Intrinsic Drive™

She Engineers with Stephanie Slocum

November 16, 2022 Phil Wharton - Wharton Health Season 4 Episode 4
Intrinsic Drive™
She Engineers with Stephanie Slocum
Show Notes Transcript

Stephanie Slocum, was quickly moving up the corporate ladder planning to enjoy the engineering career of her dreams. As an architectural engineer, she loved designing the “bones” of a structure, buildings that have lower environmental imprint using sustainable materials. She has built hospitals, schools, laboratories, and university buildings. These buildings will stand through hurricanes, earthquakes, and blizzards---as a testimony to her work.

On the surface, the future looked bright. As a rising star in a male-dominated profession, Stephanie minimized the severity of daily workplace inequality, bias, and the fallout of not utilizing her true talents. Then a close family member died suddenly from a rare incurable cancer, unable to fulfill his many retirement dreams. Turning to food as a respite from all the stress, Stephanie found herself one hundred pounds overweight and suffering from acute acid reflux, which became so severe she was unable to speak. 

Stephanie’s oldest daughter was sharing an elementary school book project; looking back in the rear-view mirror at her young writer, “I’ve always dreamed of writing my own book” she lamented. “Why don’t you do it Mom? You always tell us  'if you want to do something the time to start is now.' ”

Stephanie wrote She Engineers: Outsmart Bias, Unlock Your Potential, and Live the Engineering Career of your Dreams, during stolen moments of time that was not her own—while working over fifty-hour weeks at her engineering firm and raising three young girls.  

Six months after publishing her book, she pivoted from employee to entrepreneur, founding Engineers Rising in 2018. A self-described reluctant entrepreneur, Stephanie found the courage to make that leap by embracing a mission larger than herself: to normalize women as leaders in the technical STEM fields. Today, she helps women become influential leaders while having a life, and she assists organizations committed to gender equity in STEM to create work environments that retain and engage their people.

Stephanie is a keynote and women’s empowerment speaker, corporate trainer, mom of three girls, proud introvert, and winner of the 2020 Connected World Women in Technology Award for her work empowering women in STEM. In the last two years alone, she has spoken and inspired more than 5000 technical professionals through her talks, presentations, and workshops in organizations ranging from Fortune 500® companies to small businesses, non-profits, and universities.

 Stephanie’s audiences learn how to embrace their unique skill sets, stop second-guessing their worth, and articulate the business case for themselves so that they can become recognized for the leaders they are. Stephanie holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architectural engineering from Pennsylvania State University.  It was a pleasure to catch up with Stephanie during her episode of Intrinsic Drive.

Intrinsic Drive™ is produced by Ellen Strickler and Phil Wharton and Andrew Hollingworth  is sound editor and engineer.  

Phil Wharton:

A lifetime of training, practice study, hard work through discipline, some achieve excellence, mastery, fulfillment, self actualization. What can we learn from their beginning discoveries, motivations and falls? How do they dust themselves off and resume their journey? During these interviews, stories and conversations, we reveal their intrinsic drive. Stephanie Slocum was quickly moving up the corporate ladder, planning to enjoy the engineering career of her dreams. As an architectural engineer, she loved designing the bones of a structure, buildings that have lower environmental imprint using sustainable materials. She has built hospitals, schools, laboratories and university buildings, structures that will stand the test of time. On the surface, the future looked bright. As a rising star in a male dominated profession, Stephanie minimized the severity of daily workplace inequality, bias and the fallout of not utilizing her true talents. Then, a close family member died suddenly from a rare incurable cancer, unable to fulfill his many retirement dreams. Turning to food as a respite from all the stress, Stephanie found herself 100 pounds overweight. She was diagnosed with acute acid reflux, leaving her unable to speak. Stephanie's oldest daughter was sharing an elementary school book project, looking back in the rearview mirror at her young writer. "I've always dreamed of writing my own book she lamented". "Why don't you do it? Mom, you always tell us if you want to do something the time to start is now". Stephanie wrote She Engineers, outsmart bias, unlock your potential, and live the engineering career of your dreams, during stolen moments of time that was not her own, while working over 50 hour weeks at her engineering firm, and raising three young girls. Six months after publishing her book, she pivoted from employee to entrepreneur, founding Engineers Rising in 2018. A self described reluctant entrepreneur, Stephanie found the courage to make that leap through embracing a mission larger than herself, to normalize women as leaders in the technical STEM fields. Today, she helps women become influential leaders while having a life and she assists organizations committed to gender equity in STEM, create work environments that retain and engage their people. Stephanie is a keynote and women's empowerment speaker, corporate trainer, mom of three girls, proud introvert and winner of the 2020 Connected World Women and Technology Award, for her work empowering women in STEM. In the last two years alone has spoken and inspired more than 5000 technical professionals through her talks, presentations and workshops in organizations ranging from Fortune 500's to small businesses, nonprofits and universities. Stephanie's audiences learn how to embrace their unique skill sets, stop second guessing their worth and articulate the business case for themselves. So they can become recognized for the leaders they are. Stephanie holds a bachelor's and master's degree in architectural engineering from Pennsylvania State University. We are thrilled to host Stephanie, on this episode of intrinsic drive. Stephanie, thank you so much for taking time out of your such busy world to be with us here on intrinsic drive. And welcome to the show.

