Phoebe Mroczek helps entrepreneurs and business owners reject the “hustle” and reconnect with themselves and rewrite the rules of business by putting the “being” ahead of the “doing”. She calls it “Unbecoming”, also the name of her popular podcast. Learn how Phoebe helps her clients increase their profits by putting fun ahead of money.
Melinda Wittstock: Phoebe, welcome to Wings.
Phoebe Mroczek: Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: I am so excited to have you on, and I’m really intrigued by this concept of unbecoming. What does that mean and how did you arrive at that?
Phoebe Mroczek: I heard Paulo Coelho, who wrote The Alchemist, he has a quote that is, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything, and maybe it’s actually about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” I heard that a few years ago, and you know it’s one of those things that just kind of grows on you. When I started to think about what my message was or what I wanted my podcast to be called, I really came back to that quote and I just thought, “That really rings true for everything in my life, and this whole process of my own unbecoming.” For me, it’s a practice, it’s not one thing that happens in your life and you hit your unbecoming moment and that’s it, but it’s this practice of releasing perfectionism, judgment, expectations, so that you can kind of step out of all the things that you were you told you should be.
I hate the word “should”, because it just comes with so much judgment and a lot of expectation also. I thought of, “If this was my practice and this was something that I really resonate with, I’m sure there are other people out there who have felt kind of bogged down with other people’s expectations of the way that their lives should look too.” It almost selfishly has been sort of a reminder that I can’t actually put out a podcast interview or be interviewed anywhere else if that’s not my truth and if I’m not consistently taking action towards that every day. It’s just unraveling all of this conditioning that we have from the time that we’re younger into adulthood, and what does that actually look like and how do we arrive at our truth, and how do we live that truth through our businesses, through our relationships, through our communication on a consistent basis?
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, and that’s true, on a consistent basis as well. The tragedy though of so many people’s lives is they are living these lives of should’s. I just notice when anybody, including myself, says something like “I should” or “we should”, it’s like, “Well, why?” Usually it’s an indication that it’s coming from externally, or it’s coming from an old memory, or it’s coming from a limiting belief and it’s not necessarily consistent with who we are or why we’re here.
Phoebe Mroczek: Absolutely. I hear so many times from clients when you hear the “should” word come out, and I always say to them, “You know, that’s actually not you speaking, who is that? Who told you that that needs to be that way?” My whole life I’ve spent kind of pushing the boundaries, but not really understanding. My question was always, I was that annoying kind that was always, “Why, well why do we have to do it that way? Why does it have to be this way?” Then when you become an adult, I find that people stop questioning. It’s almost my responsibility to add a new perspective into the lives of the people that I surround myself with, to help them on their journey of their own unbecoming, and what does that mean to them.
Because I think it does look different for everybody, and I do also realize the other half of it is it’s unbecoming maybe of a woman, maybe of someone my age, someone who looks like me, I don’t even know, but it might be unbecoming of me to be talking about some of the things that I want to be talking about, which might be a little taboo and might not be PC, and I swear a lot and that’s just the way that I do things, but that could be considered unbecoming. It just is a word that really suits my personality, so I’ve kind of wrapped myself in that word, which is really great.
Melinda Wittstock: It really occurs to me though that to succeed as an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to ‘unbecome’, and by your definition of it, because you know by any measurement, the folks who really succeed as entrepreneurs do so because they’re in real alignment with their purpose, their “soul purpose” if you will, their S-O-U-L purpose and in alignment with their talents and their essence. Entrepreneurship is a fantastic therapy for learning to unbecome.
Phoebe Mroczek: Oh my gosh.
Melinda Wittstock: I mean, it’s such an interesting connection.
Phoebe Mroczek: I mean, it’s just such a hard thing to pinpoint to be like, “Oh, the unbecoming in this one area,” it’s like across the board. As you said, entrepreneurship is the best personal development intensive, you know for lack of a better phrase, that I’ve ever had. It’s forced me to go above and beyond what I think I’m capable of, and what is that unbecoming? As a kid, being that annoying kid not caring what the result or the outcome was, but just really getting curious and following my curiosity of why things operate the way that they do, or why people say the things that they say, and kind of unbecoming in their own right.
