Written by : Transcript – Women Supporting Women With Caroline Miller 

Transcript – Women Supporting Women With Caroline Miller

Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Women Supporting Women With Caroline Miller




[00:00:02] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 393 of Live Happy Now. December 1st marks Women Supporting Women Day, and this week’s guest believes that’s something we aren’t doing nearly enough. I’m your host, Paula Felps, and this week I’m joined by author, speaker, and coach Caroline Miller, who’s concerned about women’s failure to support one another led her to write the e-book, #IHaveYourBack, which is about creating mastermind success groups for women. This week, she’s here to share what she’s learned about why women don’t support one another, explain what it’s doing to our culture, and then tell us what we can do about it. Let’s take a listen.




[00:00:43] PF: Caroline, welcome back to Live Happy Now.


[00:00:45] CM: Oh, thanks for having me. I appreciate it so much.


[00:00:48] PF: It has been a while since we’ve talked and had you on the show. But when I saw what you’re working on, I knew we had to get you back on to talk about this. So tell me – First of all, before we jump in, why don’t you tell us what it is that your new project is?


[00:01:04] CM: Well, I have a new e-book out called #IHaveYourBack, mastermind success groups for women. It’s available as an e-book download for purchase on my website. I decided to just self-publish because I had been obsessed for several years now with finding a solution to why we, as women, know but don’t always talk about the women don’t support each other and how we actually actively undermine each other.


I finally got to the point where I was brave enough to not just write about it, but include an evidence-based solution because all I saw was the problem being made more beautiful. I wanted to put out something that was proactive that people could do something immediately about, and that’s the project.


[00:01:53] PF: Let’s talk about what it was that you saw that made you say, “I have to write about this.”


[00:02:01] CM: The fact that women were standing still and going backwards, in terms of female CEOs and fortune 50 or fortune 500 companies, the World Economic Bureau saying it’s going to be even longer, 185 years that the women achieved pay parity, the Me To movement. Time’s Up was all coming out. What I saw was a lot of demonization of men, but no one talking about the problem of women shooting at each other inside the tent. I thought, okay, yes, we have real problems with what men have historically done to women. The patriarchal culture is very dangerous and difficult.


But it’s not the only thing that women are up against, and I didn’t understand or know why it’s so dangerous to talk about this topic as a woman. I wanted to understand, first of all, is it just me knowing that this has happened to me and every woman I know, while we whisper about and talk about it? Or is it real? That’s number one. I wanted to find that out from an evidence-based perspective.


Number two, the thing was if I opened my mouth about this publicly, I want to put out a solution. So I had to name the problem. I had to put it in the context of the fact that, yes, men do need to pay a price for what they’ve done and continue to do to women. But that’s not the whole shooting match because we’re sliding backwards. Why? Why are women sliding backwards in terms of pay equity and reproductive rights and all these other things? Is it possible that women are also holding other women back? Can I talk about that? So that’s what I took on board.


As I said, I just hired two researchers. I went through thousands of pages of research. What I learned was sickening and upsetting but hopeful because I did come up with something that I believe can change women’s lives. But you have to be thoughtful and strategic about how you do it and are prepared to talk about that, so yeah.


[00:03:59] PF: Can you tell us some about what your research found, what you were finding?


[00:04:05] CM: A bunch of things. I found that what – Scarcity theory. A lot of people just go, “Yeah, women don’t support women in professional settings.” But that’s just because there’s only one seat at the table. Women have to guard their seats, just like Katie Couric saying, “I wasn’t going to mentor Ashleigh Banfield. That’s career suicide.” I think she said career suicide. So I found that, yes, there’s a scarcity theory theory out there, but we continue to act as if it’s true. So even when it’s not true, if we continue to believe that there’s only one seat at the table for a woman of power, we will continue to act as if there is no room for the rest of us.


I’ll tell you another thing, culturally. I remember watching a football game with my husband maybe a year ago, and I watched a kicker make a field goal, and the whole team celebrated, went out, hugged him. I turned to my husband and I said, “I can’t think of a single time the bench is cleared theoretically in an analogy in any possible way for me because I did something well. It just hasn’t happened for most women that the bench is clear when a woman supports another woman’s individual success.” Women tend to be friends.


What they don’t do is believe and achieve together. So what I found were all these examples of sisterhood coming together to change communal causes, reproductive rights, the Jane movement, the domestic workers strike. This is why the sisterhood is considered so important and like that’s the way it is. But what I can’t find, what I couldn’t find, were examples of women coming together to support each other’s individual goals.


Communally will come together and work for rights and this and that thing, but the minute you have women going for their own goals, if you bring them together to support each other, that’s considered just like a unicorn. It’s considered so unusual for women to support each other’s individual goals that when it happens, it elicits this, “Oh, my God. Where are these people?”


[00:06:18] PF: Yeah. You talk about this in your book. Like how do you then start turning this around?