Stephanie Slocum:

Thanks so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here.

Phil Wharton:

Let's go to your beginning your Genesis. What was the start for you in all this? And was there an inciting moment for that?

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah. So everything in my story is led with curiosity. And I think that's is something that just trended all the way through. So around age 10, I wrote my first story. And I won my first science fair. In the eighth grade, I won a writing contest. And the same year I spent two weeks in the Rocky Mountains over the summer with the Girl Scouts at a scientific research camp. And that continued on so like in high school, I was doing science things and I was Drum Major in the band. And I played three different sports at three different times.

Phil Wharton:

Wow

Stephanie Slocum:

So then when I got to college, I struggled to put myself into that box. That would be required to choose a major. And I switched a couple of times, I eventually found my college major, because of serendipity. I was playing tennis with a friend. And he came to play tennis with me directly from class with this architectural building model. And I knew he was an engineer. But I'm like, what engineering do you get to make architectural building models, so creative side, and you get to do the analytical stuff. That's when I discovered architectural engineering was a thing. And so that piece of my journey in terms of being interested in all these different things, that led me initially down the path to be be an engineer. And so let me fast forward to how I came to be a business owner, because I didn't start out my career, thinking to myself, or even in childhood, thinking to myself, I always wanted to do this or that or the other thing, in that I may differ from some of the other folks that you've interviewed. Because for me, I've always been kind of, we're gonna call it a renaissance woman.

Phil Wharton:

Absolutely.

Stephanie Slocum:

In that interested in a lot of different things. But the sum total of this was, it never occurred to me that I had limits. I always thought, If I can just work hard enough at whatever this, whatever I wanted to do, I could go do it. And so I applied that working hard philosophy to my technical craft, so engineering. And so as I as I came down that path, and we can go more and more into this, I essentially thought that, you know, the fact that I was interested in so many different things that didn't fit in my technical career path. One of my early managers had commented that, you know, an engineer that likes to write, that's weird. I've never heard of such a thing. I read that in your book. And I was like, Oh, yeah. Makes sense. In terms of the way you're explaining it in the career, but not the way we look at it in terms of process. Yep. Yeah, yeah. And so I thought it was me. I thought that there was something about me that didn't scream leader that didn't scream, you know technical expert, and I looked at what everybody else around me was doing. And instead of being like, oh, I'm gonna own my unique strengths, gifts and talents at that time. I'm like, okay, I am going to fit myself into this very narrow box. And I did well, like I did, I went up the career ladder and all that.

Phil Wharton:

And this is in Texas, this was this is now we're looking at your first professional job

Stephanie Slocum:

We're straddling between both Between the different jobs I had. So my first job, as you mentioned, was in Texas. It was a little bit of a different Different rules, different attitude, maybe towards women on construction sites, specifically. That said, like I worked with a lot of great people who I don't think were ill intentioned or anything like that. It was just all about kind of the ingrained unconscious stereotypes we often have about, you know, there's, there's one woman on this team, does she really belong there. And I felt that whether that was true or not, but I felt that. And so I went along, I changed jobs. I moved back to the northeast, which based on my experience, a little bit more progressive towards thing, women out on job sites and engineering and that sort of stuff. Yet still, I tried to fit myself in this box. You can make a difference in the world.

