Reinvention Road Trip

Hustle not Hype - a Conversation w/Microsoft's Rashida Hodge

May 26, 2022 Jes Averhart
Reinvention Road Trip
Hustle not Hype - a Conversation w/Microsoft's Rashida Hodge
Show Notes Transcript

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Rashida Hodge, Vice President of Data and AI Customer Success at Microsoft. It was easily one of my favorite conversations of the year. While our full podcast interview is here...I just had to share a few of her leadership nuggets below! 

Nugget #1 – “We all have thorns; but we don’t talk about them… and we should.”

Nugget #2 – “The best leaders know how to pause and reflect.”

Nugget #3 – “The days of command and control are over.”

Nugget #4 – “Society doesn’t determine your sense of belonging You decide.” 

Welcome to the Reinvention Road Trip, a coffee shop style podcast that is helping thousands of women dream bigger and level up in business and life. I'm Jes Averhart. Join me as we learn from the baddest women in the game who share their powerful reinvention stories, each one dropping unique gems and takeaways just for you.

Listen, it's time to get inspired, dream louder, and own the keys that will unlock the next best version of you.

All right. Well, we are back reinvention, Reinvention Road Trip land. We have been on a road trip. We have had some incredible. In my home, I feel so honored that people would take the time to come to visit with me and have a conversation about what is happening in the workplace. What is happening culturally? What is happening personally?

I mean, these are all aspects of life that we're, we're all talking about at the table, but to be able to lay it down on a podcast from a global company perspective, from an executive and a global company's perspective, and then also kind of get really granular into the. The meat and potatoes of what a day to day life is for an executive right now in this sort of post pandemic space that we're in is very special.

And I'm really, really honored. And I'm very excited today to have Rashida Hodge in my home. Who's with Microsoft. And she is the vice president. I had to get this right. The vice president of data and AI, what is it now? I lost it. Customer success, data and AI customer success. That is correct. Yes. Okay.

Listen, we practice. I tried, I tried and I lost it on my sheet. I was like, oh, he has customer success. And she that girl. Thank you. Thank you. It's really an honor, really? And what a lovely, what a lovely home. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I, it's a pleasure to be able to host people here as I feel like it's just comfortable and we can be ourselves.

Let our hair down. Sorry. Our natural hair down and just do the thing. So you've got your tea, I've got coffee brewing, so let's get into it. Okay. All right. So yes, the Microsoft's brand is we all know it. We all have something around that. We get it. We all know Microsoft France. It's premier it's stellar brand, and you are representing at a very high level right now.

Talk to me about not Microsoft, but Rashida Hodge. So can you maybe give our folks, so, you know, our audience is all women, mostly they're professional women going through transition. They're thinking about what their next step is. They're looking to get inspire their various places in their professional career.

And I love your story. And I know we don't know. Two hours, but maybe you can give us the top line of your journey and where, how you got to this place at Microsoft, because you haven't always been there. That's true. I spent 20 years at IBM, actually. So in terms of Rashida, so first of all, I always like to say I'm a woman of Caribbean soil.

Yes. I grew up in the same. Us Virgin islands and, um, moved to North Carolina to get educated. I went to North Carolina state university for my engineering degree, but my Caribbean culture is so important to me because growing up on an island where you see doctors, lawyers, crossing guards, police officers, that look like you, it gives you a film of conflict.

That helped me to maneuver the world that I'm in. And so growing up at five at 10 and 15, I didn't realize that. And I didn't realize the confidence that was built from that village experience of growing up. But now. Yeah, in terms of how I approach things, you know, second I am a child of perseverance. My mom was a teenager when she got pregnant with me and people wanted her to give me up.

You know, people in the community had whispers of shame. Grandmother. And my maternal grandmother was extremely religious. And so it was probably the worst thing that could've ever happened. The, when my grandmother found out that my mom was pregnant, my mom actually slept on the stairs outside for a couple of days until her older sister in New York center.

And so, you know, I shared that my mom always tells me who cares. I was a teenage mom, no one cares, but for me it does matter because I saw my mom give up so much so that I can have, and I saw my mom be curious because there were so much that she didn't know, but she opened up herself to be curious, to help me on my journey.

