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I recently had an incredible podcast with two powerhouse women, Grace Puma and Christiana Smith Shi. Christiana worked with McKinsey & Co., and Nike. And Grace was a COO of Pepsi and has worked in a ton of corporate jobs. They met on a board and became great friends, and together they have taken over 50 years of experience working in corporate America and put it into their latest book called “Career Forward.”

Now, whether you’re a male or a female, their book is about if you’re trying to create a career versus a job, and they give so many helpful, proactive tips on not only how to navigate the landscape, but also some of the things that you might be experiencing and taking things that might be perceived as a vulnerability or a weakness, and making that a strength.

They share how not to negotiate against yourself. And finally, some of the most interesting information on how not to let your career ruin your personal life.

So I hope you enjoy my conversation with these two women for whom, this was a labor of love. They put this together because they wanted to share their experiences and create a roadmap to help other people. And they certainly have done it in their latest book, “Career Forward.”



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  • 00:01:31 – The Backstory
  • 00:02:52 – Finding the Work/Life Balance
  • 00:04:23 – Figuring Out What to Do
  • 00:07:20 – Creating a Personal GPS
  • 00:09:46 – A 360 Focus on Choices
  • 00:13:41 – In the Great Reshuffle
  • 00:18:08 – The Value of Diversity
  • 00:21:14 – Who Do You Turn To?
  • 00:26:43 – Being a “Growth Stock”
  • 00:28:38 – The Underdog Advantage
  • 00:33:11 – Changing the System
  • 00:37:32 – Maintain Your Personal Life
  • 00:44:22 – Comfortable Travel Tips
  • 00:46:38 – Advice for the Modern Woman
  • 00:50:47 – The “A” Word
  • 00:54:17 – Negotiating Your Salary
  • 00:59:25 – Switching Gears
  • 01:03:08 – The Age of “Quiet Quitting”
  • 01:06:39 – Fighting for Purpose Not Power

Show Transcript:

[00:01:20] Gabby Reece: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Gabby Reece Show.

Grace, Christina. This, I was just saying welcome to my show, but this is one of my first times and I think digitally it’s my first time doing two guests.

[00:01:28] Christiana Smith Shi: We’re looking forward to it.

[00:01:31] Gabby Reece: So let’s get right into it. The two of you have written a book together, “Career Forward,” and first of all, I just love the backstory on how the two of you met, and then what brought you to wanting to write this book together.

[00:01:46] Christiana Smith Shi: We joined a board together, and you don’t think about joining a corporate board as a way of making friends, right? That’s not normally what people recommend you do if you’re looking to make friends, but we were immediately kindred spirits. And I think it’s partly just because our approach to life and what our career journeys have been like and it makes a big difference to actually look forward to working with someone. And it wasn’t something that, that we had expected when we joined this board.

[00:02:14] Grace Puma: So the the other thing is, we thought about one day we were sitting there and we were talking after a board meeting, and we were talking about our, I hate to use the word kids, our adult children. They’re millennials and they’re all in the workforce. And we were sharing stories organically about things that we learned in our careers and how we wanted to make sure we pass it through to them. And a lot of this book is really rooted in giving back and being able to share our learnings.

But as a practical guide, it’s not the typical book of, take your seat at the table. It’s really about practical advice and exercises and thoughts about how to really cultivate a good career. So that was really the reason we did it.

[00:02:52] Gabby Reece: I couldn’t help but think when  I read the book and in reading it and you think, okay you’re two females and there’s some very specific things.

You’re moms, and there’s certain parts of the journey that are they are female oriented, but really the way that the two of you wrote this book, I thought, it doesn’t matter if you are thinking about being in business and creating it. There’s so many incredible reminders and points and quizzes and takeaways in the book, whether you are a female or a male.

I think it was it’s just a really thoughtful approach to a work. Not only having a career, but work-life balance. And I just really appreciated the way the n the nuts and bolts elements to it that would really benefit anyone.

[00:03:41] Grace Puma: Certainly we, feature the book for women, but you’re absolutely right.

You’ll see as you go through it, it’s whether you’re a medical professional or you’re in service industry, or you’re a male or a female, or any demographics, you’ll find that this is something that’s about how you strategically achieve what you wanna achieve and how you do that in a pragmatic manner.

[00:03:59] Christiana Smith Shi: Yeah, and I think we wrote it aiming at women, particularly women earlier, mid-career, but when we were talking to potential publishers. The editors that responded incredibly strongly to it were also men. And I think that’s when we thought, if they can relate to this advice, then it’s more universal even than, than we thought when we were, starting to write it.

[00:04:23] Gabby Reece: I always say, good information is good information, it’s good for everyone. And you really accomplish that in this book. I couldn’t help but think when I was reading it. It is hard for a lot of people to find their thing, to find something they love. But this book is set up for somebody who has maybe got their teeth in something like they on a path already.

I’m just curious before we go into that, if you, because you do have kids and I’m sure you’ve mentored a lot of young professional people, is even how, what are the questions that you invite people to ask themselves to. When they don’t have a, such a clear path to, Hey I’m gonna lock and load here and pursue this career.

Do you, ’cause I’m sure you have people come up all the time going I’m not sure and I want to dip my toe. Do you guys give advice to somebody who hasn’t even gotten on deck yet? All the way to saying, this is what I’m doing.

[00:05:16] Christiana Smith Shi: It’s actually important to note that neither Grace nor I knew exactly what we wanted to do in our careers when we got started.

So we very much understand and identify with that mindset. And one of the first pieces of advice we have for people when they’re trying to set a career direction, but they haven’t even necessarily picked a field, is just get a job. That’s basically what we say that to recent graduates, right?

Whether you’re undergrad your high school, your grad school, get a job, work for a while, and use that experience to start to figure out what you like and what you don’t like. Now, on top of that. We talk about passion and purpose and environment and work. So those four, four elements of, what are you passionate about, what are you trying to achieve in life?

That’s that sense of internal purpose. What kind of environment do you wanna work in? Which includes the people and the place and the kind of company or employer. And then what’s the specifics of the work that you really like to do? What are you good at? We talk about layering those things in, but the foundation for someone who’s just getting started is.

Go start working and see based on your own personal experience, what that information is telling you about where you wanna go and what you like.

[00:06:30] Grace Puma: So when we talk about this, we talk about this in career forward around setting a cardinal direction, okay? And I think what’s important about Cardinal direction is, and it’s a lot of what Christiana just spoke about, but those elements start to frame where is it that you wanna go and what do you wanna achieve?

It incorporates ambition, it incorporates aspirations, but it does it in a way to understand that as you’re starting out and you start to go through your career, your experiences shape more clarity on those components. And as they do, it’s very important to be strategic about the type of jobs you’re taking, the type of experiences you have, what you’re learning as well as your external environment in terms of where the opportunities are and what’s evolving.

Those are the things that help you define your cardinal direction and you work towards it.

[00:07:20] Gabby Reece: Strategically, what you’re saying is so important because also I think we’re surprised. We might think we’re on this type of person, and then you get into it deeper and you’re like, no, actually I’ve learned so much about myself in this process, and I am so surprised that this is what I’m excited.

And both of you have taken very different paths. Like you grace you, you moved around a little more and took different types of jobs. For me, the really interesting part of this is the two of you coming and bringing also different perspectives. And so I think it’s important people have to realize you’re two different people who did it very differently and came together and wrote this in a way to, to to just give a really strong foundation for people to ask these questions and pursue this.

