant women in finance, in banking that are out there, forging new paths and pushing the boundaries and getting more diverse industry.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

asking for what they deserve, right? Because that’s the big piece of it. Of listen, I, you know, you talked about that pivot point later on. And I obviously, earlier on, I obviously shared it was a multi year journey. But there did come a point as well, where it was that realization of oh, I can have more impact outside than I can inside. Because inside, I still have my day job. Right. And yes, I was mentoring a lot of junior women, and I was coaching people and everything. But it was side of the desk at the end of the day after a very busy and all intensive fall on workday. Because come the end of the year, my performance was going to be judged on my job. So I felt like, oh, I don’t have the capacity to have the impact I want to have let me go external, because then my entire job is helping these women. And if I can have one, and the other piece that I always when I’m vetting clients, and by the way, I vet clients as much as they vet me because we’ve got an A we can work together and have success together. But one of my sort of vetting questions is, are you somebody who’s going to pay it forward? Can you learn this? Are you going to keep it for you and go on your little career ladder and pull the ladder up behind you? Or are you going to go on your journey to success and haul a load of deserving women and not quota women deserving women, because they’re right there, behind you on that journey? And with you on that journey? And that’s a big difference to me of historically, you know, we’ve had a lot of women succeed, whether it’s in politics or other, but not necessarily bring others with them.

September Smith

And they do, I think, in some ways, I can see that there’s that there’s a whole conditioning, but that also, I think there’s always the fear that if I do open things up and put more focus on helping women that I’m going to be accused of being a one agenda politician leader and and see what happens, like, you know, I shouldn’t have put her in that position, or she shouldn’t mention like to her because she only cares about women. It’s a kind of a hard road to walk.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

that I think was another motivator in the corporate world. Which is, what if there’s only space for 20% of the table to be women? Why would I bring a bunch of other women with me?

September Smith

they might outshine me!! Yeah. And why is there only room for 20?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Exactly. And it’s changing. You know, there’s a lot of great stuff out there, you know, organizations that are focused on getting more women to board tables, for example, their CEOs are like the 30%. Club. But what I would ask people to do is, is, you know, if you’re not sure, if you have an unconscious bias, do a mental flip, would I say the same thing about somebody of a different race or a different gender or something else? And we’d say the 30% Club, and by the way, I’m not calling them out. I think they’re doing a fabulous job. But basically, what we’re saying is I’m okay with 70% of CEOs being men. Yeah.

September Smith

Yeah. I do the flip, too. And like, so if you flipped it and said, like, yeah, I don’t think we I think we should have at least 70% Women on this board, because we’re gonna be if we have any more than 30% men, I mean, men, you know, like, isn’t 30% Enough? Yeah, I mean, that it sounds ridiculous when you do it that way.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

No one if you think about the US, you know, graduates are there’s more women graduating from university these days than there are men. So You know, listen, I’ve been around for 20 odd years in the industries or, you know, corporate world. As such, the numbers haven’t changed dramatically. Yes, you have some great leaders who maybe change things in their company. And listen, I’ve been very lucky to work for some of those banks. But the overall industry and the conditioning of our women choose to stay at home, you know, they choose to exit their career. And I’m like, Well, that’s an easy cop, I wish my response to would be what environment did you create that meant they have to choose? What environment are you institutionalizing, that I have a choice to be an employee or a mother, but not both. Because you’re not creating that environment for men, you’re not creating the environment for men that I have to choose between fatherhood and employee. So don’t use that as a cop, I use it as the next time a woman resigns and tells you she needs to spend more time with their family. Look at what environment you’ve created, that she had to leave her career that by the way, she probably spent four or five years studying for and 10 plus years working her ass off to get to where she is. And now she has to exit that because she’s been put in a situation where it’s one or the other. I can’t have both.