Phil Wharton:

There you go. Yeah.

Stephanie Slocum:

That is what drives me and I reconnected with that purpose. And that's what led me down the path I am on today, which is where I have the best job in the world. And the perfect one for me, where I am on a mission to normalize women. As leaders in the technical fields, and that's what I do, and that's what I want for everyone, all the listeners, whatever that path is for you, this is what I do today is I help people find those paths. Because I know what it's like to go down a path where on the outward side, it looks like everything is unicorns and rainbows. I mean, we all know that's not the case when you go behind the scenes in any path. But for me, it just, it took me a long time to lean back in to all of the things in the kind of coming of age through childhood and coming up, that I knew to be true, but somehow I forgot, in about 10 years wandering around through the wilderness that is corporate America.

Phil Wharton:

And how could you not believe some of the stereotypes now you're in this new profession, you're in what we call the ascent phase, you're rising in your craft, you're gaining momentum, but they're telling you the messaging is improper, because they're telling you, oh, let's sublimate these true strengths and sort of work on these weaknesses. Instead of owning up to and really nurturing what your real mission is, which is now bringing women in STEM and I loved you in one podcast said STEAM, I thought the with the arts as well, which was another moniker which I really loved as well. And so how old were you at this point? And was there an event that made that clear to you in that in that moment, right there, as you're rising up in this career path, but understanding look, there's got to be a departure here. Something's not quite me.

Stephanie Slocum:

Right. Right. Okay. So there were two things happening during this time.

Phil Wharton:

Okay.

Stephanie Slocum:

The first thing was, I was recognizing that what that what was helping me to be successful as an engineer had nothing to do with technical stuff.

Phil Wharton:

Wow.

Stephanie Slocum:

It had, like, Yes, I had a baseline of technical knowledge, I had worked very hard at gaining. But when I looked around, I'm recognizing that oh, it's all the communication skills. It's all it's the ability to take the technical jargon and demystify that, for the non technical audience for the clients I was working with. And so that was happening, that I was starting to come to the conclusion that wait a minute, a technical career isn't just about being a technical person. And there is a way that someone who, no I'm very curious about the technical stuff, but I was kind of starting to get a little bored with the technical stuff at that point in time. And so I turned my curiosity over to people. In terms of okay, I'm looking around, you know, what makes some people be successful. What makes the same set of circumstances are very similar cause some people to hide their head under the covers, and some people to excel? Like it is that like, what is intrinsically within people that makes them tick. And so as I'm thinking about all these things, I had a confluence of kind of personal events that happened.

Phil Wharton:

Okay. And so the one was that I had three, I had two children, I found that I was pregnant with child number three, and I am a

Stephanie Slocum:

Planner that was not in the plan. And so I'm big like, oh, wait a minute. We got to, you know, kind of rejigger things around. So, that was that was one thing. And I got married pretty young. So I got married when I was 21. And so he had been part of our life for 15 years. My husband's or my life. Obviously, my husband's for longer than that. 15 years when he retired, and he was always talking about all the things he wanted to do when he retired. About two years after he retired. We got a call on Memorial Day weekend, he had been rushed into the hospital with un Horrendous stomach pains, didn't know what it was. They ended up he ended up having emergency surgery and found out he had a very rare form stage 4 cancer, not curable. It was, it was a hard time and it was a you know. I knew something was going to change. I knew something in my career. Like I knew I wasn't on the right path. I didn't know what that was, but like so And it was at that point, I'm like, Okay. I have an opportunity here.

Phil Wharton:

Yes.

Stephanie Slocum:

And you know, you get one life, you get one chance to make the difference you want to make.

Phil Wharton:

That's right Stephanie.

Stephanie Slocum:

And I have to not waste it.

Phil Wharton:

Yeah. That's

Stephanie Slocum:

So it was at that point, I'm like, Okay, I need to start, like making plans to move forward. Okay. So I got I got two moments going on. And I'll tell you the third that was the actual catalyst for doing something. My second grader came home from school. We were in the car driving home, so completely ordinary situation. And she's like, you know, we are working on this book writing project in her second grade class.

Phil Wharton:

Oh, my gosh, yeah.

Stephanie Slocum:

And she's talking about this. And I'm like, you know, I have always wanted to write a book. I actually, like had written a little mini one. When I was a kid, I had published other things. I'd actually made a college guide for engineers when I was in sophomore year of college. Like there's a there's a thread here.