For me, it’s been such an incredible journey to really question things, or take myself out of the equation, my emotions, my insights, my experience and just seeing what it is deep down that, yeah, in terms of alignment, what does that mean for me, because it means something different to everybody. It’s going to be a different answer for everybody, but it’s those people who dare to unbecome are the people who dare to step forward as a leader in the industry in whatever industry they are, people that are stepping forward to stand up for something, to speak out and to stand behind people that they really truly believe in, but I don’t think that you can have a successful business if you haven’t done the inner work or continue to practice that, I don’t think it’s ever done, but you continue to practice this unbecoming process on a day to day basis.
Then if you mess up, I always look at everything, or I try as hard as I can without judgment. If I’m going to eat a couple pints of ice cream, or I’m going to fall off the wagon on something, then I just try not to judge myself as harshly as perhaps I have in the past, or maybe I have been conditioned to do. Yeah, it’s a process, it’s a practice for sure.
Melinda Wittstock: It really is. I’m just going to geek out here for a moment, because as a tech entrepreneur, pattern recognition technology was my thing. If I apply that to what makes an entrepreneur successful through all the interviews I’ve done, for all the people that I’ve worked with, every single mastermind group I’ve been in, every single business issue that anyone ever has, like say they’re having a hard time building their team, or they’re having a hard time on sales, or they can’t raise money, or recurring revenue is difficult, or any of these issues all comes down to some sort of limiting belief.
The limiting belief, God knows where they come from. They may have been direct, or we might’ve just been watching or overhearing a television show that our parents were watching when we were three. Like we have millions of these things, and we don’t necessarily know what it is that’s driving us, and so how to get rid of those things in essence, maybe another definition for how to unbecome.
Phoebe Mroczek: I think the first thing is, as you said, is just to really identify what it is and why there is a block, because as you mentioned, you know yeah, it could be something that somebody said to you, it could’ve been on TV, it could’ve actually just been a behavior that you witnessed, and you took that on. There’s so many things that, especially in the last 10 years that I will do or I’ll say, and I have to stop myself and say, “Wow, that’s actually not me speaking, or that is really weird.” You know so observing yourself and really figuring out what it is at the core that you, whatever this limiting belief is, and then how do you acknowledge it, what do you want it to look like.
If you go, I do a lot of future self work, so going out into the future, if you do have this incredible team, what does that actually look like, and then how do you reverse engineer that to get the results that you want, who do you have to be? What do you have to have, what do you have to do? Okay, great, but it’s who do you have to be in that moment to achieve the future results that you’re after, and that starts at the pivotal moment of actually being willing to unbecome, to go and research and find and dig, and it’s ugly and it’s messy and it’s not fun always to talk about, but it’s that stuff that when you start digging, that you can pull to the surface, and then all of the sudden you’re like, “Okay great, we have this here, we have all the pieces, now what does that actual picture look like, and how do we create the momentum moving forward to achieve whatever that end goal, whether it be a team or a product or a service or you name it,” I think it’s all a similar process.
Melinda Wittstock: It surely is, and I’m intrigued by how this manifests for you when you’re working with your clients as a business strategist.
Melinda Wittstock: Invariably, the problem is an external problem, or at least that’s how it’s perceived to begin with. The reality is of course, is that it’s always an internal problem, but they don’t necessarily recognize that, like not all of society recognizes that yet, that personal growth and business growth are the same thing, so not everybody recognizes that. I’m just curious how that manifests for you when you’re working with your clients and leading them to that kind of realization, so they can get the revenue that they want or the profit margins they want or the influence they want, or whatever it is that they’re going for, the big KPIs in their business.
Phoebe Mroczek: See, the thing is I feel like I attract a certain person who maybe is curious as far as how are business and personal intertwined. For me, I’ve always said, “You build a business as an extension of yourself, so if your business is not working, there’s something internally, personally that’s not working as well.” The quickest way is to get it personally, but you can also identify it in business. It doesn’t actually matter where you identify it, it’s just having the willingness to go deep and to be really open. As a coach, I find one of the things that I’m very unapologetic about is I’m an intense person to work with.