September Smith

But you do that as well as not just individual coaching, you also do consulting with companies to help them recognize when she was like this, or at the part of their corporation?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Well, you know, part of the research now is showing that all the unconscious bias training we’ve spent the last 10 or 15 years doing has had little to no impact, right? Because the whole point is it’s unconscious. I can sit here and I can go on this training. That makes sense. That makes sense. But if I go back to my desk, and I changed nothing about my behavior, and I changed nothing about my internal dialogue about bringing awareness, then what impact does it have? And listen, there’s people out there who want coaches to force this and I don’t feel the need for crutches. I don’t want crutches because I think what’ll end up happening is you’ve been to women who then end up with more imposter ism going am I only in this seat because there was a quota to be in the seat and men treating them in that way?

September Smith

Well, if I can interject, it worked pretty well in Norway, but 25 years ago, 20 years ago, when they have photos in the entire world, but what are they doing, but look where they comfortably are now.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

100%. And you look at places like Iceland, you know that in equal pay? You know, Ireland, we’re bringing in more next year about how it has to be more transparent, right organizations are of certain size are now going to have just started saying, What is the pay gap between men and women? And listen, after the pay gap, I could go on about the pay gap all day, there’s multiple reasons in their rage. People will say and I think I said shared with you, you know, I put a post up last year about gender pay gap on Instagram. No woman, by the way, took the time to engage with that, but multiple men did. And multiple men came back at me and told me why it was women’s fault that there was a gender pay gap, why it’s our own choices, our lack of willingness to work as hard as men do multiple other choices.

September Smith

So what triggered them when it’s really I don’t know, not really their problem. 

Treasa Fitzgibbon

They see it as their problem. Because this is where the insecurity start kicking in. Right? We talk when you talk about quotas, or when you talk about more women at the table. You get men’s insecurities kicked off of what they think they’re going to loose. And I’ve had this discussion with men, I’m like, Well, let me know how it’s played out for you so far, because I haven’t seen a shift. I haven’t seen men lose their jobs over women. And I haven’t seen a negative impact on the representation of men at the table. I still haven’t seen that group. But it is that insecurity piece. And listen, somebody is choice as in we’ve just talked about, 

 

I choose to leave the industry. But I choose to leave because you forced me to choose, not because I wanted to leave.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

There’s the other argument that women pick different industries, you know, women go into what are considered more caring type roles, versus maybe into STEM for example, however, then my argument becomes, but who decided that nurses who contribute so much to society should be paid so little? Oh, you decide, oh, okay, so

 

the patriarchy decided that this is the value we're going to give to a job that is predominantly women today. But that value in no way correlates to the contribution to society that that job makes.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Right so where do we start going back to the patriarchy to look at the fact that yes, more women are maybe going into nursing roles, but somebody someday decided that that was an underpaid industry. And you decided it was an underpaid industry, because it was predominately women and not men.

September Smith

And most of them went into it because while they were conditioned from childhood to be that nurture career because that was rewarded behavior and accepted industry for you to enter in and you will be experienced any pushback. I want to ask you, okay, so all of this and this, this shift into this new coaching and consulting thing resulted in your program that you had mentioned briefly, career activists. Well, first of all activist, yes. So is that just becoming an activist in your own career?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

It is. So my experience is that the majority and again, big generalization but the majority of women are career pacifists.

 

The majority of women are career pacifists...Activist behavior is about ...getting strategic about their career...getting mentors and sponsors.

What I mean by that is I keep my head down. I work really, really hard I do. I’m everybody’s go to person. I’m the problem solver. I’m the nurturer on the team. But actually, what I’m trying to tell you is that’s passive misbehavior. Activist behavior is about realizing that I’ve got X amount of hours in the day, where can I have the biggest impact? Where can I add the most value? Where can I say no to other people? So it’s like, create time and energy say yes to my own career?

September Smith

And I would think almost how to say no to other people.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

We talk about that quite a lot. Actually, I do with clients, because I’ve been on training programs said Learn to say no, I mean, that sounds great. But have you ever tried to actually do that with your boss? Just say, No. So I actually talked through here’s examples of how you can say no, without saying no, and things like, I’m, of course, I’d love to help you with that. I’m available next week. Because you do want to help, but you need to put your own priorities first and put that person we tend to be the people pleaser, right? Again, back to this conditioning and nurturing. I’m a people pleaser, I’ll see them right now. And I’ll push my own stuff to later or I’ll cancel the gym tonight. Or I’ll go home late, or I’ll not meet my friends like I plan to do for dinner tonight. So an activist though is somebody who sits down and get strategic about their career, they actually think about, okay, if I want whatever my goal is, and your goal can be anything it could be, I want to stay in my job, but I want a better performance ratio. I want to pay rise, I want a new job a new challenge, actually getting strategic. What does it take to get there? 

