a leading podcast to mentor and empower women
Mentor Mash Up
stories. secrets. strategies.
'Each time a woman stands up for herself... she stands up for all women. ' - Maya Angelou.
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a leading podcast to mentor & empower women
Mentor Mash Up Podcast
Stories. Secrets. Strategies.
Whether you are advancing your career, growing a business, changing something in your life or just needing to hear some stories to support your journey…
Stories, Secrets and Strategies are interviews with a diverse range of leading mentors and coaches to empower and support you in business, career, life and growth.
Every fortnight we drop a new episode – an interview with a super inspiring female mentor.
Your host Anne Wicking is an expert at uncovering her guests interesting stories and simple life hacks.
Each podcast ends with 3 easy actionable takeaways for you.
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Personal Brand - Core Secrets from Michelle Scheibner
Fascinating episode! Anne gets Personal Brand Coach, Michelle Scheibner, to share her powerful ‘intersection’ technique that uncovers a persons true identity – as unique as a zebra’s stripes.
Hear some interesting stories about career & leadership development and why mentoring programs in organisations don’t always work!
*Listen for Michelles 3 Actionable Takeaways
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CEO Mentor & Podcast Host - Anne Wicking
Mentor MashUp host, Anne Wicking, is introduced by Karyn Lynch, CEO of Ruffle Mentoring.
Karyn gets Anne to take a dive into her background where Anne shares stories, secrets and strategies about her 16 years as a CEO, Imposter syndrome, Neuroscience in leadership, common challenges for women and her new role as Mentor Mashup podcast host.
Karyn: Anne Wicking, welcome to Ruffle Mashup – our very first episode and of course, you are going to be the host of Ruffle Mashup -Where Women Come to Grow! We’re so excited about that. Welcome today.
Anne: Thanks, Karen, I’m really excited to be here, this has been a really exciting journey that we’ve talked about for a while now. And it’s wonderful to see that finally come to fruition.
Karyn: I know you’ve got some wonderful women lined up to speak to who are coaches and mentors, who have such interesting journeys of their own. But I want to start with you, Anne. You had a career as a CEO, you are now a CEO Mentor, you’re on the Ruffle platform. You wrote a blog, it’s actually up on the Ruffle platform, about overcoming challenges as a CEO. What challenges did you need to overcome?
Anne: It’s really interesting the journey of a CEO because it’s actually a really lonely space to sit in, you’ve got all of your staff, and then you’ve got a board – and there are many times that you’re really forced to make choices and decisions in isolation from anything else. And it may not be appropriate to talk to the board, or it may or may not be appropriate to talk to the staff, but you’ve got to forge ahead and make those choices. So my journey started with really experiencing mentoring myself. I found it valuable. And for many years, I did it in alone, so to speak without someone to speak to. But once I took on a mentor, things changed markedly.
Karyn: And what about being a woman? Are there challenges around that?
Anne: Look, yes and no. And that sounds like I’m hedging my bets here a little bit. But there is a really specific reason for saying that. I think the no part of that is about how you approach it as an individual. As an individual a person that has a sense of sovereignty about how you operate and what you do. It’s a matter of just knowing that you know what you need to be doing and going forward with that. So that’s a No part of that. The Yes part of that is that you do come across, from time to time, people that don’t necessarily see you in that particular role, or might question what you’ve got to say, and so therefore, you’ve really got to come back to a point and reassess – it doesn’t matter what gender I am, I’m here for a purpose. And then you’ll be able to reframe a situation or speak about it slightly differently to draw that back in.
Karyn: And so at one point, you were when you were going to board meetings, I remember reading this in your blog, I think you were considered a token female at the time. Do you think that’s changed?
Anne: Well, that was actually very early on my career. I wasn’t a CEO then. But I was in the leadership team. And I was working within a very male dominated area. It was in a boardroom, where they used to have regular meetings with top CEOs around the around the city that would come to these boardroom luncheons. And because I was one of only two female leaders in the organisation at the time, we were responsible for taking turns to attend these regular board luncheons. And at that time – yes, very much so – I was deemed as one of the PAs or the executive assistants of one of the people there. And at that point in time, I chose not to try and correct them. Because I thought, Look, there’s no point. I think things are changing, now. I think that it’s not unusual to have women in senior leadership roles, which is fantastic. Are we there yet? No. I don’t know that we’re there yet.
