Biking, Baking, and Bossing

After sitting on my own website for well over a year and doing nothing with it, I’ve finally decided what I want the focus to be. I want to tell stories about my hobbies and how I apply my learnings to my business. Specifically, leadership and change management. 
I bike. When I am in my basement riding to nowhere, I have clarity that I don’t otherwise get during the day. It’s where I work through problems and find solutions. It’s where I dream up new content and figure out my strategies and tactics. It’s where I go when I need inspiration.
I bake. A very good friend of mine gifted me some of a nine-year-old sourdough starter named Horace. Horace and I make bread, pizza, biscuits, and popovers. I then branched out to tortillas and soon pasta. I find making bread mediative and soothing. Similar to biking, I can find clarity to work out issues. Additionally, I learn a lot from my mistakes as baking takes a certain amount of attention to detail and patience. It’s also why I can never give up biking. 
I boss. Yes, I realize that is poor grammar but I needed the alliteration. I run a business and teach others how to manage change and be leaders. I develop and refine processes and I help build teams. 
I have other hobbies that I’ll talk about too. Like that time I went camping and despite making a list of things to pack, we ended up without any way to light the fire. There’s a lesson in there about planning, I’m sure of it.
My goal with this blog is to share what I’ve learned through my experience, my successes, and most importantly, my failures. If you don’t try and fail, you can’t learn and grow.

Why I don’t love International Women’s Day

It’s International Women’s Day. Every year when this day rolls around I start feeling really conflicted. It is one day. One day to “recognize” women and ignore them the other 364 days a year.
Personally, I’ve never done well with the notion that there are jobs and roles for men, separate from women. I know I’m not alone in thinking this. As a kid growing up in a neighborhood with all boys, I did whatever they did. I got dirty, I (poorly) played sports, I built things. I also played with my dolls, had tea parties, and loved frilly things. I didn’t see a difference in one activity versus another. It was whatever I felt like doing at the time – that’s what I did.
Fast forward to being an adult. I got my first cold hard reality slap across the face when I started working full-time. My eyes were opened to pay gaps, lack of accountability, and different treatment depending on what gender you were.
Let me tell you, I had a really hard time accepting any of it. I was branded a troublemaker for speaking out and speaking up. I was told that I was too aggressive, too assertive, too bossy. I constantly broke the rules because I would step out of line to do what was needed versus what was asked. I was forever being counseled by my boss to “settle down” and “have patience”.
I didn’t want to settle down. I didn’t want to be patient. I wanted to do things I saw my male counterparts doing. I knew I could do the same things. I knew I could do them better. 
When Chris and I started Trust Insights, we considered trying to get funding. We were constantly told “no” because I was going to be in charge. A female CEO? You’ll never make it. Needless to say, we decided we’d be better off without funding and continued to do things our way.
A few years back we were at an event, talking with vendors about their software. I was standing behind Chris since we was doing the talking. The vendor asked me if I would schedule time on Chris’ behalf and Chris piped up and said “She’s not my assistant, she’s the CEO”.
The long-winded point is that there will always be people who determine your value based on your gender. Male or female, we will all face this at some point.
As a woman, I recognize the need to celebrate days like International Women’s Day. Women don’t get as much credit as they deserve for the things they do. Even in 2022 this is still true. We are STILL paid less, we’re under valued, we’re seen as weaker and more emotional. Quite honestly, it’s all bullshit. We work just as hard – harder to make up for feeling “less than”, we’re stronger for all the crap we put up with, and we’re empathetic. 
I would love to see women being celebrated every single day. I would love to see men being celebrated every single day. I would love to see humans in general, regardless of gender, being celebrated every single day. It shouldn’t matter who you are or how you identify. Sadly, it still does.
From me to you – I don’t care about your gender. I care about you and what you do. I celebrate all of your successes, failures, ups and down, and milestones. I celebrate you. Everyday.

One year with my Peloton bike

Today marks  one full year of riding on my Peloton bike. I’ve never stuck with a fitness routine this long. Historically, I’d have given up due to frustration and feeling like I’m not seeing any progress. To be completely honest, I’ve had plenty of those days over the past year.

What have I accomplished?

In one year, I’ve ridden 3195.5 miles – which is roughly Boston to Greenland, or Boston to somewhere in the ocean past California. I’ve done this over 567 rides. To some this may feel like a lot, to other, not so much.

To me, it’s huge. It means that despite wanting to quit numerous times, I haven’t. Not every ride is a great ride but I showed up and moved my legs.