Phil Wharton:

Wow the book is saying, I'm here. I'm here.

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah,

Phil Wharton:

I'm ready to be born. I'm ready. Yep. And my daughter. So, second grade. And so the seven years old and all her wisdom goes, Mom, you are always telling us that if you want to do something, the time to get started is right now.

Stephanie Slocum:

So what are you doing? And I'm like, Okay, I'm getting schooled by my second grader.

Phil Wharton:

So good

Stephanie Slocum:

That happened. And then a couple of days later, I got an email from a friend of a friend who runs a self publishing school. And that's what started me down the journey of writing the book. Before I will change directions and go down different paths.

Phil Wharton:

No, but that's three major synchronicities and the fact that you were able to listen at that point, doesn't matter how hard the hammer has to fall, that you're willing to, to get that crash and say, Look that now is the time so that sounds feels like these, you know, from, you know, the devastating illness, your daughter's realization, these are some of your big mentors. Here, I'm also, you know, as these new things that are coming to light, these are some of your teachers that are opening up this new thing. And at this point, what urged you forward? Was this sort of some of the external and internal forces that moved you right into starting the book? But I noticed in the book you said look, then as my daughter opened this path saying why aren't you doing it Mommy? You start going at five in the morning. And then so as you're still working 50 plus hours a week. This is not like, Okay, I'm gonna take a sabbatical to do a book project with an advance. This is you moving forward on your own. This is really, really amazing.

Stephanie Slocum:

So let's, talk about this a little bit because I get asked all the time, how did you do that? And often, my response now is, I mean, I know but I don't know. In terms of, you know, so let me paint the picture for anyone who hasn't read She Engineers yet. So the picture is this, I am, I have been, I was working in a small organization, I am in a quasi executive level role, meaning that I am doing technical project management, I'm interfacing with clients, I'm doing some level of business development with clients. I am still often the only woman in the room or at the various different things. And I am writing a book called She Engineers. And so there were doubts from the very beginning when I realized that was the book that was wanting to come out. Right, and that okay, what's backlash gonna look like here? What what is this going to be? But I felt this compulsion to keep on going. Because early on in my career when I was struggling to put myself in the box, when I was struggling to fit in with my work environment, I wish someone had, like pulled me aside and saying, It's not you. It's a broken system we're working in and it's a broken system that you know, is pretty apparent to women or minorities when you come in. It's also not serving the men either. Like where, you know, we have these roles we're hiring for And fit yourself into the role, when we really should be doing the opposite. We can have a another long conversation about that specifically.

Phil Wharton:

Exactly, no.

Stephanie Slocum:

I thought it was me. I thought there was something wrong with me. And as I'm writing this book, and the fact that I have three daughters also played into this, because I'm like, if any of them become engineers, or scientists, or even just women in the workforce, I don't want them to have to struggle like I did. And if I have stuff that I've had to figure out for myself, that I can share and make a difference. I feel obligated to do that. And so as I was writing this book, you know, ideally, I would have loved to be like, Oh, can I take like just a month off and focus on writing this book? That wasn't going to happen. And so I'm sitting here thinking about, okay, I feel like I have to write this book. I am working more than 50 hour weeks as an employee. The baby isn't yet sleeping through the night. She's you know, one and a half, two years old at this point, and very inconsistently. And I'm like, I don't have free time. How is this going to happen? And so what I did was I went to Starbucks over lunch and wrote chapters here and there. I got up early. I wrote, you know, a page. Okay.

Phil Wharton:

I love it.

Stephanie Slocum:

I stood in line at the grocery store and

Phil Wharton:

Right.

Stephanie Slocum:

While I'm standing in line when something voice memos, so recorded and wrote it. came to me. And it took me about eight months to get that first draft done, but it got done not in one big effort of let me take a couple of weeks off and just focus on this.

Phil Wharton:

Right.

Stephanie Slocum:

It happened with very consistent effort over time.

Phil Wharton:

This is not on Walden Pond and disappearing into the forest, this is you finding stolen moments which aren't there. And using every moment of time, that's not your own, which I think is just it's a it's a huge testimony to the that internal drive, that that you had that mission. That was bigger than yourself, you know, for my daughter's for for that, little girl in me that doesn't have some of the opportunities that it needs to have going beyond this, this bias and this, what is it you said in the book sometimes 4%? I mean, it's some of the percentages are mind boggling.

