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Advancing Women in Senior Leadership to Drive Systemic Change
Episode 4212th April 2023 • Elements of Community • Lucas Root
00:00:00 00:50:44

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Get ready for an inspiring episode of Elements of Community! We're chatting with Alessandra Wall, a leading career coach with a background in clinical psychology. Her mission is to support women in attaining senior leadership positions in their careers – and we can't wait to hear what she has to say. Buckle up and tune in for a discussion that will leave you feeling motivated and empowered!

Alessandra emphasizes the importance of social capital, which refers to the benefits that individuals and organizations can derive from their social networks. It includes the resources, information, and connections that can be obtained through relationships and trust built within a network.

Building social capital is not just about having a large network but also nurturing relationships within it. Alessandra created an online community through Slack for her clients to connect with each other, share ideas, and create opportunities for one another. By creating a space for her clients to interact with each other, Alessandra was able to facilitate the building of relationships within her network and encourage collaboration and support among members.

In this community, Alessandra helps foster a sense of community and connection among members. She implemented several activities to promote engagement and relationship building, including weekly Monday Motivations and Friday Wins to encourage conversation, accountability calls to support members in their goals, and peer advisory calls to facilitate sharing and learning. A common language of "Common Heart" was developed to emphasize the importance of honesty, vulnerability, and care for others.

Through these activities, Alessandra's clients were empowered to support each other in the pursuit of their goals. Members could leverage their social capital to help each other in small but meaningful ways, such as borrowing a cup of sugar or a loan of money from a trusted friend.

Overall, building social capital is an important aspect of building and maintaining a successful network. By nurturing relationships within one's network and fostering a sense of community, individuals can leverage their social capital to obtain valuable resources and opportunities, while also providing support and help to others within their network.

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • We discussed how essential social capital is for humans to survive and thrive.
  • Alessandra highlighted the importance of women building social capital with each other through mutual support and vulnerability, emphasizing the power of relationships in fostering personal growth and achievement.
  • Lastly, Alessandra provided an interesting response to one of the curve ball questions—if you got to invite x many people to a dinner party, who are the three people you'd wanna sit down with?

AND MORE TOPICS COVERED IN THE FULL INTERVIEW!!! You can check that out and subscribe at

If you want to know more about Alessandra Wall, you may reach out to her at:



That long, you're aging us.

Yeah. Right. We've gone on some coffee dates, and some walks in several different parks and now we get to have a conversation about some of the things that we've had conversations about before.

Yeah, it's exciting, right?

It is exciting. So that's how and why I know you why don't you tell the audience a little bit about why they care.

About me?


Fascinating. Why should you care about me? That's a big question. So, by way of introduction, my name is Alessandra. I am by trade, a clinical psychologist, but I don't do that anymore, although it's still in me, right? It's part of, I'm not.


never goes away.

No, because I became it. Because I am it.

But these days what I spend [:

So women who need to change their situation so they can change the world.



nd actually be heard, to act [:

I want that too.

I wrote a, you know this, you saw it. You're one of the few people who commented on it. I wrote a LinkedIn post three years ago where I talked about the statistics of women in leadership positions and specifically in chief officer positions. And their powerful statistics in this post was sort of lambasting people for not paying attention to it.

So maybe that's part of why people weren't excited by it. Statistics, like, and I've seen you use them recently, statistics like women in CEO positions generate 30% more profit for their companies than other similar companies with not women.

Like, why would a board ever [:

Wait, somebody's gonna give me 30% more profit. That's not a small number. Give me that.

People don't like change. Nobody likes change. We like going on vacation. That's not really change. It's a temporary change of scenery. And if it's too different, the vast majority of people will talk about how things aren't the way they are at home. So, when you ask anyone, male, female, and again, everything in between, right?

Or everyone in between. To make a huge change where the individual personal benefit is not immediately visible. And in this case, when you're telling somebody you know, it's possible that if you bring someone else and they could do better than you.

You're going to get a [:

Yeah. It's interesting that you tied that into vacation. You just have to laugh at that.

You should hear, I have an analogy about inclusion, and throwing a party, so we can throw that one in and it doesn't have to do with dancing.