So you, you share in this book just first and foremost, creating that personal GPS. And almost like values and guardrails professionally. I think we do that as people, but we don’t realize, oh wait, I gotta have to do this actually as a professional.

[00:08:22] Grace Puma: Yeah. I think absolutely. And I think, we talk about it in the book as you wouldn’t get in your car and just start driving, right?

So you think about a GPS for your career in the same way you wanna be clear about where you’re going and what you wanna achieve, knowing that there’ll be turns on the road and that you’ll make the adjustments along the way. The GPS premise is really important and it’s about setting the direction and it’s about really understanding that you’re on the right track and or if you’re off the track, how do you get back on the track?

[00:08:49] Christiana Smith Shi: And I’ll tell you, Gabby, you, I think you and a lot, all of us who’ve built something can relate to this. Your, you can get to the same destination through different routes. And so the actual route that you take might change, just like the GPS will tell you there’s traffic ahead. And so you need to get off the highway and, take a side road.

We definitely talk in “Career Forward” about how as our life circumstances changed, we adapted and worked to get things in our career to align with what we needed. At that moment, we were still heading towards senior leadership roles. We still wanted to, to run things. We still had the same direction, cardinal direction, but we recognized that there were some alternative ways to get there, and at different points in time, we needed to make those kind of choices.

And that’s important, I think, for people to recognize when they’re planning out their career. It doesn’t always all go in a straight line to the big, job at the end.

[00:09:46] Gabby Reece: It’s interesting how, and you two know this better than anyone. It’s so fascinating for me that we get taught certain ways that what success looks like, right?

It usually involves titles and zeros and, and I think Cristiana, you were involved with, Hey, out there full-time grind, become a mom, and go, wait a second, I’m in a different place in my life. And you actually, I would imagine from a corporate point of view, ha we’re a, a unique person and saying, I’m gonna do a part-time, so I’m gonna go to 80% of my workload and I’m going to figure out how to work four days.

So I know that I can be home for three. And I just think that’s a very important example. And this is another thing I’m jumping ahead, but where you really talk about encouraging people to have this 360 degree view of this, of who you are as a person, what you want in your life, and then what you want in your work.

What I’m interested in from both of you, because this is the hard stuff. The hard stuff is you can’t say, Hey, I wanna be a CEO and I would like to also be home three days a week. I think sometimes we get stuck thinking I’m supposed to say that because that would be the end result of this path that I’m on.

It would show that I’m really quote successful versus having big, important jobs, meaningful jobs, meaningful contributions, meaningful paychecks, and cutting back just a little so that I get to be, here because it feels important to me how, because. For me, what is, I don’t wanna say it’s unfair. I think the disservice we do, especially to women is we don’t, we say, oh, it’s harder for us, or, oh, men have it easier.

I just don’t think we set the table and say, no, you’ll be navigating different choices.

[00:11:43] Grace Puma: It’s actually one of the things I think that we talk about very differently. We don’t. Necessarily we think about things different than the work-life balance theory and Kris Jenner will talk a little bit about that.

It’s really for us much more of an intentionality wheel where you think about three-sixty as your personal and your professional life are integrated, okay? And you want satisfaction in that, but you are making trade-offs and you are thinking and being able to shift and pivot based on what the priorities are at any given time.

So it’s not a, guilt-ridden trade-off discussion. It’s actually an in and truly encompassed both and Kris Jenner. You wanna say a little bit more about that?

[00:12:22] Christiana Smith Shi: We think work-life balance is a tired concept. People have been talking about it for 20 years. Nobody’s found it. So let’s stop thinking about it that way, right?

Let’s think about this holistic view of what you just said, Gabby, which is, I. You gotta accept some of the realities of life, which is that sometimes you’re gonna work harder than you want to, and sometimes you’re not gonna be able to work as hard as you want to. That’s work. But we also believe that if you are happy at home, you are more productive at work.

If you are satisfied and fulfilled in your work, you are happier at home. At least that was true for us. And we were better mothers and we were better people, and we were better managers and leaders because we were turning this wheel and finding out, how to get the alignment that we needed at any point in time.

But it’s within the realities of what you just said, which is if you’re working. And if you’re at home, you’re at home and you’re gonna have to keep spinning the wheel so that you feel like, you know what? All the parts of my life in general, are fulfilling to me at any moment in time. Is everything perfect?

Nope. That’s probably not happening. Maybe once in a while. Over the longer haul. I am happy, I’m fulfilled, my kids are good, and I really like where I am in my career, that’s what we’re trying to set as the aspiration.

[00:13:41] Gabby Reece: I really appreciate this because I think there’s a lot of conflicting dynamics that don’t actually help us solve some of these things.

And I think it leaves a lot of, again, women especially frustrated, but again, not to leave out men because there’s this belief that if you’re gonna do it, the only way that it counts is if you do it this specific way, which means you have to be in the C-suite, and you have to make X. and I, and what I do appreciate about the group coming up now, and I was so glad that you talked about this is this transition that we’re going through in life.

I find very uncomfortable, like with technology and quiet quitting and all these things. There’s a discomfort because it is, as you guys put it so beautifully, a reshuffling. But it’s people and the next generation going, wait, I’m not gonna totally buy into this. Maybe there’s a different way to do it, but I’m just, I’m fascinated to know how you think.

It’s moving together. Because the other part that’s undeniable is, especially when you’re young, when you just come outta school and you haven’t created, these other dynamics in your life, that’s usually the time that you’re working longer and more. It’s, we used to call it paying your dues.

I just think it’s part of the deal. You’re getting experience you’re making yourself available. You are learning a bunch of stuff and you are working your way through. And I feel like this is gonna be an interesting, is if that part’s going to transition. Into this reshuffle. I don’t do, what do you two see?

[00:15:21] Grace Puma: Look I think in many ways the environment today allows for a lot of flexibility, which I think will help employers and help individuals try to achieve their career. On the other hand, at the end of the day, it’s about creating your own, give and takes. Okay? It’s not, things don’t happen to you.

It’s about you owning your career, owning the responsibilities to build equity. We talk a lot about building equity as table stakes, and by building equity through consistent high performance, by continuing to, be learning and achieving in areas that companies need, you actually can earn an opportunity to gain more flexibility in your personal life or when those moments happen.

So I think for the crop of leaders coming up now. It’s not all the way to the right or all the way to left. It’s about pragmatically making choices and trade-offs and realizing that, the more you’re able to take pleasure in your career and achieve and contribute to your company, you are equally able to make the choices you need to make sure your personal life is integrated in a way that’s satisfying overall.

[00:16:25] Christiana Smith Shi: And I think we’re watching some of this play out with our own kids Gabby, because, they’re in their late twenties, early thirties kind of spot on the millennial, generational bubble. And the concept that we try to share in the book that Grace just touched on is this notion of build professional equity so that you can then leverage it to get the flexibility and the solutions that you need at work.

And, one way or another we’re watching successful people in this, these next couple of generations they’re figuring that out intuitively. We learned it by doing, and we’re trying to just short circuit that for other people and share it now, which is to say you build credibility, you build mentors, you build supporters, you build options in your job when you’re really good at what you do and you’re very intentional about what you’re doing.

And that example that you referred to a while ago about me offering or suggesting I go on a part-time program, when I was in a classic consulting firm, I was able to do that because I knew that I was a strong performer, right? I get feedback. I knew what they thought of me and. It was time for me to see if I could trade in on that equity that I had built by being such a strong performer by asking them to meet me part way in a work solution that, that I needed right then.

