Michele Ashby

and Robert discuss the need for women to be at the table, to have a voice, to speak into the leadership of America’s corporations. The goal of empowering women and helping them step into leadership is exciting. We hope our platform will continue to be a voice for lifting up those who have been oppressed, who have lost their voice and feel disempowered. 

A little bit about Michele...

Michele Ashby is CEO & Founder of ACE LLC, Ashby Consulting Enterprises LLC. Her focus is on educating, supporting and teaching women how to attain corporate board positions through the ACE Board Certification Programs for Women. Ms. Ashby has a diverse background which includes 30 years as a gold specialist/analyst, financial expert, independent corporate director and successful entrepreneur. She was recently awarded, one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business in Colorado, for her work in training 1,000 women to get on corporate boards. She is a subject matter expert on Board Governance, Finance, and Strategy.
Ms. Ashby has extensive board experience as an independent director with collective corporate board experience of 20 years on six corporate boards, as well as over 20 years of non-profit and trade association board experience. The founded Dani’s Foundation, a non-profit organization, in memory of her daughter, Dani Stell, which contributed over $1 million for Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer research over 15 years.
She is the author of 3 books and a former ultra-athlete. Michele is the first woman in North America to row 24 hours on a Concept 2 rowing machine – a total of 211,036 meters in 24 hours.

Check out more of Michele

Testimonial - "Why take the course"

ACE Board Certification Training for Women* -  learn more at www.ACELLC.consulting

LinkedIn - /micheleashby1

*NEW* ACE MasterClass Collection now available aceboardtrainingforwomen.mykajabi.com/MasterClass-Collection

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Michele Ashby
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Show Notes

Robert Peterson  0:00  

Michele Ashby and Robert discussed the need for women to be at the table to have a voice to speak into the leadership of America's corporations. The goal of empowering women and helping them step into leadership is exciting. We hope our platform will continue to be a voice for lifting up those who have been oppressed, who have lost their voice and feel disempowered. Michele, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm just excited. We've had a great conversation already leading up to this. The audience missed out on a bunch of cool stuff, but we'll see what we can share with them.

Michele Ashby  2:11  

I'm here for you. I have lots of stories, we'll see where this goes.

Robert Peterson  2:17  

All right, Michele, tell us your own entrepreneurial journey and what led you to jump ship and take responsibility for your own life.

Michele Ashby  2:26  

Oh, my gosh, that's a really good question. I think I was born an entrepreneur, I remember growing up and thinking, if I could find a need and fill it, I'm going to build a company, I'm going to build something. I came from that a long time ago. I started out as a stockbroker, which you might not think of as an entrepreneur, but you're independent. You're on commission 24/7. You are your own, you either make it or break it, right. I was a penny stock broker here in Denver years ago, which a lot of people may not even know what that's about. Was it the wild west of the stock market? I can tell you that. I didn't work for a big corporation, I worked for small companies, and became a mining analyst. I jumped into being a specialist in gold mining. Then I started a trade association for the gold mining industry. I ran that for 18 years. I left that here's where I jumped off the bridge, I left that job, which was a cushy job. I had a great salary and I traveled the world. My Rolodex was made up of the CEOs of all the publicly traded gold mining companies in the world and their largest institutional investors. Yet, I wasn't happy, but I wasn't as happy as I thought it could be. It wasn't really about my happiness. It was attached to my personal life. Here was my motivation. During that time, while I was there, those 18 years, I was raising two kids by myself for 14 years, I was a single mom. My daughter was diagnosed with cancer when she was 18. In 1998. It was a very rare type of cancer. She fought for 16 months. Unfortunately, she passed away when she was 19. I started a nonprofit to raise money for the research for the type of cancer she had called Ewing sarcoma. I thought, oh my gosh, I'm a successful business person, I can raise a million dollars for research. This can't be that hard. Let me tell you, nonprofits are a lot different than for profit when we're running our businesses, it is harder to raise money. Fast forward a few years, what I recognized was if I made a lot more money, I could give it more away. I could write bigger checks myself, and I left that cushy job and started over in the basement of my house with a computer and a filing cabinet and my first year revenues were over $2 million. There were only three of us, it wasn't an overnight success. I don't want to leave People on but I had built this incredible reputation and Rhett Rolodex. People were supporting me in the mining industry and saying, Hey, if you took what you built for these companies, which I was bringing a lot of capital to their projects, and did it over here, and oil and gas will support, we will pay you a lot of money to do that. I said, Okay, I went into oil and gas, I went into base metals, I went into cleantech. That's how I ended up making over $2 million, I went global, and took my model, and went to Africa, I went to the Middle East. I was working with all the biggest bankers in Europe and in London, and just expanded, I blew the market, blew the walls off. That was my claim to fame. I was able to write bigger checks, we raised a million dollars over time in the foundation, and we did fund, research it at the tune of over a million dollars, and have two clinical trials that are going on right now one of them is in phase two in the United States for this particular disease. Check the box on that. It's an odd way to be motivated. I can tell you from a woman's standpoint, that it is difficult sometimes for us to put a high number of value on what we are, what we do. To feel like we deserve it. That's where I was my Never mind. I hadn't been in a family where my parents made a lot of money I made, I had made more money than anyone. Then I had to deal with that, what if I screw this up. That was that was a big jump for me. I had that business for eight years and closed it because the resource markets went south, and frankly, a competitor came in and took me out. That was pretty brutal. Like I said, I've lots of stories. That led me eventually to start sitting on corporate boards in 2005. That led me to get that experience. Now I have a company where I train other women to get on corporate boards with a goal of training 1000 women, and I do everything I can to help my ladies to get on boards, and I'm talking about paying boards, not nonprofit, I want them to get compensated for what they do. I'm going to stop there.

