5 Valuable Business Insights via Alaskan Backroads Biking Trip

Do lessons learned outdoors apply to the office setting? For Kate Purmal they do. And with over 15 years of experience as CEO, COO and CFO, and a stellar record both as a business advisor and consultant for Moonshot launches, we’re all ears when she’s sharing advice.

Stoke the campfires of inspiration with Kate Purmal’s pedal-powered business insights below, and be sure to listen to her Grace & Fire podcast for more game-changing ways to catalyze your business (and mindset).

I just returned from a six-day bike trip in Alaska with the active travel company Backroads. The trip was superb. Jaw-dropping natural beauty, fantastic food, unbelievable guides, great equipment and routes, 17 new friends from the US and Brazil, and a lot of rain.

As the trip finished I found myself wishing we had just a few more days on the bikes, a completely unexpected outcome given that I had just covered 275 miles in the saddle.

Several insights came to me as I rode through Alaska’s magnificent mountains and valleys. Here they are, with my take on how they relate to business – and life.

Insight #1: When it gets tough, the only way out is through. Refocus on what’s good and working rather than resisting what’s not. 

The second day of our ride through the Matanuska Valley started in a complete deluge. After an hour, it was clear to me that despite my hope and optimism, the rain was not going to let up. By this time my feet were soaking wet and the rest of me was soggy at best, though I was reasonably warm — at least until we turned onto the Glenn Highway to ride along the Matanuska River when the headwinds hit. Here I was riding through some of the most magnificent places in the world, and all I could focus on were my soaking wet and numb feet, freezing cold hands, painful sit bones, and aching legs as I struggled to ride slightly uphill in a cold and forceful headwind.

Kate Purmal in the Alaskan Backroads

In need of renewed energy, I stopped to take a break and have a snack. In the stillness I found my way through. I was completely alone along this wide, majestic river. No cars, no people, nothing but fast moving water, sky, trees and mountains. The Matanuska wove a disorganized braided course through the grey silt riverbed. The first of the birch trees had started to change color, their bright yellow and orange leaves screaming against a backdrop of grey and green. This was why I had journeyed to Alaska.

When I got back on my bike, I committed myself to remain focused on the beauty and not the rain, and tuned my ears to listen for the sounds of water, wind and birds. Though I was still soaked through and exhausted, I had managed to discover the joy and wonder of the raw grace of the landscape, even in the driving rain. The next 20 miles were just as miserable, but I had stopped resisting the rain and wind, and instead started to enjoy the ride.

In business we often hit long and difficult periods that seem fraught with obstacles and challenges. It’s easy to be disheartened by the arduous struggle of the present situation. While breakdowns and setbacks are discouraging, if you stop to take a break, you can remind yourself of what’s working, what’s already been accomplished, and the purpose that’s fueling your commitment. This creates a shift from resisting what’s happening in the moment to instead experiencing the goodness that comes as you and your team work together to find your way through.

Insight #2: Recognize, celebrate and be inspired by the heroic efforts of those around you.

Our longest ride was on day four and it provided the opportunity for intrepid bikers to test their mettle on a “century ride” of more than 100 miles. My appetite for a long ride was not that great, so I set my sights on riding two of the four segments for a total of just over 50 miles.

At the starting point of the second segment, where my ride began, Emily rode in just as I was finishing my bike adjustments and getting set to take off. Emily doesn’t own a road bike. She takes spin classes to stay in shape – and she is in great shape – but that’s not the same as road biking shape. Emily came to Alaska on a mission – she had committed to ride every segment – a total of 336 miles in five days. She had ridden 88 miles the previous day, and despite the cold and rain that greeted us that morning, she was committed to riding the 107 miles that awaited her, and she brought it.

As I rode off I couldn’t stop thinking about Emily’s determination, and how despite the fact that she was often the last one to reach the checkpoints and finish the ride, she just kept on going. Emily was solid in her commitment to finish despite moments where she wanted to give up. It was Emily’s grit I borrowed when I made the decision to get back on my bike to ride the 88 mile option and finish not two, but three segments of the ride, including the most difficult segment with a 2,000+ foot elevation gain on the climb up Thompson Pass. This was by far the best day of biking for me. It was a breakthrough, and it shifted my perspective on what I could accomplish on a bike. And it was all inspired by Emily’s heroism.