And that’s the secret. I think, regardless of the times or what’s happening, in work in general is if you are good at what you do and you focus consciously on building that equity with your workplace, you can actually use that as a currency to invest in getting the flexibility that you need.

But you have to be strategic and think about it that way.

[00:18:08] Gabby Reece: Instead of us all being the same, that really companies work better when there is a diverse group at the top. That means different skill sets because, and I don’t know, I don’t think, and again, I don’t like to generalize, but it just seems to be the way it shows up.

There’s something about men where, they joke about, they’ll be like, I can do it. And we’re even if we could do it, we’ll be like I hope I can do it. They just, it’s a different, I don’t know if it’s testosterone or whatever, it’s, and it’s fine, but you’re just think, wow, that’s amazing, that level of confidence.

But that you share that, having that diversity, you’ve seen it, a diverse team, versus a certainly individual or same is better for the company.

[00:18:51] Grace Puma: I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I also think we talk about what you’re touching on the power of the super dog. And it is what you’re speaking about.

It’s around, there’s multiple ways to approach situations. You can’t control everybody’s behavior, everybody’s perception in the workplace. But what you can do is you can decide how you’re gonna react to it and also leverage it. So we talked to a lot of successful women in the book as well as ourselves, and said, gee, there is actually power to people per perceiving that they underestimate you.

For one thing, when you achieve it’s, there’s a wow factor. Most people wanna come and say, wow, look what you did. And the fact that they may not see you coming in terms of your performance or your ability. A lot of what we talk about is, don’t get caught up in the noise of the environment and figure out how to channel your direction and your capabilities in a way that it actually becomes an advantage.

[00:19:39] Christiana Smith Shi: We talk about this concept of we talk about two concepts, fake it till you make it, versus Imposter syndrome. And we have strong feelings about both of them. And you were talking about this with, do men sometimes, have a bit more swagger ahead of when they, they earned it or whatever.

We definitely found, and we reviewed a lot of research that women in general believe they need to demonstrate they can do something before they are allowed to do it, so to speak. And when women are evaluated, particularly in corporate settings, a lot of the time they’re expected to show that capability before they get the promotion.

Whereas men might get the benefit of the doubt get promoted based on intrinsics or potential. So what do you do with that? We don’t buy into the whole imposter syndrome thing ’cause we think it’s about building the confidence of knowing that you are good at what you do, that you’re here for a reason, listening to feedback, tuning into what you can do better, having a continuous improvement mindset.

If you have that, you’re not an imposter. You’re going to be able to learn, you’re gonna be able to grow, you’ll be able to do whatever it is you’re being asked to do. Fake it till you make it. We talk about that. That’s more of a Jedi mind trick is what we call it. Which is if you need to look in the mirror every morning, put your hands on your hips and say, I got this, then do that.

You’re not really faking it, but you are building up your confidence ahead of, delivering on whatever it is you’re being asked to do. And that’s okay. ’cause that’s about what you need to do to get your mind in the right place to go ahead and take on some risks. But you’re not an imposter.

[00:21:14] Gabby Reece: You both multiple times have had to deal with being already high up in a company, I would imagine, and then being faced with the fact that you wrote about and I love this Skid which told me intuitively, oh, they, they’ve been through it. And I wanna get to Skid, but what I was curious is when you’re one of the bosses and something’s coming your way, that you actually really, you don’t know what to do it, what do you do?

Because it isn’t fake it till you make it. Is it, oh, you, it occurs to you who to go to get help from? ’cause I think what happens is especially as we move up in things, we’re like higher stakes and I don’t know what to do. This is a new thing. How was that? For you, where, how did each of you deal with something like that?

[00:22:07] Grace Puma: I think it happens a lot, especially as you grow in scope and dimension and level to your point. Yeah. And yeah, the stakes are high. And when you assume those jobs, people just assume you’re capable and out, out of the gate, day one to go do it. What I found to be helpful in my career was, first of all, being confident that I’ve learned things before, I’ll learn this too.

Okay. So you don’t, you’re not, I used to use the term that you’re not hatched with all this knowledge. You learn, you grow, you go through experiences. So be confident you’re going to figure it out. And then it really gets into learning what you don’t know. Everything from, if you’re taking over a new area, you’re gonna learn about, you’re gonna study on different capabilities.

You’re gonna be looking at different technologies, you’re gonna be. Looking for people with high equity and high knowledge in those areas, and really be humble to ask for, can you explain this to me? Can you talk about a little bit about this? So you have to, you have to be in a place where you’re always still maintaining learning agility and you kick into that gear until you gain the competency and then know you’re there for a reason and all the other skillsets and capability you have will apply.

[00:23:14] Christiana Smith Shi: And usually that takes care of it. I would add to that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes, and it might be as grace said, by making sure that you’ve talked to the people on your team and found out what you already know, what they’re already doing. Talk to your peers. Ask if they’ve seen that particular situation or problem before.

Talk to your boss, right? If you’re in a position where you can it’s not saying, I don’t know how to do it, to say, Hey, can you gimme some advice on this? Hey, asking the right questions of the right people is a skill. It demonstrates that your command of the situation is such that you can recognize where you need to get additional input or support.

You don’t go into these things thinking I’m the lone warrior. Or I always call it the second lieutenant. I’m the second lieutenant going in front of everybody else. I’m the one that’s gonna get ambushed first and then the rest of ’em be fine. We don’t want you to do that, right? We want someone when they’re at work to recognize that not nobody knows everything, period.

Nobody. So recognizing where to go and who to ask when you need help, when you need input, when you need to leverage someone else’s experience that is. A skill in and of itself, and we recommend you build it early in your career ’cause you’re gonna need it.

[00:24:26] Gabby Reece: Do you think part of that is intuitive? ’cause I have experienced a lot of times when you’re more, when you sit something’s happening, you feel a little underwater upside down.

If you sit and get quiet for a second that it gets dropped in like just a person’s name and it’s not even the most obvious person. Sometimes it’s usually like, why am I thinking of that person? And I guess I just wanted to bring that up because it, I just, I really wanna encourage people because so much of this fear of not knowing what to do keeps people from really starting and it’s hearing from people like you, hey, it’s hey, this is gonna happen over and over again.

[00:25:05] Christiana Smith Shi: It’s true.

And it can be earlier in your career and it can be when you’re senior, right? Yeah. And earlier in your career sometimes, funnily enough, it can seem more risky. To say you don’t know how to do something, then later in your career, because you think I just got here, if I go tell ’em I don’t know how to do this, they’re gonna wonder if I was a hiring mistake.

And I can remember that being in consulting, working for a manager who was super busy, kept his office door closed. So there was like this big barrier to try to get five minutes with this guy to ask him if you were doing the right thing, if you were on the right track, whatever. And I remember as an associate standing outside his door and I could see him through the glass and he’s on the phone and he is doing stuff on his computer and taking a deep breath and just thinking to myself, if I don’t go in and ask him if I’m on the right path with this analysis I’m doing, I’ll end up spending hours on the wrong path potentially.

So I’m gonna go explain to him that unless he takes five minutes and tells me if what I’m doing is right, he’s taken the risk that what I’m doing is wrong. That’s what I did. So I knocked on the guy’s door, he gave me the usual brusk, like what is it? And I basically said to him, Hey, here’s the deal. I need to see if what I’m doing is headed in the right direction for what you want.