[00:06:23] CM: Okay. So here’s what I really do believe is going to make a difference in is making a difference is if women get together in strategically formed mastermind groups, and there are a number of reasons why they have to be formed carefully. You can’t just go to like a Sheryl Sandberg lean in group and be assigned a group of people. Too many women tell me they’ve been assigned to groups put together by organizations, and you have to pay for the privilege. They don’t know anything about these women’s backgrounds or character. How do you know who’s in it?


So what you have to do is you have to go straight with Shelly Gable’s research, active constructive responding. You have to pull together a mastermind group of women who have a demonstrated history of being curious and enthusiastic about another woman’s individual goals and dreams. That’s number one because she found that that’s the Rorschach test. You want to know if someone’s in your corner, float an idea or success or some dream of yours in front of them and just watch. How do they respond? Are they curious? Are they enthusiastic? Do they change the subject? Are they passive destructive, active destructive, passive constructive?


She found that those are all wrong ways to respond to another woman’s success or dreams. The only one right way that I think determines whether or not someone is invited to be in your mastermind group is active constructive responding. So that’s number one. Women have to get together and be agentic. We have to talk in ways we haven’t been encouraged to talk about, which is about our goals and dreams. We have to do it in groups where we’re not interrupted, where we’re not mansplained.


Most women never even get their dreams and goals out of their mouths, let alone their ideas, because they’re always interrupted. So if you’re in a mastermind group that has guidelines, and that’s what I published here. It’s a 43-page e-book. I lay out the case, the evidence for why we’re doing this consciously and unconsciously, and here’s how you start a mastermind group. Here’s how you do it. Step one, step two, step three. So that’s it. You find those people. You have guidelines about how long people talk. You state your goals and dreams. You have to create psychological safety.


Then all these amazing things begin to happen when you have accountability to the right people in the right group for the right reasons. You find that there’s more creative risk taking. You begin to believe in yourself because other people support your dreams. They believe in you. They see you the way you want to be seen, the Michelangelo effect. People sculpt you with their praise and their feedback because they see you the way you want to be seen. That’s just some of the reasons why these groups work.


[00:09:03] PF: Let’s talk a little bit about how someone goes about putting this together. Someone’s like, “Okay, yeah. I want that support from other women.” So where do you start looking at? You’ve told us what we don’t want and kind of the people that we want. We can’t really go around interviewing people and saying, “Hey, how about this? Are you going to fit in my group?” How do you get it started?


[00:09:24] CM: Well, it doesn’t have to be your friends. In fact, some of your friends will be very threatened if you dare to dream bigger than who you are at that moment or what you want life. So it has to be people who fit this criteria, active constructive responding. You can observe people how they talk about other people’s successes.


Take a look at your social media feed. How many people are actually trumpeting another woman’s success? If this is someone you know or want to get to know better, maybe it’s an acquaintance, ask them. Reach out and ask them if they want to be in your mastermind group. That’s one way. So I would keep it small. My current mastermind group is four people. I think the biggest could be seven. So you can find them either through your social circle.


Or let’s say you have one person you know you want to be in the group. Ask them if they know someone who fits all these criteria. That’s the first way. I go into the rest of it in the book. So that’s where you start. But it has to be somebody who wants to become her very best self, who has, let’s say, a future best self in mind.


There are three ways that people live. They have an ought self, an actual self, and an ideal self. Most people, and I’m going to say a lot of women, live as an actual self, just the person they show up as or as the ought self, the person they think they should be, according to their relationships, the way they’re raised, the culture they’re in, whatever. But many people never shoot for that ideal self. You want somebody who wants to maximize their potential and do whatever it takes, have grit.


I think the last time you interviewed me, it was about my book, Getting Grit. This takes grit. So you have to be able to have the grit to pursue that. It’s so much easier when you have the wind at your back because other people are brainstorming with you, supporting you. So you start by creating that circle.


I also want to say that it’s really important, once these groups get going, that these benefits continue to go into what Barbara Frederickson talks about, the upward spiral. You begin to feel like you matter. All this new research on mattering and an organization, how many people actually feel like they matter in a group? Not a lot of women have an opportunity to feel like they matter in a group where other people have their backs. They do begin to feel like experts. We all longed to be experts. When you bring your expertise into a group, you have an opportunity to teach people something. You bring what it is you know about web design, or web hosting, or writing a book, or giving a speech.


Those collective energies coming together allow every person in there to be an expert. That’s another huge psychological boost. It’s just massive, having the freedom to ask other people to give you their ideas, to support you. I’ve had female friends ask me to lead a round of applause when they take the stage because they’re worried other people won’t clap for them. It’s often the people who should be leading the applause for you who are not.


I think the thing I want to be sure I’m doing here is talking about the fact that I think we do these things not because we want to, but because we’re acculturated to do this. We are supposed to believe that there are mean girls. That that’s just the way women are. I mean, and so when we believe this, we unconsciously behave this way.


So I want to take some of us just off the guilty hook and say we don’t always know why we do these things to each other. But I do think that there are too many women who also know better who don’t make any effort to lead a round of applause, amplify another woman’s success.