Robert Peterson  7:26  

First of all, sorry for your loss.

Michele Ashby  7:28  

 Thank you. 

Robert Peterson  7:30  

I'm excited that you turned your loss into your why and turned it into a driver. You recognize something fundamental about money and our ability to make money and use money, that it's much harder for a nonprofit to raise money. A corporation can make a ton of money. When it makes a ton of money, and it doesn't have a lot of overhead, it can give a ton away. Love that makes more give more. There's the power of entrepreneurship, I believe entrepreneurs are going to save the world, because of people like you and because of the power that entrepreneurship has. The second piece that you mentioned, is women feeling worthy. This is an area that my wife is stepping into right now and trying to help women step out of the expected roles of mom, or Secretary of support of help them sacrifice everything that they want for themselves. For all the people around them, and taking the backseat of support. Now stepping into a lead role and saying, Wait, I can do this. I can be worthy of this. Increasing their self worth, increasing their power and, of course, increasing their impact and making a huge difference in the world. I love that you've stepped into that. Of course you shared a mindset shift. That's really powerful that you had to make. Based on your family experience based on your history, looking back, in your mind, you weren't worthy of that level of success. What helped you feel worthy and step into that new place?

Michele Ashby  9:29  

I think it was witnessing the success and the dollars that the men were making around me because, look at I have three decades of experience in mining and finance. I was almost always the only woman in the room. It was assumed that we were all on the same page. I'm working with guys that are making, millions a year in their salary, or they have millions of stock options that are just given to them at that level. It's that kind of thing. Wait a second, why are they making that kind of money, and I'm not being compensated in the same in the same way. If I had more control over my own destiny, I believe that I have the same capacity to attract millions of dollars. That was kind of in the back of my mind, anyway, along the way, but it took this personal tragedy, to kick me in the butt, frankly, and get me off the mark and quit whining about it, and do something about it's pretty scary to start over. Take a big leap like that. I had no idea that I was going to have that kind of a success going into it. That first year was pretty scary. I've worked a ton of hours. I would be up almost all night long. I had clients all over the world. I'd be talking to people in Australia, and they'd be, wait a second, what time is it there? I'd be, three o'clock in the morning. They're, What are you doing up? I'm working, I want you to come to my conference, I want you to pay me money to come and meet all my investors, and I want you to sign up. They'd be, Okay, I'm signing up, because you are the kind of person I want to work with.

Robert Peterson  11:25  

That's very exciting. You mentioned something really important that seems to be coming up in more and more shows is the assumption that everybody in the room is at the same level. Of course, everybody in the room is at the same value, right? They're sitting in the room. Yet, I think one of the biggest challenges in our culture is we've been taught not to talk about money, not to talk about our salary, not to talk about our interest rates, not to talk about the decisions we're making around money. I think that's isolating the people that aren't talking about money. So many of these issues that are coming out right now are equality and integrity. All these things go away if we talk about money, if you're sitting in the same room, and that person says, I'm making 150,000 Wait a minute, I'm only getting 75,000. How's that? If there's room to talk about it, then there's room to say, wait a minute, this needs to change. I'm a big encourager of talking about money, teaching our kids to talk about money for some reason. I don't know if it's generational. We were told not to talk about money and sex. It's, wait a minute, why aren't we talking about the two coolest things in our lives? If it's empowering to help people talk about money, talk about how they're using it, how they're putting it to work, what fees, they're paying what, what interest rates, they're paying, and make the conversations about money more. I mean, just more normal, easy to have, that will change marriages, because marriages have been told they can't talk about money, and then they go into marriage, and they're not talking about money and sex and no wonder we've got a 50% divorce rate in this country. Businesses too need to talk about money. I've had the opportunity to be in a couple multimillionaire rooms, we're masterminds and, what millionaires do. They talk about money, they talk about the deals, they talk about what they're doing with their money, how they're using it, how they're putting it to work, who we need to be able to talk about money.

