If you were a new leader, how would you approach your organization? Be true to who you are but always consider that you do not have to make drastic changes abruptly. Be part of your team! Elizabeth Bachman sits down for a conversation with a passionate advocate for women in leadership, Bonnie Mouck. Bonnie is a brand management leader for a large international corporation. She is the host and founder of the international podcast, Run It Like a Girl. In this conversation, Bonnie talks about the adventures in leadership and making an impact in the world. She also discusses the challenges she has witnessed with other people when she’s leading the team. Moreover, she emphasizes the importance of being authentic and leading from the heart. Run it like a girl and learn how to passionately grow and empower your teams to bring the best of everyone.
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Running It Like A Girl With Bonnie Mouck
Leadership Lessons From Women Breaking Barriers
My guest is Bonnie Mouck who during the day is a brand management leader for a large international corporation. She’s based in Canada and she has a podcast called Run It Like A Girl, where she interviews female leaders, everything from nurses who helped with disasters to women who are on C level in major companies. I have been a guest on her podcast and now she’s a guest on mine. Bonnie is the Host and Founder of the international podcast, Run It Like A Girl. She is a passionate advocate for women in leadership and she talks with women from all different fields who are breaking barriers and leading the way. We had a delightful, loose and chatty conversation. It was nice to be talking without a major agenda and talking points, but to explore from one person who interviews leaders to another, the things that we’ve learned and wish we could tell our younger selves. Now on to the interview with Bonnie Mouck of Run It Like A Girl.
Bonnie Mouck, thank you so much for joining me on the show.
I am thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you. I’m delighted to be here. I have the strategic Speakers Who Get Results background up here, but it’s the show for Speakers Who Get Results all the same. I’ve talked a little bit about your adventures in leadership. Before we get started, let me ask you who your dream interview would be. If you could interview someone who’s no longer with us, who would it be? What would you ask them and who should be listening?
For me, it would be Katharine Hepburn. Talk about a woman ahead of her time. When I think about the kind of work that I want to do or my podcast, she would be perfect for things that seem so simple right now like the idea of wearing pants. She was one of the first women to make that acceptable for everyone else. I would ask her how she got to be so successful in Hollywood, stay true to herself, and be authentically her because she did it her way. She was tough and an amazing example for women in her time and then also in our time. I’d also ask her about her lifespan from the turn of the century to 2000. What has she seen in that span of time?
I often think that having grown up as a child of privilege, she had that foundation behind her, and then as she got older, she just said, “To hell with it. I don’t care. Don’t get me into this grief. I’m not going to play this game,” which was half the joy of the image. She was one of my heroes too. I often wonder who the inner person was. I read her biography years ago, but where’s the difference between the inner person and the image, which leads me to talk about our image as a leader. You have a podcast all about leadership called Run It Like A Girl. How did you come up with that title?Know your worth. Ask for what you want. Be open to opportunities. Click To Tweet
That’s so funny. I was sitting in my brother’s house with my niece, Ellie, his daughter. I told my brother I had this plan. I want to do this podcast and we need a great name. We started throwing out names and then we were talking about running like a girl and what that is supposed to mean. If somebody says, “She runs like a girl or he runs like a girl,” it’s not a positive comment. Let’s show what it does mean to run it like a girl. Whether you’re a CMO of a major bank, a nurse or anything else, how are you running it your way? That’s where the name came from.
For our international audience, running like a girl refers to running down the street in a disorganized, floppy way, not running like an athlete. It is a phrase that we all grew up with. I love to run it, run your life, and run your business like a girl. You are a brand leader in the corporate world. Having all these conversations with the guests on your podcast, how has that affected the way you lead at work?
It is fundamentally over the last few years that I’ve been doing this changed the way I lead. I learned from every woman that I talked to and we learned from everyone. We’ve all worked with amazing and not so amazing bosses. Take what you want and learn from both of them. The one thing that is clear from all of the women I interviewed is about being authentic, being true to who you are, and leading from the heart of knowing that what you’re doing is right for the business and for your people. It’s how you want to be known. Jeff Bezos says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” I want people to say I’m an empathetic, loyal and passionate leader.” All of these women that I talked to have helped me formulate who I want to be as a leader and who I try to be every day.
One of the great gifts of having a podcast is you learn from all your guests. One of the things I like is when something comes up and I think, “I don’t know how to deal with that. Let me find someone I can interview.” You interview the people who are smarter than you are and who know more that you can learn from.
Also, adapt and take what you want from it.
I’d love to have you expand a bit more on being true to who you are. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done like, “Who am I really?” Often, who we are changes depending on the context. We adapt to who we’re talking to. We adapt to who we are. How do you feel that that fits into being authentic?