I mean, you've cued it up now. Don't make me wait.

I was on another interview the other day and at the conclusion of the interview was being asked, you know, how important is inclusion? And they said, actually all of it, you know, DEI, and I said, you know, diversity is great, but diversity is like you throw a party and you bring all your friends into the room, except you have friends from very different groups.

into these groups, these sub [:

And talking to one another and finding out about the commonalities between groups, not only within groups. And so that's when you have a really fun. Like a party where all your friends actually get to know each other, not just show up at the same place. And it's also, if you think of it in a dinner party context, it's the dinner parties where you get the best debates around the table because different people come in with different perspectives.

dy leaves just laughing, and [:

Yeah, I've had those dinner parties. I've attended them and I've hosted them and yeah. Fun.

And you know how much work it takes to host them.

Right. That's the job of the leadership of an organization. There's a lot of intent that goes into hosting a party like that. You have to make sure you know everybody, that you understand what elements of somebody's story can relate to somebody else's, that you stop and make those introductions.

You can't participate in the party as much because you have to watch the dynamics of the room. See who's feeling uncomfortable. Go and check in on them. But the end result is so gratifying, even if you didn't get to relax and laugh as much as your guests did.

Yeah. Okay. You ready for this?


alking about. I went to one, [:

Depending on what country you're in, I can understand that question.

What hand do you eat sushi with? And I was like that, the level of attention to detail right there is exactly the kind of leadership that I want to see everywhere.

That is very considerate. It's kind.

I just had sushi last night, so.

Hmm. Was it good?

It was delicious and I eat it with my right hand if anybody's wondering.

Yeah, I'm a righty. I eat sushi with my left hand.

Ah, fascinating.


So we cannot sit next to each other at a table when eating sushi, unless actually you're on my left side, and then we're all good.

Mm-hmm. [:


Yeah. Yeah, I was like that. I'm just, I was so tickled by that, that level of planning, that attention to detail that at the depth to which that person was attending to what was gonna make an amazing conversation, and what would interact with that conversation negatively.

Cause if we're bumping elbows in a literal sense, that's not fun.

No, it makes your table mate. What's the fun in that?

Yeah. Tell me about your community.

And when I built my company, [:

And the idea is those women hold the power to how we work and how money it's disseminated in our technology and our health, and to get them into positions of power so that they can us all. And initially I just wanted to walk in, do my job and walk out, and there are a couple hiccups to that. First is, I am a convert when it comes to believing in and understanding the power of social capital.

I had coaching business before this one, which was a total financial failure, just failure of a company. Great learning opportunity, and I've always said that part of the reason Noteworthy worked really well is because I did things like meeting people like you and reaching out. Like, well, you met on LinkedIn and you were so kind.

u, you were so kind. It's so [:

She was a master connector, super. And so I talk about social capital with these women all the time, and I talk about the importance not just of having a bunch of people who join your networks, but actually getting to know those people. I talk about giving into the network, but I also talk about taking out of that network.

So pulling from it, which a lot of the women I work with struggle to do. They're fine. Giving, giving, giving. You ask them anything. They will jump on a call. They will ask, they will sponsor, they will. If you tell them you need to leverage, and this is a word they hate, you need to leverage your relationships. They bak.

dea of social capital and I, [:

So the differentiating factor is who knows you, who do you know? What do they know about you, and what opportunities are they going to give you access to? And then, you know, marriage can kick in, but it doesn't always. So it's a really long story.

Keep going. I'm in.

I found myself very often trying to connect my clients to, first of all, people in my network who I thought could help them or support them, people in my network whom I believed they could support, and then to each other.

ather them all together in a [:

You talk about social contract, right? So, there's a courtesy of saying, I'm not going to come, or the courtesy of coming because you are a member of a community. I didn't want that. But here's the thing, there was no other choice because these are extraordinary women and they deserved to be not just introduced to one another.

gital Rolodex. They deserved [:

I remember that one of the first things we did, I would talk to my amazing right-hand woman and I would talk to her and I'm like, nobody's communicating on these channels. There's no conversation. How do we get them? So we started trying to post ideas and Monday motivations and whatever that got us nothing.

