Episode 68: Full Transcript

[00:00:00.32] DEB SMALLWOOD: --to many of us. And I've sat on the fence. We're unhappy where we are either in our job, in our relationship. And at the end of the day, we're all self-powered. It's all about our choice.

[00:00:15.50] NARRATOR: This is The Insurance Technology Podcast where we bring interesting people from across the insurance ecosystem to discuss and debate technology's impact on the industry. Join us each episode for insights and best practices from industry stewards and tomorrow's innovators. Now, here's your host, Reid Holzworth.

[00:00:37.51] REID HOLZWORTH: Welcome to The Insurance Technology Podcast. I'm your host, Reid Holzworth. In this episode, I'm going to be interviewing Deb Smallwood. Now I've known Deb for many years, and a lot of you listening to this have known Deb for many, many years. She's done a lot for this industry and is an industry icon. In the last few episodes, I've been talking about getting into leadership more.

[00:00:58.78] Now this episode is going to be a little bit different. We're going to go really deep into leadership. But with Deb, we're going deep into women in leadership and diversity in leadership and why that's so important in the workplace. Now Deb is doing a lot around that so stay tuned, really great. You're really going to enjoy it. Joining me today is Deb Smallwood. Deb is the creator and founder of SELFPOWERMENT. Welcome, Deb.

[00:01:30.01] DEB SMALLWOOD: Thank you, Reid. It's great to be here.

[00:01:32.81] REID HOLZWORTH: It's awesome. Well Deb, we've known each other for a number of years. We got a lot to catch up on because it's been a bit since we've talked. I'm really looking forward to this. But before we get into all the work stuff, everything you've been up to since we've last met, let's get into Deb Smallwood. Where did you grow up, Deb? Tell us a little about yourself.

[00:01:56.11] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, I'd love to. I grew up in New Hampshire. I'm still living in New Hampshire on the seacoast in Dover, New Hampshire, really close to Boston, close to the ocean, close to the mountains. It was a great community, a great place to grow up and even raised my daughters and now be in semi-retirement mode as well.

[00:02:17.53] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. That's awesome. What was your family life like? How was that growing up? What did the parents do? Tell us a little about that.

[00:02:26.49] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah. You know that's a great question. We were second gen-- I was a second generation American. All four grandparents came over through Ellis Island from Greece.

[00:02:41.35] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, wow.

[00:02:41.71] DEB SMALLWOOD: So we were a Greek American family, right? We had the Greek culture, the cooking, the church, the Greek community within the Dover New Hampshire Community. And our family was filled with love and tradition, and mother, father, grandmother, grandfathers that really didn't talk and communicate very much. They were just the traditional Greek grumpy, old men. But lots of sisters, still close with my sister, and lots of aunts, and uncles, and cousins. So if you ever saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding, that was my family, right. Happiness and joy and just loving life.

[00:03:27.34] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow. That's awesome. That's really cool. So what kind of stuff were you into as a child? Like, what was your favorite activity? What was little Deb Smallwood into?

[00:03:37.76] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, I loved to play. I loved to play dolls. I loved to play Barbie and little baby dolls. I loved to play office. So when I go to my grandmother's house, she had a desk with a calculator, and a phone, and a stapler, and paper. It was like a mini office. And I played office. And we're talking 8, 10, 11 years old, didn't know what an office or a business was. And I loved to just ride my bike and play outside. So I was a happy child, really, really happy child.

[00:04:08.36] REID HOLZWORTH: Sounds like. Sounds like you had a great family, great family environment, happiness by the ocean, by all the woods and all the great things. Any role models from back then you want to call out?

[00:04:24.23] DEB SMALLWOOD: No. No specific mentors or role models. Part of it might be just my mother. And I had very strong women all around me. My mother was a strong woman, very independent, and had a strong voice, and was a cancer survivor in the '60s and lived to be 84 years old. And then in the '60s, people didn't survive breast cancer. And she was a survivor.

[00:04:53.64] And I had aunts that didn't go to-- didn't finish high school that were a supervisors on the shoe shop floor. And I had aunts that ran their own business hair salon. So a lot of really strong dynamic women. So they're my role models. And I remember as a child doing a report with Amelia Earhart. And it still sticks with me to this day.

[00:05:21.74] And I think of it often because even though she didn't succeed, she went down somewhere and we're still looking for her plane, right? I just remember the pictures and the footage, and I did a report on her and the bravery, and the courage, and the risk taking. And it really, I think, started my motto of, why not me? She said, why not be the first female? But it was really, why not me? Why can't I do what other people do?

[00:05:52.24] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Yeah, well, that's definitely molded you into the person you are today, I would assume. That's awesome. That's awesome, Deb. What about difficult situations? I love to just kind of get into this background stuff, you know. What about-- what was a difficult situation you had to overcome as a child?

[00:06:10.42] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah. So I described a really loving family, but my parents were divorced in 1959.

[00:06:17.62] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, wow.

[00:06:17.95] DEB SMALLWOOD: So in 1959, there weren't divorces.

[00:06:22.69] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, that was unheard of.

[00:06:23.61] DEB SMALLWOOD: Especially, in the Greek families and the Greek community. So that was a stigma that we had to-- [AUDIO OUT] 1959, I was four years old. We moved from one town to another into Dover, was 50 miles away from my father. Our father came and picked us up every other weekend, spent vacations with him. He was always there. He lived with his sisters and his mother. So we would go hang out, loving family, Greek community. And we had really double of everything.

[00:06:55.78] And the strength of my mother, when I think about my mother, she-- the Greek traditions, you had to marry the person that your father told you, you had to marry. They had to be from a certain part of Greece. And my mother really broke a generational cycle of I married this man, but I don't love this man, and I'm not going to stay married.

[00:07:19.49] And she had the strength and courage to take on being a single parent in 1959. So there was a little stigma. No one had divorced. There was maybe one other kid in school that had a divorced parent. So that was that stigma, but I think the strength of my mother and the strength and the unconditional love just pushed us through it.

[00:07:46.13] REID HOLZWORTH: That had to be really tough. You know, I just learned not that long ago that I just blew my mind that divorced women, especially back then, had a really hard time even renting places because people wouldn't rent to them, like as if they weren't reliable. It seems like it was almost a control thing, but strange. That's got to be hard, you know?

[00:08:09.23] DEB SMALLWOOD: It was hard, yeah. And my mother worked really hard. So she was a working mother. We always had great clothes. And we went on vacations. And we were not without. A couple of times, I wanted a new dress. But in the 1960s, you didn't get dresses like today you just go on Amazon. I'm surprised she could even get a credit card back then.

