Podcast Episode 92: Being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable with Cheryl Porro

In Blog, Community, The She+ Geeks Out Podcast by Rachel Murray

It’s been almost two years (or, um, two millenia?) since we spoke with the lovely Cheryl Porro, founder of rth (pronounced earth!) labs, former CTO of Thrive Global, and former SVP of Technology & Products at Salesforce.org! We talk about the opportunities that present themselves during moments of change. For Cheryl, she was ahead of the curve, so we talk about how moments of change can be one way to find what we’re here to do. Felicia and Rachel also spend some time in the first part of the pod catching up on our favorite things in the world and all the things we’re working on to make this world a little bit shinier in a time when it doesn’t feel so shiny.

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Felicia: Hello. Hey, Rachel.

Rachel: Hey, Felicia.

Felicia: How’s it going?

Rachel: It’s going. All right, how are you?

I am great. I’m also really excited because we’re actually doing a part two podcasts recording today and we’re bringing back a guest to blast from the past and our guest today is Cheryl Porro who’s the founder of rth labs. Hi, Cheryl.

Cheryl: Hi, how are you?

Felicia: Great. Well, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us. We’re really excited to be

podcasting with you today. It’s been about two years since we last sat down in your office at Salesforce in San Francisco and chatted with you and a lot has changed since then. So we’re really excited to catch up and hear about all the things. So when we last spoke with you, you were a senior VP at Salesforce and then you moved on to serve as Thrive Global’s CTO and now you’re a founder and a consultant. So can you walk us through some of what you’ve been doing the past couple years. And what are you working on these days, you know, just a quick overview.

Cheryl: Yeah, absolutely. Hello. It’s so good to see you both and connect with you both. It’s been too long, although we’ve been in connection over the past couple years, which has been great.

So let’s see. Yeah, let me just start with kind of where I’m at now. And so it’s actually earth labs and I’ll tell you a little bit of where the name comes from. Yeah, no problem. It looks like. And it looks like an acronym. So.

Rachel: My brain is exploding right now. Thank you.

Cheryl: So where it all comes from. It’s really cool. I actually have a little drawing that my daughter did. She’s not 12 and she did this. I think in the preschool of the planet and in our TA underneath it. So in preschool and kindergarten and first grade. I think they learned how to spell phonetically. So they didn’t focus on spelling until much later at her school. So we, you know, she would come home with these things from school that would be highly amusing. So, you know, you can just imagine of how she would imagine things to be spelled and for her Earth was rth and so I have this little drawing of the planet rth and it’s in my office and that was the inspiration for me. And you know she’s my inspiration. But also, you know, the planet is my inspiration. So a lot of the journey I’m on right now is, um, you know. So, you know I left thrive global in October of last year, primarily because of family reasons and there was kind of some unfortunate stuff going on with my family and you know that I won’t get into because like right now there is a lot of unfortunate stuff going on right now.

Rachel: That’s all. What are you talking about?

Cheryl: Yeah, so, but do know I was taking a moment to kind of step back and focus on family.

Ain’t but what happened. And so I knew, like, you know, I was gonna just focus on family to the end of the year and then figure out what was next. Right. But what was kind of shocking was I almost became this other person. So up until that in my adult life, especially in the last 15 years of the prior 15 years I would I would describe myself as an up into the right person. Very corporate up and always growing, you know, moving to the next, you know, the next step in the next level. And the next thing. Go, go, go. A to B to C and back, you know, etc and had never really like stepped off the train. In any kind of meaningful way without knowing what was next. And I stepped off the train. I didn’t know what was next and I didn’t, you know, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t, I didn’t all the things that I cared about all of a sudden didn’t care about anymore.

All these things that I really weren’t wasn’t giving real kind of thought to I was giving real thought to and so everything really kind of shifted and I was trying to explain it to someone, how it wasn’t even coming from like my thinking mind like it wasn’t coming from the front of my head, you know, chattering thing. It was this very kind of visceral just, you know, almost going against the front of my brain, which was freaking out. You are doing what is going on here. I’m like, you have to get back to work. That like real means you know that you, that doesn’t talk that’s non verbal was like, hell no, we’re not everything’s changing. So what’s so fascinating to me it’s like I was already in this place of complete and utter uncertainty for what was next before the pandemic came I was already in this space of, like, I have no idea what’s next. And I panicked and then I stopped panicking and then the way I describe it. It’s like I just started being and doing and that’s all I can do is just being, do and then, you know, and so that that’s been the most recent, the more recent journey and rth labs, for example, it’s name is kind of like it’s a manifestation of something I want to create and I don’t know what that is yet. That’s okay. So I’ve accepted that there’s something. There’s a calling. I don’t know what it is yet. And I’m just sitting in the uncertainty and being and doing.

