The Hard Skills

Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Facebook Live Video from 2024/04/02- From Idea to Impact: Mapping Out Your Leadership Strategy

Facebook Live Video from 2024/04/02- From Idea to Impact: Mapping Out Your Leadership Strategy


2024/04/02- From Idea to Impact: Mapping Out Your Leadership Strategy

[NEW EPISODE] From Idea to Impact: Mapping Out Your Leadership Strategy

Tuesdays 5:00pm - 6:00pm (ET)                       


In this episode, listeners will learn how one young social entrepreneur transformed an idea into an implementable action plan, scaled it up to reach a broader audience and have a wider impact, and is now developing her leadership identity and vision for the future. 

In this episode, Aynsley Szczesniak and Dr. Mira Brancu will walk through the steps of taking an idea and turning it into reality. They will discuss tips for crafting a vision of the future, effective strategies for setting achievable and time-bound goals, and ways to get back on track when a challenge forces you off your envisioned path. This will also be a coaching episode where Aynsley will explore her own leadership strengths and next steps with Dr. Brancu. Ultimately, Aynsley's journey as a budding social entrepreneur and youth activist will inspire people of an age to know they can make a difference. 

Aynsley Szczesniak is the Founder and Executive Director of Speak Out Sisterhood, a global network empowering youth to eradicate barriers to equality for women in STEM. As a first year Honors Carolina scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Aynsley is also the Founder and State Lead of the North Carolina chapter of Million Women Mentors, the Student STEM Programs Chair of the Association for Women in Science - North Carolina, and a research assistant for the UNC School of Medicine PREPARE project. Aynsley is known for hosting engaging speaker panels, workshops, and webinars, as well as for her skillful networking abilities. As a budding social entrepreneur, she's eager to learn how to further her passion for empowering young people to develop leadership strengths, professional skills, and confidence through comprehensive and collaborative programming.

SOS website:

SOS Instagram: @speak_out_sisterhood

Aynsley Instagram: @aynsleyszczesniak

SOS LinkedIn:

Aynsley LinkedIn:

 #steminism, #womeninstem, #speakoutsisterhood #youthleader #leadershipcoaching #leadershipconsulting

Tune in for this empowering conversation at

Show Notes

Segment  1

Dr. Mira Brancu had introduced Aynsley Szczesniak, who is a 17 year old Founder and Executive Director of Speak Out Sisterhood, a worldwide network dedicated to empowering young people to eliminate obstacles hindering gender equality in STEM fields, also holds the position of Founder and State Lead of the North Carolina chapter of Million Women Mentors. Additionally, she serves as the Student STEM Programs Chair for the Association for Women in Science - North Carolina and works as a research assistant for the UNC School of Medicine PREPARE project while pursuing her first year as an Honors Carolina scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Aynsley embarked on her journey during high school when she recognized the need for a club focused on women's leadership and STEM to foster personal development. Through these gatherings, they invited female scientists to share their experiences. One individual who particularly inspired her was "Fatu Dayup," a PhD candidate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Fatu discussed how her work was affected by her menstrual cycle and the lack of support she received, prompting Aynsley to advocate for women's rights and justice in STEM fields. Aynsley articulated her understanding of justice and autonomy for women in STEM, highlighting how the absence of these principles prevents women from shaping their own destinies. She emphasized that equity in STEM doesn't necessarily mean equal outcomes for everyone, as this might not be feasible. Instead, she advocated for equal opportunities for individuals to realize their full potential.

Segment 2

Aynsley recounted how her journey to establish "Speak Out Sisterhood" began with her attendance at a conference in October 2023. Specifically, she participated in the STEM innovation forum in Denver after being invited by a representative from Million Women Mentors. At the conference, she noticed a strong interest among numerous companies in advocating for women in STEM. Reflecting on her experiences in high school and with her university peers, Aynsley realized the importance of advocating for young girls in STEM. She also recognized the desire of companies to support this cause. However, she observed a gap between these two groups, prompting her to explore ways to bridge that divide. On the second day of the conference, Dr. Elisa Hinkleman, the founder and director of “Ruling Our Experience” (ROXS), presented her research on girls' confidence and self-esteem. She highlighted a concerning trend: since 2017, there has been a decline in girls' confidence, with 55% expressing fear of being perceived as "bossy" if they assert leadership. This revelation struck a chord with Aynsley, who recognized the need for guidance and support systems where women and girls can acquire skills to become effective leaders without being hindered by such statistics. Dr. Mira emphasized the importance of teamwork, echoing Aynsley's sentiment that trying to accomplish everything alone is unrealistic. She stressed the significance of networking at conferences, urging attendees to engage with like-minded individuals. Aynsley encouraged even introverts to network, suggesting strategies such as researching conference attendees beforehand to determine who to approach and familiarizing oneself with their work to facilitate conversations. She emphasized that each individual's journey is unique and should authentically reflect their own values and aspirations, highlighting the importance of embracing diversity in approaches to leadership development.

Segment 3

Dr. Mira inquired about the challenges Aynsley anticipates as she transitions from leading a nonprofit to managing a larger company. Aynsley explained her approach, emphasizing the importance of both future planning and understanding the current state of her company. This involves determining suitable leadership roles, outlining the company's trajectory for the next year or two, and establishing a realistic budget. She noted the prevalent focus on the future in the business world, often leading to delays in partnership discussions as companies typically plan for activities months in advance. Aynsley expressed the difficulty in aligning her vision for the company with the timelines of potential partners. Dr. Mira then asked how Aynsley identifies the necessary "hard skills' ' to address these challenges. Aynsley detailed the foundation her team has built for the company, highlighting the creation of a program called "generation YES" tailored for "young empowered steminists." This program offers an eight-week remote internship for college-aged women, organized into teams of four with an advisor and partner organization. Each internship focuses on researching barriers within STEM careers, analyzing existing strategies, and developing action plans to address these issues in collaboration with partner companies. Aynsley emphasized that these internships serve as an initial step toward affecting systemic change. Dr. Mira acknowledged Aynsley's ambition for the program and the importance of finding partners who share her passion and are committed to effectiveness. She advised Aynsley to adopt a mindset of being "patiently impatient" suggesting the need to balance urgency with careful planning to ensure sustainable progress.

Segment 4

Dr. Mira asked Aynsley if her team includes individuals who offer a mix of characteristics, such as being outgoing and visionary versus strategic and patient. Aynsley confirmed this diversity within her team, underscoring its critical role in ensuring a well-rounded organization. She emphasized the importance of having team members who complement her own style, contributing to the team's overall effectiveness. Dr. Mira then discussed the importance of maintaining a balance between productivity and interpersonal relationships within the workplace. She illustrated this point by highlighting the potential pitfalls of an imbalanced approach: if productivity outweighs relationship-building efforts, it can lead to a toxic work culture, whereas an overemphasis on relationships may hinder open communication and impede productivity. Achieving a balance in task execution and interpersonal dynamics is essential for fostering a healthy and effective work environment.


00:00:32.820 --> 00:00:39.460 Mira Brancu: How do you turn a vision into a real reality? And how can one person make a global impact?

00:00:40.040 --> 00:00:48.189 Mira Brancu: Today? You'll find out how a first year undergraduate at University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill did just that

00:00:48.580 --> 00:00:52.559 Mira Brancu: welcome to the hard skills show with me, Dr. Mira Bronkou.

00:00:52.650 --> 00:01:01.439 Mira Brancu: on the show. We discuss how to develop the nuanced hard skills needed to drive significant systemic change and make real impact through your leadership.

00:01:01.540 --> 00:01:15.320 Mira Brancu: And today's show is unique in that we're combining learning from our guest while also doing a little on air coaching for her, as she thinks through the next leadership development growth steps that she has ahead of her.

00:01:15.580 --> 00:01:28.359 Mira Brancu: So be ready, reflect deeply. Take notes. I always do, and identify at least one small step to further develop your hard skills muscle, and I'm sure that she will inspire you to do this.

00:01:28.520 --> 00:01:31.840 Mira Brancu: So today's guest is Ainsley Sasniac.

00:01:31.890 --> 00:01:38.110 Mira Brancu: and we'll be talking about how this young social entrepreneur she is 17

00:01:38.390 --> 00:01:41.270 Mira Brancu: first year student Usc. Chapel Hill

00:01:41.550 --> 00:01:43.349 Mira Brancu: transformed an idea

00:01:43.500 --> 00:01:55.379 Mira Brancu: into an implementable action plan, scaled it up to reach a broader audience and have a wider impact and is now developing her leadership, identity and vision for the future on a global scale.