[00:08:34.14] REID HOLZWORTH: Right. It's like-- somebody was telling me this not that long. And I'm like, that's-- like, I didn't know. I'm just ignorant to it. I was like, that's insane. Like, it's craziness. Very different today, obviously, which is great.

[00:08:49.08] DEB SMALLWOOD: And then, of course, is ubiquitous in our culture today, right? Almost to the other extreme, it becomes--

[00:08:57.57] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, absolutely. Oh, yeah, yeah, 100%. So what did you want to be when you grew up?

[00:09:06.38] DEB SMALLWOOD: I didn't have a target. And if you think back in the '60s and early '70s, we're talking a long time ago, right? When I went to college, you either could be a nurse, you could be a teacher, you could be a secretary, you could be a small business owner like my aunt owned a hairdressing, or you could be a waitress, right? That was the roles. And I remember when I started to look into colleges, dental hygienists were starting to come up, travel agent.

[00:09:38.06] Women were starting to break into various roles. But what my mother always told us to do is I want you to work for a big company because they have benefits, financial security because she never had that opportunity. The second thing was I want you to get into computers. She had the forward-- she was reading in the newspapers and hearing on the news in the early '70s, computers are going to be a big thing, so she said.

[00:10:11.22] And the third was financial independence, financial freedom. Never be dependent on a man or anyone else for your financial being. Always be able to support yourself. So I took those three things almost to the extreme and my sister did too and have always worked really hard for all of those. So my first job was Liberty Mutual COBOL programmer in technology, right?

[00:10:41.91] REID HOLZWORTH: That's crazy. So sorry. I hate to say it this way. It even sounds bad saying it, but a woman as a developer back then, right? It doesn't seem like that was common. How did that all go down?

[00:10:58.34] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, but it was really common because computers were new. In the insurance industry back-- so 1978, I was hired. In the late '70s and early '80s, insurance knew that they needed to start to develop data processing centers. It wasn't even called IT back then. It was called EDP. And the only way that they could get programmers were to have training programs.

[00:11:27.57] So entry level programmer trainee, 20 week programs, I was paid $10,000 which actually was a lot of money back then. As in for 20 weeks, I was training to learn COBOL. And so they had a couple of tests that you had to take, and it was based on aptitude or ability. I remember the tests being sequential, map your way through stop signs, and very detailed. And I'd say 50% of the people in the training program were women.

[00:11:58.95] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow.

[00:12:00.15] DEB SMALLWOOD: All through the '80s, Liberty Mutual had this training program probably until maybe '88. And so hundreds and thousands of people came through the program. And when I think about the cubicles and the floors-- back when I started, it was just desks. We didn't even have cubicles-- 50% were women.

[00:12:21.17] REID HOLZWORTH: That's wild. That's wild.

[00:12:22.99] DEB SMALLWOOD: Isn't it wild?

[00:12:23.77] REID HOLZWORTH: It is wild. It's not like that today, which is interesting. It's like gone the opposite direction, right?

[00:12:31.18] DEB SMALLWOOD: Right. Right, because it's very technical because programmers, or programmer analysts, or systems analysts, they weren't BAs. They weren't project managers. You did everything. You sat with the business. You developed the code. And so it was different. And they were big, lofty systems or reporting. Yeah, it was-- so it was different back then.

[00:12:57.25] REID HOLZWORTH: I did not know, Deb, that you started-- your first job was a COBOL developer. That's so wild.

[00:13:06.53] DEB SMALLWOOD: And my first assignment was in work comp and Liberty Mutual had just rolled out the first work comp policy admin system in the country. And it actually was IMS DC and DB mainframe. And it actually allowed data entry of the application of the work comp.

[00:13:29.39] And you could actually-- it was online. Now a lot of my peers coming out of the training program, there was just a batch reporting systems and statistical and financial. I was actually really lucky to be on something so powerful and I accelerated really fast. I think in 19 years at Liberty Mutual, I had 13 promotions.

[00:13:51.18] So it was programmer, senior programmer, programming analyst, senior programming analyst, and systems analyst and manager, assistant director, director. But it was the growth in terms of technology and the opportunities were incredible. And what I'm really hoping for, and I know that we'll probably get into this, is how do we replicate what happened in the '80s. And all the new blood and the diversity that was in, how do we replicate that now with the beginning of AI?

[00:14:25.64] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, totally, totally.

[00:14:27.38] DEB SMALLWOOD: Right?

[00:14:28.07] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. That's kind of the new frontier if you will, in that way.

[00:14:32.78] DEB SMALLWOOD: It is.

[00:14:34.04] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Before we get into that, so how long did you say you were at Liberty Mutual for?

[00:14:39.32] DEB SMALLWOOD: 19 years.

[00:14:40.55] REID HOLZWORTH: 19 years. Wow. So then where did you kind of end at Liberty Mutual and then where did you go from there? Because I've-- just for the audience, I've met you obviously when you're at SMA. So I've only known you since then. But if you could catch me up to that point, that'd be awesome.

[00:14:59.52] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah. So what happened at Liberty was I always wanted to be a consultant. I was seeing the IBM engineers come in, and then we started having KPMG, and Deloitte, and some of the big consulting firms. And they were saying things that I was saying, but they were an outside influence. And I said, you know, I want to be a consultant one day.

[00:15:28.43] And then it got to the point at Liberty that I knew it was time to go. As you move up, there's less and less movement. I was managing a 150 people, managing all their policy admin, all their sales, big development, maintenance. And there wasn't much more room. And I had such an accelerated career. And my daughters were old enough where I could start to travel.

[00:15:57.92] So I called up the partner at KPMG and said, I'd love to join your firm. And I had an interview. They were starting a new practice called information risk management in the Boston office, got a job. I got like a 50% pay increase. So it was a no-brainer. And yeah. And I made partner in 18 months.

[00:16:19.94] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow. So then what kind of stuff were you focused on then at KPMG when it started out?

[00:16:25.76] DEB SMALLWOOD: It was-- what I focused on was information resource management. So it was IT audit. We worked very, very closely with the accounting and the financial auditors. And so I was on the audit side. And I've learned to be a consultant, though. I learned to sell. I learned to write [INAUDIBLE]. I learned to write deliverables.

[00:16:51.90] I learned how the bar in terms of perfection, and spacing, and look and feel, and the whole-- everything that goes into the package of being a consultant. I learned to be a consultant, which was an amazing experience. And again, it was-- my attitude has always been, why not me? So why not me? Why not be a consultant?

[00:17:20.29] I pick up the phone, I call, I get the job with a significant pay increase. And then I said, hmm, I want to be a partner. Why not me? So someone said start acting like a partner. So I acted like a partner and got promoted to a partner. I had a couple of women sponsors along the way that made me a partner. I was not happy there. It was a wrong fit for me.