Rachel: Yeah, I have a question. Um, how did you get from panic to not panic?

Felicia: This could be relevant for some people.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. Haha, you know, it’s interesting. I looked for, you know, it’s, I was doing a lot of like, you know, I have a lot of tools right so as CTO, I went to Thrive Global because I was passionate about finding and building these tools to kind of minimize stress and burnout in, you know, in the world at large and that’s the mission of the company. I was really drawn to that and, you know, starting with basic things like making sure you get a good night’s sleep and love and adore sleep right and honor sleep and the power.

Rachel: That it is.

Cheryl: It’s where we reset in sleep over the past few weeks has been challenging and at times elusive. But thankfully I can sleep in which has been all the lovely and not have to like get up and taking my daughter’s school. Um but practices like really paying attention to sleep and honoring that time meditating, you know, running for me as a form of meditation. Taking the dog on hikes. So all of these tools. I had been building any way in there and had them accessible to me. So a lot of it is just like sitting in that discomfort and in not pressuring myself to do things. So that was, you know, the period of transition for me was like towards the end of January, beginning of February, because January came and it was like Okay girl, time to go. And I was like, no, not ready to go. So actually had started interviewing for roles full time because I felt like it was the thing I should do and then I put there was this real like this part of me that was like no, this is not the right time. Right, this is not the right time to do that. So, the tension was like real for me because I was going to these interviews and also just like It’s not the right time to do this. But okay, I’m going to go to these interviews. And there was this only thing that kind of emerged for me that was like this little whisper and you know it just so I had gone to, I ended up going to Thailand for this executive coaching program. And this is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. So I’ve been. I’ve known these folks at the Berkeley executive coaching Institute for a long time. It was founded by this professor at Haas School of Business. Dr. Mark Berg, who is a lovely human being. And I’ve been in his orbit for about a decade. And I always wanted to do in Thailand. And there was this little whisper that was like, now’s the time. Do it. And I was almost kind of shocked to hear this whisper, because I hadn’t want to do anything other than like workout. They make my daughter case ideas, you know, It was like pretty much what I was accomplishing on a daily basis. And I heard this in. Meanwhile, you know, this is the Panda that we weren’t pandemic levels but the coronavirus was happy happening, um, But there was just something that said, you gotta do it. It’s gonna be great and everything’s gonna be okay. And so I went in. It was like that for me that experience was real when everything kind of flipped for me. Like I just came back in this new state right now. Not everyone go do something like this to kind of get out of panic mode. But I think what got me to the place where I could kind of hear that whisper was just getting really kind of like being okay and not knowing and being okay with all these emotions that were happening and just trying to really here, you know, even though it’s not words here feel what is like right in the moment and following it. So that’s kind of what happened. And then I went to Thailand. It was amazing and life changing. And then came back and all hell broke loose. Right.

Felicia: It’s you talking about timing and deed right i guess I gotta go now or never.

Rachel: It’s, actually, it’s hard to imagine you know that that was a recent that you had that experience. And now, and it’s an IT, is this you know, a lot of the times, foolish and I, when we have conversations. And I think when we talk a lot with our community. It’s not. It’s very least are grounded in like logic and you know like practicalities and we don’t always talk about more of the spiritual meditative self care. So when we’re talking about self care, but sort of in like broad terms like food.

Felicia: Well, I think, too, though, I agree with you, obviously, as I always agree with you on everything. But I will say, I think, you know, I’m just thinking back to a few months ago when we had a moment where we were. We sort of were struck with this gut vibe about something, a decision that we were making. And I remember it was such a startling experience for both of us because we both shared it as we always do share experiences but be because we’re so grounded in the logic and the intellectual ism of making decisions. When we both were hit with this gut feeling. I remember just being like so bowled over by it because there was no rational reason for having this feeling But I was having a very real feeling. And so I think that you know that your experience, Cheryl really speaks to me because I think sometimes we do have these whispers of almost that I don’t know. It’s sort of like that ancient mentality where it’s like that, you know, underneath where it’s not coming from you’re you’re actively firing rain, but it’s something really deep inside it’s not something that we’re used to feeling. And so it really can be very startling when it kind of comes up, but it doesn’t mean that it’s any less important are valid or powerful. So, yeah.