Stephanie Slocum:

The percentages are depressing. So for women in engineering, specifically 40% of us never go into or quit engineering. And the the other statistic that always gets me and really gets everybody if you think about it, so one in four women leave engineering after age 30.

Phil Wharton:

One in four.

Stephanie Slocum:

When you think about that, that means they invested all that time in college, they got their careers well established, no one can argue that they just aren't interested in math or science, which I often hear as the reason we don't have a lot of women

Phil Wharton:

Not true. More and more going into the stem. So that's

Stephanie Slocum:

Right But they they leave. And typically, there was a big national science foundation study done about 10 years ago. And what they found is that the women were usually leaving for executive level positions in other industries. And in case you're wondering, for men, it's one in 10 men in comparison, because they have that data as well. And so it, you know, getting that book written was very much driven by, how can I make a difference in this field that really, like I'm fascinated by the work I am fascinated by technology, I am fascinated, extra fascinated by the intersection of people and technology.

Phil Wharton:

Yes.

Stephanie Slocum:

And this thought that, you know, no matter how scared I am, to publish this book and put it out there because it started as a complete side project. By the time I was publishing it, I had started to move a little bit towards kind of business planning, what if I published this and it takes off, like I had already started to think through that. But even up to the time I hit the publish button. I was very much thinking about, like, what am I going to do about the backlash? What am I going to do about the fact like, you know, the people I'm working with, you know, find out about this, this project I'm doing that is very near and dear to my heart. But I kept on coming back to this idea that you know what, this is bigger than me. It would be irresponsible of me to put all,

Phil Wharton:

That's right. like to have all this knowledge and hoard it to myself. So thankfully, You're able to move forward because there's the negative mind that saying this is totally destructive to my career. This is going to impact severely my family because there's a lot the stakes, the stakes, the stakes are so high here.

Stephanie Slocum:

Right. I mean, the stakes are high. But for me, I found that the stakes, I mean, I'd already been suffering from the stakes of not being true to myself. Like, there were signs that, you know, let's, let's talk a little bit about physical signs here. Right? Let's look at the science.

Phil Wharton:

Please

Stephanie Slocum:

In terms of, there were signs for five years I wanted to think my way to success. And I wanted to ignore before I wrote that book, that, you know, my body internally was not happy with the career path, the stress levels I was on. And I think for me, a lot of it was, so I like tagged on to the analytical, you know, let's think about everything. all the kind of emotional things in the world. That was deeply, emotions were deeply uncomfortable for me. And I was like, Okay, I love the idea of a technical field, because that means I don't have to worry about emotions ever again. And so what I would do when I ran into stressful situations, is I'd be like, I'm just gonna push through, I'm gonna do whatever I can do to numb my emotions, and keep on going and pretend they don't exist, and keep on keeping on. And so then things would happen, like one morning, I woke up, and I couldn't speak. And I went to the doctor. And the doctor told me that I had an diagnosed acid reflux that apparently I couldn't feel, and I got some medicines and all that. But like that, just complete ignoring of how all this numbing and how the stress of not fitting in, I was like putting into my body. And then I also gained a ton of weight. You know, I know, everybody can't see me. But if you could, I could tell you that there were points in my career where I weighed 100 pounds more than I do right now. And it was because of the stress of numbing emotions, because I didn't know how to deal myself with, my body was telling me that I couldn't take my kind of authentic self and help it show up at work, like my body was giving me warnings and clues and all these things. And I was choosing to ignore them.

Phil Wharton:

Yeah, and we're not taught in our culture to decipher those. And then until we're, you know, in a hospital, and then they're running a battery of tests and people saying, Oh, we don't really know what's wrong, or you're, you know, in these things that we, you know, find out is, serious adrenal burnout may be, that you're mentioning and yours, you're constantly in that sympathetic nervous system response. And, and then, you know, eating out of a stress response to which, which we all do, and a lot of us when things aren't going well, and, and we're trying to compensate in some way. So I think that's really powerful. And that's also beautiful, how you're able to write that in the book and and move that impetus, okay, something has to change, there could be a new way forward, I think. And so, from this, from this fall, how did how did you start to pivot and move, you know, obviously, the book project comes out, and then only like, five or six months later, you start the, your company. How did that happen?