The way I look at it is if I’m talking to the CEO of an organization or to a team member, I’m fundamentally the same person and having the same kind of conversations. The words I use might be different because I have a much more informal relationship with the person on my team or my co-worker. I remember someone saying and it’s a saying that’s out there, “You have to try to be the same person you are 9:00 to 5:00 and 5:00 to 9:00 because you can’t hide who you are.” You can’t hide what makes you you.
If you pay to work and you try to only bring a percentage of who you are, the professional, the stoic person, or the one who tries not to bring any emotion into it, people feed off of that. They understand that and they don’t get the experience of who you are. By being the “messy in everything that I bring to the table” person, I am doing a better job as a leader for my team as well as for the organization. It’s not about necessarily changing your personality per conversation. It might be how you’re approaching the conversation or what you need to get done in the time that you have.
It doesn’t mean that you change who you are, but you might change the way you say something. That is a huge part of the work I do with the female executives, especially changing the way you speak so that the other person is more likely to hear it. I know you’ve gotten a new job and a new cool thing. As you’ve been moving up in your corporate life, how do you adapt if you’re a new leader?As entrepreneurs, understand that your people are ambitious, and they have a lot to offer. They want to be recognized. Click To Tweet
I’m pretty much going through that now. I was with my previous company for quite so many years. That was years of building trust, relationships and letting people know exactly the leader I am. Now at a new company, I don’t know one. No one knows who I am. They don’t know the kind of leader I am. How I’ve approached that as a new leader in this organization is I listen more than I speak. I try to understand the various teams and the great work that they’re currently doing. I’m not coming in to try to make a bunch of changes and do things differently. I’m here to be part of the team and to, hopefully, have a great impact on the work I do and amplifying what everyone else does.
As a new leader, the number one thing that you can do is don’t start changing things the second you enter an organization. You listen, meet with all sorts of people, all different levels, and truly understand what it is that the organization does. As you start to figure out what your role is and how you’re going to lead within the new structure, that’s when you can start making changes that will have an impact. A mistake newer leaders make is they want to make a change. They want to make their and impact. They don’t take the time to figure out what’s going on, what is already going well, and focusing on the other areas instead.
Where do you find your allies?
I have a group of women that I’ve been close with since elementary school and high school, a couple of more added in. That’s going back several years and we use each other as a sounding board whether it’s for our professional lives or personal lives. I count on them as my allies to help make sure that I’m still being true to myself and to who I am. They’ll call me out pretty quickly if I’m not. Within the workplace, how I find my allies is by building trust and talking with a whole lot of people, figuring out where I can fit in, and then slowly forming those relationships that can help you build an ally. Right now, I had a strong brand at my old organization and I’m starting from scratch, I feel sometimes. I’m focusing on finding who my allies are through building trust.
What challenges have you seen in other people when you’re leading your team? What are the things that you see the younger members of your team going through and thinking, “I wish I had known that at that age?”
It’s such an interesting time because there are many different generations in the workplace. From Millennials, Gen Zs to Gen X-ers all working together. There are certain things when I see what I like and what I have noticed about the younger people coming up. It’s their confidence. They seem to have way more confidence than I remember having that young in my career, which I wish that I had. They ask for what they want. They are ambitious and they have things they want to do. They expect a lot from their employers too. They want to be recognized and make sure they’re working for good corporate citizens. Gen Zs are the ones to look for who’s going to change the world. People older than them have a lot to learn from the younger ones.
It’s going to lead me to the classic question, which was if you could speak down to your younger self, what advice would you give yourself? What do you wish you had known?
I wish I had known to ask for what I want. Many women that I talked to on my podcast, that’s what they say. They wish they have had asked for what they want. They wish they have had known their own worth. I absolutely feel that way. Keeping your head down and work in a way only takes you so far. If I went back and spoke to myself, I would say, “What do you have to lose for asking for what you want and the opportunities?” The other part of that is saying yes to opportunity when you’re approached. Maybe you don’t have all the boxes checked and you’re worried about that special project or promotion you’re being offered, but just say yes and see what happens. If the people offer you the opportunity and have that faith in you, why wouldn’t I have it in myself, and I didn’t.