And if it is, I’ll have it done in a couple hours. If it isn’t, you’re gonna come back in a couple hours and be very unhappy. And he was like, okay, that makes a ton of sense. That’s a win-win, right? But I still remember agonizing over that outside his door. So we just wanna encourage people to say, you know what that’s gonna happen so many times.

Find your way of working in and working through that situation.

[00:26:43] Gabby Reece: And I actually think you could apply that for real life. I think you could do that in relationships. I even think you could do that as a parent. I think that is a very important thing for all of us to be able to say, can we just talk about this for a second because I’m sensing this, or I’m not sure.

And I, I really think that having the strength but humility to do that will save us maybe potentially a ton of heartache later, even though it’s uncomfortable. Yeah. Getting worse. Agree. Yeah. Yeah. So you talk about can you share with me about growth stock.

[00:27:15] Grace Puma: We talk a lot about being a growth stocker, thinking of yourself as a growth stock, and what does that mean?

If you think about growth stocks, think about some of the ones like Apple or others. They tend to be stocks. If you correlate yourself to that, that have high growth, they’re innovative, they’re agile people invest in them. And they produce, right? They end up giving a good return to your shareholders.

When we equate it to ourselves as leaders, we ask yourself to think about it. Somebody who thinks and has the mindset of a growth stock’s gonna continue to be in that. You’re never satisfied that you’ve achieved a certain level or a certain learning. You’re investing in yourself. You’re learning, you’re growing your capabilities.

You’re paying attention to the landscape of what is most valuable and needed by my company or my industry, and how do I build those capabilities. So it’s a constant growth mentality tied to performance and growth. Stocks and people who act like growth stocks are the ones that get promoted. They get advanced, they get paid well they get flexibility because, there’s a high demand for those.

So it, it’s really important because I think in today’s generation, it’s not just the job you’re doing, it’s how do I bring the greatest value for my company, and how do I grow myself as a growth stock that I’m marketable and in demand ex, externally and internally in my company.

[00:28:38] Gabby Reece: I wanna revisit something ’cause we talked about it quickly, but I think this is really important.

You have an entire section in one of the chapters about the advantage of being an underdog. And I think sometimes people will go into an environment, maybe you’re an, a boys club, you’re a female, you’re young, sometimes you know, you, it’s an interesting thing when someone’s really young or they’re baby faced, it’s oh, okay, what, they, it’s almost like a weird prejudice against them, like they don’t know anything or it’s things like that.

So I think people experience this in a number of ways, but you remind us that it really can be in a different way, an advantage.

[00:29:18] Christiana Smith Shi: So the example we use is when you’re rooting for a sports team or for an athlete, and obviously Gabby, you’ve experienced this way more personally than we have, how much do people love it when someone or some team comes from behind and totally pulls out the game and wins.

We love it and we want people to recognize that just because you’re being underestimated, maybe unfairly based on your past experience, your looks, your gender, your preferences, whatever it is, doesn’t mean that you can’t gain some benefits when you over-deliver and beat expectations. But you have to keep a positive mindset when you’re in that situation because it can get to you, right?

When you know that your peers or your colleagues don’t expect much from you, or don’t think you’re the one that’s gonna succeed, then it can be disheartening. And you have to go back, internalize and draw deep on that sense that you have of yourself, of being a growth stock, of being a strong performer, of being confident in yourself and then we would just say be intentional and strategic about how you deliver performance and impact at work.

That is what’s going to catch everybody’s attention. That is what’s gonna be the come behind story for you. And one of the examples we have in Career Forward from my experience was after I’d been working for a couple years in consulting and had only done quote unquote soft process oriented studies, let’s improve this process, let’s improve that process.

Those tend to involve much more interviewing and process design and those kind of things. But I was with a firm that valued hard edge, quantitative problem solving, analytics, big models, machine data, that kind of stuff. And so what I heard at my first performance review was, you’re doing great in everything Christiana, but we really don’t know what your quantitative skills are.

We don’t know if you can solve hard analytic problems. My first reaction was, that’s so unfair. You guys haven’t asked me to do that. How do you and I buttoned all that up and I went off and thought about it and I, just tactically said, look, I need to show the partners that I can actually do that kind of work.

So I went back and I said, Hey, the next study that you put me on, the next project that you put me on something with a hard model. And they put me on something where I had to do a regression analysis. It was like way up there in terms of working with a guy that had a, supercomputer at a university.

And I nailed it. I worked really hard. I did a lot of studying to understand what that took, and we delivered a great answer. I never heard from the partners again that there was any doubt or any concern about my problem solving. And basically from then on they thought, I was like, some kind of savant, right?

[00:32:17] Christiana Smith Shi don’t think I can do it? Give me it and I’m gonna show you that I can.

[00:32:24] Grace Puma: We’ve seen in our careers where you’ve gotten, I can speak for myself, really good performance, and all of a sudden they’re like let’s see if she can lap. Let’s see if she can do it again.

And we talk about that concept of women sometimes having to show, over and over, where at sometimes men get rounded up, and we did great, a great first year in the job. And what you have to do, and what we encourage people to do is, stay focused on delivering and achieving and show them what you got.

Because first of all, there’s a lot of joy and satisfaction when you achieve, especially when you achieve. And some people are like oh wow, she actually could do that. And the same thing for men. Don’t, show put your energies into being able to deliver that and to be able to be proud of that delivery.

I think that there’s joy in that and I think people will come to see that.

[00:33:11] Gabby Reece: To Tonally. What I felt in this book over and over was, it’s oh, recognize the obstacle, or something that isn’t fair, but approach it with a spirit of, oh, okay, I’m gonna learn from this. I’m gonna be better. I’m gonna observe this. What I really felt in this book was almost your ability to separate, which I really appreciate going. Yeah, this is not right. There was a scenario where there was a guy who was, all sizzly and tink, flashy and maybe wasn’t doing the work, and one of you was working with him and I think the line was like, oh, and then he flew too close to the sun and, but here I am.

But the other thing that was really important is he maybe had one trait within there that’s oh, that could be, that could be useful. So I just it’s very solution. That’s the other thing. Both of you really brought to this communication was yeah. And what do you wanna do about it?

Because when you look at, I think people that get where they want to get, instead of crying, hey, it’s unfair. Get in the system and change the system. That’s right. And that it really, that’s what it resonates with me because I think we know that there’s things that are not fair everywhere, but the only way to make improve them is to be involved with making those improvements.

[00:34:32] Christiana Smith Shi: That’s right. Yeah. I think we want the people that read “Career Forward” to feel like they’re on the front foot. That’s why we use the driving and the road analogies that you’re at. The steering wheel, your foot’s the one that’s going on the gas or the brake. There’s nobody else that is gonna jump in that driver’s seat unless you let them that’s why we apply this kind of problem-solving approach that you noted Gabby to so many of the common career issues. Because we really think if you take a breath, if you look inside, if you get advice, if you talk to people for feedback, you will find a way that allows you to stay in control of your career, but make changes if you need to.

And we just keep coming back to, if you don’t stay in control of your career, nobody else will do it. And you’re gonna end up just some place you didn’t really wanna be.