Slack notifications, cuz on [:

And then one woman said, it's so impressive that you all care, right? So that somebody will check on somebody else. Hey, you said you had this thing coming up. Did it actually happen? Did it go through? Right? When somebody posts a win, they'll comment, oh my goodness. That's great. But it's not just those easy comments, it's thoughtful Interaction.

were still on this platform, [:

And anybody who knows me knows I am not into the whole, like dump, just dump knowledge or dump information and then you figure it out. It doesn't work. Especially with the kind of stuff I teach people, it doesn't work. It's too complex. So I started hosting free accountability calls once a month, and then those morphed into peer advisory calls.

Cuz what I realize is sometimes people would bring up questions and I'm like, I don't know. I've never worked in the corporate world. I have worked for myself my whole career, but what I do have is a virtual room full of women and they can probably answer the question better than I can. So I threw it at them and now we have peer advisory calls twice a month.

And [:

Wow. You talked about a couple of different things in there. And I'll come back to all of them cuz they're all fascinating to me. One thing I didn't hear a mention of was any version of common language. So.

Language. A common language is a language of heart.

Ooh, I want more of that.

Well, okay. If the common language is the way in which we all get each other,


at's not what it is. Yes. We [:

Right. And some of the women I'm working with are looking for new jobs or promotions. Some are exactly where they wanna be. It's just about being the best leader you can be or having the most positive impact you can have. Where you see the community really thrive is when women stop worrying about.

This is gonna sound like a real world pre segment when you stop worrying about this and you start doing that, but when they stop worrying about how they'll be perceived, and then they start just being really honest about where they are. So I had one member of our community, I knew this story about her, but it wasn't mine to share, really admit to the community that she had worked herself to the hospital once. Right.

She's just [:

So it's not just telling the story of like, look where I was and I've risen from there and whatever. It's like, and I'm kind of right back there. So that level of honesty. It's about getting honest to the point where, and they're still very polite with each other, where they can start really disagreeing.

I'm waiting for that, but we're a young community. It's a year and a half of my efforts at this point in bringing them together. Give them three or four or five years and then I think we can have some healthy debating, which would be really good.


So that's what Common Heart is. Reminder to the listeners, and you've been dancing on Common Heart with more or less every piece of your description, which I love cuz that's the glue that holds together the community.

And I embrace all of it for [:

Where's the beauty? Right. And I come into conversations like that. My women have seen me cry. It is so, I believe for any women who are listening to this who've gotten in trouble at work for crying, it's a branding issue. So I have branded the fact that I am incapable, incapable of making a heartfelt speech without blubbering.

not talking about sniffling, [:

Like tears streaming, mascara running.

Like tear streaming, can't catch myself. I have branded that as something people want.


Because I'm that person, A, I really care. And B, I will tell it like it is. And that's something you should want. And these women have seen me when we moved from an open community to a private community.

What I have is I have levels. So I have all my former and existing members have access to like a couple levels for free.


Because the power of the community is there, I don't wanna lose it. And then there's certain things that have become part of the paid community, which meant that I was gonna be saying goodbye to a number of members who I'd seen regularly on these peer advisory calls.

ed my eyes out and could not [:


I think because like the hostess at the party, you set the tone. Then these women come in and they follow suit in their own ways, right? That level of what's the word, vulnerability. Everybody has a different threshold. I'm very open with stuff, so it's easy for me to be vulnerable. It's easier for me to be vulnerable.

It's never easy. Whereas somebody else who might feel like they have to protect themselves a lot, what vulnerability will look like to them might not register for some people, but they bring it in. And when we're willing to be vulnerable with one another, like when people see that. That's when you create trust.

her ones. Women who are more [:


That's the goal.

Yeah, we all do actually, that's standard human right.

Is it always though? I think some people close the door, they smack it in their face. They're like, I'm climbing. I don't want you. Like some people are kicking the people on the ladder below them or greasing a rung or two. They don't want the person to fall off, but let's make it a little bit more difficult.