Michele Ashby  13:38  

It's education. It really is. I'm a big proponent of exactly what you're saying. My whole career, is in finance, I was managing people's money as a stockbroker. I was constantly dealing with that, then I'm bringing money to the companies, attracting capital to them. We're talking huge amounts of money in that particular case. Personally, my financial, situation went up and down and up and down and I had to learn a lot about how I want to be with my money. My parents were depressed. People my dad was in World War Two, he was a World War Two veteran, they were very conservative I was raised to if you want it, you go earn money, and you can pay for it yourself. I've worked since I was 12 years old, I get the connection between the value of having a job and getting paid for it, that type of thing. Yet, there's a bigger conversation that you're mentioning. I did have a financial consulting business for a few years, where my husband and I were we're working with couples to help them because we had gone through the Dave Ramsey program and got financially free and debt free and our credit score was 000, we didn't have credit cards, we didn't owe any money on a mortgage. I mean, everything was paid for 100%, we paid cash for our cars, all that kind of thing. I'm the nerd, and he's the free spirit. We were a great couple to teach others and talk to others. A lot of people wouldn't relate to me. They would listen to him. He and he would explain, when she starts talking about money, I'm just, five minutes, and then I'm, I'm gone. At the same time, I really enjoy our lifestyle. These are the things that we've incorporated in our relationship with money. That worked for me, and I'm totally happy, and I don't care if she makes more than I do, or I make more than she does, I don't have we don't have dollar signs on our face, on our forehead. Anyway, I'm totally with you on that. It is super important. I also want to mention to people that what I found is that our financial situation has changed. As we go into the retirement phase of our lives, my husband just retired. The strategies for us have shifted a little bit more into making sure we retain our money in investments in the bank and not, and not pay cash for these big items anymore, we're looking at a potential lot more expenses, with limited income, eventually, or fixed income. I think there are different strategies for where you are. The conversation is really, really important. Maybe the communication pieces, what you're alluding to is we have to talk about these things.

Robert Peterson  16:47  

When the communication pieces, one, I think the other is recognizing that money is a tool, it's not the end game. For so many people you've been taught, you're gonna get paid this much for this much work, and you're exchanging work for dollars. The dollars became the end game for so many people, rather than what you can do with the dollars. Of course, you recognized so early on that what I can do so much more with these dollars, if I'm earning them myself, and those dollars to work for this nonprofit, rather than begging to write a raise money for this nonprofit. It shifts the power of money likes to move, money likes to be put to work, money doesn't like being stagnant and stuck under a mattress, it's not designed to be hoarded, it's designed to be put to work. Even if you just put the work in a bank earning interest, it's doing a little bit of work, you might not be working very hard there. Right now most of the money is not working as hard as it used to. The truth is, it still likes to work and use it as a tool. The tool can't be the end game, the money can't be the motivator, the money can't be the driver, the money can't be the thing tied to your heart. Yet it's interconnected and all of that. That's what challenges the conversation for so many, is that they're tied to the money instead of to the value and what the money can do.

Michele Ashby  18:17  

You bring up the point of money, and you're kind of alluding into this place of power. Power and money are together. This is why I train women to get on corporate boards, we have about 20% of our boards in North America are female right now. That means 80% are almost all white males. That's fine. I'm living a great lifestyle. I just really am a proponent of let's get to parity, women are 50% of the population, we should be 50% of leadership, meaning in the boardroom, You said at one point, you think entrepreneurs are going to change the world? Well, I'll tell you, if we can get in the boardroom, we can really change the world. The reason is, that's where the power and the money are. This is where the decisions are made for every budget for all the cutting of personnel or adding a personnel for, let's do $100 million in innovation, or we need to allocate, $10 million over here for a Green energy project, whatever the whatever those decisions are, they are made those big mis decisions are made at the very, very top. I believe that there are voices missing from the conversation and their women, their female voices and minorities too actually and I believe that when we get to parity, we'll have a better world. I have a pretty good world right now. The guys are doing a pretty good job and I'm not mad. I'm not male bashing at all. In fact, I, the gentleman that mentored me throughout my career treated me like a queen. Basically, I didn't have any complaints at all. I think they did a pretty good job of training me. I'm actually a 63 year old white guy. In a woman's body, I think, Does your husband know? I think like them, I succeed like them, I can speak the language, I love it, I can swim in the water with all the sharks, and I'm good to go. I know that there are other women like me who have the leadership capability to sit at the table and to bring that value to. Tying that together with what you're talking about money, and how powerful it is, and what we can, where we can actually make a difference. Even if we're not earning all the money, if we can get ourselves those seats at the board table and help make those decisions, I think we then can affect things in a pretty big way.

Robert Peterson  20:46  

Huge fan. Having come from the nonprofit, faith based world, I agree wholeheartedly that there are voices missing from the table. We've got some pretty lame excuses for why those voices aren't at the table. Corporate is no different. Other corporates at least have women running amazing companies as CEOs and incredible positions, leading companies, which proves that they're very capable. They're equally capable, everybody that lives within this country recognizes that they're equally capable, and we are one of the few Western nations that hasn't had a woman leader, although we're much closer now than we've been. I think the, that recognition of parody, that the recognition of we're 50% of the population, we should be 50% of the boards, and have those voices. I agree that those voices need to be at the table and the shift needs to continue. Those voices have important things to say and, what will only make it better. They will only make it better. I don't know why there's a fear that they'll make it worse. I don't know how that even could be a consideration.

Michele Ashby  22:19  

I've been in the room, as I said with it's typically, I don't know that I can say that's the consensus with people, it's more about the good ol boy network where we sit around the table and go, we need another director who has x, background, who do you know, and even for me, I would be, Why I know Tom, or I know Jerry, my network, we're all males, they I have very few women, that at that point in time that were in my network that I could refer I'm trying to refer somebody unless I know them.