Karyn: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got a way to go, which is what Ruffle is all about too, right?
Anne: Yeah, absolutely.
Karyn: Tell us about your mentor – when you say you took on a mentor? Was that a really conscious decision? Was it an opportunity that was presented to you?
Anne: Well, interestingly, it was a bit of both. Funnily enough, the first part of it was that I recognised that I needed a sounding board as a starting point, someone that I could bounce ideas off – issues that were coming up, challenges that I could bounce. So, I’d sort of had that sitting in the back of my mind for a while. But I was fortunate enough to come across someone that just fit that bill by accident. So I hadn’t actually started my search. But it’s interesting, once you have an idea in your mind about what you need, it’s amazing what comes forward. And that’s pretty much how I found it.
Karyn: Absolutely. And maybe you’re that person for somebody listening today, I do believe.
Anne: I think that’s the beauty of having a platform like Ruffle where there are a range of different mentors that can support women, particularly in their own personal growth and where they’re going, and in areas that they are finding challenging for themselves at any given time. And I think the beauty of having a range of different people to select from. My time as a CEO, I needed a very specific type of mentor, but there are other challenges that we all come across that really require us to get some insight from someone with with great experience in that area.
Karyn: Right, because it’s not just about necessarily growing our career or our business is it? It’s about personal development, which is pretty huge, would you agree?
Anne: Oh, totally. I think these days, one of the things that I think that is of prime importance is that we all are reflective and have a really strong sense of self and self awareness. And sometimes we can always see things in others, you know, ‘what if they just did this differently, then they might have a better outcome.’ But we don’t always see that in ourselves. And that, to me, is a prime time that you reach out to get a mentor to help to guide to – oh, not even guide, but just allow you the space to really explore what you need to explore.
Karyn: And so do you think that women in particular benefit from a mentor or a coach?
Anne: Look, I think everybody does. But I think women in particular, have perhaps not necessarily always seen that that would be of benefit. I think, guys – particularly those that have got careers, and let’s focus on careers for a moment – will always sought out someone with more experience than themselves to actually try and further their career, I think women are very well placed to be able to sort a lot of things out themselves. And I think for that reason, we often step back and don’t always reach out to someone that’s got the experience that we’re looking for, or the knowledge or the wisdom, whatever it is that we need at that time. So I think women are just a little bit more hesitant to do that. Whereas I think men really step forward very quickly, and will seek what they need to further advance their careers or their life or whatever it is that they need.
Karyn: Yeah, absolutely. I remember reading, I think it was in Forbes, a study about how men informally mentor one another and women don’t seem to. I used to joke and say, it’s because they’re busy running out the door to go home to their unpaid work! They don’t have time! (laughing)
Anne: Exactly! (laughing)
Karyn: So, tell us about the best advice you ever had from a mentor or a coach.
Anne: Oh, look, the best advice was to actually trust my own instincts and my own intuition. And again, I think women often defer to others, you know, ‘they must know more than I know’. But I think if we honestly can sit back and start to really have a level of confidence in our own ability and our own intuition and our own knowledge. And really, for me as a CEO, my mentor ended up becoming a real sounding board. Not so much for me to get her input, but for me to confirm my thinking, you know, like; ‘This is what the challenge is right now;’ ‘This is what I’m thinking that I need to do;’ ‘Can we hash that out and talk about it?’ And can I say, probably nine and a half times out of 10, what I was thinking ended up being the right thing. But what I needed was that confirmation, not so much the confirmation of the mentor, but a way to verbalise that. I could be become very clear that that was the step that I needed to take.
Karyn: Do you think that women are quite good at comparison, in the sense that, you know, you just touched on before about looking at other people and thinking they seem to have it all together? I know, I’ve done that many times over my years. And as a coach, I’ve talked to many people who have said the same thing. They think they just don’t quite have that ‘thing’. Do you think that a mentor helps us realise that those other people are just like we are too?