Rachel: Yeah, more.

Cheryl: Exactly. It’s fascinating. Right. So I sort of feel like you know there. It’s like I was being forced to be in this space right by this other part of me like it’s almost as I’m talking it’s like hard. We had talked about I don’t know how to explain it with words like what do you mean this other part of I get I confuse myself because but I literally became unrecognizable to myself. That’s mind boggling right after. So yeah, it’s just it’s I’m still kind of bowled over by it that I became unrecognizable to myself. And now there’s like this little this little piece of me is kind of coming back in the doing and being but in a different way. So, it’s been so now you know I came back from Thailand and literally created the entity. And just said, I’m, you know, I’m going to just put this out there. I don’t know what it is, but I’m just going to like manifest something and so that’s just been like great right now under the umbrella, which I know rth labs will evolve into something else. But right now it’s advising consulting and coaching. And I’ve been advising startup and I got in touch with this woman and I think she reached out to me over the holidays so it’s been a while there we were working together. And you know she’s awesome she’s young and making stuff happen and it’s like really old school industry and shaking things up and she’s building on Salesforce. So it’s great because I can really help her. And so it’s just so gratifying. Because you know maybe we chat once a week or something and then I get on some calls here and there and I’ve helped connector to like a designer and to folks that can help her build and it’s just so gratifying. Because, like, you know, just the little bit I can offer is really helpful and I see that she appreciates it. I appreciate it. So that works been really great.

Rachel: And it’s interesting because it sounds like what you’re trying to do is come from a place of and I feel like this is the struggle of, like, you know, where we all think about like money first right like how we’re going to make those dollars. How do we get that. And it sounds like there was a mind switch to, like, how can I be a force for good in the world. How can I support other people, how can I do everything in my power to be the best person that I can be to serve everyone else. It sounds to me like you know with with what you’re doing with giving back and

the folks that you’re talking with you know you were just saying before, you know, it’s great that you’re able to advise you know people who are trying to sort of level up in their career. And, you know, and that’s a huge challenge. It’s one that you faced and then you sort of come out of it on the other side. It’s funny. I’m wondering if the advice you’d give is like, leave your corporate job and go and find yourself. Don’t do that. Yeah.

Cheryl: Yeah.

Rachel: That’s true.

Cheryl: Well with those, but you know, I’m not sad. I’m doing the coaching. Right. So it’s interesting because we talked about advising coaching and we talked about this in the program. There’s like essentially four roles. You can play. You can be the supporter like someone who just, you know, tell me your rose and I’ll just listen and like give you positive vibes back. You can be the mentor. So maybe you’re giving some advice. But also, you know, challenging. And then there’s the coach, which is really, you’re not giving advice at all. And then the advisor. So on the advisor side. It’s like I’m being paid to just surely give advice. I have decades of experience. I’m an elder now is what I like to think of myself as. So here’s my advice and I’m going to cut to it right and then with the coaching on the other end. It’s the answer is within each of us like we need to all. We all have our own answer, but sometimes it’s just you know that thinking. Mine is just kind of getting in the way. Or there’s just too much and you just need a partner, a Sherpa guide or you know someone to help kind of get it to organize it and bring it into here. Those little those little those little nuggets, so the Berkeley way as you look for what has heartening meaning when people are talking. So you’re looking for, kind of, we were talking about a minute ago, less of, like, the logical and more of that. That kind of under layer like what’s the gut, saying, and when, when do people light up. Or when do they, when do they like you know kind of do the opposite of light up like you’re looking for those kinds of things. Um, what’s been fun. So I have my own coach through the program and we were doing a virtual coaching session. A couple weeks ago. And so I had like the zoom up on my laptop and then I have like a more of a surface and I was drawing off myself, you know, I have an artistic side. I’m a very visual person and I was sort of like as we were talking, I was saying how I kind of, I’m in this mode of this current incarnation of me is like the Explorer, you know, and I have. So I’ve taken to where you go. I know you all appreciate this fanny pack.

Rachel: Oh my gosh they’re so hot right now.

