282 MINISODE Lee Caraher: STOP Apologizing
Lee Caraher describes herself as the “Chief Bacon Officer” in her family, and shares why “work-life balance” is a myth. An expert in all things PR, digital content marketing, and social media as CEO and founder of Silicon Valley’s Double Forte Group, Lee implores women in business to stop apologizing and define success for themselves rather than accepting someone else’s definition.
Melinda Wittstock: Lee, welcome to Wings.
Lee Caraher: Melinda, thank you so much for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m so excited to have you on and eager to find out what’s inspiring you in this new year of 2019.
Lee Caraher: Oh my gosh, I wish it was just one thing because it’d make it easier, but I have to say I’m so inspired by a few things. One is the young people on my staff who every day are bringing me fresh ideas and fresh optimism for the world, which frankly, thank God for that. And the other thing that inspires me every day is my kids. One is 21 and one is 18 and as they become adults it’s, the world is their oyster and I’m inspired that they’re not discouraged by that.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s great. I think it’s great to take inspiration from your kids and from other aspects of your life into your business. Do you find that you are living a ‘work-life’ integration in that way?
Lee Caraher: You know, I don’t believe in work life balance because I just don’t think it’s possible.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s why I say integration.
Lee Caraher: [crosstalk 00:02:00] I think we bring our full selves to work and if we are our best selves we can be our full selves wherever we are.
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Lee Caraher: And I really try hard to model that for my employees and for my clients and for my kids. I’m the breadwinner in my house. We call me the Chief Bread Officer, or Bacon Officer, and my husband is the Chief Home Officer and our house, but it doesn’t mean that it’s divided. It means that we each have a thread or a impulse that we have to manage more. And when I can be me wherever I am, it’s when I’m most effective and happiest, so that’s what I try to do.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, that’s fantastic. In business we all have challenges. What are some of yours?
Lee Caraher: Oh my goodness. Well, I’ll tell ya, nothing has changed more in our culture than how people communicate in the last decade. And I started my firm, Double Forte, it’s a public relations and social media firm, before Twitter. [crosstalk 00:03:03] There’s no campaign we do that doesn’t have a social media aspect to it and all that kind of stuff.
In the same time media has changed. There are less than half of the same number of journalists there are today as there were even five years ago at newspapers around the country. So, nothing has changed more than how we communicate and how we get news and information in our society. And as a public relations and communications practitioner, that’s a continual challenge to stay ahead or at least abreast of what’s going on in the business to understand really how people are getting informed, what is real, what is fake, and make sure that we are contributing to the good and not to the negative in that discussion. So that is always a challenge, keeps me on my toes for sure, and I think it’s going to continue to be a challenge. I don’t think it’s not going to change being a challenge because things are going to ebb and flow there.
I think another challenge is the changing face of marketing. Most marketing is so, the old school this is how you do marketing doesn’t work. And depending on what industry you’re in and who you are and what legacy you have, we find ourselves dealing with clients who are all in on what’s new and don’t want to do anything that worked before, and that’s a mistake. And the other clients who only want to do what used to work before and don’t want to do anything that works today, and that’s a mistake. So trying to help understand and help our clients and ourselves make sure that we’re structured for what today is communication is another challenge. I’ll leave it at that. That’s enough challenges.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, yeah. You need a few, but it’s good to de-stigmatize them. For anyone listening who is thinking of being an entrepreneur or feels that they’re alone and feeling kind of stuck, you’re not and everybody has these challenges-
Lee Caraher: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: We all get better and stronger and actually happier as we work through all of those, so-
Lee Caraher: Totally agree.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it’s really true. So what are your top three go to pieces of advice for women in business?
Lee Caraher: My top three are, one is define for yourself what your success will be. Do not get stuck on someone else’s definition of success, because we all have a different life, we all have a different condition, and today what is success for me is not what would’ve been success for me 10 years ago and probably not what will be success for me in 10 years from today. So in this moment in time what is success and how will I know if I got there? And I’m not going to worry about anybody else. That really relieves a lot of pressure.
Number two is stop saying sorry. Ladies, stop apologizing so much for things that you really don’t have to apologize for. I’ll give you a couple examples. How many times have we heard ourselves say “Oh, I’m sorry to interrupt, but the meeting has started.” Well, why are you sorry? There’s no reason to be sorry for actually helping people do their job. And this I think for women, young and old, gets in our way so often. We don’t even know that we’re doing it, so in 2019 if you can make it a goal to only apologize for things that you actually have to apologize for, that would be a huge win.
The last thing I say often is focus is your friend. As women, we all try to do too much. This whole idea of work life balance started because we could be great women at work and great women at home, and Michelle Obama said that shit doesn’t work. Excuse my language Melinda, I hope that’s okay-
Melinda Wittstock: No, it’s okay. She’s right, it doesn’t.
Lee Caraher: It doesn’t work, so what are you going to focus on right now? It’s your friend if you focus 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and then you can change and do something else. I think we get tasked with multitasking because we can, and we find that if we don’t and just don’t multitask we’re so much more effective. So focus is your friend.
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. So how can people find you and work with you?
Lee Caraher: The best place to find me for communications is at Double Forte, double-forte.com. You can also follow me on Twitter at @leecaraher, L-E-E C-A-R-A-H-E-R.
Melinda Wittstock: Wonderful. Thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Lee Caraher: Absolutely, such a joy to be with you.