Nicole Bensen

4 CEO’s walk into a webinar…

Hi friend,

I just got off a Zoom webinar of 4 CEOs talking about how they build trust in their orgs. And these are big-name companies: CEOs of Hilton, Delta Airlines, Edward Jones, and Great Place to Work…moderated by the CEO of Fortune.

CEO headshots

…and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

On one hand I appreciate the people at the top talking about how they value diversity and how they care about their people – but one of the CEOs especially kept dropping numbers and facts like they were pitching, and we should be impressed.

I’m sorting out my feelings because it felt so…stiff and corporate. The perfect background with the company logo. Saying “all the right things.”

It felt inauthentic. I didn’t feel heartfelt from a few of them. It felt like I was watching bigwigs in an exclusive club who have no idea what “real life” is like.

And this is my struggle.

I teach workshops on self-promotion, and how “it’s not bragging if it’s based on facts.” And how it’s so important (especially for women and other underserved groups) to speak up about their accomplishments or risk falling behind their self-promoting peers.

I’m a HUGE cheerleader to people I meet sharing their awards and celebrations, so why did this feel different?

Maybe it’s because it was about the company and not about their own accomplishments?

And just because their real life isn’t MY real life doesn’t mean it’s NOT someone’s real life, right? Their life is just different than mine. Things they might consider normal would be a luxury for me.

AND I know that things I consider normal would be a luxury for someone else. Part of the reason I speak up about wanting money and nice things it to make it more normal. We all deserve to have things and experiences that bring us joy.

So, why am I feeling uncomfortable when these people are sharing objective facts and their normal?

Probably something for me to unpack with a therapist, but it has my wheels turning for sure.

I want to project a professional image on video calls. Am I coming across too coifed and inauthentic?

I want to share my accomplishments in celebration. Am coming off arrogant and disconnected?

Even if I DO come across arrogant, is that because society has implanted in all of us that, “Accomplishments should speak for themselves.” “Nice girls don’t brag.” “Good girls are quiet.”? 

Is any of this resonating with you? Do you think your CEO gets you?

Usually I pop in with a happy wellbeing tip or tool for you each week, but I felt the need to share. 

Thanks for letting me get that out. 🙂

And in case you’d like some tools for April (aka National Stress Awareness Month…as if we need a special month to make us aware of our stress 😆):

Authentically cheering for you!

P.S. One thing I DID really like from the webinar: Penny Pennington, CEO of Edward Jones, was talking about supporting employees and how they should feel:

  1. You get me.
  2. You guide me.
  3. You make it easy. (Or at least not harder than it has to be.)

I agree that managers who cultivate this kind of relationship with their employees are an example of a great leader.

BTW, is it not amusing that Penny Pennington works in finance? 😂



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