Cheryl: They are so. I am like loving the fanny pack. I got all my tools in there. You know my airport. Oh my, my city, my wife’s my Clorox way. Everything I need my chapstick in my fanny pack. I’m in like literal manifestation of like explorer mode. And so I drew out from myself this river and kind of like the old you know the the place I was in the place I’m going to and that sort of that, you know, a visual representation of kind of where I’m at, in my life and it. It’s simple, but there was some nice beauty to it and I printed it and I have it in my office. So as I started doing the coaching sessions with my pro bono clients as I’m kind of building up and getting to my true certification a visual kind of emerges as we talk and for every person. It’s been a different visual and so now I’ve taken to creating this for each of my coaching clients.

Rachel: Hmm. And it’s been

Cheryl: And it’s been fun because it’s like I’m able to kind of tap into this my artistic side in this sort of visual quality that I am drawn to. And then I can see when I send it out to folks. It’s like they’re really appreciate it. Right. Yeah, they print it like I’m coaching my cousin. Who lives up in Oregon. And she’s like, I’m going to print this out and hang up in my office, you know, cool. That’s been another head of like lovely thing that’s been evolving for me.

Rachel: Yeah, Ilove that, I love that. I’m just sorry flesh. If you want to. Okay. All right. Um, you know, this is a weird time in the world. And so I’m kind of curious to know, you know, now that you’re starting on this coaching journey. You know what kind of advice would you give him well you know we have a lot of wonderful people who listen to this podcast, who I think are

you know, they’re in a variety of stages in their career and they’re just trying to figure some stuff out and I know it’s hard to give general advice to every single human on the planet.But you know if you have any sort of words of wisdom, I’d be curious to hear, especially since you’re at this really important point in your journey.

Cheryl: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting because, as this has been playing out right this pandemic and in i and i think i’ve been there’s and I’m sure y’all feeling the same there’s like a lot of emotions. There’s a lot of, we’re all kind of feeling alive and thinking a lot. And there have been a lot of questions that have emerged for me, you know, thinking about what’s essential and what’s non essential. You know how much you know how much of my life and my time is truly essential right and oh god, were some of their I have a bunch of other questions, and all of a sudden, I’m blinking. But when so so I was grappling with a lot of this, this notion of essentialism. Early on, and in the sequestration, you know, am I, and then also starting to like, am I doing enough, right, am I doing enough, is it enough to just stay home and not add to the problem. You know what else can I do, I am not crafty. I’m not about start sewing mass. So, like I just said, that’s another skill set, I have am I doing enough. And then, as I’ve been doing some of this coating and so I was hesitant to post so I am. I’m also working. I have a couple of coaches right now just really fun in the other coach. I started working with in the around the holidays as well. In she’s sort of helping me figure out sort of what I’m you know the coaching stuff, but also a lot around money mindset because we touched on that a little. And I think it’d be helpful to circle back on that a little bit later because yeah relationship with money has been definitely another kind of theme that I’ve been working through over the past six months since I left my secure a job and I’m paying my own health care. Or it’s a thing. Um, but, oh gosh, where was I, dear helped me.

Rachel: Oh, just sort of advice for…

Cheryl: Me. Thank you. Thank you.

Rachel: Yeah, yeah.

Cheryl: So yeah, so this enough fitness right this question, am I doing enough and then. So, and then, as I’ve been doing the coaching and in some other some other things I’ve been working on and like for myself, the thing I’ve been thinking about is the question that that has really driven me a lot is in my development and especially in my career. And as I went from you know the roles and becoming an executive and etc was the, why not me was the question that I often make not why me, but why not me. You know, that’s, I think, when you see okay when you see something that maybe you aren’t happy with, you know, or there’s not enough diversity and leadership or, you know, why is it always the same kind of people that are running the show.

Why not me, is the question. So that was starting to kind of bubble up for me and in realizing that you know and I don’t want to generate or generalize around all sort of female and I women, you know, but t a lot of us tend to kind of in these these moments, go into like caretaker mode, right, and I will definitely say in our household. I’m doing a lot of cooking and that is a natural sort of place. I go, um, but, and that’s great. But this is also an opportunity for us to say to, kind of, you know, why not me. Like, we’re going to all come out of this, and are we going to come out of this. You know, I don’t want to say using this as an opportunity because that always sound a little weird when you say it out loud because this is an awful thing we’re going through collectively.

Rachel: I call it a probability. I wish I could take credit for it. It’s from crazy ex girlfriend. I use it all the time.