Stephanie Slocum:

So, when around the time I started. Actually a little bit before I started the book project, I was also starting to recognize that things were not going to change on their own. And I made a decision that I needed to change something like I had had enough, I had had enough of the stress of feeling like I don't, like don't fit in. I had had enough of feeling like I wasn't using, like I was being underutilized with my particular skills, gifts and talents.

Phil Wharton:

For your true talents. Yes.

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah. And so what I recognized at that point, was that okay, like, I have always been fortunate enough to have very strong family friends support system. But I had neglected to cultivate that sort of system for me at work. And so I looked at kind of, if I if I'm getting this book out there, I see myself, either in leadership or doing something with the business. How can I get more access to more people that are doing those things? So essentially, how can I go find business people and expose myself to them? Because at that point, the only people I've ever really been exposed to at work were people with I'm going to call it an employee mindset. Yes. And that and you know, for some people, the corporate career path is great for you. For me, it made me sick. And it was my biggest regret in starting a business, is that I didn't start it sooner. And actually, some of my friends and family around me said it's about time.

Phil Wharton:

Okay, this feels right. Yeah, this feels right.

Stephanie Slocum:

But I feel like the first piece for me that started to give me confidence around the time I was writing this book was just getting into a group of people, which I went and sought out myself that were like, oh, yeah, they're business owners, they have done this. And in fact, when I published the book, the very first thing that happened like two weeks later, somebody from my network, emailed me and said, Hey, I see you have a book out, can you come speak to our young professionals groups or women's groups on these topics?

Phil Wharton:

Yes.

Stephanie Slocum:

And we will pay for you to come do this. And I didn't even know that was a thing. And so I'm like, Yes, I would love to come and talk about things I love to talk about. And I went and did that. And then when I came back, it happened a second time.

Phil Wharton:

Great. Momentum.

Stephanie Slocum:

And at that point I'm like, okay. There

Phil Wharton:

Oh, that's amazing. might be something here. And so I called one of the people that I had, you know, had was a basically an informal mentor at this point. And I call I remember calling him over my

Stephanie Slocum:

And even to the day, my husband, my biggest lunch break. And I'm like, Okay, I said, I'm really thinking seriously, that it's time to go, like, start my business. Talk to me about what you did. Like when you were still working as an employee, before you started your business. How did you make that transition? And we had a conversation about that. And then, you know, a couple months later, I set the date. I'm like, Okay, I'm resigning on this date. supporter in the world. The day I came home, I told him, I was going to do this in the day I came home, he's like, he's like, "I wasn't sure you're really going to do it". Because I'd been talking about it for so long. And again, it was for me that decision was where can I have the biggest impact in my field. And what I recognized was that for me, there would always be another technical person who could do what I was doing with the technical stuff. To be able to change the industry, to be able to normalize leaders that are divergent thinkers that think differently. That that is my calling. That's what I'm supposed to be doing no matter how scared even saying that now still makes me.

Phil Wharton:

I love that. You can see how divergent thinking is a good way to, to frame that because it's like, okay, in your book, you're bringing in emotional intelligence. And you know, you're talking about, okay, speak from your, let's write down your values, your strengths coming from that context. So it's really a self help consciousness book, within the field of empowering these in the engineering genre. But it these same things are tenants of living a good life. Of finding your purpose, that can be applied to so many different fields. And that's what I took away as a person that's not an engineer. But I said, there's all these things, oh, yeah, I'm very fluid. Okay, I can do this, I can write down my values and write down my strengths and start to learn, okay. And then also the research correlating the research in the field and people that aren't communicating and the devastation of some of that, like, the gentleman from from BP that you referenced, who was an amazing engineer, very high level technician in his field. But in that moment, of not understanding communication, and the devastation of this fallout from all that needs to be mobilized for the whole Gulf and in the oil spill, what that downstream will do. So I think that there's so many elements to the book. And if, if we look at it a rollback in the show, we think about things that we would do differently. If anything, would there be anything that you would do differently besides maybe starting your engineering firm a little earlier in State College? But would that be?