I remember reading a book about an engineer and how an engineer solve the problem. And I told my mom, I want to get an engineer. And she said, what is that? And I said, I don't know, but in this book it talks about this engineer solving this problem, and that's what I want to do. And she said, if I'm dating myself a little bit, but she said, let's go to the library.

And research it and figure it out. There was no less Google and Google, you figured out the sharing was like, oh, there was multiple types of engineering. Okay. What do you really want to go do? And you know, that began the entire search of. Engineering, what schools I should go pursue and why what's really my passion.

And I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for my mom acknowledging that she didn't know, but she wanted me to know and she wanted to be on that journey. And so for me, my leadership and just the way that I've maneuvered a life has been through the string. Of my mom and, you know, most importantly, you know, showing others that they too can thrive and survive because many will look at me.

And my circumstance was society. Would've looked at me and my circumstance and my mother's circumstance and say, you wouldn't, you shouldn't be at Microsoft. You shouldn't be an engineer. You shouldn't have the Korean. That you have, but through faith, through perseverance through great and just really good, damn hard work and belief, both my mom and I survived by my mom, ended up retiring as an executive at our local hospital.

And, you know, I've done great things and want to continue to do great things in this world. And so for me, I'm continuously growing. From my mom and a big part of, a lot of what I do is giving back to the community because I want to make sure that individuals have an opportunity. To be able to see themselves and see, to see that every experience is not perfect.

None of us are perfect. We all have Torrens. We all have flowers and an old blossom, but you know, you can make it. And I think a lot of times we don't talk about that, but I think in the world of social media today, we see all the great things. Fabulous. Yeah, I received this support, none of this, but, and I told that to individuals that I mentor all the time, it's like, they contact me when I won an award or I got promoted, super disposition.

And I say, I have been through something, but I have been denied, paid. All right. And so there's been a journey there, but I'm grateful for the journey. And I think my mother has really been the backbone of helping me to navigate that journey with grit, but also with grace. Yeah. That's great. I'd love that story offline.

I'll share something very similar. The drum beat is how I draw. I draw strength from my mom's. My mom made choices that I sometimes look back and reflect and say, gosh, would I have been strong enough to make those choices? And then I pull from her ability to do it. Then in those times, right? Within, like in your example, in the community, that was like, what?

Right. But those choices give me strength and help me move. And I look back at them, not, not often, but when I do boy, does it pull me through, it pulls me through. So I love that. Such a strong influence in your life. Cause she's not going anywhere. She'll always be there. It's not a professional mentor, right?

This is mom. So that's she's that person makes, gives me, my shirt is on the wrong side feeling.

Okay. Yes. All right, let me go do my team meeting now, Microsoft. Okay. So you were at IBM for 20. And you just recently talk a little bit about that transition from IBM to Microsoft when that was, how long you've been there and how many people you lead now at Microsoft? Yeah, so I joined IBM right after I graduated out of college with my master's in social engineering.

I had a fabulous. And IBM, I have so much gratitude for the things that they exposed me to the challenges, you know, that I had. I, I was very fortunate. I became a, uh, leader at IBM after only two years. And so I think one of the great things about, you know, IBM is that they've done a really good job of just seeing potential and nurturing and craft that potential and giving you cross pollination of experiences.

In the 20 years I had. 16 roles within the company. I did two international assignments. I spent a year in Southeast China and Shenzhen. I spent close to four years in Bratislava Slovakia, leading teams. I traveled to more than 70 countries across the global roles that I've had. And so if I look back at, you know, that girl that grew up on 32 square, And the experiences that I was able to garner and build new muscles around.

I'm truly grateful for that. Now, just before the pandemic, I was riding hard. I was actually living in California at the time. IBM had moving to California to at least some of our AI strategic partnership back to. And when the pandemic kit, you know, I said, wow, like I, I want a little bit of a reset actually.

Cause it was really the first time that I had an opportunity to pause. I graduated, I started working and I just always work. Like I, I think for, until I went to Europe, I never even took vacation. It was my boss. In Slovakia. He was from Germany and his name was tourist. And on our forget, he sat me in his office one day and he said, what?