[00:35:23] Grace Puma: If you take a Career Forward mindset and you set your cardinal direction and you do all the good work that we talked about, you’re not, and this is very counterintuitive you’re not necessarily dependent or attached to the current job you’re in or the company you’re in. And that’s separate from being, loyal people. Talk about, loyalty. Absolutely. You can be appreciative. You’re 300 and percent committed, but at the end of the day, if you’re building your professional equity and you’re acting like a growth stock, you’re gonna know that you have options and you’re gonna objectively look at situations and say, you know what? I can achieve in this environment. I have the capability, or I’ll build the capability. But it gives you much better objectivity than when you feel beholden to only one set of circumstances.

[00:36:08] Gabby Reece: I always say, I always talk to my husband about this. I. I learned from, I always joke, sometimes reverse parenting. You can learn what to do and what not to do. And I learned very early, I thought, oh, all I have to do is really work 20% harder upfront to actually make it 80% easier on the back end. And sometimes it’s like encouraging people to make those strategies because they will, it, they, it makes it so much easier when you’re willing to be like, I’ll put the time in.

I’ll think about it. I’ll see where my, I’ll try to learn where my blind spots are. I think that kind of proactive control what you can control, attitude. People don’t realize, to your point, Grace, not only that, the power it gives you, but it does give you more objectivity.

[00:36:53] Christiana Smith Shi: Yeah. I think you talked about it Gabby.

It’s also that reflection, that recognizing that I have to actually think about this and I that extra 20% upfront, I’ve gotta put that time and effort into it. I gotta go inside myself. I gotta understand, I. What’s going on, what my options are, and then pick a path and commit to it. And, taking time to have that reflection when you’re working all the time and you’ve got kids at home and you’re busy.

It’s an effort. And I think it’s like anything else. If you’re actually putting together a strategy, you’ve gotta put thought into it. And we just want people to think about their career as an intentional strategy.

[00:37:32] Gabby Reece: And you also say, it’s so interesting, this book is all about your career, but you make it clear, don’t let your career overtake your personal life.

And I also felt that’s very important because it’s great, you’re successful and you’re miserable, or your relationships are frayed. And that’s, that doesn’t work either. So thank you for that. So I have a question. When you both were under, there’s the moments where it’s too much. Too much coming in. You’re spread too thin. People feel this way all the time. Did you have any practice or go-to that helped you get your nose just above water to then go, okay, from here I’m gonna work. Whether it’s call a certain friend, go take a walk. I don’t know. Is there any little practices that you did to let the, to open the valve a little?

[00:38:19] Grace Puma: Yeah. Definitely. And I think that being human, you’re gonna have those experiences. Okay. It’s just the way life is. There’s a number of things. For one thing, and we talk about it, as part of the three-sixty plan is, know when you need to get support. One of the things that was helpful is, when my kids were little, I didn’t bake all the cookies for school and bake any of ’em actually.

But pick and choose what support you need at home that might allow you capacity. So I always thought about it like I had a plate of capacity and I knew when my plate was getting full, and how do you take certain things off and how do you feel? Perfectly fine with that. And yet there are other things that are just really super important.

I they feed your soul, okay? And those are the ones where you’re there at certain moments for your family or for your kids, or for your husband, or for whomever. And you need to make sure that those are moments that are not compromised. It has a lot with knowing yourself, knowing when you’re in balance, knowing when you’re out of balance, and understanding how to how to use your capacity to the greatest to the greatest good.

And that’s an ongoing tool. It’s not like it just happens and you suddenly wake up. You gotta gauge yourself.

[00:39:28] Christiana Smith Shi: Yeah. I have several Gabby strategies that I use sometimes to just buy a little time or just, get a hit the pause button for a bit or, whatever it is. And it all comes back to something we say in, in career forward, which is recognize that self-care isn’t selfish.

And if you don’t take care of yourself, obviously you’re not gonna be able to do anything well in your life, no matter, whether it’s work or it’s at home. But we feel bad about it. I think especially as women, sometimes we just feel like. We’re supposed to be taking care of other things first before we take care of ourselves.

And so some of the let’s call it snack-sized things that I would do, my, one of my classics is I would go out for an hour, typically at lunchtime and just go shopping. Didn’t necessarily buy anything, but I was in retail, most of my career, I’m in retail. I love malls, I love stores. I am energized by product, by being around, beautiful things.

And a lot of the times, I was working in corporate settings and we were near malls, and I would just disappear for lunch for an hour. I don’t have to tell anybody it’s lunchtime. And I would just go walk through the malls. Or when I was at Nike, I’d walk through our own store because that’s always good anyway, just to walk through and see how the product is doing and talk to some customers, et cetera.

But that was one of my things was like, just make sure I took a break during the day. Plus I was walking around always good. And then third, I was around product. And that’s something that no matter what, would always gimme an energy return that I could then take back to the office. Yeah.

[00:41:03] Grace Puma: And I think sometimes it’s it’s understanding what the environment’s doing for you too.

We’re in these office buildings, constantly meeting the meeting. It’s really unhealthy when you get out of it. But what you start to realize, like I love to go outside in nature. I would walk the campus even if it was after work, I would walk the campus and I would walk for an hour and it just resets me.

And it’s something that I still do where I just have to be outside for a period of my day. And those are things that don’t take a lot of time, but they’re actually. Again, knowing yourself, they recharge you. And you talked about relationships. I would just add one more point of, I know when my kids were young and, when I was raising them, a lot of it is about finding, and we talk about this, your connection points.

It doesn’t have to be anything big, and it doesn’t have to be every day, but whether it’s your spouse or it’s your kids the one I talk about in the book is I used to periodically wake my son up early when he was in grade school and I would take him out for pancakes in the middle of the week, which was something we didn’t do.

Okay. And I would take him out, we would have pancakes. He would realize it was really unique and special, and then I would drop him off at school. So whatever those connection rituals are that kind of make sure that you’re telling the people in your life they’re important to you and that, those things, those moments are also very helpful when you’re in those crunch modes.

[00:42:22] Gabby Reece: Yeah. Do you use the commute to, did you ever put guardrails around I know it’s hard ’cause things bleed over and you get work calls and but did you use commuting as a way to try to wrap up and switch out before you got home?

[00:42:38] Grace Puma: Yeah, actually, it’s funny, I always talked on the, I had an hour commute with different parts of my job and I always talked to my friends, my parents, and what I’m laughing about now is that my daughter calls me when she’s coming home now.

It’s funny, it’s a generational thing, but those are great moments to really, talk and connect with people.

[00:42:59] Christiana Smith Shi: Yeah. For me it was flights Gabby a as a a downtime that I blocked out because, I worked both in consulting and at Nike in high travel jobs, where almost every week we were somewhere.

And nowadays, because you have wifi on the plane, you can have people like trying to. Chat with you and get on Slack and do all that stuff. And I’d be like, no, because this bubble on the plane is when I’m going to either focus on getting some work done, if it needs some thought, or I’m just gonna read my book, or I’m just gonna watch my kdramas and I’m just gonna recharge.

So when I’m on the flight, even if I’m on Wi-Fi, I’m off the messaging, I’m off all that stuff because this is my time and is, I don’t care if technology lets you butt in. I’m not picking up the call.

[00:43:44] Grace Puma: It’s a good example of how you can use certain times differently based on what you need.

For example, when I did my flight, I loved to work. I would get all my emails done, I would do my presentations, I would bang through the stuff I’d prepare for the next day, A, because it burned time on the airline, but B, most importantly, when I landed. I didn’t have it hanging over my head. I could go home and I could be present with my kids or my husband.

And I felt that relaxed, I was relaxed because I always had to get my work done first. And so again, using your moments for where it makes sense. So it frees up capacity when you need it.