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah, and so, you know, I've thought about this over the years alot. And I keep on coming back to the conclusion that everything that happened along my career path has led me to where I am now. And I'm a believer in the butterfly effect and that if I were to go back and change something, like if I if I don't major in engineering, I don't meet my husband.

Phil Wharton:

That's right.

Stephanie Slocum:

If I go to you know, if I went to a different college or university or a different different place, there's like a whole bunch of things that wouldn't have happened. And I so I think that no, in terms of the actions that I took, I think that everything led me here to this conversation with you today. And I learned something from every single experience I've had. I've learned how not to manage people. I've learned how to manage people from my experiences. What I do think I would do differently, is reconsider how I think about things. And that I would have done more. And you know, if I could go back and tell my 20 year old self something. It would be to do like focus on internal work, mindset work. Earlier in my career, focus on unpacking the myths you have unconsciously brought in from the world and decide if those stories, those stereotypes are serving you. Because what I would do is I would like waste energy, beating myself up about all the ways I didn't fit, instead of leaning into my unique skills, gifts and talents, because even even before I started the business. I learned. I had started to learn that the more I leaned into what I was good at, and tried to kind of delegate or not do the other stuff. The better I did. I actually got a promotion the month before I published the book, so this would be like seven months before I resigned. And I think part of it was because when I as I was writing the book, I was getting more confidence in Yes, I am applying my unique skills, gifts and talents that trickled over into work. And got noticed. And so yeah, that is the thing, and that, like you can learn something from everything. But how you think about it, I found has made the difference for me between feeling stressed about this thing that's not going your way and being like, okay, how can I turn this activity into? You know, when I look back, it's a gift and opportunity. What can I learn from this?

Phil Wharton:

I loved how you frame that for others, especially young people that are coming up that may be not aware of negative language that they're using, whether it be kinesthetics, you talked about even power poses and things. But I love the fact that you know that you're looking at, hey, we are what we continually tell ourselves, what we're messaging ourselves from the from the internal world and the external world is manifestation of that. So you're really getting them. Okay, let's think of how to frame this not talking about the rainbows and unicorns idea of just okay, everything's happy. And it's a fake. It's looking for solutions from a positive strength standpoint, and how can we use your own strengths to hone that. But it's a daily practice.

Stephanie Slocum:

Absolutely

Phil Wharton:

And you're speaking to this in the book, and that's why I just, I love it so much. And I want to think about your journey. And Stephanie, what's most important to you now? And and what's the road ahead look like for you? And what's next?

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah, well, thank you for asking that question. I will definitely say more books are in the future.

Phil Wharton:

Great.

Stephanie Slocum:

I actually co-authored a book chapter on impostor syndrome. So in if you don't know what impostor syndrome is, it's this feeling that you are, you don't belong. I talked about

Phil Wharton:

I loved that section, in the book.

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah, and so I actually co authored a chapter with someone else on it's a book that has women in mechanical engineering, and that was actually traditionally published. So that was exciting.

Phil Wharton:

Great, good for you.

Stephanie Slocum:

There will be more books coming out beyond that. But really, so late last year, I did a whole bunch of case study research, doing interviews with current women and non binary leaders around what have those people done to be successful? what can organizations do to better support the divergent thinking leaders? And one of the trends I observed is that this idea of leaning into your strengths, leaning into what makes you, you know, unique, and positioning yourself in a role to be able to do that, along with this idea that like what, what is a leader? And the idea that the leadership model in many places is broken. We've alluded to this earlier. About, you know, we, if we want to be successful, we need to craft our rules around us. Not try and fit ourselves into the box.

Phil Wharton:

That's right.

Stephanie Slocum:

And so the that is my current focus. And I think where my focus is going to be moving forward in terms of turning that some of these findings from the case studies into a leadership program for women in the field, and also help some of the organizational issues that are going on here. So that people don't feel like I did, and I have to put themselves into a box. But instead are like, okay, I can flourish in my career path, wherever that may be.

Phil Wharton:

That's right. You're creating a new paradigm, it feels like it's, it's an orbital model with you, the entrepreneur, the leader, the you know, you the the you that you're you're mentoring, you know, the young women in STEM, that are coming out and saying, okay, all these other externals are around you, and you can learn to navigate when your center is so strong, you're building that base of foundation of, personal self care of education, just alone of learning, that you can have the job of your dreams or create the job of your dreams is very empowering, that you're actually doing that through, through diving into what speaks to you. Not a passion that burns out, but a true joy that that emerges from this curiosity from the things that you're best at. So I love that.