When I work with you, I know everything about your life. I want to know about your relationship, I want to know about your history, I want to know about your siblings and your relationships and the people you surround yourself with, the other masterminds maybe that you’re involved in, the events that you’re attending, things that for me, it’s my job to, and something that I think I’m quite good at or I would say I’m pretty good at, is figuring out what the pieces look like. It’s not up to you to come to me and give me the information that I need, I tell you what I need and it’s not your job to, I guess, paint the picture for me.
You give me what I need, and then I’m able to draw parallels between your relationship and your business, and a big part of that is, you know for example, one of my clients was struggling with something in her business. She was talking about her business and getting a little bit heated, a little worked up, and all of the sudden I just said, “Do you think you could replace ‘business’ with ‘marriage’? Like you’re actually talking about your marriage right now,” and she just stopped in her tracks. It’s those moments that when you’re, I can’t remember who says it, but it’s, “You can’t see the label from inside the jar.” I just love that, because a lot of times, you can’t.
You don’t know what’s going on, and you don’t know that you’re actually talking about your husband when you’re complaining about your business partner or something like that, or your team isn’t working, but let’s talk about your history and your siblings and working as a team in a family situation or a family dynamic. I think if you come to me, you know that you’re in for it. We’re going to talk about a lot of deep, heavy stuff, and business is secondary. Business is a byproduct, success is a byproduct of actually getting deep down into the alignment piece, into the messy, the nitty gritty, the not-so-fun part sometimes.
Other times it’s really fun, and we can laugh about things that we’ve said, and we’re like, “Oh my gosh, that is not me, or I can’t believe that happened again, it turns out I haven’t learned the lesson yet.” I think it’s the willingness to unbecome.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, but this is also why we all need mentors and coaches and networks and people around us who have our backs, I mean they’re genuinely 100% rooting for us, supportive, all of that, but are going to tell us the truth, you know are going to tell us things, are going to help introduce us to our shadow, right? Those things about, because it’s really hard to see your own shadow, and so it’s a pretty elegant thing to be able to do, like how to help someone with that, to see their shadow without being critical or judgmental. It’s quite a line to walk, and how do you know, I guess, if you have that right person helping you? Because so many people have a lot of mentors around them, or friends or people they perceive as mentors, who may be coming from a place of judgment or may be coming from a place of scarcity, or may be very well-meaning but not necessarily helping?
Phoebe Mroczek: Absolutely, and I think, I mean I can speak for myself, I have definitely been in that situation where all of the sudden I’m like, “Huh,” or later on down the road I’m like, “Wow, I just wish he or she had been really honest about that, because that would’ve changed the game a little bit for me.” Obviously everything happens and it’s perfect and it’s wonderful in the time that it’s supposed to happen, however I think there is a really unique quality or just a unique process about hiring the right person. I always tell people, I’m like, “Do your homework, do your research before a hire, anybody, any coach or mentor.” I’m talking to them several times, you know I’m reading all their stuff, I’m seeing who they stand next to, who they’re standing behind, what they stand for, what they’re speaking out about. If that resonates with me, then I know that they’re probably the right person for me.
I require a lot of individual attention, so just knowing your own styles or what really resonates with you is super important when it comes to choosing the right person. And as a coach, I think I used to worry that my vulnerabilities, right, when I was sharing things about how maybe this part wasn’t going so great, or I wished that I had learned this quicker or sooner, whenever. And I just always thought that maybe I would lose a little bit of authority, if all of a sudden, I’m talking about these things that aren’t going right.
And what I realized is when I asked one of my really good friends, and he goes, “Think about it this way. Would you hire somebody that was sharing openly about their trials and … their victories, and also their failures?” And I was like, yeah, that is really what I want. I stand for … I talk all the time about truth, trust, and transparency. I just want someone to be honest with me. I want to trust someone, and also have them help me trust myself more, and my own gut, and what I feel is important. And then being transparent, and I think that’s a huge piece that is really easy not to be right now.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s really, it’s hard to make a business work, to make a business succeed, to make it scale. There are all kinds of things that go wrong all along the way, and so for all the people out there on Facebook that only share the highlight reels, you have to know that everybody’s gone through some pretty tough times.