00:01:55.520 --> 00:02:05.549 Mira Brancu: Now this is a really great focus for Season 3, which is focused on the third stage of my strategic leadership pathway model mapping a strategy

00:02:05.810 --> 00:02:21.040 Mira Brancu: making an impact which she also has done is the fifth season. So we're not going to spend too much time today on that piece as much as how we map out the strategy to get there. But you'll definitely hear a lot about that so great to have you on the show, Ainslie.

00:02:22.720 --> 00:02:27.382 Aynsley Szczesniak: Thank you so much for having me. And how am I supposed to follow an introduction like that?

00:02:27.900 --> 00:02:30.849 Mira Brancu: Tell you more audience. Let me tell you more, Ainslie.

00:02:30.850 --> 00:02:33.140 Aynsley Szczesniak: Oh, goodness! The 100 and.

00:02:33.140 --> 00:02:35.839 Mira Brancu: Executive director of speak out sisterhood.

00:02:36.220 --> 00:02:41.290 Mira Brancu: a global network, empowering youth to eradicate barriers of equality for women and stem.

00:02:41.690 --> 00:02:56.739 Mira Brancu: She's also the founder and State Lead of the North Carolina Chapter of 1 million Women Mentors The Student Stem Programs. Chair of the Association of Women and Science, North Carolina, and a research assistant for the Unc. School of Medicine prepare project.

00:02:57.800 --> 00:03:04.440 Mira Brancu: And did I mention already? She's only in her her first year at the University, like my first question easily to you is.

00:03:04.830 --> 00:03:11.020 Mira Brancu: What do you do for fun? How you hacks! All of this is like big, serious stuff.

00:03:11.630 --> 00:03:20.489 Aynsley Szczesniak: Oh, I love that question. And I do love to joke that I am very type. A, in the sense that

00:03:20.500 --> 00:03:30.156 Aynsley Szczesniak: relax is not a word to move it, my vocabulary, but I swear I do do it. My roommate and I actually just went to go see a show

00:03:30.560 --> 00:03:36.949 Aynsley Szczesniak: at the Playmakers Theater here, you and see. The other night it was murder in the Orient Express. It was so good.

00:03:36.980 --> 00:03:41.590 Aynsley Szczesniak: But I love going to musicals and and plays. And

00:03:41.980 --> 00:03:48.829 Aynsley Szczesniak: I would definitely say, that's one of my favorite ways to just step away from my life and

00:03:48.950 --> 00:04:01.380 Aynsley Szczesniak: immerse myself in in a story, or or an adventure, or or a musical and and just just take a break for a bit, so that would I would definitely say, that's my my favorite way to relax.

00:04:01.380 --> 00:04:06.245 Mira Brancu: Love it, love it! Murder on the Orient express. I love Agatha. Christie always has.

00:04:06.570 --> 00:04:07.770 Aynsley Szczesniak: So good.

00:04:07.770 --> 00:04:08.360 Mira Brancu: Yes.

00:04:08.983 --> 00:04:15.119 Mira Brancu: so how did you become interested in empowering women and stem? What's your what's story.

00:04:15.580 --> 00:04:33.469 Aynsley Szczesniak: So I'd say it really started in high school when I founded an a high school club for female identifying students who are interested in stem, because I noticed we didn't have much at my high school that was focused on that. So I was like, Okay, let's just create it myself.

00:04:33.807 --> 00:04:46.630 Aynsley Szczesniak: And so that was in my junior year, and we eventually grew to. We doubled our membership senior year and started pursuing collaborations with other clubs that were sort of stem focus, but not our very niche. Focus.

00:04:46.959 --> 00:04:57.829 Aynsley Szczesniak: And you know it. It's continued to thrive to this day. It's it's so great to to get status reports from my my friends who took on leadership after I left, and

00:04:57.880 --> 00:05:13.430 Aynsley Szczesniak: that journey of creating this community of young women who were really passionate about stem and and empowering others who were interested as well. Really sparked my my interest in this being something that I wanted to continue to do beyond high school.

00:05:13.590 --> 00:05:15.640 Aynsley Szczesniak: and particularly

00:05:15.740 --> 00:05:42.860 Aynsley Szczesniak: one of the components of that club was bringing in a woman scientist at every meeting. And there was this one woman in particular who really really sparked somebody in me? Her name was fatu Diab, and she's a Phd. Candidate at work. Worcester Police, Worcester, Polytechnic Institute. She I we've stayed close, and she's she was really, really inspired to me because she came onto our meeting, and she was talking about

00:05:43.332 --> 00:06:05.560 Aynsley Szczesniak: her experiences as a woman and stem, but so candidly, more than I'd ever heard somebody talk before. She talked about how, with her menstrual cycle. She often didn't feel like she had the support she needed in in in her studies and in in college and beyond when she was experiencing especially heavy flow and cramps and things.

00:06:05.560 --> 00:06:14.939 Aynsley Szczesniak: and that always kind of stuck in the back of my mind. But it wasn't until I started getting more involved with the Association for women in science, that

00:06:14.980 --> 00:06:24.310 Aynsley Szczesniak: the idea of pursuing justice for for women, and and stem and equity for women and stem became something that I could see myself

00:06:25.012 --> 00:06:44.159 Aynsley Szczesniak: really, developing as more than just this kind of side passion. Because I am a premedical student. I've always wanted to go into medicine, so Stem has always been a part of me in that sense. But the idea of not just entering medicine and making my mark

00:06:44.610 --> 00:07:00.549 Aynsley Szczesniak: through taking care of patients, but also by reforming the system itself to make it more equitable, not just for me, but for other women like me. Became something that I that that I I really started to envision as a as a possible career and and a future for myself. So

00:07:00.580 --> 00:07:12.859 Aynsley Szczesniak: I would say in terms of empowering women and stem as being us a passion of mine, then it's both that personal connection, being a woman myself, and feeling those same

00:07:13.200 --> 00:07:20.719 Aynsley Szczesniak: things that we hear about a lot of imposter syndrome and and gender bias. I've seen it just in my first year here at college.

00:07:21.342 --> 00:07:24.779 Aynsley Szczesniak: And then also that experience of

00:07:24.970 --> 00:07:30.260 Aynsley Szczesniak: starting to realize that there are inequities and there are

00:07:30.370 --> 00:07:41.549 Aynsley Szczesniak: in in in life is not perfect in stem, and I have the power as somebody who is going into stem myself to do something about that. And I want to do something about that.

00:07:43.630 --> 00:07:47.290 Mira Brancu: that's very inspiring. I love that you

00:07:47.300 --> 00:07:48.859 Mira Brancu: saw a need

00:07:49.140 --> 00:07:51.410 Mira Brancu: and wanted to fill it.

00:07:51.720 --> 00:07:53.979 Mira Brancu: And you thought, what could I do?

00:07:54.880 --> 00:07:57.159 Mira Brancu: Not a lot of people think.

00:07:57.480 --> 00:08:03.629 Mira Brancu: Is there something here that I can do myself to make a difference? But you stepped into it

00:08:03.880 --> 00:08:08.410 Mira Brancu: and, you you felt a sense of sort of a pull to

00:08:09.070 --> 00:08:19.489 Mira Brancu: responsibility for making that change and that in and of itself I think it can be very inspiring to a lot of people right who

00:08:20.110 --> 00:08:23.420 Mira Brancu: are frustrated with the way things are, and may maybe think.

00:08:23.837 --> 00:08:41.499 Mira Brancu: What's one person? You know. What can one person do. But one person can do a lot, and for you you know, the one person that you invited did a lot for you by simply telling her story, and there was something that I really appreciated about her story, which is that

00:08:41.690 --> 00:08:45.379 Mira Brancu: that that sparked an interest in you, which is that she was open and candid

00:08:45.410 --> 00:08:58.739 Mira Brancu: about the experience of sex and gender impacting her lived experience going through a stem career. There's not a lot of people

00:08:58.750 --> 00:09:10.570 Mira Brancu: who are willing to talk about menstruation flow right like these are taboo subjects. Women don't talk about menopause. They don't talk about fertility treatments. They don't talk about

00:09:11.073 --> 00:09:13.900 Mira Brancu: going undergoing breast cancer treatments while they're in.

00:09:14.230 --> 00:09:21.890 Mira Brancu: A leadership role? Because they worry about understandably. So you know the judgments

00:09:22.414 --> 00:09:27.430 Mira Brancu: they've already experienced in the past. And will it come back again? And how will that impact my career?

00:09:27.890 --> 00:09:28.896 Aynsley Szczesniak: Exactly so

00:09:29.990 --> 00:09:31.849 Mira Brancu: There's a there's a couple of

00:09:33.128 --> 00:09:36.742 Mira Brancu: questions that come up for for me as you were talking

00:09:37.910 --> 00:09:40.920 Mira Brancu: and and I think it connects

00:09:41.220 --> 00:09:47.049 Mira Brancu: to how you identify yourself on the website as a proactive stemnist.