Rashida, we are delighted to have you here. You're smart. You're incredible. This, he loves you, but he was just like, you don't take any time off. I see notes from you in the middle of the night. I've never seen you take more than a day off and that's not really a vacation. He was like, I want you to go on a minimum two week vacation and I don't want to hear it from you.

And he was like, if your teams can't survive, With you being gone for two weeks and actually something is up with your leadership. And I kind of sat and I was like, what? Like, this is not the conversation I was expecting. Yeah. But it really forced me to really think about the leadership and how, as a leader, people watch you, whether you know it, you acknowledge it.

You want them to or not. And you know, those behaviors can be mimic. Can be liked or dislike it, but it's part of the culture, your actions as a leader, make an imprint on a college. And that's what he was telling me. And so was the first time I did, um, I was like, I came back from that experience and I was like, wow, like I actually feel good.

Like this was a good thing to do. Like going on a vacation, you go and disconnect them. I did a week doing a Scandinavian cruise. And so start in Denmark did Astonia St. Petersburg, Russia was fabulous. And then I spent a week in Paris. I mean, yes. So it was great. I went to beautiful places. I had great food.

It was fantastic. And I came back totally repressed. And it was the first time I think I was working and IBM more than 10 years at that point. And so I came back. It's funny because I came back to the U S and I remember I took a Friday off and then I took another Friday off and then my boss turned to me in.

Hey, like you're taking a lot of vacation. I was like, oh boy, culturally, we're different. But anyway, I sidetracked, but I'm super dynamic. I mean, I was traveling, I was traveling overseas. I was just all over the place. I was really running hard and I think the pandemic gave me an opportunity to do. Pause and reset.

And I think it's important because I think as leaders, the best leaders know how to do that, know that pause and reflection are actually important. And so in that pause and reflection, That's when I said, you know, look, I actually feel like I want to do something a little bit different. Not because what I was doing was bad or uncomfortable is especially living in Silicon valley.

It opened me up so much. Sure. And so many other things that were out there. And I said, wow, wouldn't it be interesting for me to go explore the hat. Right. How interesting would it be for me to be part of that ecosystem? And honestly, I didn't think I was going to let it Microsoft. I thought I was going to land at some new, sexy startup.

As part of my search and my pause culture was really important to me. Sure. And I felt that I ended up selecting Microsoft, but at the end, because I just felt that my experiences were valued. My leadership style was valued. Like I can be myself in that environment all the while doing great things from an industry perspective.

But that was second. Like when I explore where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do, I wanted to be profit. The company I worked for, I wanted to make sure I was proud for the leader that I was working for. I wanted to really ensure that I can be myself and I can make my own choices. And the process, but also do great work in the industry.

And Microsoft has fit that bill and it just ended up working out that way. So I'm really excited to be there. I lead our data and artificial intelligence, customer success team. Customer success. And basically that's what I do. My team works on helping customers be successful in implementing their data and AI services that sit on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

And so it's really my jamming because I get an opportunity to stay very close to the engineering and product teams influence where our product is going or with customers. On how they can get full value from our portfolio and potentially being in a position where the market is just tremendously large.

And they're just so much growth opportunity. I mean, we're just scratching the surface on the potential of data and AI. So being a part of that is very exciting. Yeah. That's a major, I mean, that's like the end of it, the innovation and the destruction side. Life right now is AI right? Data. And AI is like the game.

So well done friends. Wow. I have a million questions. One I want to lead in and just say the pause and reflect you said, I think good leaders know how to pause and rethink. And in your pause and reflect, you said, Hey, I want them, I have an opportunity. I'm looking at this. So want to try something new? I'm curious what else I can do.

And other ways I can make an impact using my skills and lived experience and leadership. You also said that you selected, you use a very important choice of words there. I'm assuming you recorded, you had other opportunities then. So you selected Microsoft intentionally because they let you be. You could bring you to work.

And that was important to you before we jumped on this podcast, I was sharing with you just how impressed I am, you know, as a community member and someone in the business world that is in and around Microsoft here in research, triangle park, and. I was saying to you just how unique your leadership style is.