[00:44:22] Gabby Reece: That makes a lot of sense. I’m curious, do either one of you have secrets for sleeping in hotel rooms? ’cause that’s another, time changes, food on the go hotels. Did you learn any kind of helpful secrets on how to actually get rest in a hotel?

[00:44:40] Christiana Smith Shi: I’ll share some of my, I’m curious to hear Grace’s too. We’ve never, nobody’s ever asked us that question, Gabby. That’s a good question.

[00:44:45] Gabby Reece: I care about your health ladies. I care about your health.

[00:44:47] Christiana Smith Shi: Yes. No, I, listen, I appreciate that. One big thing for me was bringing clothespins so I could close the curtains. Because I ha there’s it’s my pet peeve in hotels is the curtains don’t line up. And you get that three inch like bright, glaring sliver of light coming in your room.

And I remember reading somewhere that you sleep best in a totally dark room. So I started making sure that I had either like safety pins or clothes pins or binder clips that I could hook those curtains together. And then the other thing for me was I always had to keep the little sleeve that your hotel key comes in, because I could never remember my room number.

Like when you’re in hotel, after hotel, like literally I, I’d be coming back into my room and if I didn’t have that little sleeve that the key goes in, I wouldn’t remember. Today I’m in. Munich and the room number I’m in is 3 23. I wouldn’t even, I’d be at the front desk asking, where should I go?

So those were my two like grounding things that, that I would do. But I wanna hear Grace.

[00:45:52] Grace Puma: Yeah, I think it’s hard to sleep in hotel rooms. I still don’t sleep in hotel rooms. But what I have done that has made it functional is I use an eye patch locking light. I use earphone. I use Earplugs because hallway noise wakes me up.

And there’s always hallways, noise or people that are coming in at wee hours of the morning. And then I honestly listen to a meditation tape before I go to bed. What I don’t do is I don’t work in bed. Because when I do, I, my mind doesn’t shut off. So it’s really those three things. And I still do it now at home too.

[00:46:26] Christiana Smith Shi: I’d love strategies for sleeping on a plane. ’cause that’s where I come up short every time. I’m the one that’s awake getting, the flight attendant to bring me like endless cups of water. Over the Atlantic.

[00:46:38] Gabby Reece: Yeah. I’d love to see people when they, before the plane takes off, they sleep, and then I’m always in awe of that.

In your positions, are you seeing any trends for women, not necessarily just in executive roles, but just have you seen something in the last 10 or 15 years that is different for women entering the, not only the workplace, but maybe just the way that they’re acting.

[00:47:07] Grace Puma: If you’re talking about entering the workforce, I think it, a lot of things are very different.

Our, like we said, we have children, they’re in their thirties and it’s very interesting to watch them. They don’t fret over the, they have a lot of the characteristics of what we’re trying to talk about in this book. They I admire it. Clearly I didn’t role model it, but I admire it. They are dedicated to their jobs, but they’re not fretting about it.

Even if their teams are being laid off or something. You hear them talk about their land and there’s other jobs out there. It’s a very different mentality than I think what we were felt much more vulnerable earlier in our careers. I also think they’re, they have a different lifestyle.

They are doing a lot of the things we’re suggesting. They’re taking care of their personal lives, they’re taking care of their health. They’re taking care of their jobs. And they seem to do it with with without feeling any guilt which I think is important.

[00:47:56] Christiana Smith Shi: I would agree with that. And I would also say Gabby, that there are still some things that are the same.

You know what’s different? We’re seeing more balanced entering employee groups, right? So whereas it used to be you might be the only woman in something coming in outta school into a training program or a class or whatever, you’re much more likely to find that it’s 30, 40, 50% gender balance.

But there are still groups of people who are gonna be underrepresented, right? Whether it’s people of color, whether it’s their orientation, whatever it is. So there, there are still, and there are still plenty of industries and sectors where women are underrepresented. So it’s why when we looked at writing the advice toward the end of the book on Meet the Moment, why we wanted to say, you need to think about how you’re approaching your career at two levels.

One is what’s different and the other is what’s the same. Because every generation’s gonna have a big crisis. Ours was September 11th, way back in the day. It was, Pearl Harbor, right? Or it was the assassination of Kennedy. People can think of these moments now. It’s going to be the world events that are happening just in this last 12 months, right?

There’s always gonna be that. And yet there’s also always going to be, the truisms of human nature of being trying to do something first or trying to do something different. And it’s finding that blend of, keep doing the things that will always work, but recognize what you can do.

Now that’s different. Take advantage of technology, take advantage of new skills, take advantage of work from home as a concept, much more accepted. Those things, I would argue, are more of the moment, and it’s important to recognize those at the same time that you’re still looking at, hey, but some of these things are gonna be true about work forever.

[00:49:41] Grace Puma: I do also recognize a bit of a trend where working hard is not a dirty word. Okay. It, there was a lot of times where you’re working really hard and where there’s a lot of demands on your time, and those are moments usually when you’re going through or your company’s going through a lot of changes.

I, I think that the generation coming in will continue to learn how to balance those peak periods with the normalcy of their day-to-day life as it is today. And so I think that’s a little bit of a difference. I, and maybe it’s just coming off of the, pandemic, they have to expect that there will be peak times very demanding.

[00:50:21] Gabby Reece: Peak times Grace. That’s a really polite way of saying that we’re still gonna have to work really hard and there’s no way around it.

[00:50:27] Grace Puma: And it’s not bad. Working hard is not bad. It, I know. It’s like a, it’s it’s so funny because people look at it like, what are you talking about? Working hard is not bad.

It’s actually can be very important at the right times. Not to an excess. And it also can be very satisfying, especially if you’re working through to an outcome with a team or something.

[00:50:47] Gabby Reece: But, and you and another part of this book talks about ambition and how in some ways and it’s true. Listen I have three daughters and there are times that I, I joke that sometimes I’m the farmer, sometimes I’m the flower. I, I’m here to do, to accommodate my family. I’m here to serve them. That’s what’s happening. But sometimes when it’s oh, we’re switching gears now and I’m going to work brain or coach brain, or whatever, and I’ll do that in front of my husband, who’s, I’ve been with him for 28 years.

He knows me. He’s go kill it. Do whatever you want, but he’ll be like, oh, you’re so bossy. And I’m like. No, it’s if we don’t put some framework around this and go like this, how is it gonna happen? It’s not bossy. And even that slight little thing, a father of three daughters, he knows me.

I thought, oh, that’s so fascinating. And you really beautifully address how at times, and it’s not just men reacting to women, it is also women reacting to women the same way, which is, it can be the same trait. And it’s oh she, he has so much perseverance and you’re like, oh, she’s stubborn, or, whatever the words are. So you guys really also address it’s not being ambitious is a great, it’s a wonderful thing.

[00:52:06] Christiana Smith Shi: I, we call it the a word because it’s like we avoid it as if it was some kind of swear. And we were surprised that some of the successful women we interviewed for the book acknowledged that they were uncomfortable.

Describing themselves as ambitious, particularly earlier in their career. And we just want women, everyone but women especially, to own their ambition. It’s okay to say that you wanna get somewhere and that you wanna get somewhere professionally and that you wanna get paid for it. You know it because it’s all part of setting that cardinal direction that we talked about way back at the beginning, which is, where are you trying to take this career anyway?

