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EP43: Rocki Howard, Chief People and Equity Officer at The Mom Project

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hello, and welcome to Talent Acquisition Trends & Strategy. Today we are joined by Rocki Howard. Rocki, welcome to the show!


Rocki Howard  0:07  

James, thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here today!


James Mackey  0:11  

Yes, I'm really pumped to talk to you about our topics today. Before we jump into it, though, would you mind sharing a little bit about your background and about where you currently work? Just so people understand your perspective and where you're coming from today.


Rocki Howard  0:22  

Sure. Well, my name is Rocki Howard, I identify as she, her, black, Christian, Gen X, wife, mom, I've been in the talent acquisition space for 30 years, and I've worked everywhere from temp to perm, to contingent to corporate to RPO. 


I am now the Chief People and Equity Officer at The Mom Project. If you're not familiar, The Mom Project actually works with companies to help women get into good companies and to work in ways of their own terms. And we do that in two ways. We do that through our tech and our support services in terms of placing moms, through connecting them with our communities. 


We do that through our Rise Program, which helps to give scholarships and upskill women, especially women of color, and we also do that through our work labs division. And so it's a really exciting place, I actually get to head people for our organization, and I still get to work in the talent acquisition space. 


James Mackey  1:27  

Yeah, that sounds great. And it's a pretty high-growth company as well, right? I mean, I saw it's like an 80 million Series C, is that right?


Rocki Howard  1:34  

Yep. We completed our Series C last year, $80 million worth of investment, and we have about 300 employees. And so yes, we're actually in that hyper-growth stage.


James Mackey  1:45  

That's incredible. And that must be so much responsibility and so much work as a Chief People Officer in that type of hyper-growth company. How are you keeping up with it all?


Rocki Howard  1:56  

For sure! Lots of prayer, lots of caffeine, right? Lots of things. You know, really, when you think about our mission to really help grow the economic opportunity for women, we're trying to create a billion dollars worth of economic opportunity for women and for moms, and I'm a wife and mom of four. And so being very passionate about that mission, my children's lives are a lot different than the life I had, because I did have economic opportunity. And I was able to kind of change the trajectory of my family in one generation through economic opportunity. 


And so on those days where the work is hard, I really just kind of go back to the mission, and why we're here. And that is a great way to keep us going, right? My whole job is about creating high-performing and diverse teams so that we can be of service to Mom. And that's an awful lot of energy it puts behind you when that's what you're looking forward to.


James Mackey  2:58  

I love it. And you said around 350 employees or how many employees? 


Rocki Howard  3:01  

About 300. 


James Mackey  3:02  

Ok, 300. So, I guess one thing, before we dive into diversity, and how to implement diversity strategies. I would just be curious to know more about hyper-growth 80 million Series C. Can you tell us a little bit about, from a time perspective, what are the core things you're focused on as a CPO? 


And how is your time kind of divided amongst those things? Can you just tell us a little bit about your day-to-day and how you approach your position in a hyper-growth company?


Rocki Howard  3:29  

Sure, sure. I don't think there is a division of time, right? My time is my time. And it is never equally divided. And anyone who's a Chief People and Equity Officer knows that it can change from day to day. But what I will talk about are my areas of focus. And so I think there's a couple of ways I can approach that. 


I think when you think about the team that I've spent building to actually support and scale or grow, the focus areas have certainly been around our operations department, I take a very different point of view on this. And I think a lot of times we ask our HR VPs to be all-encompassing, right? Well, what I've done is kind of separated out that HR VP, and that operations HR function. And so that we're really developing strategic HR business partners and those partnerships throughout the organization while actually growing a strong foundation and infrastructure through our talent operations department. 


And that's been a very important thing for us to do. I don't believe you can build a house on a cracked foundation. So getting that infrastructure right, and helping our talent operations team to build that has been certainly a key point of my focus. Obviously, we're in the talent acquisition business, and as an organization, we're acquiring talent pretty quickly as well. So really working to build a world-class talent acquisition function has been key and important. I also believe that when you attract talent, it's important to retain talent. 