In any difficult project, when breakdowns happen and breakthroughs are discovered, heroes emerge. These acts of heroism, when made visible, serve to inspire others on the team and build momentum for the project. When the project gets tough and your enthusiasm wanes, it’s a great opportunity to look around and discover a hero among the ranks, and take the time to acknowledge and celebrate his or her contribution.

Insight #3: When you think you’re at or near the top, you’re probably not. Pace yourself.

Just before setting off on my climb up Thompson Pass, our guides told me about the route. They told me the steepest part of the climb was at the end, and it was a series of three stair steps – steep climbs followed by a relatively flat section leading to the next climb. I failed to pay attention when they told me the mile mark to watch for signaling the beginning of the series, nor did I know the exact mile mark of the summit. So I was left to rely on visual clues to determine when I was getting close to the end of my climb. Bad idea.

I went over what I thought was two sets of stair steps and had the third in sight. But as I got near the top of the third, I could see ahead that the climbing wasn’t yet done. Not even close. I knew then that I needed to climb without knowing which hill was the real summit, and as such, pace myself to be ready in case new hills emerged. Setting into a comfortable pace made all the difference. And I did eventually reach the top, though probably after three or four more sections of what I thought would surely lead to the summit.

I’ve had similar experiences in business. For example, when my team and I set our sights on the launch of a new product, we assume that as soon as we reach that milestone we’ll be able to catch our breath and coast downhill for awhile. In reality, the launch of a new product sets into motion a whole series of new challenges and milestones, new routes to climb. It’s critical to recognize and prepare people for this inevitability, and help create the right pace for the project – one that is aggressive yet can be sustained to reach the big milestone, still leaving everyone on the team with enough in reserve to summit a few more hills when they appear. A completion event can be tremendously useful for this. When you’ve hit a milestone, celebrate it and have everyone on the team recount the accomplishments and successes along the way. This can help to re-energize the team so they’re ready for the next challenge.

Insight #4: Refuel before you need it so you don’t bonk.

It took me several days to correlate the precipitous drop in energy that seemed to happen about two hours into a ride with a lack of glucose. Duh! This, by the way, comes without warning. You don’t feel hungry or thirsty – there is nothing to trigger your instincts to give your body fuel. All you know is that suddenly it’s REALLY hard to ride the bike, even harder if you’re climbing hills. What was fun a few miles back becomes instantly grueling. My solution was to stop and refuel on a regular schedule whether I wanted to or not – about every 90 minutes. That kept me out of the bonk zone.

One of the most persistent complaints I hear from the executive clients I work with – and one of the biggest challenges I faced as an executive – is the sheer volume of work and meetings. Executives work all day and go from meeting to meeting, often failing to eat lunch or even use the bathroom. One suggestion I make is to schedule meetings in 25 or 50 minute increments vs. the usual 30 or 60 minutes. That way they have time built into every hour to grab some food, stretch their legs, or take a bio break. And sometimes they even have time to make an urgent phone call or respond to a quick email. This lowers their stress, keeps them more engaged in their work, and leaves them with more energy when they go home to their families.

Insight #5: The best part is not always what’s best.

On the first day, there was an optional 4.5 mile climb from a turnaround point at Hatcher Pass up to Independence Mine, a ride with a punishing 11 percent grade. For those who rose to the challenge, the promised payoff was an exhilarating 4.5 mile ride back down the hill. Sounds perfect, right? Not so fast.

I chose not to make the extra climb. But those who did were not greeted with exhilaration. Instead, the descent was steep and harrowing, and the riders were wet from the rain and without sufficient clothing, leaving most of them freezing on the way down. Hardly the reward they anticipated.

How many times have you toiled to achieve something remarkable, only to find that the experience was not what you expected? Yet another reminder that it is, in fact, the journey that is the reward.


kate

Kate Purmal is a pathological optimist and accomplished visionary who brings out the brilliance in leaders and their teams. She has over 15 years of experience working as a CEO, COO and CFO to start-ups and privately held technology and life sciences companies. Kate previously served as a Senior Vice President at SanDisk and was on Palm Inc.’s founding management team. Kate regularly works with executives, leaders and their teams to initiate game-changing initiatives by launching Moonshots. She is co-author of The Moonshot Effect, Disrupting Business as Usual. Visit our website at www.themoonshoteffect.com

Women Powering Change – July 14th in Denver

Ready for another inspirational dose of feminine leadership? Join us at Women Powering Change, July 14th at Mile High Station in Denver.

Women Powering Change accelerates the social impact of women creating a just world. July’s event will be an energetic and informative gathering of diverse nonprofits, innovative leaders, passionate philanthropists, and aspiring activists.

