September 18, 2019 4:00 am Published by

Episode 24:

Nancy Lyons is a CEO, entrepreneur, and all-around good human who speaks about the intersection of leadership, entrepreneurialism, technology, and people. Through her candid writing and speaking, she explores the many facets of life at work and champions human-centered approaches to business. Seeing work and the culture of work as the next economic frontier, she pushes the progressive boundaries of how we as female leaders think about professional and personal lives.

Nancy has been locally and nationally recognized for her role as owner and CEO of Clockwork. She is a co-author of “Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process” (New Riders, 2012) and author of the upcoming book, “How to Win at Business by Being Nice to Humans.”

What You Will Learn:

  • Clockwork’s mission and Nancy’s view on current “diversity initiatives” in the modern-day workplace
  • How to be an ally to marginalized people you encounter in your personal and professional lives
  • The unique insights Nancy has gained as a mother in a transracial family
  • The philosophy that Nancy and her family follow to maintain happiness and stability
  • Why helping the most marginalized among us benefits everyone
  • Nancy’s practices for getting through tough days and integrating her work and family
  • Nancy’s most important source of inspiration
  • The best lesson Nancy has to pass on to other female leaders



Female Leaders | Best Practices for Being an Ally, with Nancy Lyons

Diversity In Today’s Workplace

It’s no secret that diversity is on the minds of a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs as our society continues to progress toward better workplaces for everyone. However, too many companies believe that hiring a “diversity professional” is enough to make their workplace up to par. As a female leader and mother in a diverse family, my good friend Nancy Lyons recognizes the shortcomings of many businesses and has devoted herself to providing solutions.

It’s not enough to put in a “diversity initiative” and hire more women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. Nancy stresses how imperative it is that companies create an inclusive environment that fosters diversity. This is especially true for the technology industry, where the vast majority of employees are white and male. Something needs to change. Female Leaders | Making the World Work for Everyone, with Nancy Lyons

An issue Nancy has with HR departments is their desire to keep everyone feeling safe and comfortable. When it comes to making companies more inclusive, comfort is the enemy of progress. Nancy’s consulting is centered around having tough conversations with companies. She teaches HR departments about being an ally to all different classes of people, from transgender people to Muslim people to people of all different races. This means knowing how casual conversations and office politics affect diverse populations and what can be done to mitigate those barriers to inclusivity.

An Ally in Work and Life

Nancy revealed to me a truth that a lot of us probably know, but not a lot of us admit: being an ally isn’t about us. We shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back when we think we’ve done a good job of being an ally. The people we’re trying to support should get to celebrate and cherish us as allies rather than watch us parade ourselves around as champions of diversity. While female leaders face a steeper fight than their male counterparts, a lot of us are still unaware of the issues that more oppressed groups deal with on a daily basis.

Nancy is a member of a diverse family, and her perspective is particularly valuable for all people wondering how they can be allies. Nancy and her wife raise their adopted son, who is African-American, and have been exposed to the dangers in the world that their son will face. They’ve had to raise him to be especially conscious of everything he does, from how he talks to people to how he acts in public to the fun things he’s allowed to do. It’s horrible. But our society treats him differently, and it shouldn’t be that way.

A huge action step Nancy has for all of us is recognizing how little we understand. Even as a member of a transracial family, Nancy was not prepared for the challenges she faces raising an African-American son. Acknowledging our own shortcomings and being available and open to learning more about the struggles of marginalized groups is one of the best things that all of us can do.

Keeping Stable

Female leaders and entrepreneurs have stressful lives already, but to add in the responsibility of this very special kind of parenting would be enough to burn a lot of us out. Nancy has trod the path for us, luckily. She has plenty of ideas on how to make the journey easier. If you’re raising an only child, pay close attention to how stable your marriage or relationship is. Make sure your child knows they are heard and valued. Have the tough conversations and resolve the issues. Don’t go to bed angry.

When it comes to being a leader, Nancy draws her inspiration from those around her. She surrounds herself with motivational people, people in the Women Presidents’ Organization, and people she wants to be like. Above all, she understands that losing is just as much a part of life as winning. And although her productivity switch is always on, she makes time to close her laptop, spend time with her family, and just be. That’s the best thing you can do.

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