Women in Technology: Overcoming Gender Disparity

A great passion of mine is women in technology, and overcoming the gender disparity we see throughout the technology industry. The gender gap is a BIG problem both from a diversity perspective and from the lens of pure bottom-line results. To all my technology friends working hard to close the gap… these are two great videos that deserve to be watched and shared.

 

 

The Captain of Your Life

Lately the Universe has given me lots of opportunities to rewrite my life’s direction. It feels like daily I’m being given a fork in the road. Do I go left? Do I go right? Do I stand still and do nothing? Knowing that “doing nothing” is still a decision and response to what’s in-front of me.

Here’s what I’ve come to know and understand…

I, you, already know the direction we’re suppose to go. It doesn’t matter what he says, she says, they say… “they” are simply noise in a made up story. Illusion.

You have to go deep inside yourself, under the noise…way way under the noise to find out what way to go. Breath is the only mode of transportation to this deep beautiful place called your truth. And you’re the only captain able to navigate the journey to this beautiful place…you’re the only one allowed in.

Here in this place of truth you “just know”. You know in every ounce of your being where to step, where to move and what direction is right for you. You “just know”.

In this place of truth there is no fear. There is no questioning. There is no worry. And in your truth you understand that fear, questioning and worry are simply tricks of the mind designed to keep you stuck….stale, complacent, depressed, lazy…feeling unfulfilled or worse, trapped. Your mind says, “Maybe if we keep him stuck he’ll forget about his truth and give up.”

Lucky for me. Lucky for you. Our truth never gives up. And the moment you give it the smallest amount of light the game is on! Your truth gets louder. Your truth gets feistier. And your truth says, “Fuck off! I know what I am. I know what I want. I’m in charge. I’m the captain of this ship. And there’s not a fear, not a question, not a worry that will stop me from living this life in my own way according to my own captain’s orders!”

Then you start moving. And then you start running in the direction of your truth. Faster. Excited. Determined. Fearless. And you don’t stop until you’re standing on top of your mountain.

Eyes wide open you stand at the top of your mountain and breathe in the magic. You stand on the top of your mountain and bath in this amazing view called your life.

Here’s your light. I believe in you.

Take Me Beyond My Current Limitations

Many years ago, I found myself standing on the edge of a crane at a county fair in Iowa. Somehow, I thought it was a good idea to put on a harness, be taken up into the air a few hundred feet, and jump head first toward a giant blow up mat with the outline of a dead body staring at me on the way down.

I remember standing there ready to jump. Aside from the outline of the dead body, I saw hundreds of tiny heads looking up at me waiting for me to take the plunge. As I leaned over the edge I heard the guy in the crane say, “On the count of three let go. 1, 2, 3!” I said, “Nope!”

This guy was amazingly patient. He said, “Ok. Let’s try this again. This time, turn around and simply allow yourself to fall backwards on the count of three. 1, 2, 3!” I said, “No way!” Then petrified, I walked away from the edge to where my friend was standing.

My friend said, “Gina, you don’t have to jump if you don’t want to. It’s totally up to you.”

In that moment of choice, something magical happened. I just looked at my friend and said, “Nope.” Then I took a leap to the edge like I was on a high dive, and literally did a swan dive off the platform into the air! Scared to death one minute; the next minute I’m free falling head first.

I had never felt such freedom. Little did I know how life changing that jump would be.

Over the last 20-years I have found myself hanging over the edge of that crane hundreds of times. When I was deciding on whether to get a divorce, walk away from a secure job to start my business, have a baby, go to grad school, walk away from toxic relationships…the list goes on and on. And every time I’m faced with that “big something” that terrifies me, I remember the moment when I took a leap of faith and did a swan dive off the crane that evening in Iowa—and I remember how good it felt after I jumped.

I also remember how many times it took me to jump and why I finally jumped. That memory allows me to give myself a little grace and be patient with my own internal process as I navigate life. It also reminds me that I always have choice. That no matter how restrictive life may feel in the moment, there’s always an alternative. If one choice creates a feeling of restriction or limitation there’s always another option that will allow me to feel free.

For me, it’s not a matter of if I’ll jump; but rather, when I’ll jump. It may take me three tries before gathering enough courage to take the plunge, and that plunge may be in a completely different direction than I originally thought, but I will jump. And I’ll inevitably jump because I know how good it feels to be on the other side and free.

What are you waiting for? Jump.

Do what you love, and love what you do. Gina Soleil provides motivation and coaching for corporate executives. Through her fresh new approach to business, she teaches you how to become the happiest person you know WHILE performing better than ever and successfully mastering work and life. It’s time to live your best life now!

What’s your “big something”?