Anne: Oh, without a doubt, I mean, to me, that’s that big frame of imposter syndrome. I think women actually have that more so than ever, really. And fundamentally, it’s that lack of what I was talking about – that ability to trust ourselves. Because if we’re going to get to a level of work or personal life where you’re able to forge forward, you’ve usually got a lot of experience sitting behind you. But for some reason, women seem to totally negate all of that, you know, they don’t think that the last 10 years of working in that particular field gives them ever enough. They keep going ‘I’m never enough’. I don’t ever have enough. And I think that’s such a shame because it’s there’s so much brilliance in women, and they don’t always see it themselves.
Karyn: So how did you know that that mentor that you found was the right one? I’m just thinking about Ruffle, you know, we dish up all these amazing women. We handpick them. You’re going to be sharing a lot of their journeys through this podcast, but they can all look great and they’re all very skilled and have great experience and knowledge. Where do you start in knowing who’s right for you?
Anne: Oh, well, I actually think you start by having a conversation. I think that it’s one thing to see someone and their expertise and experience on a platform like the Ruffle platform. But the next step is to actually make contact with them. I think most of the women on Ruffle will be more than happy to have a conversation with anyone that’s interested to just get some clarity around whether that person is the right fit for you. I think that’s what it comes to. Is this person going to be the right fit for me? And the only way to know that is actually to start having a conversation. You can read everything you want about someone, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to take that step, you know, send them an email and say “Can we connect and have a time to talk? I’m interested, but I really want to understand if you’re the right fit for me right now.” And that’s the other thing, it’s a right now piece. It could be that that particular mentor is really great for you, but not right at the moment. And you need something different to get you to the next point. Or there might be a very specific thing that you need right now that they can offer, or there may be someone else who is better for you. So it’s intuition. Actually take a step and connect in with a person, have a conversation with them. And then trust your intuition as to whether or not to move forward with that person or not.
Karyn: Great advice. So, mentors and coaches really give us confidence, don’t they? If we really boil it down to one thing, would you agree?
Anne: Yep. Without a doubt, Karyn, I think that’s the thing that that we all need. We’re interdependent as human beings, you know, we’re not isolated, and we need to connect in. And we need to have people that we don’t know. I’m a great advocate for finding mentors within your trusted circle of family and friends. But I’m equally a great advocate of getting someone that knows nothing about you. So there’s no preconceived ideas about who you are, or what you’ve done, or how your life is. So I think that’s really important for people to remember is that, sure, go to your trusted friends or circles, but also reach out to someone that doesn’t know you.
Karyn: And sometimes, you know, our trusted circles are great. But like you say they’re invested in us emotionally. And I think that it’s okay not to know why we need a mentor or coach. I know I’ve felt a little bit lost and stuck at times in my life. And I feel like I want to reach out. But how do you go about doing that when sometimes you really just don’t know what you what you need? Or what you want? Where could you start?
Anne: Well, I think this is a point. You know, this is where I love the concept of the Ruffle mentoring platform, because you know, where do you start? My experience was that someone came my way. Even though I had set up an idea that that’s what I needed, they just happened to come my way, and that can happen. But if that doesn’t happen, something like the Ruffle mentoring platform allows you somewhere to go and to have a look at a whole range of different women and reach out to some of them, and start that conversation about whether or not they’re your right fit for that time. So that’s something that’s been missing, I think, for a very long time, for women to actually find good mentors.
Karyn: Absolutely, for sure. Which is actually how Ruffle came about. It’s such a fragmented industry, trying to find people who have the lived experience, like yourself, have the knowledge. But then on top of that, the ability to coach and mentor is a whole profession of its own. Tell us a little bit about how you moved into being a mentor. And what was the turning point where you thought, “I think I’d like to help others in the CEO space.”