[00:52:50] Christiana Smith Shi: And if you have high aspirations, it’s okay. And you, we will absolutely say, you gotta read the room, right? There’s a time and a place to talk about your aspirations, to describe your ambitions, et cetera. And we’re never gonna say that. It’s not sometimes gonna be received, at least with some question marks around it by others around you.

But it’s a lot better than it’s a lot better than the cognitive dissonance that you get of being ambitious, but not wanting to acknowledge it.

[00:53:22] Grace Puma: I think that’s right. And I also think it’s, ambition is usually rooted in wanting to aspire, wanting to contribute, wanting to achieve, and to whatever level is you wanna do, you wanna achieve.

So those are all good things in my book. And I think women being vocal about that, I actually think that companies look at you differently If you’re somebody that they know is gonna take care of their career and they know, have goals and achievements and aspirations because they know you’re in the game and they know that, you’re gonna be a player on the field.

And so there’s no downside to it if done. In a way that all the other stuff that we talked about is behind it. Capability building, learning, et cetera. But boy, I, I hope this next generation aspires because, like we said, enjoy the ride is, it’s a great life.

[00:54:17] Gabby Reece: And I find I don’t know if you experienced this it’s, and it’s, it wouldn’t be any different than a man. I do go to a different part of my personality when I’m asked to be in a leadership role where it’s far less emotion. I’m there to deliver information and create a good environment for everyone to be their best. And that’s another thing I’ve learned about leadership. People think it’s like. You, you’re there to bully everyone. A true leader, and I learned this from actually a gentleman named Rich Davini, is you’re totally accountable. You know how to make a decision. You set an environment for other people to be their very best. And actually, it’s not like you’re walking around going, I’m the leader.

The people who work with you say, oh, that’s our leader. And so I just wanna, encourage people, because that doesn’t mean you have to have this death grip on people. You’re just there to do a certain job and handle that. You and I wanna, I just have a few more questions.

One thing that you both put in this book that was really eye-opening for me because a lot of times when I’m in a negotiation, sometimes I wanna get a litmus of where they’re at. And so I’m like, okay, don’t, you always hear don’t negotiate against yourself, so don’t put out a number first.

And you all talk about, yeah, no, put a number out first. And I really loved this. So can you share the strategy behind this?

[00:55:38] Christiana Smith Shi: I’ll answer a little bit, but then I’m gonna defer to Grace ’cause she is like literally one of the best negotiators I have ever met. We, one of the things we realized, particularly as it goes to salary negotiations, but you could apply it to promotions and other things like that, any kind of advancement is if you start with your ceiling, meaning the highest that you think is relevant or range for what you’re discussing, you are ending up in a better place than if you start with your floor.

  1. Because we have a lot of people that are like, I’m just, I’m gonna hedge. That’s the negotiating with yourself is I’m gonna hedge it. I’m gonna give them a number. I think that they’ll go with, you’re only gonna go down from there. So our advice when you’re in salary negotiations is do your homework. Research what the market is paying for, the kind of responsibilities that you’ll have and for the skills that you bring, the experience and the road. The road, miles that you’ve already got. That stuff is so much more available nowadays online than it ever was that you have. You have many places you can go to get the data on what that role should pay.

And once you’ve got that range, start with your ceiling and think about some of the non-financial, non-monetary things you want as well, because time off matters. Benefits matter. Retirement funding matters, equity matters. Make sure you understand all the components of compensation so that you don’t find out that you negotiated a number really carefully.

And then. Yeah, I always say it’s like when you buy a car and then you find out later on that they wanna charge you for the floor mats. You’re like, why didn’t I throw the floor man scene when I was negotiating for the car?

[00:57:14] Grace Puma: Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think those are a lot of the points that we talk about, which is really important practically for people to know.

I also think it’s about, take a step back and think about the big picture. This is really important. There’s a lot of research out there that says that if you fall behind in your early years on salary, one report said it’s over half a million dollars of money that you leave on the table because you can’t catch up and people think you can catch up.

Like you get the big job by the time you’re 20 years into it. And so strategically, the importance of negotiating a fair compensation and staying competitively paid throughout your journey is incredibly important. And yeah the tactics of understanding, doing your research, not being emotional about it, we also talk about.

Be savvy and thoughtful of when you do go in and have a discussion on salary, it’s not the time to go ask for a raise when your company is going through a very difficult financial time. Be thoughtful about when you go in and ask, but do ask and do it in a way that’s not, it’s about the facts.

One of the things I did in my career, which I think is something that if you’re a high performer, you’re likely to be given more and more responsibility. If you have high capacity, they’re going to ask you to do more and more, more than your peers. It’s like they wanna ease you up and your ability to go do that.

So if you are doing that in a lot of ways, that’s very satisfying. ’cause you’re learning more and you’re growing more and your equity’s building, right? But from a compensation perspective, there have been times in my career where I took stock of that factually and said, Hey, my job was X. It’s now Y. My scope is Z and there’s been a significant change. I’d like you to go review competitively and a hundred percent of the time because it was fat-based, but I had to put it forward to say, please re-evaluate. There was a significant adjustment. So it’s not every time you go do something extra, but it’s when there’s significant shift in scope and you’ve performed in that scope so that your equities high that you wanna make sure you’re tracking with what’s competitive,

[00:59:25] Gabby Reece: Why is it hard to transition from, boss lady at work, getting things done boom. And then you go home. ’cause I almost have to try to switch gears and now you’re dealing with a kid or a partner. Did, was that hard or could you guys slide over pretty easily?

[00:59:44] Christiana Smith Shi: I think there’s a lot of the skills and the traits you use in being a boss that you can use at home, but. I think there’s things you gotta moderate too.

Probably tone of voice would definitely be one. How much you ask versus tell. But even at work, listening more is not a bad thing. I, for me at least, it was mostly about the tone of voice. Because I think you mentioned this Gabby your spouse saying, wait a second you’re sounding bossy.

I don’t really or appreciate the concept because that felt, feels a little gendered to me. But the idea that you’re like a little more in command and control mode than. Your family thinks you ought to be. That’s probably for me the main dial I gotta turn when I go home.

[01:00:28] Grace Puma: Yeah. I think it’s look, I think the reality is we are who we are as people.

Okay? This whole thing of, all of a sudden you walk in the door and you’re a very different person. Core to who we are, probably why we’re very good at our jobs, but we also can bring those attributes. To the environment, but the environment at home is different. Okay. So if it’s around applying your capacity to get all the things you need to get done at home so that the family runs well, if it’s about, putting your intellect into certain financial decisions you’re making, if it’s about Knowing how to maneuver situations or advice with your kids when you have to coach ’em if they’re dealing with things in school. Those are all things that we bring as people. We just apply those skills differently. And I think that’s okay. Now, I would say also, it’s not the same environment.

You’re not in there trying to direct a team or, tell everybody in the house to go raise their expectations or hit the goal or whatever. You’re in there as part of a partnership and you’re in there to lever different skills. My husband and I, for example, we are incredibly complementary, but we have very different capabilities and we know it.

We laugh about how you’re really good at that and I’m gonna take care of this. So we don’t, it’s very, collaborative, but it’s also very cohesive. I think that’s how it works in the office and out of the office. And the only other thing I would say is, boy, when you’ve been at the office all day and you’ve been dealing with all the dynamics and the politics and the work, last thing I wanna do when I walk in the door is be in charge.

That’s the last thing I wanna do. I wanna relax and I wanna be home, and I wanna be with those I love. And that’s a, that’s just a natural transition for me.