There's that cynicism.

them, and for the most part, [:

The best thing for us is to build community. It's to work together. It's to support each other. It's to create positive engagement. And so we're driven to that. But I mean, I love, I love all things apocalypse. I love all things zombie apocalypse. If you bring that in, it's even better.


And if you push people far enough, even the best people will do terrible things.

Right, and I think ultimately they'll come back to building community and building communities with one another because we're interdependent.

Hmm. It'd be interesting to look at that outside of the model of infinite individualism that we've built here in the US.

True. I am really working [:

Mm-hmm. Yeah, obviously, those of you who listen to this show often know that I do not subscribe to the model of infinite individualism. For me, community and individual have to be, they have to be balanced always for us to be effectively human. So I matter and my community matters always together.

y levels, not just survival. [:

I grew up in France right outside of Paris. My mother now lives in Paris Proper, which is where she was born and raised. And so she went to Japan and she was shocked by how clean even Tokyo was, right? She's like, Japan is so clean, but Tokyo is spotless. People walk around with their own bags.

ou know, that she was born in:

Back then, probably for the betterment of all humanity [00:27:00] to give a little bit of independence and autonomy. She was ashamed, and she tried to find a group that was doing the same thing in Paris, a community, and she found a community of Japanese expats who do that in Paris and walk around. So she'll do that periodically with them.

But it's that, thinking about that is that difference between infinite individualism, like France's is still infinite individualism, right? So people just throw their crap around. The tourists who come in, throw their crap around. But in Japan where that culture, that mentality, that ethos isn't there, at least for the most part.

In good times, we're seeing that you have to see what a zombie apocalypse would look like in Japan.

Now I'm curious.

You know, I'm curious.

We should both call our Hollywood contacts and suggest.

etely different country, but [:

I have not.

Netflix has done such a good job actually, of bringing foreign films to the American viewer. With subtitles, everybody's forced to read, which is great.

Mm-hmm. I have no problem reading. Reading works.

So, there were a few, I wish I could remember the ones, but there were a few streaming on Netflix, which we watched in Korean. With the kids instead of watching it dubbed, so.

You kicked off our relationship with a book.

Oh, which one was it?

For the love of men.

Oh, that is a great book.

Yeah, we connected on LinkedIn. We had a quick phone call. It was a phone call, not a Zoom meeting. Because you know, back then Zoom wasn't a thing.

using it for coaching, but I [:

Yeah. And immediately after that, you reached back out and said, give me your address. I'm gonna send you a book. And you did.

I love books.

And, I still have it.

Yeah, I have several, I mean in the background here. And then there's another bookcase here and that one, and most of my books are digital, but there are still several books that are just hand me downs, like can I show one?


This one is one of my go-to ones.

It's called Good Guys and it's about being a better male ally for women in the workplace and I love it because they talk about being a better male ally for women at home.

So that's when I send around a lot. It's a great book and I think books are a fantastic way of listening to somebody and figuring out how you can add value.

man who I'll probably end up [:

Mm-hmm. And sometimes women suck as allies themselves, right? All of it. It's a couple things, I created a, so I'm having word finding difficulties recently and I wanna tell people what it's about. Can I tell people what it's about?

s. It'll go away eventually. [:

I'm all caffeinated. This is what's going on. So, this and I'm so young, I wanna talk about it cause it's like a taboo topic.

Let's do that. So for people who don't know your body is a whole bunch of interconnected, but not directly connected parts that all need to work really, really well together in unison, in order for you to show up in the world the way you do.

And we use a lot of different communication tools inside our body, just like you would inside a well run, efficient corporation.

A lot of communication tools, not just one. Many people think about the nerves as a communication tool, and it is. There are other communication tools that our body uses and it uses them very, very well that are very different from the nerves. The nerves are for very specific types of communication. Just like in a corporation, there are other communication tools for other types of communication. Hormones are a communication tool.


They go to different parts of your body and give them instructions. It's kind of like kicking off a project when you start changing the hormones, and this is true at any time in your life. But especially at menopause, when you start changing the way that hormones are used inside the body, it also changes the way that the body responds to everything.