And so for me, the other key focus areas have been about our diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives. Talent, equity initiatives, and our learning and development strategies and those initiatives as well. And so when you think about my focus as a chief people and equity officer, it really goes across the talent management continuum, from the very beginning of attracting talent, to, unfortunately, the very end sometimes when talent does decide to leave and making sure that it's a wonderful experience across that continuum.


James Mackey  5:55  

Yeah, I really find the Chief People Officer role fascinating and especially in a hyper-growth environment, where things are changing so quickly. And as you said, you had to build up the infrastructure for the operations to do it well at scale. And, obviously, people are the primary driver of value in any organization, and you have to get it right. And it's a big job. So I'm always fascinated. 


That's why I wanted to ask you just a little bit about your day-to-day because I find it very interesting. Just to dive a little bit more into diversity, I would love to get a high level of your thoughts on how to make diversity the focus in a hyper-growth environment that's constantly evolving and scaling quickly. And you have obviously a lot of priorities, a lot of things that need to get done. 


How do you go about implementing diversity strategies in a hyper-growth environment for a growth-stage company, I'd love to get your thoughts on that. And we can dive more into tactics and whatnot.


Rocki Howard  6:52  

Yeah, so for me, I think hyper-growth organizations, small, mid-sized businesses have a unique opportunity to kind of take a step back and go right from the beginning. And embed it as a priority, right? And really looking at diversity, both from a business imperative perspective and a human imperative perspective, because I think, for diversity of work - and diversity is just one piece of it, right? 


Diversity is about representation. It's got to be about diversity, equity and inclusion, and belonging. So diversity, in my opinion, looks at the beginning part, and how do we drive? How do we drive representation to include equity inclusion, and belonging, it's about how we keep our team members. How do we represent all dimensions of diversity, and keep them throughout the talent lifecycle? 


And that priority really comes at the top of the business and getting the commitment of your founders, your CEOs, your chief staff, to be able to have the resources that you need to be able to drive it and to have senior leaders who understand it and recognize it as a priority, and are willing to be accountable for it. 


So if you look at what I talked about earlier, is that my job is to build a high-performing inclusive culture where we can be inclusive to moms, that's our number 1 OKR as an organization, and when it's tied to your OKRs, then it's tied to the priorities and how we're held accountable across the business. 


And so it's really important when you ask about how we prioritize - it happens at the front of the business, it happens from the top, it happens when you include it in your OKRs, it happens when you include it in your function. I'm a Chief People and Equity Officer. And I think, again, I'm a big believer in setting foundations and being able to keep diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, at the core of what you do starts with those foundations.


James Mackey  9:06  

Can you tell us a little bit more about the OKRs? And how is that incorporated into diversity for your team?


Rocki Howard  9:14  

Yeah, well, I think when you talk about OKRs, our organization has OKRs. These are the, you know, the key performance indicators for our business. And that's not just about diversity, that is about the whole business. So when you think about: this is what our business is focused on, this is how we're going to measure success, this is what we're driving towards, as an organization we have core OKRs. And I'm not going to share all of them, I obviously can't do that. 


But the one that's tied to people and tied to equity is about building a high-performing and inclusive culture. And then when we come down from the organizational OKRs, my team has very specific OKRs that tie up to that and say - how are we actually going to do that? What does that look like? And so, another way to think about the answer to your question is, I think when, especially when smaller organizations do this, they get what I call a bit of the "shiny" syndrome. We want to go look and see what Koch has been doing, and what Amazon and Mang have been doing and think that we have to do all of those things. And that's certainly not true.


I think it's a little bit simpler than that. I think what you have to really do as an organization is to be able to go: "what do diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and authentic outcome look like for us? What does success look like?" And then you start to break it down, and you build your program down there, but you have to really understand what success looks like for your organization.


James Mackey  11:00  

So let's say for growth stage companies that really want to put diversity at the forefront and make it a priority and start when they're a younger organization. What would be your advice for getting started? The first three things they should do? Let's say the company is aligned and that this is a priority, how do you go about implementing the process around making it happen? First, and then what would you be tracking? What would be the primary outcomes? 