A lot of women will do that. It’s often because we are socialized as children. Boys are socialized and trained to be brave, try it and go ahead. If you fail, it’s no problem. Pick yourself up. Girls are trained to be careful, at least I was. Some of it is physical like, “Don’t walk down that alley.” Some of it is to make sure you do everything right. The consequences of failure are a challenge and we see it nowadays. I was seeing an article about Silicon Valley and female founders at the early stage. They are pitching for investors. They have an idea but they don’t have a proof of concept.We can learn from everyone. We can learn from our amazing bosses and the not-so-amazing ones too. Click To Tweet
Elizabeth Holmes from Theranos is about to go to trial for having great fraud as the head of Theranos, where before, she was a Silicon Valley star. There have been all sorts of reports about female founders when they are asking for money. They were constantly being told, “Tell me you’re not going to be another Elizabeth Holmes. Tell me you’re not going to do that again.” One woman became a star and then crashed and burned, turned out that she couldn’t deliver the goods, then she allegedly lied and cheated to keep going, and then has become the model for all women. That’s a challenge that can be used as an object lesson to, “Don’t get above yourself, little girl.”
How long will that stay? I don’t think that’s quite the same thing that happens to a man when he falls from grace.
It’s not. In some ways, consequences are worse for women in terms of reputation. Men tend to get away with bad behavior almost as if it’s “expected.” I don’t want to go into a man-bashing thing, but I do want to make sure that as women, we need to be aware of the unconscious biases that we’re facing.
It’s disheartening to hear that things like that are happening and how much work there still is to be done.
Bonnie, you’re based outside Toronto. You’re Canadian and I’m American. I’m talking to you from my American base. We have an international world now. I’m curious, as a Canadian, how do you see cultural differences? There’s a stereotype of the Canadians being nice, but your office would have people from all over the world. It’s not just the Canadians.
Canada is a very multicultural country. We welcome people from all over the world who become Canadians. In Canada, we have that reputation of being nice but there is a steep history of racism and prejudice within Canada as well. You may have heard some of the things that are happening with their indigenous communities, the residential schools, and the bodies of children being found. For a long time, that hasn’t come to light as much as it has for our neighbors in the South, our American friends. We might be perceived as nice. We have a lot of work to do in terms of reconciliation within our own communities.
I haven’t been to an office for many months. I don’t even remember now, but when I go to the office, there are people from all different parts of the world who have made Canada their home. Some of them are generations and new Canadians. It is such a wonderful place to be. I lived in Toronto for many years and moving to more rural Ontario, that is one of the things I missed. When my son started school in Toronto, it was a very diverse classroom that he went into. Now, that is not the same here. Rural Ontario is very like me. Everyone looks like me. While we are getting more diversity, that is a loss for my kids not to grow up there.
Out of curiosity, you’ve been working remotely since long before the pandemic. You chose to do that quite some time ago. Have you enjoyed it? How are you coping now? Was there much of a change during the lockdown?
As someone that worked from home at least three days a week for years now, it leveled the playing field for me in terms of an office setting. It’s very hard when you’re at home and everyone else is in the boardroom to get your ideas across or to be heard, or even to have those conversations that happen when people are walking down the hall and you pop your head into someone’s office. It has been a horrendous year for millions upon millions of people. The one thing for me that did change was I’m on a level playing field. We’re all remote now. You have to change your approach in terms of building those relationships. That’s one small block that I know from my experience.
It’s been fun to have a nice chatty conversation with you. It’s really interesting. With the lessons that you’ve learned from having interviewed many leaders, what would you say to your younger self? What do you want to leave us with from all these people that you have spoken to?Listen more than you speak and try to understand the various teams and the great work that they're currently doing. Click To Tweet
I ask a very similar question in my podcast. I’ve asked every single woman and we’re approaching 80 women that I’ve interviewed. They’re all different but there are themes. The one key theme that I take away and that I will tell myself if I had the opportunity or anyone is to find your voice. Don’t be afraid to use it because what you say has value and will have an impact on the organization. Don’t sit in the corner of the boardroom or even worse, at home on a virtual where they can’t even see you. If you have something to say, say it because everyone’s opinion is valid and everyone has great ideas, so find your voice.
That’s a great phrase to end on. Bonnie Mouck, thank you so much for being on the show. I highly recommend her podcast, Run It Like A Girl. It’s been a delight to talk to you. Keep going and keep doing what you’re doing.
Thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you.
Thank you as well. This has been Speakers Who Get Results. Let me remind you that if you’re curious about your leadership skills, your presentation skills, you can take our free assessment at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where you can discover where your presentation skills are strong and where you might need a little bit of support to get better results and better recognition. I’ll see you on the next one.
- Bonnie Mouck
- Run It Like A Girl – podcast
About Bonnie Mouck
Bonnie is the host and founder of the international podcast, Run it Like a Girl. As a passionate advocate for women in leadership Bonnie talks with women from all different fields who are breaking barriers and leading the way.
During the day Bonnie is a Brand leader who is passionate about growing and empowering teams to bring their best every day.
Dream Interview: Katharine Hepburn