00:09:47.560 --> 00:09:54.075 Mira Brancu: So let's talk about what? What is justice in the stem field for

00:09:54.520 --> 00:10:05.020 Mira Brancu: for women. What is equity? How? How do you define that? How do you define being a proactive stemist who focuses on justice and equity for women and stem.

00:10:05.580 --> 00:10:13.559 Aynsley Szczesniak: I love that. That's a really great question. So I'll start with the equity and justice, because I feel like those are some. Those are words that

00:10:13.670 --> 00:10:16.949 Aynsley Szczesniak: everybody has their own personal definition of.

00:10:17.010 --> 00:10:29.000 Aynsley Szczesniak: Personally, when I think of justice, I think of having agency over over your life, and then being able to choose your own destiny. Autonomy is something that's really important to me.

00:10:29.010 --> 00:10:32.660 Aynsley Szczesniak: And I because because I recognize how.

00:10:32.770 --> 00:10:42.769 Aynsley Szczesniak: when you feel like you are in control. It's very empowering it. It makes you feel secure and and safe, and able to

00:10:43.500 --> 00:10:55.979 Aynsley Szczesniak: be yourself authentically into the fullest. And I feel like when we are saying, you know, justice for women, justice for women, in my eyes that means giving women the chance to

00:10:56.720 --> 00:11:07.210 Aynsley Szczesniak: chart our own stories and and not be told by others that we have to do something a certain way or we aren't. We don't belong in a certain space that's

00:11:07.310 --> 00:11:12.369 Aynsley Szczesniak: that's that's unjust. That's that's taking away our choices and our our dusty

00:11:12.866 --> 00:11:22.900 Aynsley Szczesniak: and our ability to shape our destiny. And then, similarly, equity, in my opinion, is not necessarily everybody being on the same

00:11:22.980 --> 00:11:25.190 Aynsley Szczesniak: level, because

00:11:25.510 --> 00:11:31.780 Aynsley Szczesniak: that is just not feasible. I think equity is about having the opportunity to

00:11:31.850 --> 00:11:33.040 Aynsley Szczesniak: achieve

00:11:33.160 --> 00:11:45.470 Aynsley Szczesniak: your fullest potential without having these barriers. So rather, I'm a math minor. So I think a lot in terms of like formulaic sometimes. And so equity is not necessarily

00:11:45.750 --> 00:11:46.940 Aynsley Szczesniak: the

00:11:47.170 --> 00:11:50.430 Aynsley Szczesniak: absent or the everybody on the same

00:11:50.530 --> 00:11:52.050 Aynsley Szczesniak: equivalent

00:11:52.612 --> 00:12:09.539 Aynsley Szczesniak: path, because we all are on different paths. Rather it's the elimination of barriers that prevent you from achieving that path that that you have been you that you want to chart for yourself. So that's why, with my organizations, because sisterhood, we focus not necessarily on

00:12:10.502 --> 00:12:25.420 Aynsley Szczesniak: creating this harmonious, beautiful Utopian world because that does not exist. Rather we focus on what are these things that are stopping women from getting to where we want to be? And how can we break those down? So

00:12:25.460 --> 00:12:32.520 Aynsley Szczesniak: equity in that case, is about breaking down these barriers that are stopping us from advancing it in stem

00:12:32.968 --> 00:12:43.710 Aynsley Szczesniak: and so where that ties in with my own identity. Yes, proactive is is definitely a word I'd use to describe myself. I pride myself on being proactive, and

00:12:43.780 --> 00:12:50.309 Aynsley Szczesniak: not only seeing it, seeing things that are wrong, but taking action to address them, because, like you said, you know.

00:12:50.800 --> 00:12:59.719 Aynsley Szczesniak: I am just one person, but the if, if I don't act, who else is going to? And if I do act, maybe I can inspire somebody else to follow me

00:12:59.850 --> 00:13:00.910 Aynsley Szczesniak: ends.

00:13:00.970 --> 00:13:10.010 Aynsley Szczesniak: That's something that I've definitely seen with buildings. Speak out sisterhood, just the amount of people who have reached out, who have just been interested in in helping out in any way that they can.

00:13:10.080 --> 00:13:15.959 Aynsley Szczesniak: It's inspiring, because it shows that one person's choice to

00:13:16.230 --> 00:13:22.439 Aynsley Szczesniak: to step outside the status quo and and shed light on an issue that a lot of people

00:13:23.050 --> 00:13:28.759 Aynsley Szczesniak: feel very deeply can unite people, you know, in a way that

00:13:28.840 --> 00:13:32.189 Aynsley Szczesniak: maybe wouldn't have happened if somebody hadn't taken that first step.

00:13:32.340 --> 00:13:34.500 Aynsley Szczesniak: So that's why proactivity is

00:13:34.630 --> 00:13:40.059 Aynsley Szczesniak: is really core value of mine, and something that I try to really hone in on as a leader.

00:13:41.523 --> 00:13:42.790 Mira Brancu: Beautifully said.

00:13:42.980 --> 00:13:43.800 Mira Brancu: And

00:13:46.030 --> 00:14:01.790 Mira Brancu: I really just I I just wanna put a fine point on like we hear these sort of jargon words buzz words around justice and equity. And Ainsley just explained it so so beautifully and simply. It's just about everyone having the choice

00:14:02.260 --> 00:14:04.319 Mira Brancu: to decide their path

00:14:04.470 --> 00:14:05.520 Mira Brancu: and

00:14:06.513 --> 00:14:07.920 Mira Brancu: the opportunity

00:14:08.220 --> 00:14:11.089 Mira Brancu: to take that path

00:14:11.130 --> 00:14:20.599 Mira Brancu: by having the barriers removed that are systematically holding one group back versus another. And in this case it's women in stem.

00:14:21.030 --> 00:14:21.560 Aynsley Szczesniak: Absolutely.

00:14:21.560 --> 00:14:24.110 Mira Brancu: So it's really quite

00:14:24.320 --> 00:14:29.940 Mira Brancu: simple that nobody wants to be held back. Because of barriers that are specific to

00:14:29.990 --> 00:14:37.690 Mira Brancu: some group they're part of, and nobody wants to not have a choice in turning their path right? So

00:14:37.990 --> 00:14:48.370 Mira Brancu: when we come back from these, Ad breaks that I'm going to share with you about. Let's talk about how you started visioning this bigger

00:14:48.420 --> 00:15:02.270 Mira Brancu: picture of speak out sisterhood, how you got there. So we are entering an ad break. You're listening to the hard skills with me, Dr. Mira Bronku and our guests, Ainslie Cesniac. We air on Tuesdays at 5 Pm. Eastern.

00:15:02.410 --> 00:15:05.150 Mira Brancu: We'll be right back with our guest in just a moment.

00:17:17.540 --> 00:17:23.220 Mira Brancu: Welcome back to the hard skills with me, Dr. Mirabaku and our guest today, Ainsley Souzniac.

00:17:23.359 --> 00:17:26.870 Mira Brancu: All right. We just got done talking about

00:17:26.940 --> 00:17:30.200 Mira Brancu: her being a proactive steminist, and what that meant.

00:17:30.460 --> 00:17:33.829 Mira Brancu: and what I'm curious now is

00:17:34.270 --> 00:17:37.329 Mira Brancu: you got this spark? You were inspired?

00:17:38.250 --> 00:17:41.249 Mira Brancu: How did you sort of get to

00:17:41.410 --> 00:17:46.140 Mira Brancu: this vision of speak out sisterhood like, what were those initial

00:17:47.620 --> 00:17:52.110 Mira Brancu: sort of realizations? And then action steps to start this up.

00:17:52.810 --> 00:18:00.654 Aynsley Szczesniak: I love this question, cause I always love recounting this story because it's one of those stories where you look back. And you're like all of these pieces fit perfectly into place

00:18:01.010 --> 00:18:13.944 Aynsley Szczesniak: to get me to where I am today. But I won't bore you with the whole long story. I'll I'll start at really the the the impetus which was a conference that I went to in October 2023.

00:18:14.350 --> 00:18:29.639 Aynsley Szczesniak: I, when I write my memoir, I will forever. I will make a whole chapter about this conference, because it is probably the most pivotal moment in my life. So it was the stem innovation forum in Denver, Colorado, hosted by Stem, Connector, and Stemx.

