What motivates and inspires you? As a competitive runner in high school and college, the night before a big race, my routine was to curl up in bed with a Runner’s World magazine or a book of quotes or personal narratives. I devoured stories of people facing incredible odds, standing up against them and ultimately achieving greatness. Those stories and quotes by people that accomplished more than they thought possible gave me the hope that I, too, could do something incredible – that I too could get up and run the best race of my life.
When I learned adidas wanted to focus on lifting women up in our workplace, I turned again to the accomplishments of others as a source of inspiration. In my reflection, I was struck with a simple idea to start an interview series featuring women in leadership at adidas, called “Women Talk”.
I don’t have a high-ranking title or even a position in human resources, but I felt an internal need and desire to contribute.
The idea came with one caveat: For the extent of my adidas career, I’ve worked in locations outside of key offices, but I believe working remote does not mean being removed. In many cases, it helps you to see opportunities that others miss. In developing the idea for Women Talk, I wanted to create something that was inclusive and accessible to employees working from any location.
The purpose of Women Talk is to highlight inspiring women that serve as role models in our organization and provide a platform for conversation. The virtual monthly interview series invites women to volunteer to host interviews with a female adidas employee of their choosing – someone that inspires them. I’ve also created an online community which has grown to more than 600 members. It’s been humbling to see engagement and interest grow so quickly, and for our audience to grow organically around the world. Women Talk started in the U.S. but in just a few short months we’ve had colleagues (men and women) tuning into the calls from Germany, Asia, and other adidas offices internationally.
My experience with Women Talk has been powerful and rewarding, and I can’t encourage you enough to think about what inspires you and consider how you can contribute, however small it may initially seem.
Are you interested in creating a Women Talk series in your organization? Here’s a checklist to help you get started:
1. Build a small coalition of supporters
I solicited support from a few colleagues before kicking off to make sure that there would be a least a few people on the first call. (There ended up being 100+!)
2. Reach out to a few leaders
I reached out to a personal mentor I greatly admire to be my first guest, and she said yes!
3. Decide how you will host the interviews
To make it accessible & easy (low tech), I use a WebEx conference line. To record the sessions, I set up a WebEx video call, but only distribute the call-in number to avoid the complications of video recording, needing host & guest to be physically together, etc. There are probably better solutions, but this one works and allowed me to get started very quickly!
4. Schedule your first interview
I used Outlook to schedule a meeting invite. Any scheduling method will do.
5. Build a distribution list
For me this started with colleagues I know personally and a small distribution list for a local women’s group. Each month as people forwarded the meeting invitations, I captured those names and added them for the following month’s invitation. The distribution list has thus grown 4x in six months. You can also involve your HR or internal communications team to spread the message.
6. Plan the interview
Develop an introduction & questions. Share your plans with your guest beforehand and offer them an opportunity to direct the conversation.
7. Host the interview
I’ve found that scheduling a 45min interview works best – 30 min of planned questions followed by 10-15 min of questions from the audience.
8. Recruit volunteers for future interviews
At the beginning of each interview, I remind the audience to reach out to me if interested in hosting an upcoming interview. We’ve had no trouble recruiting volunteers and filling the schedule so far!
9. Create an online community
This is a nice feature if available in your organization. (Our organization uses Microsoft Yammer). It allows the conversations to continue beyond the interviews. It is also an avenue to announce/share upcoming interviews for those not on the email distribution list.
As my favorite comedian (Tina Fey) and a bad ass woman herself says, “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the water slide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.”