Yep. So when I can't find my words, that's what's going on. And, it's a really interesting shift. Coming back to what I was saying, I think the word I was looking for was curriculum. I created a curriculum for male allies for male allyship to deliver to organizations, and one of, it's a five-part curriculum, and one of the pieces is how to address pushback to being a male ally.

l of this back to community. [:

You have to be given the tools and the skills to stand out as an outlier without losing your membership to your existing community, because then you're an exile. And being an exile is terrible. So a lot of what we do is like, how do you respond to people who want to kind of dismiss it by calling it woke cism.

Right. Or make fun of you or say, aren't you taking this too far? And that's a whole different skillset.

f the top five fears for all [:

The result of a failure of public speaking could be something like, and for those of you who are religious, you're gonna jump into this word real quick. It could be something like being excommunicated. Now we have a word for that, that's not excommunication. We have a word for that. It's called ostracization to be ostracized, kicked out of your community and as a human. I have, me personally, I have started this conversation of Maslow did not understand humans as well as we all think he did. As a human, our basic need, our level one, absolute basic need is not actually food, water, and shelter. Because as a human, we can't have those things without community.

That's true.

our basic level one need is [:

I love that you mentioned that, cuz that's what I talk about when I present, when I talk on social capital, and I try to get people to understand how important social capital is. I'll define social capital in a minute for people who don't know the term itself. I love, this is where I leverage my background as a psychologist.

don't. We need a community. [:

Goes away

is massively limited, certainly while she's giving birth.

So giving birth is the most dangerous thing a woman can do. A human female can do in her lifetime. We do a lot of things right now to reduce infant mortality, but prior to that, it was the most dangerous thing, right? That a rate of women dying in childbirth was huge, and so to not have a community that can protect you from predators, from dehydration, from medical complications, without the community, she dies.

s. The baby without the mom, [:

We secrete narrow peptides seeing somebody smile. And this is why I know it sucks. As a woman, when you're told smile more. And if you're told smile more by somebody who's walking down the street who hasn't had a conversation with you, I give you full permission to speak your mind and don't be polite about it.

they feel calmer seeing you.[:

And that is evolution. The smile is an evolved response to indicate, I'm friend, you are a friend. Let's come together and I'm not gonna hurt you.

Cool. It's not just babies and mothers. We all experience the world through the perception that we have of what we grew up in, where meat comes from the grocery store and within the assumption that meat comes from the grocery store. When somebody hands you a rifle and says you can go hunt for yourself, you're good now.

Now, it doesn't occur to you the challenges that come with that. The fact is, even with a rifle, if I don't know where the prey is, there's a reasonable chance I starve to death before I find something to eat.


it like us without community [:


Us without community, we don't work. We, we are not a tiger animal. We are a predator animal, but we are not a tiger. We don't work in the world alone.

Agree. I have nothing else to add to that. It's a statement that stands on its own.


I did say I was gonna define social capital, so I'm gonna do that.

Let's do that

So social capital is the sum total. This is my definition is the sum total of all potential opportunities that arise from the trust and the relationships that you have built within your network.

he more trust, the more real [:

A neighbor three doors down who kind of knows you or a neighbor you have a good relationship with, or a best friend, right? The closer, the more trust you have established with somebody, the more likely they are to help you when you need something, whether it's you know, 10 bucks or you know, that cup of sugar or an introduction to somebody to find a job or an opportunity for a board seat or shelter when the zombies come.

Yeah, and it's not just proximity. So unlike you, I have been in corporate.


e would never have loaned me [:

Now, there were people that I worked with while I was in corporate that would've loaned me that $10 or given me an egg or a cup of sugar. But my cube mate was not one of them. It was not just proximity.

Right. It's quality of relationship.

That's right.

Which is why it's so important to invest time in getting to know people, cuz then you can have the best dinner parties. Cause you can introduce everybody properly and they don't need to be big dinner parties. Even bringing five people who don't know each other around a table.

ur network to have something [:

Yeah, absolutely, amazing. How does it actually show up building social capital inside of the women of Noteworthy?

Can I ask you to define the question a little bit more? Please Use it in a sentence.