00:18:29.660 --> 00:18:35.990 Aynsley Szczesniak: I was invited to it by A, the woman who's the National Seats, chair of 1 million mentors, and

00:18:36.030 --> 00:18:50.209 Aynsley Szczesniak: at the time. I didn't really know what it was gonna be like, because I never been to a conference before. So I was just like, Oh, cool people who are interested in stem. Okay, so I got there. And I was really surprised because

00:18:50.770 --> 00:19:13.045 Aynsley Szczesniak: there were some incredible people there, like all of the some truly and powerful trailblazers, for to pursue echo, inclusion, and Stemmer there literally I I, the first guy that I met. I asked him, take a picture of me in front of the the building. So I was like, oh, he actually turned out to be

00:19:13.710 --> 00:19:21.380 Aynsley Szczesniak: probably one of one of the most instrumental people in helping me build speakerhood. His name is Dr. Jamie Vernon. He's the executive

00:19:21.910 --> 00:19:27.790 Aynsley Szczesniak: director, I believe, of Sigma Zi, which is an International Honor Society for Science.

00:19:28.433 --> 00:19:33.200 Aynsley Szczesniak: and he and I spent the second day of the conference.

00:19:33.300 --> 00:19:37.769 Aynsley Szczesniak: basically, and a brainstorming session, because the

00:19:37.860 --> 00:19:45.160 Aynsley Szczesniak: previous day I attended sessions. And I started realizing. Oh, you know, there are so many organizations

00:19:45.490 --> 00:19:52.059 Aynsley Szczesniak: here who are dedicated to advancing women and stem. They want to make stem more equitable.

00:19:52.450 --> 00:20:02.819 Aynsley Szczesniak: and I. And I was thinking also about my friends that you would see, and my friends in high school, and how we all were young people who were also just as eager to

00:20:02.890 --> 00:20:22.289 Aynsley Szczesniak: see women advance and stem, and something that it it hit me when I was there, that there is nothing that's really bridging that gap between these young people who care so much in these organizations, who also care so much, but are missing that vital perspective of the next generation of leaders.

00:20:22.440 --> 00:20:24.033 Aynsley Szczesniak: and so

00:20:25.020 --> 00:20:32.280 Aynsley Szczesniak: through brainstorming with and and just conversing with some of the other, the the leaders who were at the conference.

00:20:32.360 --> 00:20:40.190 Aynsley Szczesniak: I started to realize. You know, I should do something about this. I have the resources and the the these people who are all

00:20:40.450 --> 00:20:42.250 Aynsley Szczesniak: want to see me

00:20:42.572 --> 00:20:57.689 Aynsley Szczesniak: want to see something change in the way that stem is is is created, and I want to be part of that. And what can I bring? I can bring the unique perspective of a young person. And not only that, I can bring other young people along with me.

00:20:57.690 --> 00:21:17.680 Aynsley Szczesniak: so that's where the initial idea of speak out. Sisterhood came about if you could see all of the iterations of like plans and ideas, and I'm a very visual person. So there were a lot of very terrible drawings of like possible organization structure designs.

00:21:18.144 --> 00:21:22.810 Aynsley Szczesniak: That eventually became the speak at sisterhood that we are today.

00:21:22.960 --> 00:21:30.619 Aynsley Szczesniak: And even now we're continuing to evolve and thinking about the future, which is definitely something I'd love to get your thoughts on later in this conversation.

00:21:31.078 --> 00:21:37.210 Aynsley Szczesniak: But ultimately those first action. Steps, I think, were assembling a team of people.

00:21:37.310 --> 00:21:38.520 Aynsley Szczesniak: because

00:21:38.670 --> 00:21:44.899 Aynsley Szczesniak: I realized very quickly that I had this idea, and I really wanted to

00:21:44.920 --> 00:21:57.349 Aynsley Szczesniak: to do it. But I cannot do everything on my own. I definitely learned that in high school as well, and so I started just by posting on my Instagram and and posting on my linkedin like, Hey, I want to build this

00:21:57.696 --> 00:22:00.849 Aynsley Szczesniak: I'm looking for a team of people who are interested and

00:22:01.386 --> 00:22:09.110 Aynsley Szczesniak: from there we built an executive team. Some, all of us. We just literally we went by chance.

00:22:09.190 --> 00:22:14.790 Aynsley Szczesniak: And now we have a core team of people who are really invested in

00:22:14.800 --> 00:22:18.530 Aynsley Szczesniak: the work that we're doing and and want to see our organization grow

00:22:19.324 --> 00:22:20.869 Aynsley Szczesniak: and so from

00:22:20.970 --> 00:22:24.520 Aynsley Szczesniak: building our team, I think, was where we started to

00:22:24.700 --> 00:22:34.250 Aynsley Szczesniak: think about. Okay, what do we actually want to do? And that was a whole nother weeks and months of of thinking, because

00:22:34.650 --> 00:22:35.870 Aynsley Szczesniak: we

00:22:35.980 --> 00:22:39.699 Aynsley Szczesniak: ultimately, I'd say we had to really

00:22:40.370 --> 00:22:50.030 Aynsley Szczesniak: make our this. You know, we were all young. We all were like, you know, there's so many issues we want to solve. I could go on and on about all the issues that women face with them, and it's

00:22:50.812 --> 00:22:58.780 Aynsley Szczesniak: to an extent it's good to have that sort of broader understanding of the state of women and stem. But it's also

00:22:58.910 --> 00:23:05.560 Aynsley Szczesniak: recognizing that we cannot do everything. So we had to really hone in on. What's the key

00:23:06.220 --> 00:23:10.179 Aynsley Szczesniak: pieces of this work that we want to

00:23:10.240 --> 00:23:21.500 Aynsley Szczesniak: to to focus on, and my mind would always go back to this one particular session at the conference. It was the keynote, I believe, the second day of the conference.

00:23:21.956 --> 00:23:31.543 Aynsley Szczesniak: By Dr. Lisa Hinkleman, who is the founder and executive director of an organization called ruling our experiences or rocks as they're known.

00:23:32.150 --> 00:23:36.189 Aynsley Szczesniak: And I would say that that con that that session really

00:23:36.320 --> 00:23:42.100 Aynsley Szczesniak: completely shifted my my worldview because she was talking about research that they had done

00:23:42.160 --> 00:24:02.640 Aynsley Szczesniak: on girls, confidence and girls, self esteem and things that haven't really been discussed or looked at very much, and just the staggering statistics that she shared about. You know that girls who have described themselves as confident. It's dropped by 20 since 2,017 or

00:24:03.041 --> 00:24:14.609 Aynsley Szczesniak: 55% of girls don't think they want to be leaders because they're afraid of being bossy and just just crazy, and and and a mind not mind blowing, but just

00:24:14.890 --> 00:24:24.670 Aynsley Szczesniak: really, really, they statistics that really stick with you and that stuck with me. And so ultimately, we decided that we wanted to focus our efforts on, not just

00:24:25.030 --> 00:24:48.589 Aynsley Szczesniak: providing a space for young women to be engaged in this work and and advocating for equity and stem, but specifically focusing on equipping women and young women in particular, with the strength and the skills and the knowledge to overcome these these challenges and and be the confident leaders that are going to take us into the future.

00:24:49.188 --> 00:24:56.009 Aynsley Szczesniak: So all that to say, go to conferences because you meet people who will change your life

00:24:56.020 --> 00:24:57.240 Aynsley Szczesniak: and

00:24:57.330 --> 00:25:01.600 Aynsley Szczesniak: that yeah. And that's really, that's really where where we got our start.

00:25:02.120 --> 00:25:07.960 Mira Brancu: Yeah, this is a fantastic story. And I'm gonna build on.

00:25:08.050 --> 00:25:09.550 Mira Brancu: Go to conferences

00:25:10.730 --> 00:25:22.090 Mira Brancu: 6 steps that I heard that are specifically a way to get to where you started to, where people might want to. Land using your story. So

00:25:22.120 --> 00:25:25.000 Mira Brancu: conference in your professional.

00:25:25.080 --> 00:25:27.290 Mira Brancu: in, you know, interest

00:25:28.330 --> 00:25:32.369 Mira Brancu: might not have any experience, but go to that conference anyway.

00:25:32.510 --> 00:25:38.266 Mira Brancu: The second is, be willing to network and connect. Do not sit in the background.

00:25:38.730 --> 00:25:48.299 Mira Brancu: it's not the time be willing and open to connect and then be open to possibilities and opportunities

00:25:49.050 --> 00:25:50.460 Mira Brancu: that are coming

00:25:50.600 --> 00:25:56.993 Mira Brancu: your way through those like random con. You know conversations that you have with people?

00:25:58.340 --> 00:26:01.830 Mira Brancu: but especially when you're hearing

00:26:02.635 --> 00:26:04.540 Mira Brancu: trends being shared

00:26:04.870 --> 00:26:12.790 Mira Brancu: by thought leaders who are already identifying the gaps and possibilities. Listen carefully.

00:26:14.230 --> 00:26:17.949 Mira Brancu: then, what you did, which not everybody does.