[00:17:45.41] And then I went to a Gartner Conference. And there were people on the Gartner, the big-- even back in 19-- let's see. This is 2000, 2000, 2001, right before the dot-com, right? There was a person on the stage, an insurance person, presenting information about the insurance industry. And I went, I can be that. I want to be that. Why not me?

[00:18:19.17] So I ended up taking a role as the head of the insurance practice at Tower Group which at the time was Tower Group, not the insurance company, but it was the new type of advisory firms. So I learned to be an analyst. I learned to be a thought leader. I learned to write research and have a voice out in the marketplace.

[00:18:43.89] And then one day, there was an executive coach working with me. I really had an awakening. And I really started to feel really self-- not that I wasn't self empowered the whole journey, right? And I said, you know what? I can do this myself. I can start a business. So there were a couple of people that I started Strategy Meets Action. At the time, it was Smallwood, Mikey and Associates. And we started it.

[00:19:11.52] Our anchor company was Insurance Company of the West, started the company, became the chief transformation officer at the Insurance Company of the West, helped them create some governance, project management, brought in a couple of big projects that were just running astray. I was able to execute and bring them because I've always been able to execute projects and get things done, got out of my non-compete for one year, and then launched Strategy Meets Action. So that's how I got into being a thought leader and an advisor.

[00:19:48.53] REID HOLZWORTH: How long were you at Strategy Meets-- SMA? Sorry.

[00:19:54.49] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, SMA, 15 years.

[00:19:57.35] REID HOLZWORTH: 15 years. Wow. Wow.

[00:19:59.75] DEB SMALLWOOD: Right. Self-funded. My business partners, Karen Furtado and Mark Breading. A lot of real sweat and tears and grind at the first, the early years, right? And built our brand, really proud of that accomplishment. It was great working with them, like minded people, wonderful customers, hit the market right at the right time, and then sold it. In the middle--

[00:20:25.97] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, I know. I know. That's what's crazy. It's like last I talked to you, it's like, oh, yes, we sold the business to ReSource Pro. Now I'm at ReSource Pro. And now it's like, now I'm doing something else. So yeah, before we get into that, talk about-- tell the audience like some of the stuff you did because I got to know you many years ago when you're at SMA, we were a customer of yours, essentially. But explain to the audience, what did you guys do? What was the value that SMA brings to a customer?

[00:21:00.17] DEB SMALLWOOD: It was really about pushing the envelope and the thinking and the innovation thinking at carriers and vendors, right? And connecting carriers and vendors. So our customers were both. For the carrier side, we did a lot of strategy sessions with leadership teams. We did a lot of 20, 30 big transformational thinking. We wrote research that showed the trends and the patterns happening in the industry and trying to explain some of the shifts and changes, how technology could enable change.

[00:21:35.99] We had a big voice around innovation, digital, and customer experience. So I'm going to really go back. We had a conference. I think it was 2012 was our first SMA summit. And it was about 200 people. And we were defining mobile, data, social media, just really basic things back then, right? And you fast forward 12, 15 years-- would have been-- it might even have been 2008 we were doing that.

[00:22:17.56] We wheeled in a hundred iPads for people to experience crowdsourcing. We were doing some really leading things here. So really about getting the industry to think differently about the business of insurance. On the vendor side, we worked with go-to-market strategies, did webinars, did a lot of strategy sessions, white papers, and things like that. Part of our overall business model was really to be a voice of influence and a voice to help really stretch the industry. And so it was just so much fun.

[00:22:53.50] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, it sounds like it. I mean, you guys did a lot, a lot. On the vendor side, what would you do with the vendors, then mostly?

[00:23:02.54] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, so we had all the core vendors. We had Clyde, as you said. We even worked with you at Canary, right?

[00:23:10.81] REID HOLZWORTH: Mm-hmm. Yep. 100%.

[00:23:12.95] DEB SMALLWOOD: So Karen Furtado was the master of core systems, knew the deals, knew what the patterns in the industry so we could give market intelligence to the vendors about the sales, what was buying, the competitive landscape, feature functions capabilities, how businesses were making decisions. We were also helping carriers and MGAs select systems as well.

[00:23:43.83] We did white papers. We did webinars, speaking engagements at all the core vendors in the big conferences. We spoke at their conferences. So in the early days, we'd even help with big, horizontal, non-insurance vendors try to learn insurance and understand the market. So we have a lot of projects like that as well.

[00:24:13.15] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. That's awesome. So then what? Like, I just woke up one day, and then boom, SMA was sold to ReSource Pro. How did that all go down? How'd that work out? It's interesting.

[00:24:27.55] DEB SMALLWOOD: Well, it was always part of our-- it was always part of our strategy was to exit at some point. And over the years, we did have interested buyers and it just didn't materialize. It was either a wrong fit for us or a wrong fit for them. And in the middle of the pandemic, and we were starting to think about unwinding SMA because we were all getting up in the years, right, after 35, 40 years in the industry, and started to think what would that look like if we don't sell it.

[00:25:00.79] And they came with interest. So ReSource Pro significant player in the agent broker, wholesaler, MGA space, small footprint in the carrier. At the time, they felt a way to get into the carrier BPO-- it was all offshore-- would be to buy a thought leadership a company a small. It was really one of their first acquisitions. So a small company to clients, relationships, strategic voice.

[00:25:34.49] REID HOLZWORTH: That makes sense.

[00:25:36.20] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah. And it felt like the right fit.

[00:25:39.92] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, no that makes a ton of sense. So you're not there anymore. So you said-- so what happened there? Is it you just, hey, I want to go and do my own thing. I'm over it. It's time to retire. I'm cashing out my earn outs up. Like, what? So what happened?

[00:25:56.12] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, I think it's a little of all of that. After running a business, your own business for 15 years and being part of a big corporation, it was hard for me. And I was there for three years. It was time for me to semi-retire. The grind of it all, right? Writing research, being a thought leader, client engagements, it was time for me to just move on.

[00:26:26.58] And I always wanted to write a book. And so I said great opportunity for me to write a book, possibly be on boards. I was already on a couple of advisory board for some tech startups. And it was-- as my daughters said to me, I've got two smart daughters. They said, why are you still working mom?

[00:26:50.24] Like, what are you trying to prove? Like, you've done it all. You've done it all. Retire with dad and have fun. And I can't retire. I can't. I still had that drive, that urge. Maybe, it's my mother, the financial independence and driving and the hard work that I've just executed my whole life.

[00:27:14.30] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. So what are you doing now? What's going on now, Deb? So now you're not-- you keep saying I'm semi-retired. And I want to get back after it, financial independence. So what's Deb Smallwood working on these days?