We've never communicated it. You've never said this is my leadership style. Although I may ask you to tell me what it is, but you've never had to do that. Your demeanor, the way in which you interact with me and others, when we did our panel discussion, it just, you model it. It's very calm. It's very assertive.

It's very clear. It's very comfortable. And it's unique, whether you know that or not, it's extremely unique. And so I'm suspecting that the team that you lead in, how many folks are in your team? About 300 folks. Yeah. Okay. So you're responsible for 300 people in your organization. There's a lot of people, it's a lot of different needs and the way in which they get fulfilled around their work is going to be uniquely individual to them.

But I would imagine that they feel like they have the freedom to be themselves in your organization. Do you recognize that differential value proposition that you bring to your leadership quality? Or is it just like grown? Just be a me and it's just working for me, which is what I suspect you're going to say.

Yeah. I, I never thought about it until you mentioned it just before we started the podcast, but I think part of it is I tell folks that I suffered from this trifecta. I don't know if suffers the right word, but on my journey, I've dealt with the tri-factor of being black, being a woman and looking beautiful.

I'll put it that way. So many times I'll walk into rooms and this happened to me the other day, people would not acknowledge a. Um, and I still can't say to myself, okay. Is it because I'm black? Is it because you just think, I, I look young. Thanks mom. But, and so I am categorized just based on someone looking at me and more than 50% of those times, they don't categorize me as a leader.

And I, I remember this client experience that I had, I talk about it often where me and my team went to see a client, very large client, and we're meeting with their senior leadership and the, they had never met me before they walked into. And they said, oh, well you guys let me know. I came a little bit early, but it looks like your leadership isn't here.

Let me know when they arrive, but everyone kind of looks at me. I was getting coffee and I just turned around and said, I'm here. Great to meet you. And the person, they were like, this all goes. Well, and I always tell people that you have to teach people how to treat you. Like in that moment, I could have gotten upset.

I could have not acknowledged it, but I chose to acknowledge it in the right way to say, I'm here. You should see me. And I'm Rashida and yes, I am responsible for a significant part of the business and I will help you on your journey while you're at it. And so I think, and I think part of that, In terms of, you know, teaching people how to teach it comes from my Caribbean upbringing.

I think we're up in the Caribbean. And I tell people this all the time, regardless of how many awards I get or what my title is like, I am still Rishi. And when I show up at home, like no one cares. And I think that's part of my leadership that sits with me. I want people to not recognize or acknowledge me because of the title, a role, an org chart, how much revenue I need to close for the business, but how I treat.

That they are seen. And I want to make sure everyone in my organization, what do they report to Eric leaves me or not so that they know that they are seen, they're heard and they're appreciated. So one of the things I tell my team all the time is we are a family. Like we are an extended family. And people are surprised by that.

I mean, I send out, I'll give you a funny story because I was talking to one of the books on my, I call it my XLT. So this person reports not directly to me, but to one of my, my leaders and for Valentine's, they, I sent all of my leadership in my extended leadership team. They're a significant. Flowers for Valentine's day, but I, no one knew that I was doing this.

As people come into the organization, I always tell them, fill out this little form. Tell me a little tips about you. Give me your address, you in the name of your spouse, how many kids and so on one of the folks on my team, they, their, their significant other received the flowers for Valentine's day and they went to them and they're like, thank you so much.

And they kind of looked at, it was like, I'm sorry, but it wasn't me. And then, then finally, when it's like, oh, well let me look at the car. They didn't think to look at the car. They realize that it was from Russia.

So, oh my God, you pause a little pandemonium in my house for a second, but wow. Like I've never worked for leader. That led with such care. And for me, I always feel that as part of my leadership team, I impact also their lives and their livelihood. And so I want to think their significant others, their spouses, because they are helping them on this journey.

And so for me, I love like my leadership is about like, we are a family. I want to help you thrive at home and I want to help you thrive at work. And that's how I want you to do. And acknowledged me, not just some random person in an org chart with some title that can change tomorrow. Yeah. Yeah. I really think first of all, that's so lovely.

That's a great story too, but still lovely. I believe you, I'm starting to get some perspective on what is going on right now and this sort of groundswell cultural groundswell, and the way you describe your leadership, grog, love to work with you work for and be in that family. Right. And I think people who are listening to this interview.