00:26:17.970 --> 00:26:31.109 Mira Brancu: which is, apply the possibilities to the gaps that you see all around you. You thought back to your situation and their context. And you thought I can see a connection here.

00:26:31.280 --> 00:26:34.279 Mira Brancu: right? So that is pinpointing a need.

00:26:34.867 --> 00:26:36.419 Mira Brancu: With an opportunity

00:26:36.880 --> 00:26:37.655 Mira Brancu: and

00:26:38.690 --> 00:26:39.990 Mira Brancu: number 5

00:26:40.140 --> 00:26:41.590 Mira Brancu: assemble a team.

00:26:42.050 --> 00:26:47.039 Mira Brancu: and you can do that by inviting people in and tapping into your network.

00:26:47.150 --> 00:26:54.729 Mira Brancu: Right? Don't think about this as I have to do all of this by myself. It's not realistic in this day and age.

00:26:54.790 --> 00:26:56.400 Mira Brancu: and then

00:26:56.510 --> 00:26:59.879 Mira Brancu: develop alignment around the mission and vision.

00:27:00.218 --> 00:27:11.460 Mira Brancu: So that you feel you all are on the same page about the impact you actually want to make out of all of the sort of gaps or problems that you identify. Where? Where do we feel? Our best

00:27:11.963 --> 00:27:17.959 Mira Brancu: efforts should lie? So that that is the plan. That's your that's your roadmap for everybody else. Everyone.

00:27:18.211 --> 00:27:22.230 Aynsley Szczesniak: I love that I love that. And the one thing I would add to that is

00:27:22.678 --> 00:27:24.430 Aynsley Szczesniak: to the networking part.

00:27:24.620 --> 00:27:26.000 Aynsley Szczesniak: I know that

00:27:26.190 --> 00:27:38.329 Aynsley Szczesniak: clearly I am an extrovert, and I embrace that wholeheartedly. But networking can be really hard when you aren't naturally inclined to just walk up to people who are cool and start talking to them.

00:27:38.663 --> 00:27:47.427 Aynsley Szczesniak: So one thing that I, one of my professors, was talking about the other day because I'm in a class, it's actually very similar to this topic of

00:27:47.950 --> 00:28:10.650 Aynsley Szczesniak: how did the it's called the art and science expertise. But one of the things that she was mentioning is when you are an introvert, and you still want to network. Do it in your way, like you don't have to be the person who goes up and talks to 80 people on the first day. Maybe you spend some time researching who's there and choosing the few very specific people that you really want to go talk to.

00:28:10.650 --> 00:28:25.209 Aynsley Szczesniak: and you find them, and you and you talk to them, and that's your way of networking rather than sort of casting the wide net, and seeing if you connect with anybody who's interesting or and who can, who can help you with your career. So I would say that when it comes to that networking piece.

00:28:25.790 --> 00:28:32.459 Aynsley Szczesniak: Yes, that. Yes, it's it's a huge part of of identifying issues and

00:28:32.590 --> 00:28:36.449 Aynsley Szczesniak: and and pursuing them. But don't feel like you have to

00:28:36.720 --> 00:28:41.169 Aynsley Szczesniak: do it the same way that everyone else does. You know it. It's very much

00:28:41.330 --> 00:28:46.220 Aynsley Szczesniak: about charting your own journey, using that sort of template as the starting point.

00:28:46.420 --> 00:28:47.340 Mira Brancu: Absolutely

00:28:48.940 --> 00:28:58.420 Mira Brancu: it's about connection, not about it's quality over quantity. So we are entering another. Add break.

00:28:58.480 --> 00:29:05.089 Mira Brancu: When we come back, Ainsley. Let's get into like, where are you going now? Let's

00:29:05.150 --> 00:29:14.460 Mira Brancu: talk about and think about the future, and where you see the challenges and the needs. And we'll get into a little coaching there, too, as well.

00:29:14.460 --> 00:29:14.870 Aynsley Szczesniak: Sounds good.

00:29:14.870 --> 00:29:29.789 Mira Brancu: So, listening to the hard skills with me, Dr. Mirabu and our guest, Ainslie Seznac, we air on Tuesdays at 5 Pm. Eastern. You can find us on Linkedin or Youtube at talk radio, Nyc, and we'll be right back with our guest in just a moment.

00:31:31.520 --> 00:31:37.029 Mira Brancu: Welcome back to the hard skills with me. Dr. Mura Broncou and our guest today, Ainslie Cosniac.

00:31:37.070 --> 00:31:41.950 Mira Brancu: who is the founder and executive director of speak out sisterhood

00:31:42.537 --> 00:31:45.914 Mira Brancu: as well as a leader of many other stem based

00:31:46.980 --> 00:31:51.590 Mira Brancu: support systems out there for women in stem.

00:31:51.680 --> 00:31:52.365 Mira Brancu: So

00:31:54.440 --> 00:31:56.290 Mira Brancu: every leader

00:31:56.490 --> 00:31:59.350 Mira Brancu: at every level

00:31:59.530 --> 00:32:00.389 Mira Brancu: of

00:32:01.620 --> 00:32:04.060 Mira Brancu: their development

00:32:05.740 --> 00:32:10.370 Mira Brancu: sees different kinds of challenges. Your first challenge was.

00:32:11.030 --> 00:32:16.880 Mira Brancu: just what are we going to do to answer this problem? Right? The visioning part.

00:32:17.060 --> 00:32:21.790 Mira Brancu: and next came who's going to come along with me?

00:32:23.130 --> 00:32:24.690 Mira Brancu: Developing that team?

00:32:25.388 --> 00:32:27.539 Mira Brancu: And there there were many other

00:32:28.360 --> 00:32:29.170 Mira Brancu: new

00:32:29.400 --> 00:32:31.299 Mira Brancu: challenges that you faced

00:32:31.776 --> 00:32:41.140 Mira Brancu: and work through at each level. As you lead your nonprofit into the next stage. What are the challenges that you see as it starts growing.

00:32:42.520 --> 00:32:47.610 Aynsley Szczesniak: I would say definitely, planning for the future while we're still learning who we are. Now.

00:32:47.630 --> 00:32:52.950 Aynsley Szczesniak: it's hard to kind of straddle that because, on one hand, we

00:32:53.140 --> 00:33:13.229 Aynsley Szczesniak: are, we are. We're still sort of the figuring out what our executive team structure is. Gonna look like, what our our leadership structure is gonna look like. But at the same time we also have to think about, where do we want to be in the next year? Where do we want to be in the next 2 years. 3 years. How? What's our budget gonna look like? What's what's our goals? Because

00:33:13.620 --> 00:33:31.200 Aynsley Szczesniak: the world, I have realized lives very much in the future. Whenever you're talking to people about partnerships, it's not about. Oh, you know, let's do something tomorrow. It's let's look at next fall, or maybe this summer. And so you really have to be able to think

00:33:31.400 --> 00:33:35.339 Aynsley Szczesniak: 6 months in advance or a year in advance.

00:33:35.580 --> 00:33:43.680 Aynsley Szczesniak: and for an organization that's still trying to figure out who we are every like day by day. It's been a bit of a struggle to.

00:33:43.870 --> 00:33:53.039 Aynsley Szczesniak: to, to balance that, but it also has been exciting because we get to experience that thrill of

00:33:53.170 --> 00:33:57.290 Aynsley Szczesniak: ideation and creating something from scratch and

00:33:57.880 --> 00:34:03.340 Aynsley Szczesniak: and and it's just a lot of having to trust one another and and

00:34:03.970 --> 00:34:12.459 Aynsley Szczesniak: knowing that maybe we're gonna navigate some some rocky patches as we find our footing. But

00:34:12.730 --> 00:34:14.730 Aynsley Szczesniak: it takes time, and

00:34:14.800 --> 00:34:21.780 Aynsley Szczesniak: we and and every day we learn something new. So that being said, I would say that the main challenge really has been

00:34:22.130 --> 00:34:31.109 Aynsley Szczesniak: exactly what we're talking about on this on this episode about how do we plan for the future, when we may not even know yet

00:34:31.150 --> 00:34:38.320 Aynsley Szczesniak: what we want to do in the present? Or rather who we are in the present, because we know we want. We know where we want to be. We know

00:34:38.370 --> 00:34:43.739 Aynsley Szczesniak: what our passions are, but it's just about, how do we quantify that

00:34:43.850 --> 00:34:47.840 Aynsley Szczesniak: in a time bound and realistic way.

00:34:48.440 --> 00:34:50.720 Mira Brancu: Yeah. Yeah. And so,

00:34:51.620 --> 00:34:52.580 Mira Brancu: how

00:34:52.880 --> 00:34:55.619 Mira Brancu: how far have you gotten?