[01:02:09] Christiana Smith Shi: I’ll just note one other thing. When we were doing research for the book, one of the things we noted was that women are actually viewed as having a greater range of style and having more style flexibility and being more tuned into nuance of situations and using that to, to adapt style.

And I was thinking about that in my own life because. My mom is still alive. She’s ninety-two. How I act as a daughter with my mom is different from how I act as a parent to my son is different from how I acted as a president of a business unit in style ways. At the heart of it, my values, my capabilities, those things were all the same.

But as far as, my, the way that I interacted, I could flex and apparently that is one of the strengths that women very often have is that ability. And it’s good to be aware of that and to note that because you can use that as a superpower.

[01:03:08] Gabby Reece: That’s right. And you can use that, especially like your, not only in our families and our interpersonal dynamics, but in a workplace, even bridging languages between other executives. I think women can do that. Yeah, positively. So in, in wrapping this up, I I just wanted to talk a little bit about, because we, there is a lot of talk about quiet, quitting and I think people feel like technology has us distracted. COVID really isolated, separated nobody, this idea of commuting for an hour, people are like, there’s no way.

And you both in the book talk about maybe it’s a reshuffling of sorts. What’s your take on, on, on what’s happening with this idea of a, of a. A resolve or a quiet quitting that they’re saying,

[01:03:57] Christiana Smith Shi: We talked a lot about that, Gabby. Just what are the circumstances nowadays and how much of it is something longer term, something more enduring or more fundamental?

And I think Grace has already mentioned, we do think that the more fundamental undercurrents of work today is people are viewing flexibility with even greater value. And flexibility could mean where you work, it could mean how you work. It could mean when you work. That is enabled by technology, which allows people to connect and collaborate, even if they’re time shifting or location shifting.

That is probably a fundamental that the expectations around flexibility and the ability to do some tailoring, they’re gonna move back and forth between, are you able to get a hundred percent work from home? Or are you able to get one day a week work from home? But it’s, I think it’s gonna stick at a level that is more permanent.

And more just more holistic than what we saw certainly earlier in our careers. I don’t know. Grace, what do you think?

[01:04:57] Grace Puma: Yeah, no, I think that’s well said. I think some of those I think, look, I think it, it taught all of us how to think about other dimensions when we had more flexibility.

Didn’t we didn’t work harder. We, we didn’t work less hard. We worked differently. And so I think some of that is very good learning and will be very forward. I think with that goes, we’re hoping people find through this book work that they find passion around and that they feel is something that is strategically for the long haul going to be something they wanna strive, in which case, this theory of quiet quitting won’t be necessary or applicable.

And I think that’s the dynamics that’s evolving right now.

[01:05:38] Christiana Smith Shi: We, quiet, quitting, quiet ambition, you might have heard of Lazy Girl jobs, is a hashtag all over TikTok. Now those things I think are more short term. Because it’s in response to a particular environment. We have low unemployment right now.

The pendulum has swung back a bit more toward, employee leverage. That’s not a bad thing. We would just argue instead of making a short-term response to it. Just to repeat the same mantra we’ve had throughout this whole conversation. Be strategic and say, how can I use this moment in time, not so much to, I don’t know, optimize for a year or two that I work a little less or that I work someplace else or whatever.

But how could I actually use that over the long haul to start building myself in the direction I wanna go with my career, but maybe in a way that’s even more satisfying to me? That’s what we would say is just don’t take a 12 month or. 18 month view of a trend at work, look at it and say for yourself, how does that fit into my overall roadmap in a way that maybe could get me someplace better?

[01:06:39] Gabby Reece: I think that’s such an important point. ’cause you’ve stayed in this book. It’s like looking for a career, not a job. And those are very different things. I really appreciate “Career Forward.” I know it took a lot of work and it’s because it’s the amount of years that you had to do to get through this, to actually be able to look back and write a book like that.

And I, I do wanna bring up one last line in the book that was really powerful. You talk about women fighting for purpose and not power. And sometimes when we’re in a work environment or career environment, we think that power is the end all be all. And I think it’s always important, like you’ve encouraged to keep checking back into yourself about what is it.

That you wanna fight for, that’s important to you because it, it says it over and over. It’s like typically there’s always exceptions. Men are interested in things and objects and women are interested in people. And it is about that internal satisfaction. So I just wanted to mention that because that really, summed it up that we more often than I not will fight for that purpose and not necessarily the power.

[01:07:49] Christiana Smith Shi: I, I’m glad Yeah, I’m glad to hear that. That’s ’cause I think for us, the the last chapter of the book where we say it’s worth it, it’s gonna be worth it because you feel like you fulfilled your purpose in life. That’s right. And that’s, and by the way, the burdens on you to figure out what that is, by the way, because how are you going to, fulfill it if you didn’t know what you were trying to do? So it, it comes back full circle, right? As if you do know your purpose. I think as women in your careers. You’re more likely to be able to pursue it in a very intentional way.

[01:08:18] Gabby Reece: Grace, Christiana, thank you so much for your time and the book is “Career Forward” and we will have everything in the show notes up ahead and just so people, if they wanna find you, ’cause I’m sure you know there, there’s in depth, there’s a lot of information in this book.

[01:08:35] Gabby Reece: We only touched the surface a bit. How, what are the ways that people can find you? Grace? There’s a

[01:08:40] Grace Puma: There’s a website for both of us under “Career Forward.” And if they, Google that they will find it and all the links are in there. Yeah, our

[01:08:48] Christiana Smith Shi: URL is and the book itself is available anywhere you would buy books. So Barnes and Noble, Amazon, target you name it, you can find it there. Or we have links on

[01:09:00] Gabby Reece: And it is like a workbook. If there’s any, if there’s something that I forgot that feels really important or an invitation that you wanna make to the listener, I just wanna open that up before we go.

[01:09:12] Christiana Smith Shi: I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to talk to somebody who read the book and like it.  Remembers it, we just, it’s just so gratifying. So thank you for all the thoughtful questions. Yeah, thank you. Asked us. Just a pleasure.

[01:09:21] Gabby Reece: I think it’s an incredibly useful tool for people and I want them to get to the opportunity to take advantage of it because, we always joke in our house, one thing you can’t Shortcut or hack is experience. And if you two are offering between the two of you collectively more than 50 or 60 years of experience, why would we not then? ’cause that’s what it’s supposed to be, right? We’re supposed to give that to the younger people and they go, great, we’ll do it better. And we go on and on. So thank you.

[01:09:48] Christiana Smith Shi: Yeah, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.


About Christiana Smith Shi

Christiana Smith Shi is the former president of Nike’s consumer-direct division where she led the company’s global retail and ecommerce business. Before that she was a senior partner at McKinsey & Co. Christiana has been named one of the Most Influential Corporate Directors by Women, Inc. She currently leads Lovejoy Advisors, which is focused on digitally transforming consumer and retail businesses. Shi is a graduate of Stanford University and has an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she graduated as a Baker Scholar. She lives in Portland, Oregon.






About Grace Puma

Grace Puma is the former executive vice president and COO of PepsiCo, and before that held senior positions with United Airlines, Kraft Foods, Motorola, and Gillette. A board member of both Organon & Co and Target, she has been ranked on the “Most Powerful Latina” list by Fortune magazine and recognized as the “Executive of the Year” by Latina Style magazine. Puma holds a BA in business administration and economics from Illinois Benedictine University. She lives in Tampa, Florida.