[00:27:30.15] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah. So I always wanted to write a book. So last year I announced Deb 2.0. And I sit out there on social media, thanked the industry for-- thanked the customers, my friends, the colleagues because insurance is an amazing industry, and said, you know, I've always challenged the norm and I've always propelled forward.

[00:27:54.40] And why not me? Why not become an inspirational voice for women in the insurance industry and beyond? Why not write a book about women empowerment? I've been able to achieve significant roles, right? CIO, owned my own business, partner at a big four consulting firm. I've powered my way through it.

[00:28:19.29] Let there be glass ceilings. Let there be perceptions of glass ceilings, but I did it, right? And a lot of self-discovery, a lot of awakening, and why not share my words of wisdom and things that I've done that helped me propel to help women that may have self-doubt or don't know how to get their careers to the next level. So I'm writing a book. The book is really central to the platform, but I believe that things just sort of unfold, right?

[00:28:50.46] You look up and out. You see opportunities. You can seize them. So I said, OK, I'm going to write a book. Got a publisher right away, a woman that I had been talking to over the years. My heart has always been helping other women. So indirectly and directly, and it was really fascinating when I posted on LinkedIn Deb 2.0, a lot of women either privately or through publicly on LinkedIn. So we've always been an inspiration.

[00:29:18.90] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome.

[00:29:19.83] DEB SMALLWOOD: That was really cool, right? So what has transpired is I've developed a SELFPOWERMENT model. And I'm still fleshing out the model about awakening the human being, becoming aware, aligning your voice out in the marketplace and acceptance because it's all choice. So I'm working this model. I have the model. I've actually conducted a handful of workshops. A small insurer-- actually, it's a billion dollar insurer-- has just hired me to conduct the workshop for their leadership team because it can be gender neutral. It doesn't have to be about women.

[00:30:03.42] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah.

[00:30:04.47] DEB SMALLWOOD: I've started speaking again on this. I've had a half a dozen speaking engagements on this. And so I've got the model. I've got the book. I've created a domain. I bought the domain. I have trademarked SELFPOWERMENT. So I've got all of this going on. In the meantime, I've hired my publisher to be a coach and she's working with me on the details of the book. And I just signed up yesterday because I'm always learning and always wanting to improve myself. I just signed up for this elite motivational keynote speaking training. I've been a speaker. I've been speaking at conferences and webinars, right?

[00:30:51.97] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, yeah.

[00:30:53.47] DEB SMALLWOOD: Good, but I'm not great. So the next personal development is to be-- so I can see myself next year, got a book. It's going to be a bestseller. No doubt about it because I will make sure that will happen and become a speaker, go out on the speaker circuit, and just help women with workshops, maybe even digital courses.

[00:31:17.99] Oh, I've been interested in that. In the meantime, I'm mentoring a handful of women that I never mentored before. It just all unfolded. I couldn't have planned this. And I'm having the time of my life. And I'm still traveling, spending time with my husband, spending time with my daughters and my grandchildren, and just enjoying life. So it's wonderful. I'm blessed.

[00:31:41.87] REID HOLZWORTH: That's a really awesome. I have a question. You said awakening the human, what does that mean? What does that mean to you?

[00:31:51.11] DEB SMALLWOOD: Well, we are human beings. And so I think we have to start with as a human being, there's the human part of us which is our physical structure, our brain, our capabilities, our experiences, our voice. Are we a fast runner? What are our capabilities? Maybe, what are our disabilities? But that's the human part.

[00:32:19.03] The being is your heart and soul. It's the intuitive. It's the wisdom. It's that wise woman or that intuitive thought that comes in. And when you can separate the two and you can take a breath, and you can just really feel the present moment, and just be with it, and then understand that you're a physical. And then the human being then goes and does human doing.

[00:32:46.51] Then we have roles, right? We're mothers. We're daughters. We're executives. We may be a claims adjuster. We're a lot of different roles, but that's not our identity. Our identity is really our human being. So it's really getting awakened in awareness of this, understanding and aligning this.

[00:33:10.97] You're going this, but you're a human being to the alignment of your voice out in the marketplace because we can hear our voices, right? I can be a taskmaster. I can be a nurturer. I can be a controller and really being mindful of that. And then accepting reality, accepting what is going on and making choices to many of us.

[00:33:34.40] And I've sat on the fence. We're unhappy where we are either in our job in our relationship. And at the end of the day, we're all self-powered. It's all about our choice, where we spend our time and what we do. So the SELFPOWERMENT model is really about empowering us as individuals, and making sure that we have stillness, we have clarity about who we are, we have focus where our voice and where we play, and then we have choice.

[00:34:08.43] So what's fascinating is I've interviewed 50 women in the last six weeks in insurance. And women are just amazing-- men are amazing, but women are just amazing as well. And I've learned so much from it because I think it can really help my book since I only have my experiences. But now I'm learning about other women experiences. So it's been really cool. So they're helping me flesh out, validate my SELFPOWERMENT model indirectly through the interviews. It's been incredible.

[00:34:48.08] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, do you think that everything is somewhat of a manifestation? What do you think about that?

[00:34:55.88] DEB SMALLWOOD: Oh, I do. Oh, absolutely. So think about it, when I was at KPMG, I said I want to be a partner. And I became a partner because I lived it, I thought it, I visualized it. I shut my eyes, right? I could breathe it, and believe it, and believe in myself. Then I want to be that Gartner analyst. And I became a Gartner analyst. I became a thought leader in the marketplace. I mean, it takes a little luck. Its opportunities, right? You have to seize them. You have to work hard.

[00:35:32.55] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, yeah. You got to-- yeah, a 100%, totally.

[00:35:34.43] DEB SMALLWOOD: Definitely a manifestation. Starting my own business with my business partners, selling, it was-- and how that all played out, we had some expectations in terms of the agreement, and we talked about it. I put them on a board in front of me and it just played out right to that. And they say that it's not wanting or driving, it's being with it and acknowledging that you already have it and be with it. So there's no barriers and it is manifestation.

[00:36:17.77] This book, this journey, this platform is all unfolding. And then you know when things unfold in front of you like this with new opportunities, you know you're in the right space. So I know. I'm doing the-- I'm writing a book, the SELFPOWERMENT journey for myself, for my daughters, for my granddaughters, for my legacy to help women, but it's also I'm going back to my mom who broke a generational cycle and the courage that she had at that time. I can hear her voice through this. So there's a lot of passion and emotion why I'm doing this.