As you said, companies have to decide what success looks like, but how would you define success? What would you tell talent and people leaders? Do you have any advice and could say: this is what success looks like, these are the metrics you implement, this is where you start. Is there anything like that?


Rocki Howard  11:43  

Again, I think this is a bit of a mistake because what works for The Mom Project may not work for your organization. And so I think you start with four key questions, right? What does DE&I mean to your organization? So in our organization, for example, we look at five focus areas around the multiple dimensions of diversity that we want to focus on, what does that look like for you? And then I think you have to ask the question - who is responsible for that? 


To your point, in hyper-growth environments, not everyone is lucky enough to have a dedicated diversity resource. So who is responsible? How do we create a force multiplier effect where very specific people are responsible for driving our initiatives, how are we going to measure success? So back to your question about what metrics you're driving, right? That may look very different for very different organizations, depending on how you measure success. So let me use an example. One of ours is we want to see more people of color in our executive team and in our senior leadership team. So then we look at a multitude of KPIs as we go across the continuum that say, what might get us there. 


And that's everything from how are we sourcing candidates? Who goes at the top of the funnel? What is their experience throughout the process? How are we converting those candidates? What to do when they're here in the organization? What's their feedback in terms of employee experience, etc? Do we have a plan for growth for that particular person? What do their performance indicators and performance management scores look like? It's all of those types of things. And so when we look at how we are promoting people. 


So when you think about it, you've got to think about it in terms of a continuum and think again, what does success look like? And there's another key here, not only what does success look like? But where are you now? So you have to be able to think about, if success looks like, for example, for a particular organization to be 40% diverse, and here's how we define diversity. But today, we're 10%. 


Then you've got to look at the activities that drive you to fill the gap between where you are today and where you want to get to, and then how do you measure the success of those particular initiatives? So this is why I never will answer like - Oh, here's how you measure success and here are your specific key performance indicators that are one size fits all because it doesn't. And then I think there are a couple of other things. You've got to be able to measure accountability, who's going to be accountable for this in your organization? 


I'm a big believer that no one person is accountable. The challenge is we don't teach people what their responsibility is in the diversity initiatives, and then how they're accountable. I think everybody is because when people come in and experience our organization, when people come in and interview, when people look at our brands, etc, they're going to look at their experience across the board. And if I'm the receptionist, and I'm greeting people, and I don't understand that I have a responsibility there, and then I'm held accountable, then I'm not contributing to that. 


So I think sometimes we want to make it really complex, and hire strategists and feel like - Oh, I'm in a small organization, and I can't afford a $50,000 consultant. And sure, there are consultants that are out there that are worth it. But could you accomplish the same by asking a couple of key questions, revisiting them, and diving deeper? And making sure those answers are smart. And then once you've moved, then you dig a little bit deeper. And there are certain things that I do think we can do. And we can talk about that, especially from a TA perspective, when we think about evolving our what I call diversity hiring maturity, there are pillars that we can very specifically look at. But I think when you're talking about overall DE&I strategy, that's my fundamental approach.


James Mackey  16:38  

Well, I think you hit the nail on the head, right? Because you have to look at the entire employee lifecycle, and you have to look at optimizing each part of it from a DEI perspective. It doesn't sit just in just talent acquisition, or just people ops, or just in very specific processes, but it's something that's kind of all-encompassing, right? For sure. 


From an accountability perspective, I think you said this, it's not just one person, it's a lot of different roles within the company that can be accountable for segments of it because again, it's really the entire employee lifecycle from when people are candidates to working at the company to going through their career track and moving up within the organization. So it sounds like it has to be kind of like almost part of performance. Accountability to me is linked to performance metrics, in my mind, it has to. 


So if we're talking accountability, does that mean that several people and several different roles and functions throughout the organization have DEI tied to performance? Can we talk a little bit more about the accountability piece and how you incorporate that and make that part of performance for people in different regions?