I learn from failure, actually. And I love to de-stigmatize that word and embrace it, because It’s like you’re testing hypotheses all the time until something works. And so you’ve got to be able to live with the idea that you may be wrong.
Phoebe Mroczek: Absolutely, and I think … I mean, to completely your point, it’s knowing that people learned from their failures. For example, in corporate, when I would hire people to replace me, I was always like, “Tell me about your worst failures. Let’s have a conversation about it.” I don’t want to hire someone who’s never failed, who’s just been the “overnight success” who’s hit it big with one thing. I would much rather hire somebody who’s been through the wringer, who’s failed 1,000 times, but this is it. This is their one project or the one thing that they really want, and why. And that’s so much more valuable.
And I certainly know for me, I’ve had a million failures, and I’m pretty public about them, actually, which for me is really helpful. It’s therapeutic, it’s allowing me to process that out loud in a way that I hope is inspiring to somebody who is going through it too, because I think it’s very easy to be on the other side of it. Having walked through or trudged through the mud for a couple months or days or years, maybe, and then all of a sudden, you just see the person who’s already got it figured out. And they’re like, “Well, here’s what I learned.” [crosstalk 00:18:44
Melinda Wittstock: So it’s also true, and a thought just jumped into my mind that often when we fail, we feel a sense of shame. And so to put it out there publicly or whatever is to sort of take some of the sting or some of the power out of it, to actually let it go, because when you find you do that, and you do share, and people say, “Oh, god, I still like you.”
Phoebe Mroczek: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: “I’ll still buy something from you.” Right? Then you realize that, oh, you are not your successes or failures. You are distinct from them.
Phoebe Mroczek: I just find that when I … Exactly like that. Oh yeah, that was a great … I liked that post or that podcast or whatever, and I’m like, wow. And at the beginning, it was a little bit … It was hard, and people would write to me like, “Wow, that was such a brave share,” and I’m like, really? That’s not really what you want to hear when … Like, oh, was it brave, or was it stupid? I don’t know. But here’s where I’m going with this, and I’m just going to run with it. And it does take the sting out.
And it all goes back to … Simon Sinek says that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and I always say, I think there’s a step before that, which is people actually buy who you are before they ever buy why you do what you do, or what you do. And so if people are standing behind you, they want to see you succeed, but they also kind of want to see you fail. We’re all nosy, and we want to see what’s going on, and fail, meaning taking the sting out of it and just saying, I want to see you learn. And what are you learning? And I want to root for those people. My coaches and the people that I admire in the industry, I love to watch what’s going on with them and to see them open up about certain things, because it really does genuinely help me.
And so if we can just put that into play and just remember that as long as you’re showing up consistently as you, and being in total alignment as often as you can, I don’t think that anybody is ever in 100% alignment, but I think that you can get really close. And when you’re sharing along the way, people want to be along for the journey. That’s the best part about a movie, is we’re rooting for the hero. And when you just own that, hey, I have a lot of people rooting for me … I think if you take the pressure out of it, can be a really inspiring journey, to start walking through, being like, “I have a lot of people that support that want to see me really rise to the occasion.” And you find out who you are when your back’s against the wall. And when things are not turning out the way that you thought they were going to look, well, that’s not entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship, I think, is really looking for, here’s what I want to put out into the world. Here’s who I am, I’m speaking my truth, I’m becoming, I’m doing all these things that I think … being me. And then releasing any attachment to how that’s going to show up, what products it means I need to create. It’ll come when it’s going to come. And I do think action is a big piece of that. I know a lot of people who hate on manifesting, and they’re like, “Oh, if I just sit on a pillow, then it’ll come to me.”
Melinda Wittstock: No. You gotta actually do some work.
Phoebe Mroczek: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: But hopefully you take massive action that is in alignment with an inspiration.