[00:37:00.13] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, that's awesome. I truly believe exactly what you just said that everything is a manifestation. And I truly believe what you just said that you have to really know it. It's not even believe it. It's just it is. And you have to have that. I think where people fall short is they lack the self-confidence to know it and to believe it, believe in themselves in that way.

[00:37:24.01] I think that when people hear, when people talk about, oh, everything's a manifestation and whatnot, they think that you can sit here and you pray or whatever it may be that this is going to come true, but it's in the universe's time. It's not necessarily always in your time. But it does play out long term.

[00:37:41.44] And those vision boards and all those things that people do, it's very, very true. It does happen, a 100%. And like I could point back to something that I did when I was in college where I wrote out, at this age, I want to do one, two, three, X, Y, Z. I stumbled across it a couple of years ago. And I'm like, holy shit, all this came true.

[00:38:02.11] You know, I believed in it. I believed in myself, right? And I saw it. It's like your vision is part of it, 100%. And I think it's just so many people, they kind of hold themselves back because they don't believe in themselves that way, or to be fair, they may be pushed down as well, which can happen, right?

[00:38:27.18] DEB SMALLWOOD: Right. It's the noise in your head, right? So I loved what you said. You have to be with it, and believe it, and believe that it exists today. And back to the human being, the being is connected with the universe, right? It's your spirit. It's your energy. it's not the noise. It's in your heart and soul, you know the answer two really tough questions, right?

[00:38:54.84] It's the wisdom that you have within. And when the manifestation-- so the model that I have on SELFPOWERMENT, a lot of it, it all started with the premise. I want to show women-- it could be men too, right-- but show women how to shut the noise in the head. How do you shut down the noise? And part of that is just being in the present moment.

[00:39:20.59] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, but that's-- hold on. But that is way easier said than done. And a lot of people don't even know what true being in the present moment is. Most people have never meditated. They don't know what that true-- to truly be there, to be there one with the breath and the present moment, not reacting, having the thoughts fly by, watching them, not reacting, letting them go by, this whole thing, most people don't. But consciousness is expanding in a major way now. And so people are now getting smarter and smarter about it, but it's like in our culture, I'll say, it's not as-- you don't hear that as much. It's happening, but you don't hear it as much.

[00:40:02.77] DEB SMALLWOOD: Right. So one of my objectives of the book is to bring that to the corporate world almost disguised as SELFPOWERMENT, right? Because there's-- you don't have to get spiritual and you don't have to do all. I've been-- actually, I went to Eckhart Tolle, who is a spiritual teacher on present moment. He's all about present moment, right? It's shutting down the noise, the past or the future, all the noise in your head and your ego. And I'm actually a certified teacher of presence.

[00:40:40.69] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow.

[00:40:40.87] DEB SMALLWOOD: I took a six month course last year. It's really exciting. But how do I make that business savvy and worthy, right? and how do I get people to just take a breath and understand, all we have right now, Reid, is you and me right now, talking. That's all there is. The past is memories and future hasn't happened yet. So we can worry about the future. It's not going to change the future. And we can fret, and regret, and be saddened of the past. So I have different techniques that I've learned over the years to catch and release.

[00:41:21.13] REID HOLZWORTH: I love that, catch and release. I love that, yeah.

[00:41:24.17] DEB SMALLWOOD: They feed and fuel your human body. How do you control your voice? So let's say you're in a conversation, you're ready to go into a big meeting, take stock in your capabilities and your belief, right? Try to catch and release any self-doubt, know what voice you're going to go in there with. Is it a taskmaster? Is it a wise woman? Is it a influencer?

[00:41:51.80] Understand the voice in the meeting. And then in the meeting-- and it happens to me still-- sometimes I'll be in a meeting, and I just I lean in, the tough Deb comes out, the real taskmaster, "What do you mean we're missing target dates?" or that tone. Sometimes I can't catch myself, but at least I'm aware that I can't stop myself, but at least I'm aware that I'm doing. So part of this whole journey of just SELFPOWERMENT is just awareness, right?

[00:42:24.36] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Well yeah, awareness is another one, way easier said than done.

[00:42:30.90] DEB SMALLWOOD: --on this for 20 years. What I'm trying to do is try-- I want to offer like a jumpstart kit for people so they don't have to wait the 20 years. So it sounds like you've done some reading and research.

[00:42:43.65] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, I've done so much work around all of this stuff. I could talk for hours and hours about this. Yeah, I am very aware. I am a very aware person. It took me a lot of years to get there. I meditate every day, yoga every day. It's funny one of my good buddies Joel, when he started-- when I started to get into all this, he's explaining meditation to me.

[00:43:08.76] And he's like, meditation is like if you're chopping wood, and the only thing you're thinking about is chopping wood. I'm like, that is impossible. What are you talking about? My brain-- I have so much going on all the time in this mind. Like, to quiet the mind enough, to be able just to-- I'm just chopping. Like, it blew my mind. I get it now, but that's impossible.

[00:43:40.10] And so no, I've done a lot, a lot, a lot of self work. I've done the hard work and for a number of years. And yeah, I'm a different person because of it. And what's interesting, as you become actually aware, and aware, true awareness, you start to see everything in a different way, and you start to truly understand what we're talking about through manifestation and whatnot.

[00:44:10.45] And you start to shed things in life. You start to shed addictions and things. And not really bad addictions, but there's things that you start to recognize and habits and stuff that we have as humans have learned over so many years, things that we need to quiet the ego down on and battling that wolf sometimes in ways, but also comforting it and knowing that ego is there to protect you in ways. And so some of-- there's people that may be listening to this like, this is some woo, woo like shit.

[00:44:48.52] But no, it's very, very real. And in so many other cultures, this is part of life. And in our culture, it hasn't been so much, but it's getting there. Consciousness is growing in a major way and you're seeing it. So yes, yes, I've done a lot, and I truly believe in it. And I've seen so many lives changed in a better way just using some of these methods that you're talking about here. I think it's awesome.

[00:45:18.14] DEB SMALLWOOD: I love hearing this from you. And it does change you. You become more aware of a flower, or just a bird, or the cutting of wood. Even if it's just for one swing of the axe that you actually experience it, it's for that moment, it's fulfilling, right? And that's where I just finally real-- I'm just finally there where you can shut your eyes, and you can just feel joy, right? It's happiness. It's just peace. So how do you quiet the mind? And even if it's just for five minutes at a time.

[00:46:00.12] So one practice could be when you get into the car-- you'll struggle with this one probably-- just sit there for ten seconds and just breathe, right? Every ten seconds, unless you go into the emergency room. So yeah, I wrote all of that. So the practices that I've had over the last 20 years, in addition to executive coaches and positioning to sell a business or run a business, packaging all of that up and just try-- and my goal is to enlighten and inspire women to feel self-powered.