Watch the video from last year’s event here:

Plus, Emerging Women will be hosting four free workshops that you won’t want to miss.

Learn more about the Women’s Foundation of Colorado and register for Women Powering Change HERE. We’ll see you at Mile High Station next Thursday!

Janet Mock joins Emerging Women Live 2016!

Janet Mock - Photographer Aaron Tredwell

Fantastic news for the Emerging Women community:

We are ecstatic to announce that Janet MockNew York Times bestselling author, advocate and media host, will be joining us at Emerging Women Live 2016 in San Francisco!

Janet is one of the most influential trans women and millennial leaders in media. TIME called her one of “12 new faces of black leadership” and one of  “the most influential people on the Internet” while Fast Company named her one of 2015’s “most creative people in business.”

When she released Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More in February 2014, feminist critic bell hooks called Janet’s memoir, “A life-map for transformation,” while Melissa Harris-Perry said “Janet does what only great writers of autobiography accomplish—she tells a story of the self, which turns out to be a reflection of all humanity.”

Following the release, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Janet for Super Soul Sunday. Watch one of our favorite video clips to get a sense of Janet’s openness, presence and wisdom:

Now, Janet finds herself on the other side of the story as a Contributing Editor for Marie Claire, a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and the host of So POPular! — a weekly MSNBC digital series that aims to ensure that the culture that entertains us actually makes us think.

In the video below she describes how we can transform our “guilty pleasures” into access points to talk about larger and broader issues like politics, identity and community, making the show not only “so popular” but SO NECESSARY in this modern world.

We can’t wait to talk with Janet Mock at Emerging Women Live 2016, October 13-16th in San Francisco. Register now to save yourself at seat at this unforgettable event!

Marianne Williamson joins Emerging Women Live 2016

Marianne Williamson

Best news EVER to close out Super Early Bird ticket specials…

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that the one and only Marianne Williamson will be joining us at Emerging Women Live 2016.

Talk about a trailblazing supernova: six of her eleven published books have been New York Times Best Sellers. Four of these have been #1.

Perhaps you’ve memorized the mega best seller A Return to Love – considered a must-read of The New Spirituality. A paragraph from that book, beginning “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” has become an anthem for a contemporary generation of seekers.

Continue reading “Marianne Williamson joins Emerging Women Live 2016”

Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code Joins Emerging Women Live 2016

Saujani_Reshma_PROMOPICA true political entrepreneur, Reshma Saujani has been fearless in her efforts to disrupt both politics and technology to create positive change. Yesterday she was named one of Fortune’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, and today we are so excited to name her as a Keynote Speaker at the one-and-only Emerging Women Live 2016.

Reshma is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and prepare young women for jobs of the future.

Started in 2012, the organization will reach more than 40,000 girls in every state by the end of 2016. This year, Girls Who Code will run 78 Summer Immersion Programs and 1500 Clubs. The results speak for themselves: 90 percent of alumnae have declared or intend to declare a major or minor in computer science.

The effectiveness of her organization is evident in testimonials from the young students: “I’m capable of doing things I never thought I could do. I’m motivated to start my own company. I want to make a difference in my community.” — Diana, 16

In her groundbreaking book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line, Reshma advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship and boldly charting your own course, both personally and professionally.

Continue reading “Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code Joins Emerging Women Live 2016”

Elle Luna joins Emerging Women Live 2016!

We are excited to announce that artist, author and Silicon Valley startup survivor Elle Luna will be joining the lineup as a Keynote Speaker at Emerging Women Live 2016!

Elle Luna happily makes art in her very special studio in San Francisco (listen to her Grace & Fire podcast to hear about that peak experience in her life). But that wasn’t always her gig.

Before, Elle was nailing the shoulds. She worked with teams to design and build Mailbox’s iPhone app, redesign Uber’s iPhone app, and scale the storytelling platform, Medium. But in the midst of this life of business and chronic busy-ness, she felt the pull of something deeper calling to her in her dreams – the musts.

With one foot in each world (art and startup), everything was suffering. She wasn’t really feeling her creative process, and her work in Silicon Valley was exhausting her. Her head was saying “you got this” while her body was screaming for a vacation – and not just a week at the beach. She was craving the deep peace of a restful mind. She was at a crossroads.

She had enough in her bank account for a window of time to “not know” and just journey down the roads of should and must. She left her job in Silicon Valley and rented the dreamy studio in San Francisco, the dedicated physical space where must had a chance of being heard. And it worked.