Cheryl: Yeah, probably too. I can’t even say it. Opportunity. Yeah, probably to ask ourselves that in to take a step in a direction to challenge ourselves to go out of our comfort zone and to do whatever that thing is that thing is that’s over there. And so for me, that thing was to start my own thing. You know, like scare the hell out of me and still does but now, at least, because there’s this kind of bigger, broader.

Rachel: Global here.

Cheryl: It’s sort of made my fears seem so small. So minimal. So in some ways it’s almost easier. I just them being in doing and feeling like it’s going to be okay. I’m going to be okay. And then going in that direction of pushing myself and in the direction of why not me.

Rachel: You know.

Felicia: Interesting. And that’s it. I love that for you. The fear and uncertainty around rth Labs has sort of been pressed down because of this larger fear because I feel like for a lot of people it might even be the opposite, right, because in times of uncertainty and upheaval and collective panic and fear. Being sort of out there on your own without having some of these more traditional structures of stability, like the corporate job like the title like the paycheck coming in, I think, there are definitely lots of people out there who are in very similar boats to you, but I can only imagine might be feeling almost the opposite, and it feels like you’re in this very zen place right and Which I think is amazing. I’m curious if anything has shifted in regards to your thinking about rth labs with your vision or your goals or even like what’s coming up next month, or this year, given that the world today in early April 2020 is completely different than, you know, February 2020 or the holidays 2019 like it’s just so different. Has anything shifted at all for you and like how you’re looking at your own venture and the password there.

Cheryl: I mean, the thing that really has shifted is what you’re describing so i don’t know even how to explain for myself how because when I think about where I was in January, which was a bit in a state of panic right I grammatically about like what am I doing, where am I going and what is, you know, I have no idea. And, you know, that was kind of where I was. And so it’s almost so I feel really just lucky and grateful that for whatever reason this has been my reaction to this, which is to settle in to the uncertainty and almost yeah and that’s the shift is that I no longer feel like I have to, like, I don’t longer feel this panic urgency around what this needs to become it doesn’t need to become anything anymore. Just, I believe it’s going to be evolved into the right thing. Right. And I don’t and that’s what’s been so remarkable for me is that I this shift has occurred and it’s almost inexplicable because I should be more here what the future holds for any of us.

Rachel: It’s a very Buddhist mindset. It’s great.

Felicia: And it actually reminds me so you know in our work. I run a lot of the the trainings and the programming that we do on the diversity side and there’s a concept and framework that we use with pretty much any workshop or programming that we put out there, which is this idea of moving outside of your comfort zone and leaning into that that discomfort and I think you mentioned earlier, sitting in the discomfort, you know, and so we talked about that too and for us, the way we frame it is if you’re not outside of your comfort zone, you’re not learning. You’re not stretching yourself. You’re not pursuing those opportunities or properties, whatever it might be and you’re never going to grow if you’re just staying where it’s safe and easy. But for us, the way we look at it is to try and ask people to lean into the discomfort, but not tip over into panic mode. Yeah, I think that’s probably the razor thin edge that a lot of us are dancing on these days where there’s a lot of discomfort. A lot of fitting in it. But then there’s also panic mode which is right there as well. But I love this idea of just, you know, looking at this concept of discomfort as not necessarily inherently bad but what we’re can lead us and what can it tell us about ourselves and our goals. And so I think that’s, that’s really lovely that you’re sort of, you’re like, I’ve been here already and come join me world.

Cheryl: Exactly. Exactly. And that’s and that’s what kind of like, We’re all being forced, you know, to be in it in a lot of ways. And one of them again like I wish it wasn’t happening and my heart like aches for the folks that are in the hospitals and medical professionals and people in their lives on the line, having see the suffering and the death. I mean, that’s just like I don’t wish that on anyone at all. And obviously, you know, the fact that we can work remotely is

Rachel: Yeah, you know amazing and not everyone has that option.

Cheryl: And so yeah, we’re sort of being forced to be uncomfortable and what’s been inspiring is just the ingenuity and the creativity coming from like everybody is just mind blowing. So that right the creativity and ingenuity. The, the care and concern and community. Know why we can be like this all the time. Why does it take a pandemic for us to all of a sudden like really truly care about one another. You know, we have we do, but we’re comfortable right we get comfortable. And then, and so it’s easy when you’re comfortable with, like, not To not have to kind of break outside of your comfort zone, whether it’s like your community using move in and the activities you do, that is what you know how you spend your time. So we’re all kind of being forced to really, you know, confront all of this. So, but it’s so it’s both. Yeah, there’s so much. That’s awful. But there’s so much that is like really, really, really inspiring.