They're engaging with each other.


Some of them are in the process of building real meaningful relationships. That they wouldn't have otherwise if they weren't part of the women of Noteworthy. How does that show up in terms of creating additional engagement and leveraging that engagement and bringing more people together and creating new opportunities?

issue or be vulnerable about [:

That might seem small to some people. It is huge feeling. Going back to being ostracized, feeling alone, feeling isolated is the worst thing. There is literally research that shows that that idea like misery Loves Company is true. When we are experiencing something difficult or challenging, when we experience it in the company of somebody else, we literally perceive it physically and mentally is less challenging. That's why working out at the gym in groups is so much easier than working out alone in my garage.


The other way in which we've seen it, it will be things like somebody's interviewing for a job or needs help with negotiation strategies. Again, I have a ton of theoretical knowledge or practical knowledge based on the experience I've had with the women I'm coaching.

But other than establishing [:

They will meet. We have one of our members, we have a few members in London. And so one of our members just went to London with her son. She lives in DC and they connected. They went out and grabbed a drink, right? They will make the time. This Christmas, we had somebody coming in from Cleveland and she was going to be here in San Diego, and those of us who are San Diego based, we all got together.

ping each other. And if help [:


As much as all the other things to genuinely care about somebody else's welfare.

Yeah, that's common heart.

Hmm. That's why I love them so much. I'm gonna start gushing again, but that is, they are, they're. They know this cuz I tell them often and I'm gonna get teary-eyed if I go into it. So I tell them often how amazing I think they are. Damn it.

It's okay.

It is okay. It's just, I, you know, we'll turn it off.

But I never tire of it. It's a little bit like with my children. I never tire of telling my children how much I love them and I actually never tire of telling noteworthy women how much I love them. Sometimes I wonder if they think it's as sincere as it is because I say it so much.

They know you.

Really, it really is.[:

They know you.

They're amazing.

Yeah. Amazing. I love it. I like to wrap up my interviews with three questions.


The first one is for people who are as inspired by you as I have been the whole time I've known you. Where can they find you?

Two places. I have a website, which is, and it's a good place to go. The best place is actually LinkedIn. And it's at Dr. Alessandra Wall, one L two S's. LinkedIn is probably the best place cause I stay up to date. I post often. I check daily. There's a community on there as well and I try to engage with them.

Yeah. The people who know me probably have seen me repost some of your content.


audience has gotten used to [:

Only if you don't ask it to me after, oh my goodness. Okay. There are two that came to mind. I'm gonna tell you the one, it's too much work to answer, so I'm just gonna say it now. What kind of community do you want for yourself?

Right? Because a lot of this is talking about building communities for others, and it's not that clearly we don't like get something from that, but is it different than the community we build for others?

And then the one I always hate, which is if you had, if you got to invite x many people to a dinner party, who are the three people you'd wanna sit down with? I hate that question.


I don't know. It depends. Because the answer is, it depends given on where I'm at in my life.


And it's rarely anybody that anybody else would know.


Like, I don't need to sit [:

Winston Church O and

Actually, you know, Jesus. And I don't know who else, Obama.

I mean, you could with Obama.

I could, but my, like my grandfather would be really cool. Right now there's some, my husband's grandfather who was a Chinese warlord. I want to hear about that. Like, but that might change like a week from now it would be different.

I want to go to that dinner party.

I want Lucas around my table, you know?

Yeah. Well, thank you.

You're welcome.

I want to go to the dinner party with your husband's grandfather.

He, yeah, he has an interesting life. His grandmother, the woman though his wife was even more fascinating cuz when he got assassinated, she fled China with like gold sewed up in her thing. She commandeered an airplane, went off to Japan. Like that is a woman I wish I had known. She was a big gambler. A big drinker like.

I wanna know that woman. [:

I agree. I want to know her too. That sounds like an awesome woman to know.


Wow. Cool. You got it.

Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much for this, for the conversation, for the friendship, for the time, and for the thoughtfulness.

Thank you.

The thoughtfulness in the questions is really important, so thank you.

I appreciate you.

It is reciprocated.




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