This is, this is it. That's the that's the missing piece is being seen, being heard, being acknowledged, you know, in families, you do surprise folks. You do say, I see you when you don't think I'm watching and I appreciate you. And maybe you don't feel appreciated. Like I am I'm with you. Even in those moments and that's a special, very, very special variable that I believe is missing.

But I also think that you're modeling of it and I don't think you're, I don't think you're alone, but I think you're rare. Okay. But I do believe that's the direction we're headed and I believe this because the people will require that. And so we were talking about a little bit earlier about people's movement that.

What you and your family of 300 sort of like, this is how, how you move. Other people are going to say, I want us to move. I want my team to move that way too. And you know, this might sound harsh, but it's sort of like leadership will need to change or be changed because people will require it because they need to be seen.

And you can't unsee what we learned about ourselves during the. Like I can never go back. And un-see the lessons and the needs that I had during the pandemic that might've been hidden before, the ways that I work best, right. The efficiencies and I'm able, and the productivity that I'm able to have in certain environments, whether it's working at home or working at work in a workplace, whatever it is you learned, you can't unsee that now and just revert.

And so I think people are collectively reflecting. Like you said, taking pause, reflecting, and making choices. And leadership and employees will need to get aligned. Do you agree with that? Do you feel like we're moving in this direction? I know it feels a little hands, arms length, because you've been doing it.

This is nothing new for you than doing it. Yeah, no, I think it's important. I think that the days of command and control are over. Yes. I think that I think leaders need to recognize that at the end of the day, we're all first human beings. Yes, regardless of the role, regardless of our craft or probably some of our skills.

And I think the pandemic taught us that. Yeah, quite frankly. And I think leaders need to recognize that and that has to spill into how we lead, how we motivate our teams, how we drive energy. And how would you have clarity? Because that's a leader. Well is to drive clarity, to generate energy, to allow individuals to deliver results.

Okay. And so I think that I, as you were talking, I was actually thinking about an experience that I had when I was in Europe, where I received my first manager fee. And I got great results, but there were all these comments about Rashida doesn't have coffee with me. We always have our meetings in the conference room.

And I was like, what is up with people in this coffee thing? Give me a break. Right? But as I went over the server with them, I mean, they stuck to me if she didn't. Have you ever went downstairs and realized that the coffee shop downstairs and it is an extension of IBM. And I said, yeah, I see people there all the time talking and sitting, but I just got my coffee and I go, and they said, well, you're missing something like for us, like, this is important.

This is important part of our culture. And we don't feel that you've taken the time. To really understand us in our culture. So you've done really great things and we're grateful for that, but what about us? And I think what they were saying is, have you seen us. The work, forget the job, but you know, talk to us in the context of who we are.

And I think it's a simple example, but very powerful that leadership is and will always be contextual. Yep. And it will always be, you know, acknowledging to my point. Have you been seen, have you been heard right? Because they felt they were getting clarity. But they actually didn't feel that they were getting the right level of energy.

Yes. I figured that I picked it up. Yes. Because I didn't really see, I wasn't seeing them in the context of their culture and their wellbeing. And I have to say, like, when I started to do that, I mean, things changed that have so many people that are really good friends today. That the work for me in that environment.

And that probably would not have happened if one, they didn't give me that feedback. So I think as leaders, we need to really recognize the feedback that people. Are giving us right. And truly isn't gifted. And I think a lot of times in the past, we didn't acknowledge the personal feedback, the feedback about our persona, the feedback of not what we do, but how we did it.

And I think as part of this, use your words, the people movement, the how is going to become much more important. It's all about what you told me to do, but how did you do it? How was it expressed? What was the context in terms of how you did it? And I think that's becoming more prominent. I think people are holding their leaders accountable for that, and they're being much more vocal.

About it as well. They don't feel afraid to have the conversation. Cause lots of people felt afraid and now they don't. Yeah. Yeah. It is my duty to be open. It is my duty to be transparent. And I think leaders need to acknowledge that one. It's not going to change and that they will be held accountable.

