Join Adam Markel as he talks with natural-born feminist and author of On The Shoulders Of Mighty Women, Lesley Michaels about women empowerment. Discover that now is the time for women to come together and rise as a collective. It is time to put an end to the gender inequality that is happening all over the world. Remember that gender equity isn’t the movement, it’s the goal.
- 4:41 – On the Shoulders Of Mighty Women
- 7:36 – Gender Equity Is The Goal
- 12:52 – Women’s Empowerment In Iran
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On The Shoulders Of Mighty Women: Honoring The Women That Came Before With Lesley Michaels\
I love my conversation with Lesley Michaels. Lesley was born to feminism. She was later one of the first women to break through the glass ceiling in the old boy industry of oil and gas. Lesley’s body of unique experiences had provided her with firsthand understandings of the daily struggles faced by women of every race, culture, and sexual orientation. On The Shoulders of Mighty Women is a tribute to the power and grace of those who came before and the ones who will follow, the warriors and the fallen. I love this conversation with Lesley Michaels, and I know you will as well.
It is so great to have you with me, Lesley. I’ve been a fan of yours from the day we met. We were both introduced by somebody else, a mutual friend. I was several years ago, so you and I are not strangers by any stretch of the imagination. I thank very fondly of that person for doing that, for making an introduction, especially at this stage in my life. I don’t know if you feel the same way. The people that you spend time with are far more important than the people that I would spend time with 20 or 30 years ago. Lesley, welcome to this conversation. Thanks for being with me.
Thank you, Adam. Thanks. This is a delightful treat to spend this kind of time with you. We’ve spent different types of time together over the years, and this is great fun, so thank you.
You heard me read your introduction, your bio, and all that kind of thing. I want to ask you, what is something that is not a part of your typical introduction or the way that people talk about you, that you would love for people to know about you? It’s not typically what is said about you. Is there something that comes to mind that you’d be willing to share? I’m putting you on the spot now.
Something that surprises people more often than I would have ever dreamed is that I am an intense introvert. I put so much content and many words, tapes of podcasts and what have you out into the world, or I’ll speak to groups. People are shocked to find out that at the end of the day, I just want to go into a room where there’s no oxygen but mine, and just relax.
Somebody once said that it’s described as being a situational extrovert. I thought that was pretty cool actually. This idea that when the moment arises to make a difference, to connect, to help someone or say something that might be helpful, then whatever we call it, the way we recapture our energy is less important than being a giver. I don’t know how you describe that, but that was helpful to me to hear it in those terms. I do think it’s about energy.
When people are extroverts, they gain energy from being around a lot of other people. I know, in my work as a keynote speaker, primarily resilience and mental health and work-life balance, things that I give speeches on, people are always surprised, like you said, when I declare that when I’m looking to recapture my energy to be resilient, to recover, to regenerate, I don’t want to be around other people. It’s solitary experience for me. It’s similar for you, right?
Absolutely, and I have to have it every day. It’s what allows me to come in fresh the next day with an outwardly expressed passion for the passions that I carry inside of me all the time.
I love that choice of words. You’re a bit of a wordsmith, so I love it. You have a book sitting right behind you, a new best-seller and a book that I think many people have already heard of, but if they haven’t, will you share a little bit about this book? I think that’s one of the things that you and I immediately connected on was that you had this passion that was inside of you to express certain things, and that were related to your life experience, which has been very diverse. Also like a rollercoaster, tremendous successes and some real challenges too. You wanted to express all of that, encapsulate it into a book. When we met, you didn’t have a book, and now you do. Would you tell us a little bit about this work?
It is the culmination of my life, but it also includes the lives of quite a few other women, our trials, our challenges, the times I absolutely crashed and burned. I wasn’t sure there was even going to be any ash left to rise from, and how those became the moments that fed us. In addition to that, it is a book written by women and for women, which doesn’t mean men won’t enjoy it. I’m having a surprising number of men reach back to me and say, “I love this book. I bought it for my daughters. I bought it for my granddaughters.” It’s a book that brings together a perspective of many different areas of women’s lives, and what they are addressed with, and where the oppressions sit, and the impact that they have.
A lot of the books written by and for women address one topic, and I will never besmirch them. In fact, I have a whole bookshelf right over there full of them. I wanted to come at it from a place of a broader picture, how one part of our life impacts this part of our life, and to not present such a compartmentalized perspective of women.
It also includes some really powerful actionable practices that have been developed by me, that have been developed by some of the other women who contributed to the book. Issues that are common to everyone but more common to women, Imposter syndrome, Perfectionism syndrome, issues like this. There’s a space where women can look at whatever the template is that they’re being presented, and realize that, “This was written for me. This was written by a woman for a woman. I can relate to this template. I can put this into practice in my life. I feel that this can work for me.”
On The Shoulders Of Mighty Women, that’s the title. I think in the day and age that we’re living in right now, women are more coming into their own than ever before?
Women want to come into their own more than they have in a very long time. Some of them are walking on very unsure legs. It is my premise, and the premise of a growing number of female leaders who I speak with on a daily basis, that if we come together and we support each other, then we can in fact all rise as a collective. You may know this, Adam, because you’re a smart guy and you know that every once in a while, I’m going to surprise you. You already got there.Women want to come into their own right now more than they've ever had in a very, very long time. Click To Tweet
Women are 50.53% of the population, but to this day, we still only take in 33.372% of the national income. As we come together, that, among many other issues of female suppression or females being overlooked or being subjugated in some way, can be addressed because we will have our numbers work with each other.
The term for that is gender equity is what describes the movement that would bring us into a harmony there. There wouldn’t be that disparity if there was gender equity. Am I correct in saying that?