Phoebe Mroczek: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s intentional, right? So it’s a combination of things. I think what you’re were saying before about looking out into the distance in the future, what is it that you want, and really feeling it as if you are that person already, like, who are you being to have that level of success? And then dis-attaching yourself from outcome, or at least the how, letting our ego get in the way of how that’s all going to happen.
And I finally arrived at the point where every morning in my meditation, it’s like, okay. So you know that I know that I don’t know … So just help me to be inspired and to act on the inspiration, to see opportunity that’s in alignment to take massive action where there’s the most leverage, right?
Phoebe Mroczek: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: And then that helps you actually to … when you have that personal code of, when you know you’re in alignment, you can so much more easily prioritize and make decisions about your day. You’re more likely to get off that task treadmill or busywork, because you’re going to be doing only the things that really, really are aligned and make a big difference. It all connects.
Phoebe Mroczek: Yeah, because those then become the lenses that you make your decisions through. And I always, if I’m doing something that doesn’t feel … that I’m like, eh, it’s kind of the boring … not the most fun, but I know I’m taking steps, I know this needs to be done, in order for me to get to that next place where I am … Maybe it’s a new opportunity, I’m kind of pursuing it and writing the email. It isn’t the most fun for me, but I know what it’s going to result in, and that’s inspired and that’s exciting. And I always … My lens is if I’m doing something, the questions that I always ask myself is, what would make this feel fun, what would make this feel easy, and what would make this feel honest?
And if I look through those lenses, I’m like, okay, great. Maybe I’m going to write this email, it’s going to be kind of boring, but okay. Maybe I’m going to go and I’m going to put myself in a really great place. I live in San Francisco, so there’s beauty surrounding me. So maybe I’m just going to into the park and I’m going to write it. And that’s going to feel fun, and that’s probably going to make it feel a little easier, and time’s going to pass a little bit quicker.
And so just, for me, it’s getting out of the rut of the routine, and things that don’t necessarily feel inspired. They just feel a little bit stagnant. It’s the heavy or light test for me always. And always going in the direction of the light, always going in the direction of the fun and easy and honest. And everyone has different questions, but those are the ones that resonate the most with me.
Melinda Wittstock: Gosh, we know so much in our bodies, if we actually were in the moment and took the time to actually feel. I like that, the lightness or the heaviness. Sometimes you’ll be around people and they just make you feel tired. They take your energy away. Other people make you feel energized. Sometimes you have that tightness in your gut when you’re about to make a decision, like, that can’t be good.
Phoebe Mroczek: Yeah, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: So what are your tips for how to get into that level of presence, where you can actually really sense, feel, hear, see, whatever, those clues that our body, our unconscious, is really telling us?
Phoebe Mroczek: Yeah, I think a big mistake people make is that they assume that it’s going to come through a strike of inspiration or something. And like you said, it really is getting present, getting into your body. So for me, it’s always … no matter if I’m feeling stuck or frustrated or just an emotion that I don’t really want to be feeling, I always get outside. That’s always my first step, is I’m going to get outside. Even if I’m walking around the block. But for me, it’s always going to be going to a park. I need to be in green, I need to be in nature. And I need to ground. So I’ll take my shoes off. I’ll be barefoot in the grass, which feels very Californian. I’m in great company here. You can find it all over the parks around here.
Melinda Wittstock: You can get special shoes for that, even?
Phoebe Mroczek: Can you?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it’s very, very good for you to, yeah, like literally grounded.
Yeah, so you can even get shoes specifically made to allow you to ground yourself. it literally roots us in the earth. It connects us in a way that’s actually quite profound, and there’s increasing writing and science around all of this. I’m no expert, but I know that if I stand barefoot in the sand or in the grass or whatever, I feel a good deal better.
Phoebe Mroczek: Absolutely. I know there are grounding mats, so I know there are grounding mats and grounding sheets for your bed that you can have, and you just have to put a little piece of metal. There’s a wire and you put a piece of metal out into the ground. So I love … Grounding, for me, is just such an important part of my routine, of my … No matter where I am, and I travel quite a bit, and so it’s always, how do I get, as soon as I get there, I need to be barefoot, in the grass, on the ground, at the beach, wherever it is. In the water, especially, I love to be in the water, in natural water.