[00:46:36.10] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. So let's talk about women in leadership in insurance. Let's talk about women in insurance, generally. I mean, obviously now what I do now, I know a lot of executives at the carriers. We'll talk carrier side, brokers too. But yeah, majority are-- just kind of gut check-- majority are males, I would say, right? And so obviously, you're on a mission to help with that. So talk a little bit about that.

[00:47:10.49] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, so it's really funny because in the '80s in IT, 50% of the programmers were women, right?

[00:47:16.55] REID HOLZWORTH: I didn't know that. That's wild. Wow.

[00:47:18.86] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah, but what I saw was women drop out of the workforce on to have families and make decisions because being a working mom is really, really hard. And some women just decide to be a stay-at-home mom or have a different kind of career. So a lot of women do leave the industry in the earlier years.

[00:47:42.77] Then as you go up, and I felt this at Liberty, as you go up, there's less and less positions. That's the reality. That you're competing against others. And I mean, the hard truth is there are biases. And I've been in conversations. Women don't see what men see and men don't see what women see. It's not that women-- men are trying to discriminate against women. It's almost-- I'm going to go back to generational cycle.

[00:48:19.80] It's in DNA and at a cellular level. So I have-- I'm blessed with grandchildren. I have a grandson. I have daughters. I had a lot of aunts and female cousins, right? So now I have a grandson. And I'm watching him, and I'm watching my son in-laws too, and they're amazing men, but I'm watching.

[00:48:41.49] I'm just watching the male dynamic on the football field as a 10-year-old and the camaraderie. And then I watch my granddaughters on the soccer field, the dynamics are just so different. And the network and the mean things that girls say to each other, it's just-- we grow up differently and--

[00:49:03.09] REID HOLZWORTH: Girls can be very, very, very mean to each other.

[00:49:08.28] DEB SMALLWOOD: I just-- it's breaking my heart. At 8 and 9 years old, what my granddaughters are hearing, and my daughters too and me. I also think the rules of engagement are written in insurance a hundred years ago. The role, the expectations. And so I think the roles in engagement, I think there is gender bias.

[00:49:32.95] And then on top of all of that, what I'm realizing is there's a lot of women that just don't want to go there. They just don't want to be part of the C-suite. And then I see a lot of women in the 50-year-old that I'm interviewing and talking to now, now that they're not my customers, and I'm writing this book, people are opening up and women want to leave.

[00:49:56.92] Women want to start their own thing or start their own business. It was my viewpoint. So SELFPOWERMENT is about empowering women to just make a choice. If you feel like you're not being valued, if you feel like you don't have a voice, if you feel you can't get promoted and you want to, then leave.

[00:50:21.06] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, right?

[00:50:22.65] DEB SMALLWOOD: And leave. In today's world, there are choices. You can leave. It's not like back in the '80s when you had to work at a company because they had-- you couldn't get an insurance-- insurance was really difficult if you had a medical condition back in the '80s and '90s and also the benefits and the retirement packages, but now people jump. So I think we have choices. I think we have choices now. But I think it's a complex problem to solve and a complex reason, but there's a lot of competing, I think, factors. Does that all make sense?

[00:51:00.34] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, 100%. It totally does. It totally does. I think it, too, it just goes back to the confidence, though, of people to be able to do that. And it's because they don't-- some people don't believe that there's choices, right? They don't know. And so I think by you enabling people in that way and seeing it and letting them be, yeah, it opens that door.

[00:51:25.63] DEB SMALLWOOD: Exactly. And there are some women executives that do want to go to that C-suite and it is self-confidence. It is noise in their head. It's all self-doubt. And if they can shake that and manifest, right? Be the part, play the part. One woman, I said to her, get out of the details, delegate that, stay strategic, be a big thinker. When you go into those meetings, don't be in the weeds. If you want to play at that level, be at that level, right?

[00:51:56.77] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, it's so true. So true. That's awesome. That's really cool, Deb. That's really, really, really awesome that you're doing that stuff. I got a couple questions on leadership for you, Deb. You're obviously, obviously a leader. What is being a leader mean to you?

[00:52:15.16] DEB SMALLWOOD: Wow Being a leader, a leader in high school, or in a club, or in a company, is such an important role. And you have so much influence and impact on so many stakeholders. It's like the most important role, right? And we all have different leadership styles, but fundamentally, you have an obligation to your company, or the club, or the church, right?

[00:52:49.30] You have an obligation to help them achieve their goals. You have an obligation to the employees that work for you to nurture them, guide them, support them, direct them, lead them, make sure you're communicating to them, and really developing them. You've got responsibilities to your customers direct or indirect because ultimately, there's always a customer on the other end. So you need to understand their voice.

[00:53:19.98] As a leader, you've got to be true to yourself. You have to be confident, right? You've got to be authentic. You have to really understand yourself and be able to know when to speak up and when maybe not to, what battle to fight. And then as a leader, you need to have a voice in the marketplace, or in your industry, or in the community, right? So it's all encompassing. Looking at leadership, it's such a powerful role. And so many people struggle with it, right?

[00:53:56.64] REID HOLZWORTH: When in your career did you realize that you were a leader?

[00:54:01.58] DEB SMALLWOOD: Very, very early. In high school, I was a natural leader. I was popular. I had a strong voice. I was confident. I was tall. And I could really carry myself. And I became-- I was a class officer. I was the secretary freshman and sophomore year. And I realized I was doing all the work. And I said, well, why not me? And I became the first woman class president at the high school. And we're talking 1971.

[00:54:38.96] First woman president and I was a natural leader. I led-- we had a different class trip. We had a big graduation party. I gave a speech at our graduation. I ran all the fundraising. I ran all the fundraising for the yearbook. I was in every club. I was a really good student. I was just a natural leader. I didn't know-- looking back, I was really naive, and I really probably didn't know what I was doing, but I think I was just a natural leader.

[00:55:08.82] REID HOLZWORTH: What type of leader would you say you are?

[00:55:12.23] DEB SMALLWOOD: Oh. I'm a hard leader because I set the bar really high.

[00:55:20.86] REID HOLZWORTH: I get-- well, I don't know. I don't know this, but I bet you're pretty competitive too.

[00:55:26.02] DEB SMALLWOOD: I'm very competitive. I like to win, but I will support the team. I empower the team. I empower individuals to learn things and make decisions, but I hold them accountable. So it's that empowerment, accountability. I give teams rope. And then when they go to hang themselves, I rescue them, right? I don't let people fail, but I would not ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do myself or had done myself. I push hard. That's why managing people, especially today, in today's world, I think I'm too tough.