Rocki Howard  17:48  

You can do it in a couple of different ways. We like to call it carrot or stick. And so I think when you think about kind of the carrot piece, I'll give you an example, probably on the carrot side. At TMP, we have both competencies and values, right? And so these are the competencies that we believe that every employee needs to be successful here at TMP. And then of course, we have our values, and you have to be able to bring those to life. And so we just implemented a performance management system, and process that's a quarterly evaluation process. 


And I'm really so very proud of this because it's not just about looking at "oh, you had a goal to sell $1,000 worth of product, you sold $1,000 worth of product. So you're a five and that's all we're measuring". Because the truth is that when we let people go from the organization, it's rarely simply because they don't have the skills to do the job. It's usually all of the other stuff around the skills. So how does that person work? How do they interact? Are they a good representation of how we do business tied back to values? 


Our performance management system takes all of that into account. We call it HyPE, our high-performance evaluation process. And so, when you come into this process, you get feedback on how your behaviors align to our competencies, how your behaviors aligned to our values, you get a peer and 360-review, and you get assessed on your goals. 


So I know this is a long way. Let me get to the answer to your question about the carrot and stick and accountability. One of our competencies is to be inclusive, and one of our values is being respectful. It all ties back into equity inclusion and belonging. So in that way, every single solitary employee of ours is tied and connected. And their performance is getting tied and connected to our diversity initiatives. It also keeps it top of mind. We're having conversations about it every single quarter. 


I think higher level, and we haven't gotten here as an organization that's part of our process,  is that I believe leaders should be held accountable to your overall diversity strategy as well. Is it about attracting talent? Is it about retaining talent? Is it about how that talent feels when they work for that particular manager? I think that those are all ways that we can hold leadership accountable. Well, that's more of a stick, though. It's a direct stick, right? Your performance, ie, a lot of times your bonus, your contingent comp is going to be tied in part back to this initiative that we keep saying is so very important to our organization.


James Mackey  21:06  

I love that because I think, honestly, a lot of companies probably don't do a very good job of incorporating their values into performance. And I feel like a lot of the time values are just something that is put up on the wall or are just something that it's like, okay, here is an employee handbook, or some Google Doc, or whatever it might be, but it's not actually a living part of the company.


Rocki Howard  21:28  

And if you ask most people, they can't even rattle them off. They can't even tell you what they are.


James Mackey  21:33  

Yeah, so I think tying that into performance is really smart. And I think more companies should do that. And real quick, just so we know, what performance management system are you using? Like, what tool is this?


Rocki Howard  21:46  

We use Lattice. And we've built out our HyPE process, we designed our HyPE process, and then we use Lattice to execute it. And I think the more important piece of this is that those conversations need to happen all the time. So we also use Lattice one-on-one functionality. We use their GROW module, and then we use performance management. So it's not that you're just in Lattice, once a quarter when it's time to do this, we're saying to all of our managers, you should be having one on ones with people. This is where your feedback should go. And we actually monitor that. 


James Mackey  22:27  

And what are your thoughts on Lattice just for people tuning in if they're considering the product? Have you worked with other products beyond them? How do you think it does in the marketplace, and do you feel like it's a really good tool? Are you happy with it?


Rocki Howard  22:39  

Yeah, I'm happy with Lattice, I think, you know, for me, what I'm probably more happy with is, I've had a great experience with Jill, our customer support, and our account manager, and I think that always makes it always come into play. Lattice is not the most intuitive, if I'm honest, we have to do a lot of backend work a lot of times to make A equal B. 


But it is robust in terms of its functionality. So there are pros and cons, but I think what tips it over the edge and hasn't had me go searching for a new tool as of today is that we are really lucky we have great customer support. And our account manager when we call her and say like, look, we're having a problem or a challenge, or this is how we view performance management can Lattice help us to accommodate this? They're always there to help us through that process.


James Mackey  23:30  

So that's really good to know. And I also like the fact that y'all are doing quarterly reviews.


Rocki Howard  23:37  

Well, let's, let's be honest. Like, if you're not doing it on a regular basis, you know, you set some goal in January, nobody thinks about it until October or November until you start talking about performance review, then everyone is scrambling. You get a lot of recency bias because you're really evaluating people on their latest piece of performance, right? 