Robert Peterson  22:56  

The challenge is with minorities and with just getting their education to the same level of getting their experience to the same level. Now we're chasing our tail again, now we've got all the education, but how do we get the experience directly to let them in the room? They don't have experience to get in the room.

Michele Ashby  23:16  

Those are the barriers to entry. I've interviewed over 1000s of women. I started this whole thing, by interviewing women. For 18 months, I talked to 200 women. Why aren't there more women on boards? Why aren't you on a board, and tell me about your career. What I learned from that process, I was writing these notes, and I had a file and I literally labeled it super women. I kept putting their notes in this file. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, frankly. I recognize that they had incredible skills, but they didn't understand what it was to be on a board in the boardroom so that they could get paid while they're doing this work, et cetera, et cetera. Wait a second, what's going on here? Why don't they know this? I know this, why don't they know this? That's where I recognize this gap. Remember, we started out and you said, when did you figure out you're an entrepreneur and I had this young thing that would be, if I can find a need, I can fill it, I'm gonna go do that. That's one of the keys for entrepreneurs, if it really turns on your burners, When you find something that really people can use, and they're coming for it and you're, Whoa, this is really great. Anyway the process was to figure that out. Here's what I say: I met women who are managing projects, or managing people or budgets that were huge within corporations. They didn't get the title and they didn't get the compensation because they're women. There have male counterparts who are doing pretty much the same thing, maybe even lower than them. who have the title and who have the money. This is the barrier to entry. When I see board, descriptions coming through, I'm looking for a C suite executive who has... Oh, wait a second, give me the skills and experience. I'll give you a woman who has the skills and experience. She's a woman, she didn't get the title she didn't get to see before her title, and she didn't get the same compensation. I want you to break it down so that we can look at it from the standpoint of equal skills and experience. Now I can bring you a lot more candidates.

Robert Peterson  25:32  

So powerful. Well, I love the fact that you're working both sides of the table that you're going to the corporations, and you're saying, Can I help you with your descriptions, because the description is what's eliminating the potential. Then you're also going to the women and saying, I want to elevate your potential, and help it be recognized. You're elevating both sides of the table to make this possible. Rather than bashing one side of the table and just playing the victim, you're solving the problem, which, of course, is my favorite entrepreneurial reality, is find a problem, solve the problem, start a business. That's exactly what you're doing. It's something that has such a huge impact in the world and can make such a huge difference, which is why entrepreneurs will save the world. Even though you're impacting corporations, you're an entrepreneur that's creating this huge impact within corporations, and empowering women in the process, which is even more exciting. Thank you for doing that. For taking on something that has to have a lot of walls. I mean, you're pushing against tradition.

Michele Ashby  26:47  

That's in my nature, though. If you got to know me, you'd be, yeah, that's her, what she is up to now. I also want to applaud you and just recognize you as what I call a champion. The champion can be man or woman. Champion is someone who says good things about you to your face. Also says good things about you, when they're standing next to you at a networking event and introducing you to someone you should know. Really bringing value and also someone who puts your name in the hat when you're not in the room? The question comes up of who do you know, I applaud you, I thank you for being a champion for women, for minorities, and we need the voices of, white men who are successful, to talk to each other and say, Wait a second, this is going to be really good for everybody. It's okay, there are qualified women out there. Let's just call our jets a little bit and open the doors a little wider and see what we can come up with, you might be surprised.

Robert Peterson  27:53  

Well, I appreciate you applauding me. This adds value to life, meaning life. All of us are, in my mind, we're born as children of God. Every single one, no matter what category, you want to separate them in, God doesn't. I'm trying to learn not to as well and apply that to my life. I recognize after a few years of maturity, when we categorize humans, and we put humans in different boxes, and then we decide one box is more valuable than another. These are the reasons why all terrible human travesties exist in the world. Racism, sexism, all of the isms, wars, and hate, all of those things are because we're separating humans from other humans in deciding which ones are more valuable based on some category. It's simply not true all the way down to our prisoners and people in jail. They're the same human beings, they deserve the same human value that each one of us has. It's not our performance that makes us valuable,  it's our humanity. All of us should be in this together, instead of in this against each other. I applaud this obviously, your focus is corporate and everything else, but it applies across the board. In humanity, if each one of us recognizes that each one of us is human, we're all in this together, we can change the world with an attitude shift and make an impact. My goal is to continue adding value to human lives, all human lives, and elevating human life to the place where it belongs, as the lead animal on this planet. It's our planet. It's our responsibility, and we're all in it together. We should be helping each other instead of attacking each other.

Michele Ashby  29:55  

Beautiful. Well, thank you for that. Thank you for that passion and for your mission. It's clear that you are committed to it and you believe it and you're spreading it. You are making that difference.

Robert Peterson  30:08  

Thank you. You mentioned it all the way back at the beginning, that your network when you jumped ship, your network supported you. Let's talk about the value of network and connection and how important it is to keep building connections and adding value to those connections.