[00:56:10.17] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Oh, yeah?

[00:56:13.32] DEB SMALLWOOD: I got things done, turned around a lot of projects, executed a lot of things, built a business, sold a business, ran a business, right?

[00:56:22.54] REID HOLZWORTH: So as an industry, how do we get more women in leadership?

[00:56:34.46] DEB SMALLWOOD: I think it's a couple of things. I think the DEI movement has been just the beginning. It's been very shallow. It's been a checkbox. Like, let's have a DEI program.

[00:56:50.58] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, totally.

[00:56:52.15] DEB SMALLWOOD: And it's women and it's diversity too.

[00:56:54.78] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, diversity too, fair enough. Yeah.

[00:56:57.95] DEB SMALLWOOD: I believe that we have to change the cultures. We have to change our strategies. And at a board level and at a C level executive, it needs to impact their compensation with the numbers. Easy as that. Leadership is driven by their compensation, their goals. And the goals are always around the financials of the company and maybe some projects or something like that, things that they control.

[00:57:26.02] So I think the second thing is grassroots. We need to almost go back to the way it was in the '80s and start to recruit high school and college intern's diversity, right? AI would be a really great way to maybe start to have training programs. I think we have to reimagine roles and really look at the roles of engagement and start to reimagine roles.

[00:57:55.53] It's not the hybrid. It's not like working from home or-- how we judge and how we evaluate and the roles and responsibilities of job descriptions are old and stale. So we have to look at them with a new lens. There's research. There's case studies. When there's diversity in companies, they far exceed expectations of financials and customer experience.

[00:58:26.62] The innovation that happens, the different thinking, the looking at problems differently, the problem solving, the camaraderie, it would better-- the industry would be able to leapfrog forward more seamlessly. So I think it's things like that. And then I plan on empowering women, right? And maybe more women have to leave. Maybe we need to dip before we can go up. Maybe we need to share some pain and really have a strong voice in this.

[00:59:09.10] But I don't know. Some change has to happen. I've been in the industry for 45 years. There's been change. The women-- when I started, the women were on the floor in desks, right? And the men were all in cubicles. And I've seen progress. I've seen women in every single key leadership role in our industry in 45 years.

[00:59:35.17] We've played every role. Now do we sustain it? Not necessarily. Are the numbers and the percents still really low? Yes, but we've proven that we can play in those roles. When I started, there was a token HR maybe executive and that was it. I remember there were just nurses and teachers.

[00:59:59.59] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. No, that's just so wild. Like, it's-- yeah.

[01:00:03.01] DEB SMALLWOOD: We've come a long way.

[01:00:04.75] REID HOLZWORTH: I wasn't around then, but it blows my mind. I grew up in a very diverse place too. I grew up in Southern California. It was just diversity everywhere, right? And so it was different, but I don't know that. I just know the stories. And just thinking about that as a woman, like you just have these-- these are the roles, pick one of those. You can't do anything other than that. It just blows my mind. It's so different now, but I think it is ingrained in cultures, in certain cultures, that old kind of way in some.

[01:00:38.61] Changing and the ones that, like to your point, that are really excelling and really doing things and moving the needle, when you dig in, you'll see that diversity within there and great culture too, just a really, really good culture within that org. And it wasn't even until-- like, what? Not even 10 years ago. Culture wasn't even a thing. I mean, it was, but not really. And it's just, yeah. So it's changed for the better in so many ways.

[01:01:06.95] DEB SMALLWOOD: Oh, it has yet. At least we're talking about it. And what didn't exist when I was growing up at Liberty Mutual is, well, social media and just digital world, but it's the programs and the networking and the support groups. And back in the '80s, for some reason, women didn't help women. It was extreme-- or maybe it was just me.

[01:01:34.87] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. All right, a few more questions.

[01:01:37.98] DEB SMALLWOOD: OK.

[01:01:38.98] REID HOLZWORTH: How do you give back today? What do you do to give-- and this is giving back in so many ways. But do you do anything else outside of this? Charity-wise, tell us a little bit about that.

[01:01:51.20] DEB SMALLWOOD: Yeah. So I give back every single day because we were talking about present moment, right? Every day I wake up and I am grateful to have another day of sunshine and another opportunity to be. And so I try really hard. I try to be thankful and grateful with every touchpoint I have with a human being. Let it be picking up a coffee at Starbucks, or getting gas, or whatever, going into a restaurant.

[01:02:24.82] I used to get frustrated. The service was bad and how dare you. But now, it's thank you very much. They could be having a bad day. So gratitude and grateful every piece of the day to me is giving back. I'm also very generous in-- I give a lot of time to a lot of the small businesses in my community. So my Pilates instructor, I help with her business plan.

[01:02:48.20] My hairdresser, the woman I go for massages, I feel like I'm giving them business coaching and supporting them that way and extremely generous of my time, et cetera. And now I'm mentoring women and the book. I'm thinking about a charity or some organization to take some of the proceeds of what I'm doing and trying to figure out which one, but get back that way.

[01:03:17.22] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. That's awesome. What do you do for fun, Deb? Outside of family and stuff, like, what's fun? I love ripping dirt bikes in my backyard. I assume you're not really into that. Like, what are you into?

[01:03:29.55] DEB SMALLWOOD: No. So including family, I love to be outdoors. I love walking. I love golfing. I love swimming. I love going to the beach. I love nature. I love to do Pilates. My husband and I just started a year ago because of the semi-retirement. I'm not traveling. We're doing ballroom dancing. We have private lessons twice a week. And that's really fun. And it's really hard. And so we're doing ballroom dancing and really just being outdoors. That, to me, is fun.

[01:04:04.88] REID HOLZWORTH: That's awesome. That sounds like a ton of fun. I love all those things too. What is your favorite drink? What's your drink of choice?

[01:04:13.70] DEB SMALLWOOD: Iced coffee. It's a Starbucks ice venti, cold brew, extra ice, splash of heavy cream, love it.

[01:04:24.36] REID HOLZWORTH: That's your jam.

[01:04:26.97] DEB SMALLWOOD: Of course, caffeine, right?

[01:04:29.46] REID HOLZWORTH: Last, last question. What words of wisdom do you have for the audience-- listeners, really-- today in terms of having an amazing career in insurance and technology? That's a big one. It's a big one. Words of advice to the listeners of a great career insurance technology.

[01:04:52.12] DEB SMALLWOOD: What an amazing industry, this is, right? The people, the product, how we get back to the economy, and to our customers, right? And you can just look at my career and say what an amazing career. And insurance provides incredible opportunities for everyone. And so my words of wisdom, and I mentioned this earlier, look up and out. It's all out there. And ask yourself, when you see an opportunity, ask yourself, why not me?