Either they did this thing really well in, October, and November or they really sucked in October and November. And there's no way if you're not doing it on a regular basis that you can remember. I can't remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, nonetheless people what they did 6,7,8 months ago. I think the other thing is, going back to those of us who are in hyper-growth mode. What we do changes quite a bit. 


James Mackey  24:32  

That's what I was gonna say. A buddy of mine, Steve Cadigan, he's the first Chief People Officer of LinkedIn. And he always made this joke. With the turnover in tech and how fast things change in hyper-growth, he's like, if somebody's been at a company for 10 months, it's "oh my gosh, like, you're still here. Amazing!"


Rocki Howard  24:53  

Like, dog years, right? I'm a doggy mama, I have them floating around. But to be able to take advantage of that, and harness that into growth and development, you've got to be having ongoing conversations. 


And, quite frankly when you're in hyper-growth mode, the other thing that happens and changes is what I needed in a role 18 months ago, it could be the same role and title, but there's an evolution in terms of the skills and the nuanced skills that I need. And if I'm not having conversations and coaching and developing people, then again, we go back to that talent lifecycle, I'm much more likely to lose people because I'm not having conversations in terms of how I develop them.


James Mackey  25:42  

I love this. I'd like to slow down on this topic because I don't think we've actually really focused on this on the show before. But role evolution happens so fast because in hypergrowth things change so quickly, right? And people have to adapt to that change to fill the needs of the position as it evolves. One thing as a CEO myself, we're a smaller company, around 40 people all in with employees and contractors and whatnot. 


But one thing I've intentionally tried to do is almost try to slow that down a little bit. So we have like more specialists where they're like, they're maybe not doing quite as many things and they're able to really hone in and focus because there are changes, right? Like, we're constantly changing, but we're doing it less and we try to slow down on like - Okay, if we have to change something related to performance management, or we have to change something related to process. 


It used to be like a couple of years ago, it seems like every couple of weeks, or every month, you're like rolling something out. And now we're being a little bit more thoughtful and trying to slow that down. And we're trying to just do one thing at a time. Like, okay, this month, we need to roll this out. But we're not gonna roll two things out, we're gonna do this one thing. Let's make sure that everybody understands it and can ask questions. And then next month or next quarter, we could do something else. 


So I guess it's just it - How do you go about the ever-evolving change that's happening with roles? And do you try to intentionally slow that down? Or how do you go about evaluating what each position should be doing and making sure it's changing with the needs of the organization? I feel like that's really complicated. And I don't feel like a lot of people actually talk about this, right? Because it's extremely complicated. 


Rocki Howard  27:23  

It is extremely complicated. And I think the challenge is, you don't always recognize when it kicks in. So I'm not going to talk about The Mom Project specifically. But I'm just going to talk about the evolution of business. So you're in this stage where you have 40 people, let's say, and now you all can iterate pretty quickly, you can get the whole group together, you can slow down, you can speed up, you can do this. 

As your business grows and changes, especially if you're going through hyper-growth, what happens is a lot of times you have people who step up, or that become your trusted people. And so you toss things at that person because they're always there, they're always willing to help, they're willing to support, they have this skill over here. And it's kind of, for lack of a better term, we're all running the business together, we're all in it together, people go wide. Now all of a sudden, your business scales, it scales to 1x, 2x, and 3x. Now you're getting to the point, James, where you're talking about what you're talking about. Now, I need specialists who can go deep. 


And so even if you think about the evolution, let's think about it in its most simplest terms, in HR. So for small companies, you may hire an HR generalist when you have 50-100 people. That person's usually handling payroll, and comms, then they're handling operations, they're doing your hiring, they're handling any terminations or employee engagement issues that you're having. You start off with one person who's, you know, I'm a Whitney Houston fan here: "I'm every woman behind me". They're everything. Then all of a sudden, you get to be 200 people, and that growth from 100 to 200 you go, "Oh, crap, my HR business partner can't handle this. So now I'm going to hire a recruiter to help that person recruit." Okay, now you're at 200 And you're like, "Okay, I'm still growing. And so now I need a separate person to do payroll because they have to go deep" and guess what,  you figure out along the way that my HR generalist can't go deep enough in all of these areas, nor do they have the time. 