Yes, yes. Yes. That's it. Okay, well, that has dropped the mic for me. This is such a great conversation because it feels right on the nose where we are. Thank you for that example would a good one girl, where aren't we having coffee? I'm giving you the information, whether it's in a conference room or a coffee shop, it's the same clarity.

Is there. Energy. Do you see us? How we move as a team? So good. So good. But I ended up again, a fine point on taking that feedback. And you said reviewing it with your team, not just holding it tight, reading it, deciding what worked for you, what didn't, but bring your team into the feedback and saying, so. I am doing great.

It sounds like, except I'm not having coffee with you and it changed. Everything changed the way you looked at how you lead your team up. So good for cheetah. Tell me you got a lot going on. Your plate is full. You walked in here and you're like got a million things a day. And yet you're still here because you're saying yes to a lot of things.

And I'm grateful I was on the yes list and everybody I'm sure is grateful. They're on the yes list, but we're going to have to say no to some things. Cause you're only one person. So I'm just curious, we've been talking about burnout and I know people are very curious, like how you manage your day, these simple things.

Like how do you go through the day? How you think about your day practically again might be a no-brainer for you, but might enlighten some folks may look, I have to tell you I learned this the hard way. Okay. Probably about eight years ago, I went to the doctor. And my doctor said, you're pre-diabetic zone.

She said, look at this chart and the chart, she showed me, it was just lined with just going up. And I said, well, what is bad? And she was just like, that's your weight? And she was like, you have control of the. Under control. And when she told me that it was a wake-up call for me, that because I would say yes to everyone else, my boss said, go to Korea, go to Australia, go to Singapore, make a round trip and go to California.

And I'm like, sure, I'll do it because there's a, again, not tri factor of being a black woman that people underestimate. I felt that I had to say yes to everything, to prove myself. I had to prove to everyone that I can do it. You gave you give me the time. I'm willingly going to extract and if are out to do cartwheels the bacon happen, that's what I'm understanding happened.

Yeah. And in that moment, I had to realize that I I'm the most important I'm the commodity. Yes. That's a quote that in a hook you need community. You need me. And so if I'm not my best self, you're not getting the best out of me. And so for me, I decided that my space, my time, my health is just as important as any client.

It's just as important as anything that comes from my boss. Okay. And so I've actually just very openly. I've been on this journey for the last eight years and I think I have really perfected it. I mean, I'm in the best shape of my life. I feel very confident. I have no shame early on. I would be. Shameful to say, oh, I'm going for a run.

I can't make that meaning. That's my exercise time. Now I remember when I tried to send to Microsoft, I told my assistant, I said, I walked three, four hours a day. I said, do not move my walking time before discussing it with me because it has to happen. And it's not going to happen after hours unless I want it to happen after hours.

So we've got to figure out how to integrate it into a normal day. Yeah. Okay. And she was like, okay, I guess so that's what we're doing. And so, but you laid the argument out beautifully. I'm the commodity. I need to be my best self such that you, I can do these things on behalf of this organization. The most important thing here that you said is whether people value it or not.

This is what I'm hearing you say, whether you're a manager valued it or not. You are setting the tone. I'm going to need you to value it and then share with you. Why? Because I am the commodity here. You're asking me to run around the world. Can you go around the world and 360 days, you're like, sure. But I'm going to have to have boundaries.

So you set the boundaries over eight years, best shape of your life. If I'm out, I feel fabulous. Yes, girl. And I have, I feel control and that's important. It sounds like a really small thing, but it is moving through life. Where you don't feel like you're in control is a very painful place to be. And so I am, I feel that sense of control and it helps me with my wellbeing, my mental health and the perspective that I have.

And it gives me confidence to say, Yes, but not right now. Okay. Or no, this is what I'm going to prioritize at the moment or no, I just found out about this meeting at the last minute and I had a prior commitment. I think there's two parts of it. I think one is, you know, you recognizing what's important to you because everything that is important to me may not be important to you.

You know, so for me, one is getting my walks in every day, having time to get on my Peloton, I just get so much energy right from that. The third is. Spending time actually at home in the Virgin islands. Right. Like I tell people that I get so much energy from being amongst my family. If I have a lot of family that lives there and just the warmness of the community, when I feel exhausted, that's the first thing I think of like, I'm going home.