Anne: Well, I mean, again, for me, I’d finished my role as CEO and I’d moved into consultancy work, doing work with boards, and also with leadership teams. And obviously, in leadership teams there is quite often that mentoring role. The CEO of that particular organisation asked if I would do some mentoring for them, as well as work with their leadership team. So it sort of evolved. But then I recognised that I wanted to do some more work in understanding the importance of mentoring and how to go about that. So I spent 18 months doing a programme which was certified for coaches in the area of neuroscience, I guess, in conversations. So that sort of consolidated with my lived experience and gave me that sense of Yeah, I can move on and do this with other people and be of service to them in a way that harnessed my skills, but also brought together some of the work that I’d all learning I’d done in the neuroscience area.
Karyn: Neuroscience – that sounds so interesting.
Anne: Yeah. It is fascinating. And I think the thing is that as individuals, we don’t recognise how much our words and our conversations can impact how we respond to situations or relate to situations. We talked earlier about the imposter syndrome. And one of the things that we’re constantly doing in our own mind is that self talk about, you know, well, am I good enough? Can I do this? The neuroscience piece behind that is that our self talk can be so detrimental, that it triggers what they call an amygdala hijack, which is fundamentally a flood of cortisol. And that cortisol actually stops our wisdom brain from being able to really understand what’s the next best thing for me to do. So that whole piece, when you correlate, it’s fascinating stuff. But if we understand those basics, there’s some very easy ways that we can recognise that take a breath, and just reduce our levels of cortisol to get us back connecting with our own thoughts about how we can navigate a certain situation.
Karyn: So you’re saying we can actually reduce the amount of time we spend in the impostor syndrome area? Or can we get rid of it? What can we do with that?
Anne: I don’t know that will necessarily, well, you know, that’s complex, it’s not just that moment – there’s a whole lot of belief systems that we’ve bought into this, and we’re all different with that. But I do think that there’s ways that we can learn very quickly to recognise when we get into that moment, and just take a step back and go, “Okay, I just need to get my thoughts together in a way that’s going to be serving me well.” Not running me off on a path, that means I’m running on fear – I’m running away from really what I want. So that, to me is a skill set that’s really good to learn, that allows you to just take that step back, reconnect with what we call our wisdom brain, which is the prefrontal cortex. Our flight of cortisol just disconnects us straight away. And I guess my analogy to that is you’ve ever had someone say something to you, and all of a sudden you go into this space of, “I don’t even know how to react here. I don’t know what to say!” And I guess we’ve all had that experience. So how do we stop that? We can’t stop that from happening. But how do we step back and reconnect and then understand what we need to take forward.
Karyn: You’ve clearly built some solid framework around using the neuroscience, but also with your lived experience. Tell me, how do you want to bring that forward into the future of what you do not only as a mentor as a coach, but also as the host of Ruffle Mashup podcast?
Anne: Well, one of the things with the neuroscience piece is that we’re often very busy trying to not ask really good questions of people. If we can ask questions that we have no answers for, then we stay open. And I think that’s the very thing for me in the podcast that I’m looking forward to most, is that whilst I know some of these wonderful people, I don’t know them intimately. But what I can do is ask really good questions to draw out who they are, and to excite others to hear more about who they are. Excite people enough to go and reach out to them for their own conversation.
Karyn: So you look after many clients, Anne, and you have done over the years. So, tell us a little bit about the common challenges that come your way?
Anne: Yeah, well, particularly for women, the most common challenge is, again, I come back to trusting themselves and being able to navigate the challenges that they come across, without feeling as though they have the imposter syndrome or feeling as though they’ve got to seek someone else’s input for the answers. One particular client, who was fairly new into being a CEO – she was literally questioning everything, every move that she made, every time the board spoke to her. She was concerned that she wasn’t doing a good enough job. And so over a period of time – what’s happened now three years down the track – now when I speak to her, the conversations are very different. A conversation is more around, “This is what I’m going to do, just need to talk it out with you and confirm whether I’m on the right track.” And that’s an enormous change. And I think that’s the brilliance.
Karyn: We don’t have to go it alone.