Michele Ashby  31:01  

Yes, I was out for my run this morning. I gotta say it may be impressive, but I haven't run for years. I've just recently been able to really get my own physicality back, I've had some physical issues. I'm jumping back in and 100 force. I'm running around the park and it reminded me of this dear friend of mine. I want to bring her into the conversation. Her name was se Garrett. She was a world class Ultra athlete. I was introduced to her through another friend that was an athlete and runner and wanted to get into marathons. She said I have this friend that I really want to run with and why don't you come along with us. I went along with her. After about a month of running, we would meet three or four mornings a week in the city park. I run at City Park early in the morning. At 5am we would meet and run for an hour and a half kind of thing all three of us together. I'm just there, kind of listening they're like professionals to me at that point in time. My friend who brought me in to meet her injured herself. That took her out. That left me with it. turns out, I ended up being her running partner for four years. SC was 20 years my senior at that point in time, she was a missionary in a group called and I can't remember what it's called now but from back East. Everything she did was for a purpose. She was a teacher at a community college. She had summers off, and she would always create these runs that were fundraisers. She always did them for Alzheimer's or HIV, HIV AIDS or something for AIDS. She ran one year from Atlanta to Denver. Yeah, or San Francisco to Denver, and I would meet her at the Colorado border and run in with her from the Colorado border. I did the wimpy stuff every year, it's a long way. It is every year, we would do a 48 hour run around the Capitol downtown, for the homeless on Thanksgiving. We would start at 4am on Thanksgiving morning and run until 4am On Saturday, and we got tons of press and we raised a lot of money because people are thinking about what they're thankful for at that point in not in that year. They look at us like those people are crazy. We have to give them money. Why are they doing this? I was thinking she was such an amazing mentor to me. She was actually half African American and half Native American, she had dreads down braided dreads down to her knees, and always wore black because she wanted to, camouflage herself. When she was running at night and stuff like that we she did come up with the craziest things we would always do these runs, with a purpose. What she taught me and what I was able to transfer over to my work life was were a lot of very valuable lessons, which were around patients, taking care of yourself, pacing yourself, being able to go, he distance, if you go out of the gate, really fast, you're gonna die on the vine, you're not going to make it to the end if your 48 hour run, not going to happen. Train yourself. It takes practice. Lots of practice, you have to go out and try things and do them over and over and over again, as entrepreneurs, it's easy to get tired, you're lonely, you're by yourself, and it's like, what if this doesn't work, there's all those negative things in your mind that can pop up and get in your way, those limiting you, beliefs that we have about ourselves and whether or not we can succeed.

Michele Ashby  34:50  

I have used those skills that she taught me and I became an ultra business person and I just trained For those overs, how I want to win right in the winning for me is to get to the finish line isn't about being fast. 48 hours, the longest I've run is 135 miles. Wow. SC would run a minimum of 175. It's okay. I was just happy I got it done. I finished and I was still walking, at the end of that. There's also the, what am I doing this for? Is what it's not all about, what am I getting out of it? What am I doing this for in the bigger picture. I want to share also in the mentor part of this, I had amazing gentleman who mentored me throughout my career, which I mentioned before, and I'm talking about the very basics, somebody who would invited me to a conference, a mining conference, it was 600 men, I was the only woman really that attended it. This was in the 80s. He said Michele brought a stack of business cards. I brought a big one so you could break the stack. It was my first networking event. He said, Okay, we're gonna go meet some people, you stood right next to me. He said, Michele, shake their hand. This is Pete. Pete, my name is Michele, tell them who you are. Ask him who he is. Give him your card, get his card, and we're moving on. He literally taught me on site, how to do this. I've told that story to people. Some of the women are, Oh, that's so degrading. I was like, Are you kidding? I was so grateful that he picked me to do that with and taught me how to do this, instead of standing aside and judging me, and not ever saying, Oh, that was a lamp,, She's not going anywhere. He wanted me to succeed. 

Robert Peterson  36:50  

Giving you that extra encouragement, because it's way too easy to sit in a room and get the drink and sit in the corner with your stack of business cards and wait for somebody else to come and introduce themselves to you. So many people can do that in a networking room, rather than taking the initiative. Meeting people. The fact that he's willing to help you do that the first or second and third time. That sets you up for so much success. It creates that level of expectation for yourself that, wow, this is easy. I can do this. Now every other networking room you walk into, this is easy. I can do this. Rather than sitting in a corner going, Wow, this is scary. It stays scary for how much longer because you didn't step into it and having a mentor help you step into it. That's exactly what mentors do.

Michele Ashby  37:43  

Yeah. Like you said, encouragement, Assault is so good. I had men that would say to me, Michele, you have an advantage, you are the only woman you're invited to more things than I've got 12 other guys that look just like me with the same education, the same suit. I gotta fight to get where you can get into. You use that to your advantage. I mean, that I had great, great information. When I left my trade association and jumped off the cliff, I had a mentor and I have a mentor still in Canada. He said, If you do oil and gas, I'll back you. I went out and got the bids for what it would cost for me to get contracts to put this together. I went back to him. I said, here's the costs 54,000 bellota. He goes, Okay, here's the check. You gave me the check. We never had a handshake. We didn't have a contract. We didn't have anything. These gave me the money to wire the money to me. Within three months, I had already raised more than double that. I flew to Vancouver, cut a check and gave it back to him. He said What's this? I go, that's your money back. He goes, what? I go, You gave me money to start. It's working. Here's your money back. I learned later from other people. They were, nobody ever gives him money back. What that does, that's amazing that you did that he will never forget you for that. To this day, he is a very close friend, mentor to me. They can come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, keep your eyes open. It can be really small things and be willing to learn and be open. If you say I know everything about this and shut yourself off, you're gonna miss a lot of opportunities.