On April 8, 2013, Elle published an essay on Medium.com, “The Crossroads of Should and Must,” which quickly went viral. Within weeks, it was tweeted to over 5 million people and seen by over a quarter of a million readers. Elle extended that post into an illustrated, four color book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion, where she explains the importance of mistakes, of “unlearning,” of solitude, of keeping moving and of following a soul path. She had taken a leap, and it resonated.

 

It’s not just a one-time decision, she learned. It’s a daily thing. Shoulds are decisions for anything or anyone other than yourself, put on you from outside from family, community or culture. When you hear or think a should, you shrink in your body. Huge systems of thought are at work that feel overwhelming. She keeps a list of shoulds in her journal because she says that continuing to bring them into awareness is what releases their hold on your life.

To really get the juices flowing, you’ve got to have your finger on the pulse of must. Must is pre-thought. It’s inexplicable and undeniable. She says that staying in touch with that force is crucial. It’s “the source of our being – it’s the song, and we have to keep that song alive” by opening our eyes to “little mirrors, little clues that lead you back to something essential.”

Should, she says, is like cracking an egg on the countertop to get what’s inside out. Must is letting it burst out from the inside, and what results are the greater potentialities of your life. And the most important step? “To trust that that will manifest over time.”

We hope that you will join us in San Francisco to hear the inspirational Elle Luna share her insight with us at Emerging Women Live 2016. We can’t wait to see what will burst from your egg!

Listen to the Grace & Fire podcast here:

Elle Luna Podcast

We’re Not Waiting 117 Years – Inspiration for International Women’s Day

The World Economic Forum predicts it will take until 2133 to achieve gender parity.

Wait… what? The year 2133? That’s 117 years from now, people. Do we really want to wait four generations to achieve what we know will be a world-shifting balance? NO.

This isn’t just about supporting equal pay for women (although it definitely includes that). This year’s campaigns for gender parity make it clear that businesses must harness female talent to really succeed and thrive.

Studies show that organizations most inclusive of women in top management perform up to 35% better than their peers. This study finds that an organization with 30 percent female leaders could add up to 6 percentage points to its net margin.

The bigger picture, then, is to value women equally as leaders – to bring balance to pay grade, yes, but also to respect and value women’s unique talents in the business, economic and political world. In this way we not only ensure that women are able to rise to positions of power, we also encourage men to incorporate more feminine leadership traits into their repertoires, resulting in a more prosperous climate for all.

Here’s what you can do to accelerate the movement. Make the Pledge for Parity. Pledge to call for gender-balanced leadership. Pledge to illuminate paths to leadership for girls and women. Pledge to explode both conscious and unconscious bias and to stay open to new points of view, for yourself, your company and the world.

Are you in?

Keep yourself inspired this International Women’s Day with these wise words from passionate leaders who remind us why equality can’t wait 117 years…

“We are here not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.” – Emmeline Pankhurst

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” – Rebecca West

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.” – Michelle Obama

Margaret Mead

“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place.” – Margaret Mead

 Aung Sang Suu Kyi

“In societies where men are truly confident of their own worth, women are not merely tolerated but valued.” – Aung Sang Suu Kyi

Audre Lorde

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde

sheryl sandberg

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” – Sheryl Sandberg

geraldine ferraro

“We’ve chosen the path to equality, don’t let them turn us around.” – Geraldine Ferraro

virginia woolf

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” – Virginia Woolf

Anne Lamott joins Emerging Women Live 2016!

More tremendous news on the Emerging Women Live 2016 front!

You know that the Emerging Women community is all about sharing our true selves so that we can shine as the uniquely impactful leaders we are meant to be.

That’s why we’re so excited to announce Anne Lamott as a Keynote Speaker at this year’s national event in San Francisco, CA.

Anne Lamott, author and activist, is a model of compassionate faith, unwavering humor and a voice that tells it like it is, on good days and bad.

As a memoirist and as a non-fiction writer, Anne has a gift for being irreverent and profound at the same time. She is equal parts raw honesty and real hope, with an uncanny ability to glide from heart-wrenching to hilarious without irony or detachment from the core of the matter.

She’s prolific about it, too. She’s written seven novels, several books of non-fiction, and three collections of autobiographical essays. She’s a New York Times bestseller, a prestigious Guggenheim Fellow, a nationwide teacher of her craft, and an inductee of the California Hall of Fame to boot. Rock star!