I just need just that vibrancy of the community to strengthen me. Yeah. And, and I think the third thing. My thrive. Right? Like I just got a couple of people that I just need to find time to talk to them, whether it's on my walks or in the middle of my day, like I spoke to a girlfriend of mine actually yesterday, I haven't spoken to her a long time.

We've just been super busy and I just called her and it was. Seven minutes. We were literally on the phone and it was amazing, like a jolt of energy, right. That girlfriend energy. It's true. And so before I remember, like I didn't make time for those things. So I think one is recognizing what are those things that give you energy?

When are you at your best? Because everyone has to recognize what allows them to thrive. So that could be through activities. It could be based on your environment. I remember when I was getting recruited at Microsoft, you know, one of the things I said is I am not moving to Seattle. Because it rains too much

loose ties and everyone says, oh, Rashida may through September is so beautiful. And I'm like, sorry guys. Like I need more than four months out of the year to be happy. And so I said that, I said, let's make sure we not have this conversation for too long because more clinics my jam. Yeah. Good for you. And post pandemic, it's still going to be my jam.

So let's not switch. Let's not have a coat switch a year, two years later and say, this is why you needed to be, cause it's not going to happen. And I probably 10 years ago, I probably would not have said that I would have probably said, absolutely whatever you need, whatever you need, I'm there. And so that goes back to the point on control.

Like I feel, and I feel confident in my skills and feel confident in my capability and because of that, I have control. I don't have shame of what I need to do to thrive. It actually makes me feel good to make those decisions, because I know that I can be at my best view. Yeah. And I'll tell you just as a woman listening to you say that and own it with the confidence and the security, the self possession that you say it, it's not.

So this isn't lessons, like you're not skittish about it. You're very confident. It feels good to hear that helps me sort of solidify even the decisions and the way I move. Like it's okay to model that. Cause sometimes I, I do, you know, you are a whatever you need, whatever we need to do to make this happen at my expense or at my son's school.

Or fill in the blank. That's important to me as expected. And I think that as leaders, we need a lot of that. Actually, we're having a leadership meeting next week in Seattle in Redmond, our headquarters. And, you know, unfortunately I had something previously planned and scheduled that I was going to do and logistically it just wasn't feasible for me to counsel and to rearrange.

And so I spoke to one of the folks on my team and I said, look, I'm not going to be here. I'm not going to dial in virtually. This is a fantastic opportunity for you. And I want you to see it as a great opportunity because it is, and you're going to be me. You're going to be you, but you're going to represent this organization and you're going to do it well.

And I want some of my boss and my boss's boss, and I said, I just fly them for you that I won't be able to make it, you know, at this I'll work with the team on all the prep, but I've had something personally that I'm just not able to fix it. And then also in that communication, I said to them, but I'm going to have this person on my team who was fabulous.

This gives an opportunity for you to see their broader potential. And so I think as leaders we need to, so in that moment for me, I did two things. I said to my leadership team, please respect my choice. It's not a diminishing point about my commitment at all. It's just, unfortunately I just can't make this work.

However, there's a fabulous talent on our team. That's actually going to do a great job in representing the business. And I didn't have to do that. But as a leader, those are the things that we should do great. Because as leaders, we should lead, not just for our own personal story. But we should lead for driving the success of others.

Yes. And I think a lot of times as leaders, we don't galvanize and do that. Yeah, we're so focused on how we get up the ladder. In my view, as a leader is that I'm going to be successful if I galvanize and bring my people along. And so that was really important for me to do, to not just say, I'm not going to be there.

Thank you for supporting that, but I'm not going to be there, but thank you for supporting my team. And I want to make sure that you see them, and I want you to make sure that you see them with the right level of broader leadership that they will this. Yeah, it's beautiful. Yeah. I mean, there's a quote. I'm going to get it wrong, but the essence is there, you know, that true leadership doesn't lead from a position of power, but a place of empowerment as exactly what you said, because you could have just said I'm in a position of power.

I can't make it catch you on the other side, somebody send me the notes and I'll send you my one pager, right? But you said, no, I'm going to empower someone on my team and that really is genuine true leadership. And it's a real commitment to your leadership ability to say that we have a deep bench. I'm not the only one here that knows what's going on.