And then I’m always closing my eyes. I am a very practical person, so when people ask me questions, like, what does this mean, practically, I’m actually sitting down, I’m feet in the grass or in the water or wherever, and I just … I put my hands on my body. So I’ll put one hand, like my right hand, over my heart, and then my left hand by my solar plexus, almost. And I just feel what’s going on in my body. And I take two, three, four, sometimes 10 minutes. But I just need to feel. I always feel my heartbeat, and then I just feel where I’m feeling something in my body. And I’ll ask myself questions.
Once I feel that I’m grounded and I’m connected with, present inside my body, I’ll ask myself questions in terms of decisions that I need to make. And if I feel my heartbeat starting to race and it’s not a great feeling, or the tightening in my stomach, or maybe my jaw starts to clench a little bit, I’m like, “Oh, that doesn’t feel right.” And then I can really tune in on a better decision that I need to make. What do I need to … And I’ll go into meditations. I do a lot of future self, as I was mentioning. Like, my 80 year old Phoebe talking back to me about what I need to do.
And she’s a total badass, and she’s fun and she’s had a great life, and she can tell me sometimes, when I’m taking things too personally or I’m taking things too seriously. That never mattered, that was stupid, don’t worry about that. Or, here’s where you need to focus in on, get back to who you are. This is what you stand for. No, you can’t let this person walk on you, and stand up for yourself. Or other situations where it’s like, yeah, that doesn’t matter. Let go of that product, fire that client. But just getting back to who I am.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that. I want to know the 80 year old Phoebe. I agree that she’s badass for sure. Look, you’re a woman who’s traveled to more than 60 countries, six continents. You’ve been cage diving with great white sharks. You’ve camped in the Serengeti, motor biked across Europe.; you’ve done all these amazing, amazing things, and so like by the time you’re 80, what’s that list going to sound like?
Phoebe Mroczek: You know, it’s so funny. I just … Well, when I envision it, it’s like just a life well lived, and a very … One of the words that really stands out for me, other than fun, obviously, is adventure, right. I think … I really try to take everything as a new adventure, a new … you know, a new business venture is an adventure, for me. A new partnership or little things like going to the coffee shop. If I can just go a different way. How do I create more adventure?
And, for me, adventure is a feeling, right. It’s, you know, we were talking early about how I like to … you know, I buy one way tickets as often as I can, because for me that’s really fun, and there’s this adrenaline. And what I’ve realized in looking back, you know, speaking to you about patterns, right, is I do best when I don’t know the rules.
Like, when I … I’m not supposed to know the rules. And so I love the sense of … you know, a couple of weeks ago, I was in Ireland for a wedding, and I just bought a one-way ticket and was like well, I’m going to see how I go. I might be back in a week, I might be back … and I was gone, I think, for almost a month. And just really enjoyed it and allowed my creativity to flow, and allowed me to have some, you know, things that … you know, hiccups along the way, but also being in nature and being really present with me and adventure, and like, taking that on, has really created a really colorful life for myself, I think. I’ve really enjoyed it.
And when I look at 80 year old Phoebe, I mean, she’s just the best. She’s just fun and she’s sarcastic and she’s witty, and she’s telling funny stories about things that, you know, it doesn’t actually matter where it was or what else was going on, but how she was feeling. And being really honest about little … different points in her life. And when I look to her, I look to her as a lot … you know, with a lot of admiration, and saying, “I can’t wait to be there.”
Like, that’s really exciting for me, to say, “Gosh, you know, the first third of my life has gone really great.” And like, what’s the next two-thirds going to look like? I don’t know, but that’s the adventure that I’m on, and that’s the adventure that gets me out of bed every day, to be like, “This is going to be awesome. What is going to be … what about this day is going to feel fun, easy, and honest? And what does that look like? I don’t know, but it’s pretty awesome.”
Melinda Wittstock: I love it. And you and I really share a mission, too, because you, like me, are a community builder. I mean, I love connecting people. You’re also focused very much on connecting female entrepreneurs, on and off line, to amplify their influence, and help their business. That’s very much the Wings mission as well.