Rachel: Yeah, it’s so funny. I think with Felicia said to just nailed it like it’s so funny. It’s like, yeah, you’re like, welcome to the party. It’s like we it’s you just like, it’s like I’m flush and I’ve obviously been talking a lot about this. We’ve all been talking so much ad nauseum about what is happening in the world and you know there’s a part of me just feels like you know when these moments happen. It’s like we wake up.

Cheryl: Yeah.

Rachel: Your point about like, you know, why can’t we always because we walk around the world. So, you know, like, in many ways, like zombies. A lot of times. Yeah, no, just like you know don’t say the, the real Hello, don’t ask the real genuine, how are you and now it’s moments like this and you just beat us all to the punch.

Cheryl: A little bit, just a few months.

Rachel: But just a few months.

Rachel: In a though. Yeah.

Cheryl: It’s interesting because when you say wake up like that was the thing that kind of hit me in the fall. Was this real, you know, I’ve been paying attention to climate change and the stuff happening around that for years now intellectually like that. The busy front of my mind. And obviously the things like the wildfires in California, like it’s all very real. It’s very close it’s not, it’s not something that’s out there, over there or in the future, it’s real, it’s happening now. But for whatever reason in the fall. It became this real visceral thing where all of a sudden it was like everything about how is living my life I became like it just, it was I went from not being able to see it to seeing it and just being like, Oh my God, what are you, what are you doing and seeing like all the plastic all the time and it almost for the first couple months. It was like overwhelming because I was trying to grocery shop and minimize plastic, but it was everywhere and  so it was almost kind of a lot in I made a lot of changes over those first couple of months and the unfortunate thing is some of those had to roll back like I can’t shop in the boat section anymore. You know having to kind of go back to plastic bags and things like that. But, um, but a lot of like this kind of Earth undercurrent for me was that it was the kind of the just the waking up to like what was happening, you know, from the planet standpoint and then my contributions to that. And so that’s been the other thing I’ve been kind of processing. So you know processing that processing my relationship to money. Security and it’s all you know, and now it’s all in this kind of backdrop and in some ways, what’s yeah what’s interesting. It’s like I have the time, you know.

Rachel: Yeah, we’re fortunate in that way. I think to be able to have the time to sort of process. Some of this stuff for sure.

Cheryl: And I know rth labs, whatever it is, it’s, it’s, it’s going to manifest something in that space and and I just don’t know what yet, you know, being it’s. That’s the kind of interesting thing when you look at, like, when you look at what’s most needed right now, right, in response to the pandemic. It’s not necessarily high tech. I mean, yeah, there’s things That Can Be Done that can help scale and accelerate, but it’s facemasks, you know, very low tech and the fact is, for all of our technological progress. It’s not saving or buts right now.

Felicia: I’ve been I’ll admit I’m Rachel knows I’m a huge Twitter user and Twitter fan and I’ve been amusing myself recently by going down these rabbit holes of seeing who in tech and high tech think now that they can solve all these problems because they know tech and they are falling flat on their faces because they don’t know epidemiology and they don’t know you know how to be a doctor and they don’t know you know virus spread. And so it’s just really fascinating to also get this reality check that, you know, I think in the tech industry a lot. There’s this idea that we are you know way above in terms of being better than other people and can solve all the world’s problems. And then here you have Ilan musk sending see pat machines and that have ventilators because he doesn’t understand the difference between them. And it’s just really fascinating to me to sort of see this dynamic shifts and I was actually I tweeted this out the other day, but I’m really curious to see once we sort of get through this time of discomfort and uncertainty and horrible illness that we’re all sitting in right now. I’m really, really curious to see it this sort of continues to shake out and we start devaluing certain industries and jobs and people and start lifting up others like grocery workers and delivery people and nurses and admin staff who are literally on the front lines where the billionaires and the tech moguls and the you know, the program managers in Silicon Valley cannot help really and are not contributing to a lot of this stuff. So that’s something that I’m going to be eagerly awaiting to see how that shakes out.