[00:13:01] PF: Well, let me ask you the purpose of creating a group like under – There are several different reasons and several different flavors, if you will, of groups that you could create. What would be – To who’s listening, like why would you want to – What would be your purpose in putting that together?


[00:13:19] CM: Because not enough women voice their dreams period. Being be able to voice your dreams and your goals, and brainstorm your way with also goal setting theory behind the pursuit of these goals, you will maximize your chances of succeeding. So as everyone in the field knows, I wrote – Not everyone. A lot of people know I wrote the first book to connect the science of happiness with the science of goal success. That book was my capstone at creating your best life. It was reissued last year as kind of a global bestseller. But it was the first book to put science to goal setting.


I think every woman should be in a group where people have her back, but she’s pursuing goals with the evidence of goal setting theory behind how those goals, learning goals and performance goals, are set, pursued, and achieved. We have to make it possible from every angle for us to succeed. So this is not just about coming together to talk in a nice way about each other. This is a working group. This is your board of directors.


But do not go into an organization and be assigned a group. That is a nonstarter, as far as I can tell because you have to know the character and the behavior of the people you’re going to be essentially opening the kimono in front of. Too many women have been violated by other women who blossom about them, make fun of them, tear them down. I mean, this one woman said at some of the research I looked at that she had to choose between her sanity and her career because the more she succeeded at work, the more she was torn down by other women. So you have to be in that kind of group.


Let me quickly say some of the – What I’ve heard as a criticism. People say, “Well, men take each other down. Men are critical of each other. Men bully each other.” Yes. Of course, that’s true. However, men are socialized to be goal directed, and, and, this is more important, and they are not biologically wired to be in friendship dyads the way women are socialized and wired to be.


This Tend-and-Befriend research from the year 2000 that came out of the UCLA nurses study found that women need other women. We often have best friends who are good for us, but generally we do not. So the Tend-And-Befriend research found that oxytocin is secreted when women get together, and they take care of each other, and they bond. Especially they nurture each other when they’re down. So that’s why this being thrown out of the tribe is so existentially hellish for women because it violates our chemical nature.


So, yes, it happens to men, but women are relationship-oriented. Men are more transactional. So it’s even more potent for us to be in the right group in the right ways at the right time, as much as possible.


[00:16:17] PF: So by bringing this out and by, one, sharing the massive research that you’ve done on it and bringing it forefront to women, what do you hope to accomplish, and how do you hope this is going to change the way that we interact and support one another?


[00:16:31] CM: I want every woman to have access to just the guidelines on how to support a mastermind group and all the reasons why we need to do it. Even Kristin Neff has said, her most recent book on radical self-compassion, she’s like, “This is what women don’t do for themselves. They’re compassionate for the world, and they lack compassion for themselves to do this.” We all need to understand that it’s a compassionate act for us to come together in support of our own dreams and goals.


Especially when – Just go back to the diseases of despair. Women are dying in numbers disproportionately larger than men. As Case and Deaton, the economists, have found, often because they lack a sense of purpose, so alcoholism, eating disorders, depression, suicide, women are really paying the price more than men. So that’s a piece of why I’m doing it. I want women to be armed with these tools. I want them to know why it matters, and I really want women to understand we’re not doing this just because we’re nasty people, meaning us tear other women down, or we’re jealous of them, or we pass along gossip about them.


I think we’ve all been conditioned equally poorly, some more than others, and we need to understand the conscious and unconscious reasons why we do it. But we all have learned to override yelling at our in-laws at Thanksgiving, hopefully. I mean, there’s all kinds of wiring that we overcome in order to be socially appropriate, to be members of tribes. We can overcome this wiring and this conditioning if we want to. That’s what I believe.


[00:18:03] PF: I love it. You know I love that you’ve done this because I think it really does open our eyes toward our behaviors and the fact that we can change them. You give us a really great blueprint for making that change and starting our own little path to success into turning this ship around.


As we let you go, what is the one thing that you hope everyone takes away from this conversation?


[00:18:29] CM: When you hear of another woman’s success, whether you want to or not, pass it on in a positive way to somebody else. Override that instinct to be envious, which I have, which we all have. Share another woman’s success on social media. Do it twice a week, and you’re going to feel better, and the world’s going to be better.


[00:18:50] PF: I love that. I love that. Thank you for that. That is a terrific tip.




[00:18:59] PF: That was Caroline Miller, talking about the importance of women supporting women. If you’d like to learn more about Caroline and her research, follow her on social media, or find out where to download her e-book, #IHaveYourBack, visit our website at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab.


Just a reminder that today is the last day to take advantage of Live Happy’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings. Visit our store at store.livehappy.com and take 30% of everything in there. That’s store.livehappy.com, and no promo code is needed.


That is all we have time for today. We’ll meet you back here again next week for an all-new episode. Until then, this is Paula Felps, reminding you to make every day a happy one.



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