I’m a good deal older than you and I remember these times of scarcity where a woman kind of clawed her way to the top, or near the summit, and then defended her position and didn’t really let other women in, and that was borne of scarcity. I mean, I sort of understand it, in a way, but it seems like all that’s changing now, and the change is accelerating. And so I want to talk about where our missions align, and how you see all that rolling out, and what you’re doing for all these amazing women that you’re connecting.
Phoebe Mroczek: Yeah, so I … it’s so funny when people are saying, you know, that connecting women and I just, again, I just didn’t know that that wasn’t what other people did until I started to get online and talk to more people and obviously that’s a … you know, something that happens as you get older, is you start to recognize other things. But for me, I’ve always felt really supported.
In my family, it was a little bit different in terms of being in business, right. I’ve always been taught that money is power and you have to be ruthless. That was always the word, for me, was ruthless, to be a business owner.
And I just always thought, like, that just doesn’t suit my personality. That’s just not who I’m ever going to be, and I don’t want to be that way. So how do I find other people that are lifting women up.
And so when I was 19, I started a Mary Kay business, you know, where everyone is … it’s literally pink and bubbles and rainbows and sunshine all the time, you know, and it was so … it was, I mean, probably the best thing I could have done at that time to really understand what it was to support other women.
And so I just took that, I worked … I did that for a couple of years, built a team and all this, and as I was doing that, I just started to … I saw how that would bleed over into other areas of my life, and when I … as I was traveling, I worked at a micro-finance bank, and so what I learned there was that when you … It is proven, that when women have hold the finances, they hold a lot of the power, a lot of the glue, of the family, to make sure that their kids are well taken care of, to make sure that people in their families are getting the right education, that the community is taken care of, that the husband is happy and, you know, can go off and feel secure at home.
And so it was just like one step after the next, I was like, well, is this just not how it works? This is crazy. And so carrying that forward has been really a seamless adventure for me, to say, “Okay, well this is just the way that I do things, and this is … of course I want you to be next to me, because if I’m at the top by myself, you know, I want to do other cool stuff with cool people in a way that feels like everyone gets a piece of this pie, if there is a pie.”
You know, I just really don’t like when I see tabloids, and I see … I mean, you know it probably … well, probably better than I do, a lot of people, you know, that are publicized, I guess, or are in the public eye, and they’re attacked, and it’s just such a shame, because what we do as a women is, like, we’re supposed to stand together.
And so when we’re not, you know, it really hurts all of us. It doesn’t just hurt one person, it hurts all of us. And so if we just band together, and that’s … I know what you’re doing, obviously I’ve listened to your podcast. I’m super excited to be here. And I just am like in total admiration of other people that are doing the same things that I want to do, because there’s no point in us competing, right. It’s the cooperation or collaboration over competition, and I just … i truly believe that that is possible for more people, if we just really embraced it a little bit more.
Melinda Wittstock: I agree, and I think it’s not only helpful to women, I think it’s also helpful to men. I think it’s just a new way. So many of the quote-unquote female characteristics, right, like, you know, and archetypal ones, right, like intuition or empathy or, you know, relationship, all these sorts of things, when applied to business in a really systematic organized, thoughtful, strategic way, actually accelerate those businesses so much faster. So you see it borne out in the data, like, that companies that have female CEOs or C-Suite that are startup, say, in Silicon Valley, survive.
Most VC-funded companies are dead, like, after three years, and women, however, are only getting 2% of the capital. And so … but the odds are better when women are in the C-Suite of these startup companies, you know, for the really high growth. You know, the companies that could be billion dollar companies, and yet, you know, it’s hard to get the funding, but we do better.
And it also bears out on the NASDAQ and the DOW. If there are a lot of women on the board or in the leadership team, high levels of the executive teams of these companies, they out-perform their rivals every time. And I think it’s because we bring these values, this inclusiveness, and more of a collaborative, and just competency, as long as we don’t get in our own way, like, with perfectionism and like, not asking for help, and you know, not leveraging those networks as we could. You know, all the things we identify on this podcast where we get in our own way.