Cheryl: Absolutely.Same here in thinking. So that was similarly, as I was sort of starting to kind of read about. So one of the, one of the things I really am glommed on to and enjoyed reading through his project drawdown if you’ve heard of this. But it’s, essentially, it was like a collaborative of folks that kind of came together and pulled together all of the things we could do. As humans to alter the course of climate change. So a lots of ideas around carbon sequestration, as well as, like, minimizing the mission. So on both sides and and in so I was kind of looking at it as in like, okay, where could I potentially make a dent in realizing like you know because a lot of it. I mean, there are aspects like education of women and girls globally, like, super important. And I think tech can help with that as an example. But a lot of it requires knowledge of the sciences of biology of chemistry and I was. It was kind of hitting me that, like, you know, I started off as chemical engineer. Right. And my career. And oh, if I had to maintain those skills are done that work. I could be potentially more use. At this time, but something that kind of hit me.

Rachel: You know, it was just funny because like I was just thinking about Cheever read Naomi Klein’s book. This changes everything.

Cheryl: No, I read shock doctrine, but not that one.

Rachel: Oh, that’s a group. This one is basically, I will say this one is basically like yeah so about that whole climate change thing. It’s great that we are individually doing things. But the only way that we’re really going to make any sort of differences if we change capitalism. And I was like, so because you know it’s. Yeah, it really is like, it’s great that we’re able to do some things but wow. Is it really on the nurse, it’s the responsibility of people who have so much more power than the individual does and it is. And to your point, Felicia likes it. It’s going to be interesting to see. But I mean I’m usually a pretty sunshiny person. But I will say, I think, you know, Wherever the money goes. That’s, that’s all ultimately what seems to matter. So to most to most of the human race.

Cheryl: Yeah but and I do think there are some good examples of like there are some companies that are inspiring me because they’re using sort of the market modality. And like the sort of capitalistic structure and consumerism, to make a taste like Impossible Foods is the one I like. The fact that they’ve been able to create demand and desire for a plant based, you know, meat product or however you want to refer to it. I love impossible burgers and impossible meatballs is remarkable right because that like that’s really pretty awesome because I think all prior approaches which are using like maybe blame and shame. Beginning people to become vegetarians or vegan doesn’t work, but to create sort of like a desire trademarks just folks who would normally eat meat was is I think a great attempt

Rachel: I think that’s a great, that’s a great point. I think, yeah, it’s using capitalism for good. Yeah, it is like the best way I think that we will wow this conversation just like well right there.

Felicia: Capitalism.

Rachel: Complicated.

Rachel: Capitalism does every day. That’s a whole big conversation about capitalism recently is like capitalism isn’t inherently bad just has to be run correctly. Yeah. Any hurdles. Um, let’s switch gears yes to something fun question that we love to ask all of our guests. Once it that you are currently speaking out about and it can be. It’s not something that’s work related does not have to be pandemic related. Ideally, not.

Cheryl: Let’s see, one of the things I’m eating out about lately is I started before all this happened. I had started a painting class and oil painting class in January. And so I’ve always like done a little bit of art, but was pretty self taught and mostly it was because it’s something my daughter likes to do. And so I can do it with her. And when, when I had some time, I decided I wanted to maybe like to learn some stuff. So I signed up for this oil painting class and I was going Tuesday mornings for like three hours. And it was just like fun little quirky people and we’d all pain in the guy who runs it. He’s like an artist’s in San Francisco. And he kind of comes around and checks in on you and maybe helps you know like gives you kind of instruction in the moment. And I was really set like it was a real, you know, I would just get in the zone. I would just start painting and I would listen to, like, I listened to 70s rock.

Rachel: Love it.

Cheryl: Yep. And I would just like to get so in the zone and just paint away and the cool thing I’m finding about painting. It’s like you go through that like a trough of like you start off, you’re feeling good and optimistic and then it goes like South and there’s like I’m never gonna be able to do this. This painting is a mass and but you persevere and then come out and then like tours and you’re just like, oh my god, that’s so cool, like I made that you know So I go through that on a regular basis, every time I do a new painting. Um, and so that and so that’s happening. So he’s had to adjust and he’s doing like he’s giving us our assignments virtually and we’ve done what for we did our first like zoom check in. And so, you know, because in art class, we would all take a break and we would do like a critique. If someone was ready for critique or he talked about the shows that were going on. And so I started like go look at more. Which was really fun.

And then I started doing this book called drawing, drawing on with the right side of your brain.