Robert Peterson  39:29  

That's my biggest challenge as a coach is reminding people the minute your brain says I know this, it stops listening and reminding people that you may have awareness of this. You may even know it. If you're not putting it into practice, you still need to hear it. You've got to change that. Change that voice in your head to say, Ooh, that's really good. Oh, I want to remember that. Now. What am I gonna do with it? That can be a real challenge because you're right the minute your brain thinks you know it, it's moving on. The brain takes shortcuts, it jumps to the next thing, the brain doesn't need to hear what it already knows. It's like a little teenager. Yeah, in a lot of those areas, you mentioned something really, really powerful in there that I love chatting about. When it comes to mentors, when it comes to support, the power of borrowed belief, the power of having somebody else coming alongside you and saying, I believe in you, you've got this, you can do this. Even when you don't believe in yourself, especially in the beginning, when you don't believe in yourself and somebody writes you a $50,000 check they believe in you. That's powerful, then you're standing a little bit taller, you step into the room saying, somebody's got me, somebody's got my back. They believe in me. In fact, now I know, I have to put in twice as much effort, who this person is, this person is counting on me, they expect me to do this. I think it's so important for entrepreneurs, especially solopreneurs, right, that they need a partner, they need a spouse, they need a mentor, a coach, they need somebody that says I believe in you. They don't always need somebody to give him $50,000 might not hurt, but they need somebody that's the standard line. I'm saying, Man, you've got this year amazing. Go get him Tiger.

Michele Ashby  41:22  

I have to admit that, in working with these amazing, powerful women and helping them to get on board that I do now, that's one of the things that I take a lot of pride in, in letting them know that I am their champion. I am there for them, I'm supporting them. I'm pushing them, I'm not making it easy on them. They always know they have someplace to come when they have a question or challenge, or a breakdown, whatever it is. It's really surprising to me how many of these women have isolated themselves because as they go up the ladder, they have fewer and fewer people that they can really talk to. It's like magic for them. It's like this love because I love them. I do it in love. I'm, I love you. I care about you. I'm going to do everything I can to help you. Hearing that is very unusual for them. What I feel is such an amazing gift that I can give to them.

Robert Peterson  42:36  

So powerful. I don't think we use that superpower enough. I mean, I named my company what I did, we're built to encourage one another and build each other up, encourage one another build each other up. It's a superpower. It's absolutely a superpower to encourage other human beings to just say, Great job. Thank you. I've got you. I love you. Those positive affirmations of building each other up and so much in the world is this drama and knock them down and knock them out and get them out of my way. It doesn't have to be that way. We absolutely can be lifting others up and building others up and collaborating. Humans were built to collaborate. We were not built for competition. Now there's areas where competition is helpful. The mindset of competition constantly in your mind is not healthy.

Michele Ashby  43:38  

Let me ask you a question about that. Don't you think that it's a biological thing, especially for men that you are competitive? If we look at cavemen. I mean, you're fighting for your life? 

Robert Peterson  43:55  

I think that's the reason it happens is right, the brain is still in survival mode. The brain has elements that are definitely focused on survival, I think there are places where competition absolutely helps us.

Michele Ashby  44:11  

Oh, absolutely. I do too. It makes everything he can make. I believe in the competitive it makes us better

Robert Peterson  44:18  

I think the idea that your brain when you're just in competition mode, and you never shut that down it you're just dumping adrenaline constantly. It's so much fear based. The fear of losing versus collaboration is so much empowering and it can let go of fear and I think we have to have both right there has to be