And so now I need to hire a specialist. What also happens, unfortunately, that we don't always like to talk about is maybe that HR generalist that you started out with who could do a little bit of all of it. Now you're starting to segment out and go deep, that person truly may be a person who can do all of it at this size company, but now that you're asking them to go deep, so now you want them to be truly an HR business partner. And you want them to focus strategically with the leaders, and you want them to build talent management strategies, and you want them to work on employee engagement, etc, they may no longer have that core skill set. 


And that's the dirty secret that we don't like to talk about in this hyper-growth phase, people outgrow their roles, which is why it's important to kind of have that communication with them. So you can either help coach develop, stretch them, help look at the right opportunity in the right role for them, or be having an ongoing conversation to set the stage of - this isn't we're growing, here's what we need in the role and why we may absolutely love you, you're no longer that place. 


It was the reason why the Netflix people strategy was so brilliant because they gave space to say, "You know what, this is no longer with you, we're gonna write you a big A check because we appreciate your contribution. But instead of making you miserable, and us miserable, let's give you an opportunity to go do what you do really well in an organization that appreciates this particular skill.


James Mackey  31:26  

For sure. And I think you'll see that most often with revenue leaders, at least, I mean, I see that a lot in sales leaders, particularly where companies and VCs are looking for individuals that have gone through a certain scale motion before. And sometimes you see people go through several stages of revenue and scale. 


But generally speaking, you end up seeing VPs of sales that have taken the company from 500,000 to a few million ARR. And then you have the person from 3 million to 10 million, and then you have the 10 to 25, you got the 25 to 100. So I think, obviously, it's very situational. There's no right or wrong way to do it. But yeah, I think just transparency around these types of conversations is really important. 


And hopefully, and if you're really lucky, as a leader, you're working with other leaders the ultimate goal is to achieve the mission of the company. And hopefully, this doesn't always happen. But hopefully, it's something people understand - Okay, if we have to bring in the specialist, or somebody who's gone to this level of scale, that's an opportunity for us to learn from them. 


Rocki Howard  32:42  



James Mackey  32:43  

And I don't think leaders always see it that way. They feel like, Oh, somebody's coming in on top, some people don't like that. But the reality is if we're going to be able to learn from them, upgrade our skill set, and take the company to the next level and achieve our mission, that's really that's what we're here to do. 


Whatever is the most effective way whether you know, we're leading the show, or somebody else is coming in to help us. Let's just do the thing, let's get it done. And so I think if you're really lucky you have people that want that. 


Rocki Howard  33:11  

Yeah, I think it's also where you have to separate your heart and your head. Because most of us who are good leaders in this kind of business, we're lot heart driven. It's passion, it's focus, it all comes from the heart, right? 


And I think this is the state that becomes a start stage in the business where you have to take a step back, you have to take, you know, James, Rocki, whoever out of the out of your mind and go - What do I need in this role at this stage of the business? What are the skills that I need? Okay, cool. James doesn't have it, Rocki doesn't have it. So what do we do? Do we have time to upskill them? I still need James or Rocki to do this, but I need to your point, that person to step up and come here so that we can all grow and develop and bring the business forward. 


James Mackey  34:03  

It's important. I mean, so like just a real-life example. At SecureVision, within the next six months, I want to hire a Chief Operating Officer, I want to get somebody with 20 years of experience scaling service companies, recurring revenue, and maybe even some SaaS and services. So they kind of understand both worlds. 


You know, I see my role as the company gets bigger, focusing more on growth, relationships, content. I mean, that's really my strength. That's how I've gotten us to where we are. But we're getting to the size now where it's like, I kind of want a chief operator that has done this for more years than I have that can bring that experience to the table. And I want to listen to them, I want to get out of their way. Just be like, hey, what do we need to do? How can I empower you to help us scale this business?