Anne: No, we don’t. And I think that for women, we are incredible human beings, and we’re very capable of very much but we’re not in isolation. And if we can all just gravitate to recognising that having someone else there as a bit of a guide, a sounding board – a mentor, a coach can make an incredible difference.
Karyn: So what can we look forward to with Ruffle Mashup – Where Women Come to Grow?
Anne: Well, you know what, the way I look at it, is we have some fabulous fireside type conversations with incredible mentors and coaches that have levels of expertise that just even blow my mind out. I’ve been inspired by the breadth and the depth of the experiences that people have and the range of areas – anywhere from needing support with finances through to creativity, through to finding your own brand, you know – who are you as an individual? There’s such a scope of people. And I’m so looking forward to finding out a bit more about them through the podcast.
Karyn: Fantastic. And of course, everyone’s going to be giving some actionable takeaways for our listeners.
Anne: They certainly are.
Karyn: So can we start with some from you today?
Anne: Okay, well, my very first one is, if we’re talking about getting a mentor, just do it! You know, you’ve got a whole new platform sitting in front of you, as of today. So jump on Ruffle Mentoring, it’s https://rufflementoring.com. So that’s my very first tip. Go through have a look, reach out to some of those great coaches and mentors, and just have a conversation.
Karyn: Actually, just a quick question, before we go there. You’ve just highlighted – what is the difference between a mentor or coach? Because sometimes, you know, when women have said to me, I’m not sure which one I need? Do I need a coach? Do I need a mentor?
Anne: Okay. Well, in my world, the differentiation to me is that a mentor is someone that’s actually walked the walk. So through their life, they’ve actually had experience. A coach is someone that may be very skilled in an area, and they have learned that area, and they’ve learned how to coach. So for me, they’re the two differences. And sometimes you need a very specific.. to me, for instance, finance is a classic example. I’m not necessarily going to go to a mentor that has not had some very strong, study and grounding working within the finance area. And they need to bring that skill to the table to be able to coach that person through what they need. A mentor for me is someone with a lived experience. I didn’t train to be a CEO, but I have been a CEO for 16 years. And my training was on the job.
Karyn: And for some people of course, that means they can be a coach and a mentor. They have that lived experience, and they are trained, as are you.
Anne: Yeah, absolutely. Exactly. So they can intersect. One of the definitions of a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor, and I think that’s a really good one. Another one is learning from someone who wants you to grow. You know, I think, particularly for women, that’s great, because women are really good at supporting each other to grow. And a mentor can often serve as a confidant, as a model, you know, a model of how to frame something. So does that help define?
Karyn: Yes, absolutely. And look, I don’t mind sharing with listeners, I’ve enjoyed having you as a mentor myself, Anne, over the past few months, and what a difference it makes. Sometimes, like you say, just that fresh perspective. I know myself, I’m busy focusing on one area when a little tilt to the right or the left can make all the difference, and away I go. So it’s just that external perspective, isn’t it, that someone gives you from the outside?
Anne: Yeah, I think we can get stuck in our own thinking.
Anne: And often that thinking can become narrow. Not because we’re not capable of broader thinking, but because that’s where our focus is at that time. And I think a really good mentor, or coach, allows you to see the bigger picture, and to take you out from that and start to zone in to, “What is really important for me right now?” “What’s the bigger picture that it sits within?” We all do that, I do that, if I’m focused on something, then I’m zoned. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves unzone
Karyn: Unzone. And that’s probably a whole other podcast right there! (laughing)
Anne: Exactly! (laughing)
Karyn: Anne Wicking, thank you so much for joining me today and for launching our very exciting series, Ruffle Mentor Mashup – Where Women Come to Grow. And I know that you’re also going to have lots of fun doing it and meeting lots of fabulous women.
Anne: Yep, I am so excited. Karyn. It’s lovely to get back into the host chair again and to be spending some time with great women. And I’m excited for our listeners! I’m excited for you guys to be able to listen to it once a fortnight and really pick up some great actionable takeaways – things that can help you right now. And that’s what’s most important. We’re women here supporting women and what a gift we can give each other.
Karyn: Anne Wicking thank you so much! Take care.