I spent the greater part of my life looking outside myself for, well, everything. It didn’t matter what it was, I was certain that it existed anywhere outside and away from me. I became a sign seeker, Magic Eight Ball expert and connoisseur of anything relatively magical that could somehow give me the answers to everything I was looking for. This included relationship dilemmas, career woes, family challenges, self-image debacles…literally everything.

I was convinced all the answers I was looking for were floating somewhere in the Universe ready to land in my lap if I just picked the right words, said the right prayer or used the right “fortune telling” tool. There were even moments I searched so hard for the answer that I fell into complete exhaustion, depression and disarray.

Many of you can relate to this “addiction”. The constant search for the answers to your most difficult and challenging life experiences. I believe, this search outside ourselves is one of the greatest addictions in our world today.

After years of suffering, here’s what I’ve learned (the hard way). There’s not a single answer to any question we could ever ask that exists outside ourselves. Every answer to every question lives and breathes inside of us…inside of you. You may not like the answer. You may even get pissed off because the answer may inevitably take you down the road that you perceive as most difficult (so you go back to the Magic Eight Ball hoping to get a different answer). You may even get sick to your stomach because the answer, that you know in your heart is true, is asking you to face your fear and do that “big something” that terrifies you…even though you know that terrifying “big something” is leading you to the exact place your heart will be most happy—the life that is authentically you.

Here’s what else I’ve learned. Freedom is the gift you receive after you do that “big something” that terrifies you. Freedom to be what you know you are inside…or the freedom to discover what you are inside.

My challenge for you today… Go inside, deep in your heart, and ask yourself that question you so desperately want answers to. Then listen for your truth…you will no doubt feel your truth. When your heart gives you the answer, with gratitude say, “Thank you”. And then pull together all your courage and go do that “big something” that terrifies you! And do it for YOU.

Love and Light

You were meant to fly. So fly.

“Sweetheart, don’t let anyone put you in a cage and clip your wings. You were meant to fly. So fly.”

This sage advice was gifted to me by my Dad during one of the darkest times of my life. Years ago I found myself in the midst of an abusive relationship. Emotional. Physical. Psychological. And Sexual. One moment I was getting swept off my feet and falling in love, and a moment later that same man I loved was trying to push me out of a moving car. I was a confident young woman rising through the ranks of Corporate America and in a blink of an eye I became meek, filled with fear and began believing that I was the undeserving unworthy soul he titled me.

I remember feeling as though I was standing in quick sand. Early on I felt something was off, sensed manipulation and even began seeing glimpses of abusive behavior behind “romantic gestures”. I saw it, I felt it and yet I couldn’t stop it. I just kept sinking deeper into the sand until I lost…me.

How could a young woman so strong and confident find herself in an abusive relationship?

On the outside I was strong and confident. On the inside I was hurt, angry, lonely, sad; still carrying feelings of abandonment from my Dad “leaving me”. I desperately wanted to cover up all those feelings and fill the empty space inside me with love. I remember just wanting to feel loved. And yet, at the same time I only knew “physical love” – attention, sex, affection, words of affirmation, external acknowledgement and all the fancy things in life. I became addicted to the pursuit of experiencing this physical love in order to fill the void and cover up the sadness. So when the man showed up with an ample supply of physical love I said yes, give me more! And when the man started to abuse me I stayed, because I was scared to death that if I left I wouldn’t be loved again.

Thankfully, with the help of family and a lot of Divine intervention I got out of that abusive relationship…not absent of scars and therapy. Years later I’m so thankful for the experience because that relationship was the beginning of my journey inward. Twenty years later, I now know what love is…physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. And I have learned that you can only love another person as deeply as you love yourself.

“Sweetheart, don’t let anyone put you in a cage and clip your wings. You were meant to fly. So fly.” The only way out of the cage is through absolute forgiveness and self-love. It took twenty years Dad, but I’m flying.

Love and light.

Unexpected Miracles in 2018

It’s amazing to me how many miracles go unnoticed. We pray for good things to happen. We ask for signs, proof that we’re going in the right direction and even make ‘trade promises’ with the Divine if we can be given exactly what we asked for, “just this one time”. Then we wait, and we wait and we wait. And if we don’t experience what we asked for, in the exact way we asked for it, we begin to doubt. We begin to doubt ourselves and we begin to doubt the Divine…or the existence of a Divine.

What we forget is that the Divine doesn’t always give us what we want but rather what we need. A dear friend of mine often says, “rejection is God’s protection”. Often times, not getting what we asked for is the exact miracle we were looking for…as hard as that is to admit. Life is filled with these little miracles called blessings in disguise. Most of us have had those thank God moments when we reflect back on our life in appreciation for those unanswered prayers, or prayers that were answered in unexpected ways.