And you would, I hope you wouldn't want me to be the only one that you can go to and I'm going to display our talent in a way that. Appropriate and perfect in this moment. That's right. Well done, friend. Well done. All right. Well, we're around in third. Here. We can get to any of my questions. This is such a great conversation I have to, this is great.

I'm loving this like two questions. I just want to know, like, what brings you? You told me your family brings you to. You reached out to your girl tribe, they bring me a joy and energy you're working out. Is there anything else, anything that you're reading, listening to maybe putting you on the spot, but is there anything that you want to share with our listeners that maybe they could tap into that has particularly stood out to you at any point in your career at any point in Montana?

I think one of the things that I live by is. Build from your circumstance. Okay. Say more. And I think that, you know, for me, I think our upbringings are different. Our environments are different. The cards that we're dealt are different, but I think we have more control than we think we do. And I think what we recognize that it gives us power and it gives us confidence in that moment.

And we. And so I think that a lot of times we look for validation from others and from society, but we should first look for validation from ourselves because I think many times we don't value ourselves. It may take a while for others to validate us. Okay. And so do we want to wait until they figure it out or do we want to figure it out first?

Yeah. And I think the path of us figuring that out. Is knowing that there will be circumstances, but we controlled what we build from those circumstances. Nice. That's nice. It reminds me of a portion of our, we have a 28 day program and on day six we asked the women in our cohort to do their highlight reel.

It's a powerful moment because it seems kind of juvenile almost like here's your highlight? Like what did you, what have you accomplished? But every time that without accepting. That exercise is one of the most powerful exercises of the week, because we don't take the time to look back at our circumstances.

What we've overcome, how we've achieved, the resilience that we had to have to do it. The lessons that we learned, the humility that was required, the fire in the belly, when nobody else knew that we were up at night at two in the morning, trying to work through a thing, no one knows. And we know, but we don't reflect and celebrate those wins.

And so when we ask these women to do that, it's a statement. It's a statement of who you are as a woman and how you actually can subscribe that it's evidence. That's what we say. It's evidence of what you have achieved. So this moment in time, while it might feel hard, it might feel insurmountable. You have done it over and over and over time has said, you have shown that you have done it.

So in this moment you can do it again and something that's, all you need is to be reminded, not of what Rashida has done and her amazing. But what you just said, your journey, your journey is evidence enough. It really, really is. And if nothing else, it's lessons that you can learn to get better and grow to be better tomorrow than you are today.

No, I agree with that. And I think the second thing I would say is, you know, my mom always would tell me she was like, society does not determining your sense of belonging. You do. And if you believe you belong in that space, And if you believe you are worthy of being in that space, then you belong. I think a lot of times we, again, we, we give the app, the belonging, the sense of belonging to someone else.

And I think the more, as I've grown in my career, I have taken control of my sense of belonging that I am worthy to be here and I'm worthy to be in these spaces every single time. And so I think that that's super important because especially now is even with the people's movement, you hear a lot about authenticity and you hear a lot about belonging.

You hear about, you know, does this company, or does this environment give me a sense of belonging and I think a little bit different. I mean, I, I think, yes, you have to feel like you belong in the space, but I think a lot of that comes from you. And I think we should take personal ownership of actually making those environments and dictating the sense of belonging we want from those environments versus the other way around.

I love it. It's beautiful. What, and on that note, cause we're just going to land the plane. I can talk to you for hours. Truly what I say when I do talks, I say, I end every talk with this, which is the row is better because you're in it. And today I am better because you are in this room. So thank you so much for.

Spending the time sharing your wisdom being. So just honest and easy to talk to about the way you see the world, right? It's not philosophical. It's just the way you practice your life. And I appreciate that because it doesn't have to be so hard. We just have to get in touch with what's important to you.

So that we can, like I said, be better tomorrow than we were today. That's it incremental change. So thank you so much for us. Thank you so much for having me. It's really an honor and a privilege. Thank you. Thanks friends for riding along on today's re-invention road trip. If you like, what you heard. A friend and leave us a review.

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