Casey Lightbody is the founder of Empowered Women Revolution, an organization whose mission is to help sensitive and quiet women find their voices, rock their businesses, and love their lives. She truly believes that no woman should fall short of her potential for success and is passionate about helping women with small voices but big dreams to realize and fulfill their own potential. Casey is a marketing person. It recently started to bug her that there were a bunch of quiet women who had amazing things to say, but were holding themselves back in their businesses. She started the Empowered Women’s Revolution in response to that. In our interview today, she talks about all the ways that women may hold themselves back and offers some ways to overcome that.
Casey: I started my career in marketing at Citigroup in London and was with them for six or seven years. I left them when I had my three children. There was no opportunity to work part-time, so I left Citigroup to stay at home with the kids. During that time, I decided to immigrate to Australia. We moved to Australia completely blind. It was a bit scary, because we didn’t know anyone here. I decided to get another job and started working part-time as a Marketing Manager for an engineering company. It was around school hours, so it really worked well for me — but I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Ever since I was a little girl, I had a dream of creating my own business. I actually studied business in University. So, with a milestone birthday looming and my children now at school full-time, I decided to start my own business while working part-time for the engineering company. I started my digital marketing agency and began getting some consulting clients on the side until I felt comfortable enough to leave the part-time job and focus on the marketing agency full-time.
It was fantastic! I had some great consulting clients. I was working full-time in the business, but the more I started working on myself, Meredith, and working with other women, I realized how much untapped potential there was in these women. I was helping them grow their businesses and trying to grow my business at the same time, but it was seeing how much they were held back by themselves that really hit a nerve with me. I found it incredibly difficult to grow my business to be seen, to be visible, and a lot of the work I was getting was all word-of-mouth and referrals. I wasn’t marketing myself just because I was too shy, so I did a lot of self-development work and started to get out of my own way. Once I did that, that’s when things really exploded for me in the agency. I used those skills and created a community which is now my new passion project: Empowered Women Revolution.
Meredith: Why do you think women are held back more than men? Why do you think women are getting in their own way?
Casey: I think it’s inherent in all of us, Meredith. I think that we are nurtured by nature, so we like to appease other people. We don’t like to say no. We don’t like to rock the boat. We like to keep the peace. I think that’s the biggest reason.
Meredith: Now, go even deeper. I know there’s a connection between women and biologically we’re nurturers, but why do you think that women have that people-pleasing thing about them that men don’t have? I’ve noticed it, too. If you notice in the online marketing world, the guys have a totally different way of approaching it than women.
Casey: Absolutely. It’s a tough one to answer. I think it’s because we don’t want to upset other people. It’s our inner critic that’s really rather large.
Jasper: How much of it is that women are taught that their place is in the home? However liberal the upbringing is, ultimately there is a lot of conditioning that goes with women right from an early age that us guys don’t get. We are expected to be the leaders in some way where women are almost taught not to be.
Casey: Absolutely, Jasper. That’s exactly what I was trying to get across. Thank you for saying it so eloquently. I think that’s exactly it. I grew up in a household in a third-world country where it was very much the woman’s place to stay at home, to bring up the children, to manage the household. That was my upbringing and my dad went off to work. I think that women are wanting more and more to take charge of their own lives and to really create the business and life that they love; that’s what they’re dreaming of. They’ve got something important that they want to say, they want to make an impact in the world, but they are held back by that conditioning and by that upbringing and by the status-quo of what it’s always been like. Breaking that mold is so hard for women.
On my own podcast, I asked the question, “What’s the biggest barrier to female entrepreneurship in today’s society?” and every single woman I’ve asked thus far has said that it’s ourselves who are getting in the way. So I think it’s a very, very common theme across all woman entrepreneurs, not necessarily just the quiet ones. I think it’s the ones who actually take charge of that, recognize it for what it is, and push through that fear who really propel themselves into being seen and heard and create the business that they love.
Jasper: But there’s also a change in the climate, isn’t there? Traditionally speaking, I’m a baby boomer, brought up as left-brain thinkers who were taught to follow the process. Now we are getting into a much more right-brained creative phase somehow that really taps into the strengths of women. I think that’s why we are seeing so many of them beginning to come forward now. Certainly, the people we’ve been working with are all woman entrepreneurs.
Casey: Absolutely, Jeff. Another point is that women love to chat and tell stories, and I think that really connects with the right-brain way of thinking. That particularly plays to women’s strengths. Also, I think that standing out from the crowd in a very, very noisy world is why it’s headed more towards right-brain rather than left-brain, analytical, fact-based businesses. People really resonate with stories, so I think the more creative it can become, and the more storytelling that you can weave into your business, the more people will resonate with you from a personal branding point of view as well.
Meredith: What do you think are the biggest obstacles for quieter women to stand out? I know that as I see the online space, the people who are getting the most attention, women included, are those with these huge personalities standing on the stage yelling at people and all of that. If that’s not your style, how do you get heard above the din?
Casey: Again, Meredith, I think that’s changing more and more. You don’t actually have to be large to be seen and heard. I think there are people like Rene Brown and Susan Cain who are all talking about daring quietly or daring bravely, that whole quiet and introverted revolution. Susan Cain is actually introvert who speaks about the quiet revolution and how introversion must be embraced. I think, particularly in the online space, if you are really focusing on giving and building relationships with people who resonate with you, that’s where you start to get seen and heard.
It’s not all about having a big stage, I think, but rather starting off with what Tara Gentile calls “the living room strategy” — building a community by focusing on a small group of people to start off with, and as you get more and more confident and your visibility increases, that’s when you can start spreading out into bigger circles, if you like.
My real dream, my passion project, isn’t just to make my business a success. It is to take that knowledge and share it with all the other quiet, unassuming women who are struggling to overcome the very same challenges as they chase their dreams.
To create an online community, a sanctuary for gentle, introverted women entrepreneurs to unite, share, collaborate, and together create a massive impact in the world.
And at last, here we are. The Empowered Women Revolution: a community of passionate, shy, small-voiced but big-hearted women with the vision, courage and compassion to follow our calling, build our empires and make damned sure things change and our impact is felt in the world.
We’re here to share our knowledge, support each other – and help YOU achieve your potential and to live the life you were born for.
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