00:34:56.330 --> 00:35:01.189 Mira Brancu: Where are you finding the hard skills around this.

00:35:03.090 --> 00:35:06.070 Aynsley Szczesniak: So we know generally what our

00:35:06.220 --> 00:35:09.530 Aynsley Szczesniak: our vision is for the next year. In the next

00:35:09.540 --> 00:35:16.610 Aynsley Szczesniak: 2 years, etc, because we, because of that initial foundation we laid where we

00:35:17.020 --> 00:35:22.909 Aynsley Szczesniak: specified exactly what our our what we would do, what we'd be known for.

00:35:23.674 --> 00:35:31.469 Aynsley Szczesniak: So to add, some context, our, my, my organization, speak out, sisterhood. We are a global network for young women and stem.

00:35:31.540 --> 00:36:01.110 Aynsley Szczesniak: And what we particularly are focusing on right now is a program called Generation. Yes, which stands for young empowered stemnists, and I realize that I did not define that word earlier. Stemness is just a fun kind of mix of stem and feminist. I can't take credit for it. I learned it from somebody else. But it's one of my favorite words. And so this program. Generation. Yes, is a 8 week internship remote for college age. Women where we

00:36:01.478 --> 00:36:03.449 Aynsley Szczesniak: they work in teams of 4

00:36:03.730 --> 00:36:12.829 Aynsley Szczesniak: matched with an advisor who's a professional woman. In, in, in stem, and as well as a partner, one of our partner organizations.

00:36:12.850 --> 00:36:15.140 Aynsley Szczesniak: and each internship

00:36:15.660 --> 00:36:38.870 Aynsley Szczesniak: we have 5 currently running right now each internship track of sorts is focused on a key barrier that women face in their in their pursuit of a stem career. So, for instance, one of them is mental health equity. One is the gender pay gap. One is women in leadership, and particularly looking at the advancement of women through leadership. And one is mentorship for women and stem.

00:36:38.940 --> 00:36:51.760 Aynsley Szczesniak: And then what? The our fifth one is, the one that's kind of my personal favorite is women's health equity. So, looking at the intersection of of healthcare in equities and women's pursuit of stem cruise.

00:36:51.760 --> 00:37:11.469 Aynsley Szczesniak: That being said we are. The the idea of the internship is to engage these young women in first, intensive research. Looking at what are the barriers that currently exist and building that knowledge that's essential for being an expert in something and and being able to speak

00:37:11.530 --> 00:37:16.060 Aynsley Szczesniak: well and and eloquently and and knowledgeable about it.

00:37:16.310 --> 00:37:30.469 Aynsley Szczesniak: Secondly, what they'll do, what they're. We're currently running the program right now. So we're in this this stage now. So it's very relevant. The action items portion of it where they'll be taking this knowledge that they've gained and saying, Okay, what are the key

00:37:30.700 --> 00:37:43.020 Aynsley Szczesniak: solutions that we that we can see emerging here? What are the strategies that others have proposed, or that we ourselves can see, and ultimately compiling those into an action plan that then pitch to the company with whom we've partnered.

00:37:43.495 --> 00:38:05.210 Aynsley Szczesniak: So, for instance, we're working with the Science policy Action network. Shout out to Dr. Richard Watkins, if you're listening to this, and they are one of our partners where we're investigating women's health inequities. And we're also working with them to look at financial barriers to women's success in in stem. And so ultimately, our teams of interns who are working on those topics would be

00:38:05.340 --> 00:38:09.560 Aynsley Szczesniak: creating a an action plan, saying, these are the things that we need to do

00:38:09.710 --> 00:38:11.749 Aynsley Szczesniak: with you, to

00:38:12.303 --> 00:38:24.159 Aynsley Szczesniak: to, to to get to, to eradicate some of these barriers that we've we've isolated. And so with that context, our idea for the program is to

00:38:24.360 --> 00:38:25.900 Aynsley Szczesniak: treat it as

00:38:26.000 --> 00:38:35.260 Aynsley Szczesniak: the first step towards making systemic change. So assembling cohorts, cohorts of young women who care so much about this.

00:38:35.320 --> 00:38:51.680 Aynsley Szczesniak: equipping them with the knowledge and the confidence to fight for what they believe is needed to create change and creating the the space and the foundation for them to ultimately implement these changes.

00:38:51.880 --> 00:39:10.359 Aynsley Szczesniak: So our more specific goals are to expand the generation yes program and to acquire more partners. To allow for more interns. We currently have 20 right now. But we had 53 people apply for the initial program. So we know that the interest is out there. And we want to see it grow

00:39:10.803 --> 00:39:13.840 Aynsley Szczesniak: and so, thinking about how we can

00:39:14.080 --> 00:39:26.360 Aynsley Szczesniak: continue to pre provide more opportunities for young women, not just in our immediate areas. But around the globe we have teams working to

00:39:26.380 --> 00:39:30.170 Aynsley Szczesniak: extend our our outreach across the globe.

00:39:30.620 --> 00:39:34.220 Aynsley Szczesniak: So that's another component. And then on a more.

00:39:35.600 --> 00:39:37.499 Aynsley Szczesniak: I don't know, I would say.

00:39:37.570 --> 00:39:38.740 Aynsley Szczesniak: More

00:39:39.100 --> 00:39:45.699 Aynsley Szczesniak: specific kind of nitpicky level is our program itself thinking about, how can we refine it to be most

00:39:46.030 --> 00:39:53.550 Aynsley Szczesniak: effective because we our interns. They they follow a leadership professional development curriculum.

00:39:53.620 --> 00:40:18.380 Aynsley Szczesniak: that and I. When I I say curriculum loosely, there's not like, you know you get a quiz, and then if you get, you know, A out of 10 questions, right? You get a B kind of thing. It's more of just a framework that teaches different professional skills. And so we are by far not experts in leadership, curriculum development. And so thinking about, how can we engage with different researchers and

00:40:18.810 --> 00:40:33.210 Aynsley Szczesniak: experts who have done this kind of thing before and make our curriculum more targeted toward those key skills and more effective and cultivating them. So I know that was kind of a lot.

00:40:33.610 --> 00:40:34.410 Mira Brancu: Yeah, you.

00:40:34.550 --> 00:40:37.116 Mira Brancu: What I'm hearing, though, is

00:40:39.620 --> 00:40:49.169 Mira Brancu: there's the very long term view. We you want this to be a big program. You want it to be an impactful program. Right? In order to do that, you need

00:40:49.270 --> 00:40:50.336 Mira Brancu: to have

00:40:51.510 --> 00:40:55.739 Mira Brancu: a lot. You know the infrastructure to take in

00:40:57.380 --> 00:40:58.220 Mira Brancu: You know.

00:40:58.930 --> 00:41:02.920 Mira Brancu: all of the people that are interested

00:41:03.040 --> 00:41:07.269 Mira Brancu: have enough partners who are ready and willing to work with them.

00:41:07.856 --> 00:41:13.979 Mira Brancu: And at the same time, though you want it to be effective because the impact doesn't happen unless it's effective.

00:41:14.020 --> 00:41:17.406 Mira Brancu: right? And that's where you're trying to think

00:41:18.380 --> 00:41:19.410 Mira Brancu: about.

00:41:19.879 --> 00:41:31.579 Mira Brancu: Do we find researchers, people with program evaluation skills who can help us evaluate the effectiveness and tweak and refine to make sure that we have the right components

00:41:31.610 --> 00:41:32.840 Mira Brancu: right and

00:41:33.341 --> 00:41:35.600 Mira Brancu: but that piece takes time

00:41:35.980 --> 00:41:38.449 Mira Brancu: right like that part.

00:41:38.730 --> 00:41:48.860 Mira Brancu: to to be able to first identify people who who are willing, interested in evaluating the effectiveness, and then also, like slow yourself down enough

00:41:49.650 --> 00:41:51.350 Mira Brancu: to a level of like

00:41:54.040 --> 00:42:03.759 Mira Brancu: comfortable discomfort. You know this is this is the life of an entrepreneur. Is, you have to be patiently impatient.

00:42:04.300 --> 00:42:11.529 Mira Brancu: And you might have right now. What I'm hearing is, there's a bit more impatience than the patience.

00:42:11.910 --> 00:42:12.670 Aynsley Szczesniak: Sorry.

00:42:12.670 --> 00:42:13.350 Mira Brancu: On, right.

00:42:13.690 --> 00:42:14.670 Aynsley Szczesniak: Much, though.