 And I think that that's like if you can build a culture where it's just people who are just really, as you said, focus on the passion and the outcome and the mission and the focus can just be on like, look, how can we elevate this team to get the best possible results? And who do we need? What skill sets do we need to make that happen? I think that companies that can do that most effectively are gonna be the most successful, obviously.


Rocki Howard  35:13  

And bravo to you for recognizing it. I sit on the board of an organization called Wedge and they're doing a very similar thing, the CEO is brilliant. And he's like, these are the spaces where I need tenured professionals in this business to come help me take it to the next stage. Here's what I'm really good at, I'm bringing in these two people who are really good at this. 


And it's not about ego, it's really about how we collectively believe in the business and the business model. And then how do we all collectively bring that business forward? And when we all bring the business for it, we all win.


James Mackey  35:51  

Yeah, I mean, I think you have to know when to solve the problem, versus when to just, sometimes what you have to solve is getting the right person. And there are several times, I would say it happens to me a lot less, I'm getting better at it. But I would still say maybe once a quarter, I get stuck in this rabbit hole where I'm trying to solve a problem, or trying to figure something out. And then I'm like, Wait, why am I? Why am I doing this? 


Like, there's somebody who already was in one of my CEO peer groups, and I had questions about stock options, and how that would go about terms like granting equity to leaders and stuff like that within the company. And how to go about presenting that and what that would look like. And I was like, I just had some blind spots. I was like, yeah, how do you learn how to do this stuff? And then one of the other CEOs just looked at me, he's like, why wouldn't you just hire a law firm that specializes in this? Absolutely. 


And it was just such a - Oh, my gosh, I did it again. Like you fall into that trap of problem-solving.  When nine times out of ten our job as leaders is to find the specialist, as you said. Find this specialist who's already done it. We don't have to solve all these problems, you have to find how to connect the right resource and empower the right people, and attract and retain the right people that have the answers. You don't have to have all the answers, right?


Rocki Howard  37:12  

For sure. It's, I'm a lean practitioner, you know, Lean Six Sigma. So one of the first things they teach you is don't solve when you're in it, let's identify what we're trying to solve for. And then let's not "solution", our brains are wired to - oh, here's the problem, so now I've got to solve it. Let's identify and then let's figure out what the right solution is. And am I the right person to come up with the solution? And a lot of times, it's no. 


James Mackey  37:37  

Yeah, more times than we'd like to admit haha.


This has been a great conversation, I've learned a lot. I think we're probably coming up on a good stopping point. And I just wanted to say, thank you so much for joining us today, for having this conversation with me. And before we jump off, if people want to engage with you, reach out to you, what's the best way to do so? Is that on LinkedIn or what are your preferences?


Rocki Howard  38:07  

Yeah, I am most active on LinkedIn. It's Rocki with an "i", Howard. And I'm always there. I'm always interacting, it's probably the best way to connect and reach me, absolutely. And obviously, if you're interested in diving deeper, and you're a company that really prioritizes hiring women, hiring working women, you have flexible options. 


Please reach out to us at The Mom Project. If you're looking for some corporate social responsibility where you'd really like to help working women achieve more economic power, please reach out to mom and engage with our Rise Program. 


James Mackey  38:47  

I love it. I love it. And also you have your own podcast as well. Right?


Rocki Howard  38:51  

I do for sure. I am the host of the Voices of Diversity Podcast, which is really about understanding how people who are of multiple dimensions of diversity experience corporate. And I have the Grown Woman life podcast, which has really been geared towards bold, brilliant, and badass women, career women. 


And who knows, James, I'll keep you posted. There could be some books coming out soon. We put the podcasts on hiatus. We've been focusing on different directions. But there's more coming soon.


James Mackey  39:26  

Well, yeah, whenever you have something going on like a book or a new podcast, definitely let me know. And we can jump on another show and talk about it and I am really looking forward to doing that. Well, Rocki, thank you so much for joining us today and for everybody tuning in - thank you as well and we'll see you next time. Take care!

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