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah, Absolutely Phil. That's exactly. That's exactly what my goal is. I want every person, every person I work with, but really I want every person in the world to find that path is uniquely them.

Phil Wharton:

Yes.

Stephanie Slocum:

And align, you know who they are with their work. And I know for some people, they're like, Oh, well, that's, you know, that's a pipe dream. That's not realistic. And I will tell you, this is what I thought too. Earlier on, I thought all of the kind of self actualization stuff was like, very Whoo wooey.

Phil Wharton:

Right

Stephanie Slocum:

I'm like oh no just like, just keep on working hard. Keep on working hard, keep onworking hard. And what I found is that doing the internal stuff, like if you want to change the world, you need to change yourself first.

Phil Wharton:

That's right.

Stephanie Slocum:

And that was a very hard lesson I had to learn. And hopefully, for some of the listeners, today, you hearing me tell you that will keep you from having some of those same challenges.

Phil Wharton:

Yeah, it's actually very grounded, it's very grounded. Because we see what happens when we don't do the internal work. You know, the things that happen when we get sick, and we can't speak and, and we start to, you know, put on extra weight, all these things, and we're stressed and we're ready to quit a field that we really love. Because there's a disconnect, we're disconnecting from our energy field. So it's, it's very real. And I salute you from coming into it from the work from a very grounded place, not a not a spiritual Twinkie place but a very grounded place, right? Which I love that I can feel that in it coming from an engineer standpoint, it's much more powerful. And and in the slipstream on the show, we kind of look back and think about the path of our life as we leave behind what kind of gems of advice or any kind of advice you'd like to leave for the for people listening today?

Stephanie Slocum:

Yeah, I have two things I want to share. The first is really get to know yourself. Get to know what makes you tick, stop trying to fix your weaknesses and just kind of push on. Like, here are the things I'm good at how can I put myself in a spot where I am in my genius zone more often. I think I would have probably saved myself some heartache. But then again, I wouldn't be able to tell the story the way I can. Because I'm one of those people that really has to learn things, the hard way for them to stick. And then the second thing is, you know, we're, I feel like, I've done some cool things, but I feel like a very ordinary person in that. Sometimes we listen to stories of other people. And we think to ourselves, you know, I'm not that brave. I've actually had people telling me that when I tell some of these stories, you know, I'm not that brave. I don't have that much courage. And I want to say to you, that's be BS. And that's the courage like you have what you need to be successful to do whatever you want to be however you define success inside you. So my question to you is like, take a baby step. Like what step can you take today to move you a little bit closer to a life that you love. As I shared, I wrote a book in 15 minutes a day here, 30 minutes a day there, couple hours here and there. You can take that same philosophy and go have a life in a career that you

Phil Wharton:

Yeah, that's, that's so well said. And I just

Stephanie Slocum:

Absolutely. The one last thing I wanted to love. just urge you right now to go to Stephanie's website, we'll have all the links in the liner notes here to everything that mention is I'm I said I did a case study report with a bunch she has. And it's it's a beautiful site, and you can go in there and you she'll give you a free copy autograph, just like mine, She Engineers, outsmart bias, unlock your potential and of leaders. There is a, that report is available for free create the engineering career of your dreams. It's a really, really great read. It doesn't take long to read. But it takes a lifetime to sink in, we're going to be continually also on the website. So if you're curious about if you are returning to these these lessons and doctrines. And we still look forward, also Engineers Rising, go to their Engineers Rising website. And there's so many free resources and links to in the technical fields, and you're curious about how you can everything. We're going to have a transcript of this podcast there for those of you that would like to read as well as listen, and anything you'd like to add in terms of things that you're you're promoting on the site? accelerate your own path or what your organization can do, to

Phil Wharton:

Please go and go to that. And Stephanie, just really such a joy to be with you. I look forward to meeting better support women, minority leaders, the divergent thinkers, you and your family up in State College and let's be in touch come check it out. and and keep doing what you do and sharing your gift with the world. It's just such a blessing. Thanks for coming to intrinsic drive.

Stephanie Slocum:

Thanks for having me, Phil.

Phil Wharton:

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