00:42:15.410 --> 00:42:21.159 Mira Brancu: But you're recognizing which is important. You're recognizing that you ha! You do have to slow yourselves down

00:42:21.480 --> 00:42:24.420 Mira Brancu: in order to catch up with yourselves

00:42:24.550 --> 00:42:26.490 Mira Brancu: when it comes to the

00:42:26.560 --> 00:42:28.740 Mira Brancu: operational infrastructure

00:42:29.060 --> 00:42:30.110 Mira Brancu: to

00:42:30.430 --> 00:42:35.879 Mira Brancu: keep it going in a realistically sustainable, long-term way.

00:42:36.270 --> 00:42:40.270 Mira Brancu: And you've already identified some of those things right? You've identified like

00:42:41.017 --> 00:42:48.010 Mira Brancu: we. We want it to be effective. We want to prove that that it works for us and for others. And we're

00:42:48.140 --> 00:42:52.059 Mira Brancu: still identifying our identity and clarifying that and.

00:42:52.060 --> 00:42:52.900 Aynsley Szczesniak: We are.

00:42:53.050 --> 00:42:53.820 Mira Brancu: Still

00:42:55.307 --> 00:43:02.290 Mira Brancu: building trust and navigating how we navigate disagreements, and all of those things

00:43:02.460 --> 00:43:04.279 Mira Brancu: are part of infrastructure.

00:43:04.540 --> 00:43:09.940 Mira Brancu: So does that sound accurate to you in in sort of the my reflection on that.

00:43:10.220 --> 00:43:26.329 Aynsley Szczesniak: Oh, absolutely, I completely agree. And you're you're spot on with the impatience, impatience is. It's a character flow of mine that I will embrace. But having to work with a team has really taught me a lot about patience and and how it really is a virtue like like we say it is.

00:43:26.630 --> 00:43:31.671 Mira Brancu: Yeah. So when we come back from this next break,

00:43:32.300 --> 00:43:52.639 Mira Brancu: we'll sort of just talk through finding that balance that that you're trying to strike in the last few minutes that we have when when we return. So you're listening to the hard skills with me, Dr. Mayor Bronku and our guest Ainslie Susniac, who is the founder and executive director of speak out! Sisterhood, will be right back in just a moment.

00:45:57.730 --> 00:46:05.480 Mira Brancu: Welcome back to the Hard Skills show with me Dr. Mira Bronku and our guest, Ainslie Susniac, of speak out sisterhood.

00:46:06.154 --> 00:46:24.179 Mira Brancu: We were just talking about where Angelie and her team are with. The next challenge in growing their nonprofit. And it's not an unusual experience. To be at this place for a lot of entrepreneurs.

00:46:24.220 --> 00:46:29.792 Mira Brancu: so that that should just give you solace right there, that should give you comfort.

00:46:30.900 --> 00:46:32.460 Mira Brancu: the the 2,

00:46:33.720 --> 00:46:38.789 Mira Brancu: the 2 things I picked up on that might be useful to you.

00:46:39.290 --> 00:46:40.360 Mira Brancu: is

00:46:41.308 --> 00:47:02.870 Mira Brancu: as you are planning your next steps, but trying to focus on the current. It sounds like one of the things that you recognize about yourself, which is such an entrepreneurial thing is impatience. Right? You wanna get to the vision. The vision is big and you wanna rush there as quickly as possible. But

00:47:02.980 --> 00:47:06.759 Mira Brancu: there's there's a piece of you that also must be thoughtful about it, which is great.

00:47:07.230 --> 00:47:12.850 Mira Brancu: And how you strike the balance of patient being patiently impatient or impatiently patient. Is probably.

00:47:13.355 --> 00:47:13.860 Aynsley Szczesniak: Chuck.

00:47:15.240 --> 00:47:17.410 Mira Brancu: And so my first

00:47:17.860 --> 00:47:21.470 Mira Brancu: question to you is, if you are.

00:47:21.590 --> 00:47:35.579 Mira Brancu: and maybe a few of you on the team are more of the excitable visionary. Go getter enthusiastic influencer types

00:47:35.730 --> 00:47:42.590 Mira Brancu: right? Who goes out there and brings everybody into the vision and gets everyone aligned around the vision.

00:47:42.890 --> 00:47:56.866 Mira Brancu: Do you also have members of on your team that balance you out who are much more focused on slowing down, thinking more methodically, carefully, the planful folks, the

00:47:58.030 --> 00:48:01.940 Mira Brancu: the the design folks, the

00:48:02.120 --> 00:48:09.079 Mira Brancu: spreadsheet folks, you know. The folks who who like think through at a much more detail, slowed down level.

00:48:09.670 --> 00:48:18.789 Aynsley Szczesniak: Oh, absolutely 1,000%. We would not be able to operate if we did not. Because I am very much that big ideas. Let's do this

00:48:19.292 --> 00:48:26.240 Aynsley Szczesniak: kind of person, and I've been really fortunate to be able to connect with some incredible young women, so many of whom are

00:48:26.520 --> 00:48:43.363 Aynsley Szczesniak: very much that more methodical, you know. Let's get things done step by step. Kind of mentality, which has been great. I'll get a shadowed, especially to our Chief Operations Officer. Her name's Ava, and she is such a great compliment to my spot, lady, because she's very

00:48:44.060 --> 00:48:52.560 Aynsley Szczesniak: procedural, and and and you know, let's get things done one by one. Let's plan ahead. Let's let's make the 2 do items.

00:48:53.000 --> 00:49:02.550 Aynsley Szczesniak: And so, having her as my right hand, man of of sort. Right hand woman, I should say has been really, really.

00:49:02.720 --> 00:49:05.280 Aynsley Szczesniak: Oh, oh, it's really taught me a lot about

00:49:05.630 --> 00:49:10.349 Aynsley Szczesniak: where I need to improve myself, but also where

00:49:10.450 --> 00:49:34.869 Aynsley Szczesniak: having a team is so crucial because we. When we, when we first started out, we were still kind of figuring out what everyone's roles would be. And so over time. Her role in particular has really transitioned a lot. But I think we found something that really fits who she is because she's essentially the one making sure that all the other puzzle pieces fit together. And and although they're they're the gears are turning in the right way.

00:49:35.170 --> 00:49:40.349 Aynsley Szczesniak: and and being able to know that I can rely on her to do that

00:49:40.730 --> 00:50:05.579 Aynsley Szczesniak: and and and follow up with others and while I can stay focused more on the big picture of. Is this generally getting done rather than are the small minute things also getting done that ultimately coal us into the larger thing. Has been really invaluable. So yes, I, we definitely have a team of diverse talents and diverse approaches to leadership. And I'm so thankful for that.

00:50:05.580 --> 00:50:10.519 Mira Brancu: That is perfect, and what when, what Ainslie described here? Folks is.

00:50:12.950 --> 00:50:20.940 Mira Brancu: one of the ideal there's there's a couple of different ways to have a power couple. And this is one of the ideal ways. To have a power couple is

00:50:21.883 --> 00:50:27.650 Mira Brancu: the CEO, visionary, externally focused, bring people into the vision kind of person

00:50:27.900 --> 00:50:40.500 Mira Brancu: with a coo operational internally focused. Make sure the execution implementation are thought through carefully, so that you have a great outcome, and that is is

00:50:40.510 --> 00:50:44.156 Mira Brancu: one of the great, you know, power couples. And if you've got

00:50:44.510 --> 00:50:46.170 Mira Brancu: that on a team.

00:50:46.220 --> 00:50:47.400 Mira Brancu: and

00:50:47.640 --> 00:50:52.240 Mira Brancu: if you appreciate each other's strengths and not see it as

00:50:53.279 --> 00:50:54.240 Mira Brancu: annoying

00:50:54.300 --> 00:50:56.299 Mira Brancu: or causing conflict.

00:50:56.520 --> 00:51:02.930 Mira Brancu: That's when it turns into that power couple. Otherwise it's like an oil and water relationship. In some situations.

00:51:03.475 --> 00:51:03.640 Aynsley Szczesniak: You.

00:51:03.640 --> 00:51:15.610 Mira Brancu: Sort of been able to recognize like I need this person. And this is why. And I recognize that she's a compliment to me. So that makes it work really well. So that goes into my second

00:51:15.650 --> 00:51:18.650 Mira Brancu: thought, which is more of a framework.

00:51:20.960 --> 00:51:26.750 Mira Brancu: the the things that you're sort of having tension around is when we when we look at team development.

00:51:26.810 --> 00:51:30.830 Mira Brancu: you need to be thinking about productivity and relationships.

00:51:30.870 --> 00:51:40.402 Mira Brancu: and both of them have to be square. Right? So if you have on a team too much focus on productivity outcomes results.

00:51:41.100 --> 00:51:53.370 Mira Brancu: you know, and insufficient time to build the relationships and think about how we approach tasks and spending enough reflective time on how we work together, communicate with each other.