Michele Ashby  44:47  

That's why we need men and women because we complement each other. We have those differences. I just want to share with you one of my aha moments in putting together this program because do you remember I said I used to spend three decades with men, I think and act like a man. That man, I never talked to women, I would never tell him what I know about business and this kind of thing. I was trained in the patriarchal model, which teaches us to get to the top, I want to be at the top of the hill here. That means getting into that power and money position. It means taking care of myself and taking care of my family. Making sure my little world is good.It's all about me. What I recognized was, number one, if I'm going to train women, and I didn't treat, I didn't trust women in business, I'd been stabbed in the back along the way, in my own career. That's happened for lots of women, you can, that's a pretty common thing. I thought, Well, okay, if I'm going to train women, first of all, I have to be willing to break the secret code. I'm going to have to tell them everything I know about what it's, how men think, how this works in the boardroom? That I can't do half of it, I have to do all I'm not, that's not me. I will do 150% If I'm going to do it. That's one thing. The other thing is, how am I going to stand in front of a room of women that typically I would never even talk to? God never belonged to women's groups ever? They can't get me anywhere, right? I have this men mindset of women are not as good as men. I'm just saying it, calling myself out on it. How am I going to stand in front of this room and teach them if I have a fear that somebody's going to stab me in the back. Michele Ashby myself, I had to go through some personal growth myself and figure this out. I did a lot of research did a lot of reading, on, feminism, the feminine movement since the 60s, the patriarchal model, all this kind of stuff. What I realized was, wait a second, I have to accept the fact that if I stand in front of these women, that I number one, I'm going to share everything, I'm going to be an open book, there isn't anything that's not closed, okay? That's, in being in my truth. Being authentic. Also being you talk about God, I always am. I look at myself as whatever is meant for them is I use me as the voice. Okay. I may or may not know what I'm going to say I have, obviously some great structure, curriculum and stuff. At the same time, there's a part of me that is just ad hoc, whatever comes up, and I let it go, and I don't judge it right. The other thing is that some woman may stab me in the back at some point, and I just have to get over that. And go for it anyway. Go for it anyway. What happened was the transformation of going from what I say, going for me, to the huge difference. I could get myself on three or four boards. That's where I was headed, my male mentors climbed the corporate ladder, got on three or four boards making six figures, they got stock options, played golf, they're skiing, they're set, their families are set. That's where I was headed. Before I took this diversion and decided, I'm going to go teach women what I know. What I recognize is I can get on three or four boards, but I'm not going to move that needle 20% is going to stay at 20%. If I teach 1000 women and do everything I can to help them get on board, maybe I can move that needle closer to that 50%. That is way more important to me now, then doing it just for myself, then it's joinable. It's fulfilling, it's exciting. I love it.

Robert Peterson  48:36  

You've gotten to a place where even if you got stabbed in the back, it just didn't matter. No, now you've got it, it doesn't matter. You get knocked down a rung, huh, got to put another rung back up and climb back up there. That's the crazy thing, right is we're, we're fear based about getting stabbed in the back versus, and, doing everything to avoid getting stabbed in the back, rather than taking the action that leads to the success that we want. Without worrying about that negative side. Without worrying about what could happen. Yeah, it's so much more empowering. Now you're empowering other women to do the same thing. Now none of them have to worry about stabbing anyone in the back; they're all figuring out how to do it. Empower each other. Yeah. So much better. Men need that to obviously, we've all been taught the same corporate ladder, and you gotta grab that guy by the foot and yank him down and, then we choose, manipulation and negative things to ruin somebody because we got to crush him that we can, take his wrong and, it doesn't have to happen that way. The corporate models kind of created that monster, right. That's an unintended consequence of the way they've been built.

Michele Ashby  49:57  

Oh, have you seen that? I saw it. Rate article in New York Times a couple of weeks ago about one of the journalists who wrote a book about Jack Welsh and the model that he put in place, and how it's created this. I mean, it's all about what you're talking about

Robert Peterson  50:14  

Now the debate was whether he was terrible. He revolutionized the corporate structure. Who did he revolutionize in a good way? I think part of the shift that's happening, obviously, the stock market in the 80s and 70s, shifted the power. The stockholders started pulling power, and the stockholders in the CEO kind of have these two power structures. Now there's this recognition that wait a minute, our customers still matter. If our customers quit buying our stuff, then it doesn't matter what the CEO and the stockholders are doing. And now there's a piece that's saying, Wait, how we treat our employees matters, they're the ones that are dealing with our customers. I think it's finally coming, it's going to shift back to a place where we're companies have to recognize we've got to take care of all the stakeholders, we've got to take care of the employees, we've got to take care of the customers. What the stockholders they've got to trust us, as a board or as a CEO to take care of. The power is shifting to the employees a little bit. Now, I don't know what this current economy is going to do because we went from six months ago, more job openings than we've had in years to now. Who knows how many jobs are going away. The reality still is going to be companies that are going to succeed are going to last or companies that are going to take care of their people. That includes their employees, their frontline workers taking care of their customers? Yeah, absolutely.

Michele Ashby  51:54  

We're in a very unique place in history, frankly, because I study markets, I'm totally interested. I'm a total nerd about all this stuff. I'm constantly watching it, and the future of work, and the way that things are going in the future. If we just think about the world, in terms of what we've always known, we're going to be left in the dirt with artificial intelligence with web three, meta, I don't know if you guys have had conversations with any of your guests. In regards to the metaverse and all that kind of stuff. When you think of that, in terms of that, I look at it from my own business standpoint, and I'm thinking, it would be a benefit to me to hire an artificial intelligence company, an AI firm, to come in and start recording me everything I say everything I write, every time I teach all that kind of stuff, create my avatar, and I can teach into my hundreds. If I have an avatar that can do that for me. You can relate to this because you have training and how, what's your runway? Is my work going to be done when I'm done? Maybe not. MIT can I extend that, into a longer runway by bringing in an avatar versus trying to train someone else to be me, or train what I'm doing, and losing the essence of it. It's very interesting to think about stuff like us

Robert Peterson  53:21  

We use AI today, I had to write my first book, I used AI to create posts on LinkedIn. I use AI pretty regularly to create content and posts, it's very powerful.