I’m kind of like an old book, I guess. But there’s still the woman who wrote it still does these workshops are like these five day workshops and when you look at the book. It’s really cool. Cuz she shows what you know when people do her five day workshops, they do a self portrait at the beginning and a self portrait at the end and the difference is like dramatic.

Rachel: That’s wild.

Cheryl: Because you know what she’s teaching you is how to really see like how to really see because what you realize is that alot of us draw with this intellectual side of you that that sort of part of our brain. And so we go oh, this is what an eye looks like and we don’t draw we see we draw what we think lemon. And so that’s the number one thing that I pulled out of that I thought was like is remarkable. So a lot of the early exercises are drawing something upside down so you can kind of use your mind. So you’re trying to trick your left brain and so that it gets turned off, and then the. The second thing was that the self portrait at the beginning is essentially a reflection of when that person decided they didn’t know how to draw and it was typically somewhere between, like, five and 14.

Rachel: Very interesting.

Cheryl: Yeah, it’s really interesting. And most people can learn how to, like, no, I mean, I think she would say everyone to learn how to draw, they can get through the workshop and brain know how to build this skill. But at some point they got some external message likely right that’s like you don’t know where you’re doing that’s ugly or you don’t know how to draw and they just stop. So that I find fascinating as well.

Rachel: Yeah, I wonder what the correlation between that and like learning an instrument is. Yes, similar or singing Yeah.

Cheryl: Or any kind of like creative thing that requires you to kind of let go of control.

Rachel: Yeah, uncomfortable don’t like it.

Cheryl: So that’s exactly why I’ve been spending time doing these. drawings and then painting. And what I’m finding is it’s like beyond just it being kind of meditative. You know, it’s like, you know, you kind of shut out all the other things, it’s also like I’m learning these things about me and about being human, that I think I didn’t expect. Yeah, learning from just going times.

Rachel: Wow. And you can do it virtually because you just need to buy the things and then they can show up at your house. Yeah.

Cheryl: Literally, like the book. It’s like you need some paper and some pencils and you know there was something where you create this kind of like visual plane.

Cheryl: So I just, took a piece of glass from a frame and just taped around the edges. And so that, so instead of like ordering something I just use what I had. So it’s really cool like you’ll you’ll hold the glass like over you’re like one of the exercises you contort you’re kind of like hand in this weird shape that you would never be able to draw and then you put the glass over it. Like you balance the glass on top of your hand and then you close one eye and then trace what you see with a Sharpie or, you know, something you can erase on the glass. And it’s really fascinating because like, that’s how you figure out how to change something sort of three dimensional.

Felicia: Then another fascinating fun exercise.

Rachel: Now I’m going to go do that. Yeah, that sounds great. I’m yeah I’m definitely fluid and I’ve talked about, like, just like maybe taking this time to like build doing other things that are not just about, you know, work and in my case, eating.

Cheryl: You know,

Felicia: Let’s be real.

Cheryl: Be real bond like consuming of entertainment and then submit. Brutal.

Rachel: And that has been here for it. Yeah. That’s been lovely. Thank you so much. Cheryl. Is there anything that you want to plug share links to people how people find you.

Cheryl: Well if yeah I mean earth labs com r th labs com you know mostly I’m doing some, like I said some advising or couple of companies and organizations that I’m, you know, likely to be doing some consulting work with so filling up that docket as far as that goes, but you know, coaching right now. I’m still sort of like learning mode and I have a bunch of former colleagues that have agreed to be my guinea pigs. Which has been great, but soon enough. I’ll be certified and I really hope to focus the coaching work I do on folks that kind of want to get into executive ranks or leadership ranks and government or nonprofit or our companies and just helping to ensure there’s more diversity and then eventually to thinking about working with folks that maybe aren’t you know that you know like the straight white guys out there who want to create cultures. You know who want to be supportive of a diverse leadership culture and maybe

wanting to do some of their own work to understand how they might be helping or hindering that

you know that kind of environment so people can find me on Earth labs and there’s like a little contact me forum and there’s a blog there and I’ve had one post, which is an explanation of the, the name of the company.

Rachel: I love that. Well, thank you so much. We really appreciate you spending some time with us and we wish you all the best.

Felicia: Yeah, let’s not let another two years go by.

Rachel: Stay home. Thank you.

Cheryl: All those things. All right.

Rachel: Bye bye.