Close. It isn’t that gender equity is the movement. Gender equity is the goal. What I’m proposing, and many other women, I’m finding them every day who have the same idea I did, but I didn’t know them before. We didn’t know each other. What we are proposing is that as women form strategic alliance, and I’m finding that that term has been spreading around among us, and we’re just now coming together and realizing it.Gender equity isn't the movement. It's the goal. Click To Tweet
As women come together in strategic alliance, just like the guys have had the secret handshake and the old boys network. Now, if women form strategic alliance, we can claim an actual power stage and help develop gender equity, which I got to say, it’s going to benefit men, kids, society, our nation as a whole. It’s not just for women.
I have married my much better half, 30-plus years ago. I think after 30, we’ll stop counting until the next big milestone. We have three daughters as well as a son. The world that you’re describing is the world that I wish existed for my daughters today. If it doesn’t exist today, and it clearly doesn’t, then my hope is that it isn’t long and coming. Thanks to you and people that are doing the work that you’re doing in the world, speaking about it, writing about it, sharing information with folks. I think there’s more of a likelihood that that does happen more soon, more quickly.
I trust so. One of the things that I’m being so profoundly impacted by is that while we’re not inviting them into our groups per se, we are finding more and more men standing up and being quite vocal, quite proactive. In the quest for women’s autonomy, for women’s equity, for women’s empowerment, the more men speak up, then the more those men who oppose it are going to at least hear the words, even if they don’t take a positive action on our behalf.
It’s happening in places around the globe in different contexts, of course. As you and I are recording this particular conversation, it’s most notably happening in Iran. Women are absolutely standing in the ring of fire, just not metaphorically speaking, but literally.
What is going on in Iran is impressive. It is horrifying. These women know what they’re risking. When they go out on the street and they stand on the top of a building or the top of a car, and they cut their hair very publicly, they know they will probably not come down off of that car alive. The degree to which being able to do that so that other women can live more freely compels them to make those stances. That type of action is what has, for my entire life, had me unapologetically in love with the female spirit. I’m committed to supporting complete freedom of that spirit.
I’m so happy that we got to have our conversation today just to dive in a little bit. I’m going to recommend people to pick up a copy of On the Shoulders of Mighty Women. I’m sure there will be additional volumes of it. You can leave a comment for myself or comment for Lesley on this blogpost. We’d love it if you would share this conversation with others. If you know someone that might benefit from these words listening to Lesley share a little bit about herself, then feel free to do that. Subscribe, leave a review. We love those five-star reviews in the comments. More than anything, they are like oxygen to us. The feedback is everything. We love to hear from you all.
How I want to close out this episode is just thinking about this old TV show. It’s really old. I’m dating myself for sure, it’s called Hill Street Blues. Lesley, I don’t know if you remember that show. It’s a police show. At the end of every episode, this sergeant who had the total sergeant’s demeanor, a tough guy, as he was setting everybody, letting everybody depart into their day and start their very difficult work in the world, he would stop everybody for just a second and look out and say, “Be careful out there.”
[00:16:16] It was a poignant moment. It was an uncharacteristic sensitivity, especially from somebody in the role that he was playing, this very macho, masculine role. I feel like in the world that we’re living in right now, where we don’t have to go to Iran to find that women are being courageous and standing up and being heard, and where there’s risk involved in taking those stances, including for people like you, Lesley, and for me, I suppose as well. We should be alert and be careful. We’re with you. Lesley, thank you for being a guest today.
Thank you, Adam.
Lesley Michaels is a powerhouse, a feminist, an amazing woman, an amazing human. I love the book that she’s written, On The Shoulders of Mighty Women, because I think we all stand on the shoulders of other people, the people that have come before us. In her particular case, she is honoring those women before her that helped her to do the work she’s doing in the world right now, that set the stage for her and for other women who are doing their work in the world, who are helping others, who are living powerful lives and lives that are not free even to this day. Especially in this day, they are not free from discrimination. They are not free from all sorts of things that are impeding their freedom and are in fact, in many ways, disempowering young women and older women alike in ways that we didn’t think are still possible. It is happening around us, and we witness it.
As a father of three daughters, and a husband of more than 30 years, this is a cause that I feel so strongly about. I, more than anything, want to see Lesley Michaels, her message, and women like Lesley who are out there, really doing something, starting conversations, using activism as a way to bring about new awareness, bring about change, because the process of life is an evolution. It doesn’t mean we’re always going to get things right. It doesn’t mean we’re always doing things right. We have this capacity as human beings to evolve, to grow, to improve, to change.
Ultimately, our message is one of in the process of that, which is difficult and sometimes extremely difficult like today, excruciatingly so. We have to be resilient so that we can stay on the course so that we can move forward and be able to create a better world for those that come after us. On The Shoulders of Mighty Women is a wonderful book written by a wonderful person. It was a wonderful interview today with Lesley Michaels. I know I learned a lot. I know you will as well. Enjoy this conversation. Share it with others who you think might benefit. Let us know your thoughts and your comments. Leave a comment at AdamMarkel.com/podcasts. Leave a review. Those five-star reviews are lovely. We appreciate you taking the time to do that as well.
- On The Shoulders of Mighty Women
About Lesley Michaels
Lesley Michaels was born to feminism. She was later one of the first women to break through the glass ceiling in the “old boy” industry of oil and gas.
Lesley’s body of unique life experiences have provided her with a first-hand understanding of the daily struggles faced by women of every race, culture, and sexual orientation. On the Shoulders of Mighty Women is a tribute to the power and grace of those who came before and the ones who will follow, the warriors and the fallen.