Michele Ashby  53:36  

Cool. I'm gonna have to get some information.

Robert Peterson  53:39  

Absolutely. It's pretty incredible. Super helpful, as a solopreneur, creating content, I just signed up for a new AI, I interviewed Alex Berman, and he started a company that creates LinkedIn posts using AI, and then you edit them or modify them and schedule them and it just starts popping them up based on your schedule. They're all personalized to you and your expectations. The more you adjust them and use them, the more it mimics what you want and Wow, incredible. Do 10 minutes for a month, a month's worth of content. 10 minutes of work creates a month's worth of content. Wow. Absolutely.

Michele Ashby  54:25  

See what I mean? I think that stuff is fascinating to me.

Robert Peterson  54:30  

Oh, absolutely. It's gonna help, I spoke with the owner of our McDonald's chains around one of them that owns at one point I think he had 17 stores and he's down to eight and everybody talked about all the self checkout and self ordering. As he said, we're actually employing more people to produce more because the ordering systems are becoming more and more efficient. We're getting more orders in. Now they're taking mobile orders, they've got a kiosk taking orders, they still have an employee taking orders. Of course, they still have to drive through taking orders. They're taking orders at five different places all at the same time. That doesn't include DoorDash, and all those other places. Now their employees, it's all focused on productivity. In the kitchen renovation necessary to meet that productivity level and, everybody else is caught up on well, they're taking jobs away, because they put the little kiosk up. Now they don't have a human being taking an order now, but they've got three human beings making hamburgers to match the orders that are being taken by all the technology. Of course, they have an app. Of course, I think the last two years blew that up, because we wanted to eliminate human contact, and they were ready, McDonald's was ready. Chipotle was ready. All of these, of course, DoorDash. All those people were ready and blew up over the last two years. They were innovators, right? They were willing to look at it. I think recognizing the role technology can play in the things technology can do. Not to replace a human to do for a human that doesn't want to do it. Nobody wants to do that boring bad job. Then allow humans to do the other jobs that they do want to do. It's kind of like entrepreneurs, you have to decide what's your wheelhouse? What is it you are really good at? Then you need to be outsourcing and hiring and doing other things to do those jobs that you're terrible at and you hate doing anyway. Then guess what? They don't get done, because you don't want to do them. If you outsource them and you hire them, then then your company can start to grow. So many entrepreneurs in those early stages feel like they can't hire and feel they can't grow and hold themselves back from their huge potential. They're stuck doing half their work outside their wheelhouse. Huge fan of all that. Let's talk about the big dream. You've got a big dream. You've already mentioned it. I want to make sure we get it back out there. Michele, what's the big dream?

Michele Ashby  57:12  

Yeah, my dream is to change the world and get 50% women in the boardroom. In corporate boardrooms. In North America, that's where the highest paid jobs are. This is really where the world looks for leadership, and also to support as many women as possible to get in CEO roles. Although we have 20% Women in corporate boards, we have six to 7% of fortune 500 female CEOs. If your name is David, Michael or John, you have more of a chance of being a CEO of a big company than if you're a woman.That's pretty pathetic in my mind. I really want to support that I say, I want to be the Gloria Steinem of getting women on boards, I want to get on all of the major TV shows, I want to be interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, I want to be the voice and the in the motivation on an ongoing basis into the future, and making sure that we keep this message going and that we keep working on it. I'm not patient, I'm not going to wait 50 years because I probably won't have that long probably. I like not wasting any time. I can tell you where I'm at, on my number. Let me just break that down for you. As of today, we have 137 Women who are certified to have board certification. By the way, the first board certification in the entire country in the USA started in 2018, with an affiliate company called Corporate Directors International. We have 137 Women who are certified to be board candidates, board members, and they have filled 77 corporate board seats, everything from small private companies, to Pinterest and the gap in between public and private companies. 30 different sectors, then we've got backgrounds, six women have become CEOs of companies, three new companies have been formed by women who've gone through my course. You take that from 1000, I've got over 800 to go, except I have a primer series on my website that I put up that people could go in and get their board resume and they learn about a Board interview. It's a little mini bootcamp that you can do well. Over 500 Women have done that and two men have taken it. We have about 515 people there. If you add that onto my 100 and 137 Now we're talking about a much bigger number. Now I'm in the three hundred that I have left and I just launched yesterday, a new online certification course that people can sign up for and get their certification. My training programs that I do live in I only take 12 Women at a time and I only teach three times a year at that rate, I'm not getting my numbers in as fast as I want to I am ramping it up as fast as I can. Very high quality and I'm late and it works. These ladies are getting on boards. It's good

Robert Peterson  1:00:01  

I love it. I love what you're doing. I love how you're serving. Thank you for making an impact and changing the world. That's what we're supposed to do.

Michele Ashby  1:00:13  

Thank you, I really appreciate your time and the opportunity to get to know you really. I hope that this has been valuable and that your, listeners will get something out of our conversation today,

Robert Peterson  1:00:26  

I got a ton of value. Not to disregard my listeners at all, but I can be selfish in this and appreciate the show too. Thank you so much for sharing and thank you for taking the time today. It was amazing.