As Cheryl Strayed mentions in the video below, her work transcends itself. Bird by Bird is as much of a guide to life as it is to writing. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith resonates with religious and non-religious people alike. We can’t wait to see what she brings to the intimate stage at EWLive16 to inspire and ignite the audience.

To get a glimpse of Anne Lamott’s style, watch as she talks with Cheryl Strayed about shitty first drafts, doubt, vulnerability and the universal impact of sharing your personal story:

We hope you’ll join Anne Lamott, Glennon Doyle Melton, and rest of the amazing Emerging Women community on October 13-16th at Emerging Women Live 2016 in San Francisco. Save your seat now!

Glennon Doyle Melton Joins Emerging Women Live 2016!

GDM-500-214x300Exciting news! Glennon Doyle Melton, the voice behind Momastery, is joining Emerging Women Live 2016 as a Keynote Speaker.

This woman is all about the LOVE. Self-love through struggles with addiction, family love through all the mess and the magic, and global love through her charitable fundraising. And she lays it bare for the world to see with some seriously inspirational vulnerability on her blog.

Her latest post on the Compassion Collective, which she leads with Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell and Cheryl Strayed, outlines how they brought 41,000 people together to raise over $1.3 million dollars to respond to the refugee crisis, which they’ve identified as the worst humanitarian emergency since World War II. And they did this IN ONE DAY.

Her generosity spills over into her book, Carry On, Warrior, where she shares that all of her wisdom, all of her love, originated in the messiest parts of her life. In the video below, she reminds us that when life gets hard, it’s not necessarily a red flag. It might just be a sign that you’re really living.

Have you been inspired by this wonderful warrior? Share your stories with us in the comments.

We hope you’ll join us, along with hundreds of fellow women working to change the world with their heart, vulnerability and compassion, at Emerging Women Live 2016, October 13-16th in San Francisco, CA.

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Pipeline Angels, a network of new and seasoned women investors, is changing the face of angel investing and creating capital for women social entrepreneurs. We are so proud to support them as they work to guarantee that women have the strategy and support they need to succeed in this revolutionary realm of finance.

Sound exciting? Then you’ll be interested in this opportunity:

Pipeline Angels has opened a call for applications for its spring 2016 signature angel investing bootcamps in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, DC, Houston, Miami, NYC and Philadelphia.

Candidates are encouraged to apply THIS WEEK.

PipelineAngels-SDSummit (FINALS)-45

Click here to read more about criteria, commitment and programs.

What must women bring to the world today? Jane Goodall knows.

When I think of Jane Goodall, one specific moment plays in my mind.

It was about 9:30 at night, and she had just finished her brilliant keynote at Emerging Women Live 2015. This was, mind you, after she had flown into San Francisco just that day, done her mic check, prepared for the event and participated in the audience for the talks leading up to hers. Plus she still had a book-signing and a media room interview to go before calling it a night.

I thought she might be tired, so as she stepped down from the stage I offered her my hand. And with classic Goodall grace, she lightly refused my help and alit from the stage like a morning-fresh ballerina in slippers.

With this simple movement, after a long day of long lines and travel and sharing her heart on stage, she helped me realize that that’s the way through. That’s the way to navigate this modern world. Bringing such a level of grace is not only what helped her make such a tremendous impact in her field, it’s also what has given her and her work such longevity.

And that’s what I want to emulate. That’s what I want to start practicing now, so I have it to hold on to in my eighties.

So, what does the incomparable Jane Goodall say we women must bring to the world today? Watch this clip from a video she taped after that night’s book-signing, still brimming with characteristic grace:

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Q: What do disco, a capella, Brené Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert have in common?

A: This amazing spontaneous karaoke moment from Emerging Women Live 2015, proving that business leadership, personal growth, and straight up FUN are not mutually exclusive terms.

After two of our favorite authors shared the details of their super-supportive and hilariously honest friendship on stage, Elizabeth Gilbert and Brené Brown led the crowd in an impromptu a cappella version of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, “dedicated to Shame and Scarcity.”

We love this community of women and the real sense of intimate connection that courses through the entire event. These power women, from audience and stage alike, become our peers – our sisters in revolutionary change.

If you want to feel the energy up close and in person for yourself, tickets go on sale today for the 4th Annual Emerging Women Live conference, October 13-16 in San Francisco, CA. Give yourself a truly transformative gift this holiday season. Get registered HERE.