00:51:54.300 --> 00:52:00.120 Mira Brancu: it. It ends up being imbalanced, and it could create a toxic work culture, right? Because nobody.

00:52:00.120 --> 00:52:00.590 Aynsley Szczesniak: Here's the.

00:52:00.590 --> 00:52:01.280 Mira Brancu: People.

00:52:01.520 --> 00:52:16.639 Mira Brancu: If you have the other way, excessive focus on the relationships we care so much about each other. We don't bring up hard decisions. We don't bring up hard things. We don't exchange ideas because we're so worried about hurting each other's feelings or insulting people.

00:52:17.128 --> 00:52:23.190 Mira Brancu: It's a different kind of toxic culture. It's a frozen culture that isn't productive and overthinks

00:52:23.750 --> 00:52:25.229 Mira Brancu: all the people stuff

00:52:25.500 --> 00:52:39.330 Mira Brancu: at the risk of losing any sort of momentum. So it sounds like, you're trying really hard to focus on those 2 like, have we spent enough time focusing on how we work together, how we approach things, how we communicate with each other?

00:52:39.430 --> 00:52:40.450 Mira Brancu: And

00:52:40.530 --> 00:52:46.150 Mira Brancu: are we also focusing on our outcomes and results and getting that down?

00:52:46.440 --> 00:52:47.649 Mira Brancu: Is that right?

00:52:47.930 --> 00:52:51.060 Aynsley Szczesniak: Oh, absolutely that. That is something that I've really been

00:52:51.160 --> 00:52:55.719 Aynsley Szczesniak: thinking a lot about. Recently, as our team has been going through some changes.

00:52:55.740 --> 00:53:16.600 Aynsley Szczesniak: And I got some great advice from somebody who is a C. He was a Cfo. Of a startup here in Chapel Hill, and he gave me some great advice about assembling a team, not just of people who have the qualifications, but also of the passion for what you're doing, because in the at the end of the end of the day. What's gonna get you to through those hard

00:53:16.610 --> 00:53:18.440 Aynsley Szczesniak: moments? Are

00:53:18.480 --> 00:53:23.480 Aynsley Szczesniak: that understanding that we are all here for the same reason. We all care about the same

00:53:23.510 --> 00:53:35.940 Aynsley Szczesniak: goal in the same mission, and so maybe we aren't able to to see it in the same way right now, but we ultimately recognize that we all have the same mission at heart.

00:53:36.548 --> 00:53:41.090 Aynsley Szczesniak: And so when it comes to balancing the productivity and the relationships

00:53:41.526 --> 00:53:45.380 Aynsley Szczesniak: it does take time. We we, I think we started out sort of

00:53:45.480 --> 00:53:46.740 Aynsley Szczesniak: in that

00:53:46.900 --> 00:54:00.149 Aynsley Szczesniak: too much focused on people, not enough on productivity. Because I was really it was really important to me that we felt like we could trust each other before we tried to do anything

00:54:00.529 --> 00:54:24.940 Aynsley Szczesniak: beyond that. But now that we know each other well enough. We've known each other for like 6 months now, almost, it's crazy to think about and we we know each other's strengths. We know each other's weaknesses. And so while we definitely aren't, you know, like best friends, let's go. You know, I'm I'm gonna spill all my my deepest, darkest secrets to you. We are familiar with, and trust each other. Enough that

00:54:25.020 --> 00:54:26.130 Aynsley Szczesniak: we.

00:54:26.180 --> 00:54:32.880 Aynsley Szczesniak: We know that when things have to be told more firmly, or when somebody has to be

00:54:32.930 --> 00:54:33.940 Aynsley Szczesniak: followed up.

00:54:34.516 --> 00:54:37.779 Aynsley Szczesniak: With multiple times. It's not out of

00:54:38.060 --> 00:54:44.280 Aynsley Szczesniak: hatred for this person. It's just over overall that, recognizing that need to

00:54:44.630 --> 00:54:49.310 Aynsley Szczesniak: think about the best. What's best for for the group at large?

00:54:49.880 --> 00:54:54.710 Aynsley Szczesniak: even if that does mean having to take a step a little bit away from.

00:54:55.250 --> 00:54:59.849 Aynsley Szczesniak: Oh, we're all just friends. And and we we that's all we are.

00:55:00.020 --> 00:55:00.739 Aynsley Szczesniak: Yeah, and that's.

00:55:00.740 --> 00:55:01.540 Mira Brancu: That's great and.

00:55:01.540 --> 00:55:02.030 Aynsley Szczesniak: Yeah.

00:55:03.660 --> 00:55:09.003 Mira Brancu: you know the did you all hear that? She said. This has all been done in 6 months.

00:55:10.810 --> 00:55:16.840 Mira Brancu: We pulled a team together to work together well and evaluated what's necessary in 6 months, which is

00:55:16.850 --> 00:55:22.619 Mira Brancu: kind of amazing. Now, as we start wrapping up the other thing that she mentioned is what

00:55:23.010 --> 00:55:25.040 Mira Brancu: what makes a real team

00:55:25.250 --> 00:55:30.279 Mira Brancu: is having a shared mission and vision. And she focus on that.

00:55:30.937 --> 00:55:38.560 Mira Brancu: The other 3 are, do we know our roles? And are we clear about our roles? And who's on the team, and who's not on the team, and who's a decision maker and who's not

00:55:38.660 --> 00:55:41.680 Mira Brancu: the other is reflexivity. Do we spend time

00:55:41.840 --> 00:55:44.049 Mira Brancu: with each other, connecting

00:55:44.130 --> 00:55:45.210 Mira Brancu: and

00:55:45.230 --> 00:55:48.310 Mira Brancu: reflecting on improving how we work together?

00:55:48.809 --> 00:55:56.709 Mira Brancu: And so there's there's other aspects of a real team. If you're interested in finding out more about that, you can always

00:55:57.360 --> 00:55:59.010 Mira Brancu: learn more about

00:55:59.480 --> 00:56:18.740 Mira Brancu: go tower,, and our Leadership Academy there. I'll share more about that in just a second. But before I do that, let us share a little bit about. Speak out, sisterhood. I'm if you're watching the the recording, I'm gonna share my screen for a second, so you can also see it.

00:56:18.890 --> 00:56:22.879 Mira Brancu: It's speak out

00:56:23.040 --> 00:56:26.779 Mira Brancu: And you can learn more about that generation. Yes, internship

00:56:27.310 --> 00:56:29.770 Mira Brancu: right? You can learn about

00:56:29.920 --> 00:56:35.660 Mira Brancu: them and about Ainsley. You can also learn about their symposium

00:56:35.860 --> 00:56:38.749 Mira Brancu: coming soon. How interesting. How exciting!

00:56:39.150 --> 00:56:40.539 Mira Brancu: Got a lot going on.

00:56:41.040 --> 00:56:42.540 Aynsley Szczesniak: You know it.

00:56:43.430 --> 00:56:45.169 Mira Brancu: So that's awesome.

00:56:46.790 --> 00:56:49.300 Mira Brancu: so what did you take away

00:56:49.450 --> 00:57:06.119 Mira Brancu: from today? Audience? And more importantly, what's one small change you can implement this week based on what you learn from Ainsly. Share it with us on Linkedin. You can find us there. You can also find us on Instagram. I know that she and I follow each other there, too.

00:57:06.460 --> 00:57:11.420 Mira Brancu: Talkradio dot Nyc. Is also on Facebook and Twitter and twitch all over the place.

00:57:11.820 --> 00:57:17.280 Mira Brancu: But Linkedin is where I live, and that's where I'd like to find out what you learned and respond to it.

00:57:17.940 --> 00:57:33.440 Mira Brancu: This is a live show. But we're also on apple podcasts and spotify, please subscribe to it, leave a review shared, help others. You can learn more about my company, as well as our Leadership Academy.

00:57:33.830 --> 00:57:40.810 Mira Brancu: I am Dr. Mira Branco, your host of the Hard Skills show. Thank you to talk radio Nyc. For hosting

00:57:40.820 --> 00:57:46.309 Mira Brancu: and thank you for joining us today, Ainsley. It's been great to have you and learn from you.

00:57:48.330 --> 00:57:51.919 Aynsley Szczesniak: Thank you so much. It's been an honor, and I really appreciate this opportunity.

00:57:52.490 --> 00:57:57.493 Mira Brancu: Absolutely. Please go learn about what she's doing. It's phenomenal. It's amazing.

00:57:58.247 --> 00:58:06.269 Mira Brancu: Whatever you do. Have a great rest of your day wherever you're tuning in from, and immediately hop off of this and look up, speaker out, sisterhood.

00:58:06.996 --> 00:58:08.449 Aynsley Szczesniak: Thank you.

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