I wanted to see what my progress looked like over the past year so this morning I retook the very first ride I took when I first got the bike. My stats for the ride we better than they were at this time last year. You could say that I should be unsurprised but I’m no athlete and I didn’t want to bank on it. I was, however, very relieved when I quickly outpaced myself.

In addition to riding, I also walk my dog just about every day. I wanted to see how many miles I’d gone in the same amount of time. In one year, I’ve walked 485.56 miles – which is roughly Boston to Virginia Beach. It doesn’t feel nearly as impressive but again, I’m getting up and I’m moving my legs.

What have I learned?

Progress is slow. Sometimes it feels non-existent but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Some days showing up and getting on the bike is the progress and the metrics don’t matter.

Consistency is key. The instructors like to call milestones “consistency trophies” and they aren’t wrong. Building a new habit is hard but once it’s there it feels weird to not do it.

Riding half-assed is worse than not riding at all. There have been days that I didn’t feel like riding so I just kind of peddled with no motivation. At the end of the class when I saw that I had crappy metrics I would feel terrible, worse than not even trying at all.

My goals are not at all what I originally thought. Sure, losing weight is a measurable goal but I’ve learned that it’s not the most important thing to me. When I got the bike I had specific health metrics in mind about my weight and my body. As time went on, what I saw happen was that my endurance got better and I got stronger. I had a mental shift where what I cared about was totally different. I’ve learned about power to weight ratio, functional threshold power, and heart rate zones. Those are the goals that I care about now.

Now that I have a full year of data I can start to reset my goals. I know that one goal is to ride more than 3195.5 miles by this time next year and to improve my FTP score by at least 20 more points. As long as I keep trying I should get there.

Recovering from mistakes

Earlier this week I made a rookie baking mistake. I added baking soda, not baking powder to my biscuits. I make these biscuits all the time. They are fantastic. But for some reason, I blanked and added the wrong ingredient. For a few hours after the biscuits came out of the oven I was apologizing, trying to rationalize, and come up with a way to salvage. Yes, it sounds dramatic that I was beating myself up over biscuits – but it happens to everyone. We get down on ourselves for making mistakes and tell ourselves that we “should have known better.” Sometimes, we even quit.

The next day I made “redemption” biscuits because I wanted to prove to myself (and my husband) that I could do it correctly. To be clear, he didn’t ask me for a redo. He knew I was completely capable and that it was just a mistake. When I slowed down a little I was able to make sure I didn’t mix up the ingredients this time.

Here are the redemption biscuits. I didn’t take a picture of the first batch because I was too embarrassed:

The reason I bring this up is because we all make mistakes. It’s how we handle them that makes the different. I thought about sobbing and never making biscuits again but then I’d be denying myself some warm, flaky, buttery goodness.

In addition to occasionally baking, I also own a business where mistakes happen all the time. It’s been a very humbling experience to go from “I know everything” to “I have no idea what I’m doing.” While figuring it out on a daily basis, I’ve been trying to create a culture where failure is  not only acceptable, but also encouraged.

Why would I encourage failure? Because it’s part of learning and growth. If you’re too afraid to try and fail, you cannot succeed. You will forever be stuck in the same place, never changing. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an awful existence and a terrible way to lead a company.

Think about your marketing or your operations. I can guarantee with certainty that things don’t go smoothly every single day. Maybe you sent out a post with a typo (who hasn’t) or maybe you wrote down a process incorrectly. Maybe you captured the wrong data. It’s easy for me to sit back and say, “don’t worry, it’ll be fine” but I’m going to do it anyway. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. The way to recover is to acknowledge the issue and then work backward to fix it. Then roll it out again. Hiding from it or pretending it didn’t happen will make it work. I promise you that. 
When I was a product manager, my team and I would occasionally miss something during the QA process and the system would go live with bugs (or errors). The first few times it happened I would panic. Full-blown hyperventilating. Once I realized the world wasn’t going to come to a screeching halt it became easier to manage. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t encouraging the team to miss things, but it happens. I started to understand where to look for potential errors. I practiced how to talk to stakeholders and customers. I kept a list of what questions to ask about getting a swift resolution. Yes, recovering gracefully from mistakes can be a learned skill and take practice. 

Here’s the bottom line. We all screw up. Sometimes it’s a big deal, and sometimes it isn’t. Just like death and taxes, mistakes are inevitable.  My advice? Allow yourself to feel bad about it. Don’t try and push that feeling away. Once you’ve wallowed, try again. Learn from what happened. Document your journey. Celebrate your wins no matter the size!