[01:05:26.26] And then tell yourself, you've got this. And then the third thing is just be with it. Believe in yourself and be with it, and just shut your eyes and smile and breathe and say that is me and seize the opportunities because they're all out there, especially with AI. It's going to open up all kinds of new projects, all kinds of learning, all kinds of different changes in our organization. Raise your hand and be in it.

[01:05:59.19] REID HOLZWORTH: Do you have any tattoos, Deb?

[01:06:01.14] DEB SMALLWOOD: No, I don't.

[01:06:02.70] REID HOLZWORTH: You should get a tattoo that says "WNM," why not me?

[01:06:10.98] DEB SMALLWOOD: Why not me? It's been my motto the whole time. That's what I wanted to write the book on, why not me? And my publisher's like, well, that's a little limiting. She goes, that's your story. I go, OK, why not me, right? And I give speeches on it. And people have come up and said, you're right. Why not me?

[01:06:33.12] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, totally.

[01:06:34.17] DEB SMALLWOOD: It's not why not me, a woman? It's just why not me? Like Amelia Earhart probably said, why not me? Why can't I be a pilot? Why can't I fly around the world?

[01:06:45.18] REID HOLZWORTH: Totally. Totally. This was awesome, Deb. Thank you so much for doing this. This was really great. You're an industry icon. And everything you're doing now is awesome. Semi-retired doesn't really sound like. It sounds like you're getting after it once again. So very, very cool. Thank you for joining us and thank you for doing this.

[01:07:07.24] DEB SMALLWOOD: What a fun conversation. Thank you so much. I just love chatting with you. I miss chatting with you. So definitely can keep--

[01:07:13.43] REID HOLZWORTH: Likewise.

[01:07:14.14] DEB SMALLWOOD: --the dialogue going.

[01:07:17.29] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow, Deb Smallwood. You know I've known Deb for a long time, I did not know that she started in this industry as a COBOL developer. It's fricking wild. And hey, the program that Liberty had to bring people in and she said 50% of them was women? We don't see that these days. That's pretty cool. She was at Liberty for a long time, right? How long was she there? I forget what she said.

[01:07:43.09] CHRISTEN KELLEY: She was at Liberty for 19 years, but what was shocking to me is I think she said 13 promotions over 19 years. That's crazy.

[01:07:52.38] REID HOLZWORTH: That is wild. Wow. What a career.

[01:07:57.60] CHRISTEN KELLEY: You brought it up around the programs, but Ryan started off at Hanover. It's just these programs that people got into the insurance industry, you don't hear about it as much anymore.

[01:08:08.35] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, they must. I mean, they have to be still going on. But yeah, we don't. We don't really hear about that as much anymore. You know what I loved about what Deb was saying all the time? Why not me? Right? I was like, you should get a tattoo. I'm like, Deb, do you have any tattoos? You should get a tattoo because she kept saying it.

[01:08:30.67] But it's a really great saying if you think about that and you really break that down. I mean, it's like, why not me just generally, just people in general. And it just gives you that drive. It's so simple, but so true. And she just lives her life that way. And it's very clear with all the success that she's had throughout her career, it works, right?

[01:08:55.71] CHRISTEN KELLEY: I think it even takes it a step further when it does come from a female leader because I think that how she had talked about not feeling like you should be in the executive position. And for her, I think-- what did she say? It started off as like Amelia Earhart flew around the world. She's like, why not me?

[01:09:19.54] REID HOLZWORTH: She didn't do that, though. She did not do that.

[01:09:22.88] CHRISTEN KELLEY: She did not. But no, I mean, I think she-- and it's amazing to hear. She's been strong and confident in herself her entire life. And I loved listening to how the relationship she had with her mother. Having someone who was a single mother in a time where that was very unheard of--

[01:09:46.56] REID HOLZWORTH: So true.

[01:09:48.64] CHRISTEN KELLEY: Yeah, and just seeing a strong woman in her life and kind of just emulating that and taking it to the next level.

[01:09:56.24] REID HOLZWORTH: That's why I love getting into these podcasts, like getting to know their background, their family, the dynamics there because it really does frame up who this person is in that way. And she had a very, very strong mother, like you said, single mother, but still great relationship with her dad and all of that. And I mean, just really molded her into the person that she is. It's awesome.

[01:10:21.08] CHRISTEN KELLEY: Yeah, it's got to have-- it definitely is a different experience from others that I'm sure grew up in what was the stereotypical 1950s household, where she's seeing her mom be the breadwinner and run the house.

[01:10:35.63] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. I liked when I asked, hey, Deb, what type of leader are you? She was like, hmm. I forgot exactly what she said, but a hard one or something.

[01:10:50.66] CHRISTEN KELLEY: But she also said too that she's the type of person that she will be there and lift you up, but allow you to fail, but be there to help you pick up the pieces. And I think people need those kind of leaders in their lives sometimes. You can't necessarily have somebody that is going to be worried about being liked all the time. And sometimes, you have to make those hard decisions and push people to their limits.

[01:11:17.69] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. I think-- I mean, she's a perfect fit for what she's done in this last kind of career outside of Liberty and being at SMA. I mean, we use her tech and area. We use her at Ivans too. Just kind of like hey, here are some things we're thinking about, what do you think? Does this make sense? Does this work? What's the product market fit around this type? And I think to be in that role and to be able to truly advise people in that way, you have to be a little bit hard sometimes.

[01:11:50.69] [LAUGHS]

[01:11:53.81] No, seriously. And so I think when she says that, she thinks about herself in that way. I think she's just a really great leader, period. I mean, she is. And she's continuing to do so. And everything that she's doing now, and what she's really passionate about and focused on, and what she coined as her semi-retirement, it's really cool. It's really, really cool. She keeps giving back. And sounds like she doesn't want to stop, slow down. Great.

[01:12:21.57] CHRISTEN KELLEY: Yeah, I love that her next chapter, if you will, is all about giving back to the industry that she's been a part of for decades.

[01:12:32.71] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah. Yeah. Well, hey, another great person. Another person giving back. Another person doing good things. Another person that's extremely successful. That's the pattern.

[01:12:44.20] CHRISTEN KELLEY: Yep.

[01:12:44.41] REID HOLZWORTH: So it was great. I really enjoyed talking to Deb. I hadn't talked to her in a while, you know? It's like they went from SMA to ReSource Pro, and then boom, now she's doing this next thing. And yeah, it was really great to catch up with her. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it.

[01:13:00.01] CHRISTEN KELLEY: Yep. Well, more conversations to come.

[01:13:04.92] REID HOLZWORTH: More to come. Keep them coming. All right, stay tuned.