But I think it’s a really exciting time because as we really show up for each other, I think we really stand a chance to change the game for everybody, and that’s one of the reasons … like, there are many, but that’s one of the reasons why it’s so exciting to be doing this.
Phoebe Mroczek: Well, and one thing that I have noticed, and one of the things that I talk a lot about, is that … you know, what you were saying, which is women need strong women, and men need strong women as well, and it’s interesting that at this point, I have had so many, just in the last probably 90 days, I’ve had a lot of men listen to my podcast and writing in to me.
They’re the first one. I get more emails from men, actually, about my podcast, than I do from women, which is really confusing, because that’s not actually who I’m speaking to, right. And so when I … and the conversations are just so rich that I’ve actually decided, I’m like, okay, if men want to enter this conversation, I would love the welcome them in, right. I want them to see what it’s like to be in a collaborative space and to work with people who are lifting each other up.
There is no competition. There is just how do we … how do you, you know, in all your experiences, in your intersection of experience and skills and talents and all of this, and the business that you’re in, how can you help other people? And it’s just really interesting because I’ve always stood so firmly for women, and now to be like, oh, okay, you’re listening, and that is … it just, it fills me with a lot of hope that men are listening, right. They want to see. And I think it is that balance of the masculine and the feminine energy, right, of how do you hold strong?
Because really at the core of any kind of competition, in my opinion, is a lot of insecurity. It’s a lot of people that don’t really … you know, it’s the scarcity or lack mentality, and when I see other women that are confident, I am like yes. Like, I want to support you. I want you to rise to the top because if that’s what that looks like at the top, I want to get there. You know, and I want people that look like me in terms of not necessarily actually look like me, but people that stand … you know, we have the same values. The same psychographics, you know, lifestyle and psychological desires. You know, I want people at the top that have that because it sets a great standard for the way that business is run, especially online when anybody can now, you know, turn on a computer and you’re in business.
And I think we need more people at the top that are … that have varied experiences, that don’t all the same, that aren’t just ruthless. You know, I don’t think that that is helpful for anybody, and anytime I doubt myself in whatever I’m doing or any project that I’m moving forward, it’s always like, okay, no, there’s somebody there who is either in the forefront or kind of in the background lurking a little bit who needs to see somebody like me that can do it.
And I, you know, and I really do take that on with a lot of responsibility and, you know, probably a little too much pressure sometimes, but that’s just the reality of the situation, is I want to be somebody that’s a little bit different, right. I have a little bit of a different background, and that’s amazing, because when, you know, if I am successful, or whatever that looks like to you, and to other people, it’s am I successful in my own right? And when I feel that, I attract other people that want that, or that have that, and just another piece of it that we can learn from each other, and we can grow, and that’s really what it’s all about, is just learning and growing along the journey.
And along this way that helps you feel alive and adventurous and fun, and bringing all of that back to why we actually got started in the first place.
Melinda Wittstock: So Phoebe, this is so inspiring, and what you’re doing, you know, it’s just so authentic and true, and so, I guess, aligned with what’s in my heart, so I’ve just really enjoyed this conversation. I feel like I could talk to you for a very, very long time. And so you must come on again.
Phoebe Mroczek: I would love that, because I feel like I could have booked out the entire afternoon just for us to chat. I knew-
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. I know, I knew this was going to happen. So, but, you must come on again, and in the meantime, for all the women and men listening to this podcast with whom you resonate, how can people find you and work with you?
Phoebe Mroczek: So, I am on … you can find me on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, on … at Unbecoming. Unbecoming Podcast with Phoebe Mroczek, and then also I am on … I write a daily blog on Instagram, which is not the most popular channel.
I love, in terms of writing, long-form blogs, but that’s really how I communicate. I’m a big communicator, so I love to write, I love to seek. And so those are really the two platforms. And then, obviously, on my … just on my website, PhoebeMroczek.com is a really easy way to get a hold of me, and we can have a chat and just see if it’s a right fit.
Melinda Wittstock: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Phoebe Mroczek: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it, and just all the work you’re doing is really inspiring. So thank you and thanks for having me.