September Smith

Do you help them develop their strategy, their own? Strategy?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Exactly. So what do you want to achieve? Well, let’s figure out what’s holding you back but setting you up for success. Who do you need to know? Who do you need to be networking with? And you mentioned mentoring, but on top of mentors? Do you have a sponsor? Right? And sponsors are even more impactful in today’s corporate world?

September Smith

How would you how would you differentiate sponsor for mentor?

Treasa Fitzgibbon

so a mentor sits down and gives you advice, if you come to them with a problem. They’re like, Oh, I’ve been there. Here’s what I did. Here’s what I recommend, if you’ve got a sponsor is sitting at a table. And when an opportunity is talked about, they’re like, Have you thought about September for that? Have you thought about Treasa for that? I think this person is ready for an opportunity. So they’re actually advocating for you in the moment, a mentor is just giving you advice. They’re not up there, putting your name in lights, they’re not up there putting your name out for maybe a successor for somebody else. That’s where the big, big difference is.

September Smith

so you’re helping them realize they need to be looking for sponsors and mentors. 

Treasa Fitzgibbon

It’s like the way I read a fabulous arch. But I think it was Harvard a couple of months ago, it was like you need your own board around you. Right. So who’s your strategist who’s your the CEO, but who’s your COO, who’s your sponsor? Who’s your mentor, who’s your person that you can just go and rent to who’s your person that helps you with communication, who’s your, you know, all of those things. And they’re all the things that an activist is thinking about when it comes to their career.

September Smith

That was just such a rich experience for somebody who’s like, where you were when you decided you were walking out of your career.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

And every time I get asked every mistake I share that women make. I met it multiple times, I banged my head against the brick wall. I got it wrong, I learned the hard way. I suppose my goal is for as many women as possible to learn the easy way. Don’t make the mistake for five years figure it out sooner than I did. Because there are multiple women like me out there who made the same mistakes, maybe others didn’t. And their their career was much easier to get to where they got to.

 

Don't spend 10 years banging your head against a brick wall before you decide to take action. Do something about it, find somebody who's in the job you want. And get some advice and guidance on how they got there.

September Smith

That is the message I want people to have buzzing around in their head when they finish listening to this. Treasa, thank you so much for talking to me about this, this this like the issues but your life journey too and how you’ve ended up going from the career 1.0 to this new incarnation, Treasa. It’s given coaching.

Treasa Fitzgibbon

Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure.

 

This amazing conversation is one woman’s efforts to use podcast guest appearances to get her very important message out to the world. Whether it’s to build her business, her audience or credibility, or even rebuild her life. These women know that co-creating amazing interview recordings on other people’s podcasts. They will be promoted and broadcast from all of the major podcast platforms for years to come is a smart way to be building their brand and getting their message out. Whether it’s to grow your speaking career to get more widely known or do better position yourself as the authority you really are. Strategic podcast guesting is a savvy move. We can help you figure out your best strategy and get you rapidly and effectively launched leveraging this powerful medium. Contact us at September at of course proto calm Book a complimentary consultation call the links are in the notes of this podcast join the ranks of people making podcast guessing really work for them let’s get you started.

 

September Smith

Hi - I'm September Smith

With 15+ years experience with online tech & tools, audio/video media and growing your business, I help entrepreneurs learn how to use media opportunities like podcast guesting to rapidly build their brand.

Whether it’s to grow your speaking career, to get more widely known or to better position yourself as the authority you really are – strategic podcast guesting is a savvy move. I can help you figure out your best strategy and get you rapidly and effectively launched leveraging this powerful medium.

Contact me at september@ofcoursepro.com – or book a complimentary consultation call.  Join the ranks of people making guesting really work for them! Let’s get YOU started

 

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