The reality is that prayers are always answered…just not always in the way we want them to be answered or in the exact time we want them answered. What is guaranteed is that the Universe will always present you with the exact miracle you need in the exact moment you need it; albeit a lesson of patience and forgiveness or an opportunity to check whether your prayer is a request from the ego or authentically from the heart. Watch out, the ego is sneaky. There are times we ask for miracles that our heart doesn’t even want.

This first week in January 2018, I encourage you to reflect on the miracles you experienced or witnessed this past year. If you reflect from the heart you may be surprised at how many little gems came your way. Looking forward into this new year, I offer you this prayer that will bring you infinite miracles, exponential personal growth and a life filled with beautiful surprises that are far beyond your imagination.

“Show me what I cannot see. Teach me what I do not know. This year I accept anyone and anything as my teacher. And I gladly receive, and will happily experience, any and all unexpected miracles coming my way!”

Here’s to an incredible year!

In the Streets of Sofia, Bulgaria

I’m sitting in the streets of Sofia, Bulgaria. A European city filled with hidden gems and almost a feel of Barcelona, Spain…but not quite.

This morning I’m finding refuge and laughter in one place where everyone speaks a universal language and shares the same love for a modern vice…Starbucks! I adore immersing myself in foreign cultures, but for whatever reason this Cafe Americano tastes so good.

My lesson this morning is unity through commonality. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can always find commonality with the person or people that surround you. You just have to stop and get curious to find it; when you do unity is inevitable (if even for just a moment).

Today, get curious about the people around you, and find refuge and laughter in the one commonality you share. You may be surprised on how this moment of unity can heal even the most tumultuous relationships.

Kindness Comes Back To You When It Matters Most

As I sit in the Paris airport I’m reminded again of the different cultures that span our world–thousands is truly an understatement. It’s so easy to just jump on a plane and find yourself as the minority in a foreign land.

Appreciation for kindness and patience from others grows leaps and bounds when YOU’RE the one that’s different; unable to speak the language while looking different and appearing confused. You become forever grateful for the kind soul that helped you order the pastery while the cashier looked at you as though you were a complete idiot (this was my experience just a moment ago).

Oh how perspectives change when the shoe is on the other foot. This weekend, choose to be kind and patient to those different than you–that kindness will come back to you when it matters most.

What Brave Leadership Looks Like; It’s Not What You Think

A powerful story about a maverick leader choosing to be the change we need to see in Corporate America. Thank you, Keith for your bravery and willingness to be vulnerable. Now this is great leadership!

By: Keith Narr, Chief Technology Officer @ Cargill

For nine months of the year you can find me coaching youth hockey. There is nothing like watching the excitement on children’s faces when they learn a new move, score a goal or win a game. I learned many of my life lessons on the rink as a kid and I love to share those same lessons with my own children and the children in my community.

Last winter, my Peewee team (12-13-year-old boys) were playing in a tournament in Elk River, MN, USA. Although an average team, we were playing unexpectedly well in the tournament and had a chance at making it to the finals. I was as excited as the kids. On Sunday morning, we were behind five points. I talked to the team before the last stretch of the game…

I complimented the goalie on keeping the game close. To motivate the others to play better, I told them “they played like girls”- a phrase that I had heard a hundred times in the locker room or sideline of sports as I grew up. A phrase that was used to motivate me and my peers to step up. My team went out in the third period; our play did not change, we lost to third place.

Two days after the game, I attended a full-day session about inclusion and diversity as part of the Cargill’s Global IT Leadership Development Program.

We watched a series of Always ad campaign videos called, “Run Like a Girl,” meant to build self-confidence in young girls and confront non-inclusive language and behaviors we considered social norms. I suddenly realized the negative impacts of my comments to my hockey team, “You guys are playing like girls”. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I had signed up to be a role-model. What an eye- opening moment for me! I thought of my own daughters and the confidence that I want them to have. I thought of my hockey players and the positive role-model I wanted to be for them. And at that moment, I chose to own and change my own behavior.

The next night at practice I apologized to the team, parents and players. I specifically talked to the players about why the things I said were not appropriate and why we shouldn’t say things like that. I also had my kids watch the series of videos and had a family conversation about equality and how to make the world a better place. Change starts with us.

Diversity is more than culture, color or orientation. All of us have opportunities to promote inclusion and diversity every day in ways we do not even realize. I believe we are all life-long learners. This new-found perspective has allowed me to be more mindful and create a more inclusive culture both at work and at home. My Peewee team and I may have lost an “important” game but we won an even more important life-lesson that will hopefully stick with all of us for a lifetime.

 

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I was at a wedding reception tonight for friends of mine who have been together for a decade. A reminder of the gifts patience provides to those willing to learn the practice. Each of our desires is like a piece of fruit; the longer you wait the sweeter the experience when it’s ready to enjoy. When it comes to the things our hearts desire most, the magic comes in our ability to relish in the process of anticipation so when it finally arrives we cherish the moment and hold gratitude for its existence.