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Episode 149: You Need More Peer Support

by Heather Moulder | Life & Law Podcast

One of the top complaints I hear from attorneys is how isolated they feel. They lack support, and mostly frame that in terms of firm/management support.

But when you dig deeper, we usually find that the support they lack (and need most) is peer support.

Join me for a conversation with guest Rachel Clar around why attorney peer support is so crucial for:

  • Your pocket book (she shares a stat that might just blow your mind).
  • Building the law practice you really want (not the law practice others think you should have).
  • Your wellbeing and mental health.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:48] Well, hello, hello, everybody. Welcome to the Life & Law Podcast. This is Heather Moulder, your host. And today we have a special guest.

I want to introduce you to Rachel Clar, founder and CEO of Interconnected Us. Rachel is a networker to her very core, which I can definitely attest to, and is passionate about relationship building, including using the power of community both for business development and for improving your wellbeing. Before founding Interconnected Us, she worked in the real estate development sector, developing affordable housing and solar arrays.

Through interconnected Us, Rachel is on a mission to help women lawyers envision the lives they want and then strategize alongside their peers to make their vision become a reality. Welcome, Rachel.

[00:01:30] Rachel: Thank you. It’s so great to be here. Thanks for having me, Heather.

[00:01:33] Heather: Well, and I am very excited to have you. We’re going to get into a host of topics, but I can attest that you are a master networker. We met on LinkedIn and we immediately set up a copy chat. I think you were the one who came. And I actually do an okay job, I would say, of doing that, but I think you are masterful at it and have done a really good job of really creating a great network of people. So I just wanted to note that.

[00:01:56] Rachel: Thank you. I really appreciate that.

[00:02:00] Heather: So before we get into the main points of today, why don’t you give us a little bit of background about you, how you got started and how you ended up where you are now.

The Reasons Behind Interconnected Us – Rachel’s Story

[00:02:10] Rachel: Absolutely. A little bit about me and how I got started. So let’s see. I went to law school because I cared about justice since I was a little kid. I was the kid in high school who was tabling for animal rights and warning my peers to boycott certain makeup brands.

So it grew from there. I went to college and law school and I began a career working for workers rights in a labor union, and then transitioned into private practice and was practicing in a small firm for a hot minute before billable hours killed my soul. And I switched into the business world.

And from there, I worked in different sectors of real estate, as you noted. So I worked in affordable housing. I also worked in urban infill, and then I worked in the renewable energy field, building solar arrays.

My venture now is Interconnected Us, which is an online community for women attorneys. And the change that I made was because of a lot going on in the world. The pandemic, of course, but also learning about myself and where my best strengths are.

So, as you said, I’m a networker. I’ve naturally loved to connect with people, but also I’ve been through a really unique personal journey that I felt could really add value to people. And I was noticing that the women that I connect with most naturally are usually ambitious, assertive women that want to build the life they want, but they might be stuck. And I was noticing that I was helping people every free minute I had and realized that maybe I was in the wrong field for my best strengths.

[00:03:53] Heather: So, curious, since you started as an attorney, obviously kind of got into the business world, but now you’ve started your own business, which seems to make sense given your trajectory. It seems like you’re a bit entrepreneurial, and this interconnected us is perfect for the person who’s a networker at heart. But why attorneys?

Why help attorneys specifically?

[00:04:17] Rachel: Oh, my gosh. So, first of all, I was looking left and right, and the women, I’ve been like a very strong feminist all the way as well. So women, why women attorneys? I mean, that was really clear.

Why attorneys, though?

Because as I looked around, all the people around me, 80% of them already were lawyers. That’s who I like to interface with, because I always say, when you’re with, and for me, my business is serving women attorneys.

When you’re with a woman attorney, you get empathy and strategy. I love getting those two in one person. So I would say that’s why attorneys also, certainly the industry is really, in a sense, oversaturated with support and in a sense, really underserved, because the need is still tremendous for well being, for community, for business connections and networking and so on. So I just saw certain gaps about what’s currently offered and wanted to fill that.

[00:05:19] Heather: It’s interesting you say it’s oversaturated, yet I think there’s lots and lots and lots of services out there to help attorneys.

In my personal opinion, not many of them actually serve them where they are now and are intended to get them to where they actually want to be. They’re serving them in the traditional way of getting them to where everybody thinks they’re supposed to be going, if that makes sense. Right.

The Mindset of Attorneys

And I know you specifically serve female attorneys, and I did ask attorneys specifically, because I’m like, you can help women in general, but attorneys.

We have this mindset of rule followers. This is how it’s done. Step A, to step, B to step C, to step D, and this is how my progression of my career should be going. And so a lot of those services that I see out there are meant to help you do that.

Not enough to actually help with real mental health and wellbeing and meeting the attorneys where they actually are. To help them live more fulfilling, less stressed lives.

[00:06:30] Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. So building on that, another reason why I wanted to focus on attorneys, because I definitely do feel drawn to other entrepreneurial women like myself, like you, who are equally ambitious and bold.

There’s two other reasons I didn’t share yet. One is when you invest in an attorney, a woman attorney, I mean, that’s who I’m here to serve.

It’s a really leveraged investment. They’re someone who is very well poised to make change in this world when they’re back in their power.

This is very different than someone who, let’s say, owns a nail salon and wants to grow it into three nail salons. I’m not here on this planet to serve that person. I want someone who wants to make the world more equitable. That’s a big deal to me. Who cares about the planet, who cares about our country surviving and all of the challenges we have. So I’m here to uplift people who want to give back and use their careers to do so. That’s who I really want to serve. So it had to be attorneys. We are so well poised to help.

[00:07:41] Heather: We’re uniquely positioned.

[00:07:43] Rachel: We are uniquely positioned. And that was the other point I wanted to share also, when you said, why attorneys?

One Reason We Need Peer Support: Vulnerability

The piece I was noticing is, while I relate to all my attorney peers in our mindset, in many ways, there are some key ways I’m really different from a lot of attorneys. And as the years went on and I noticed how I could add value, that just started to loom larger, and I started to see that the very ways I’m different are an asset. Just for example, like my career trajectory.

I mean, I’m much more comfortable with change and risk than a lot of attorneys straight away. Also, I’ve done a deep dive, studying Buddhism, doing all kinds of work, kind of internal healing work.

I know there’s a lot of attorneys that have tremendous anxiety about vulnerability and looking inward, and I go very long on that, which is not to say I’ve solved everything or have the world all figured out, but it’s a very comfortable space for me compared to a lot of attorneys, especially professionally, having this brave face on and always looking tough and composed and ready and perfect. There can be a lot of avoidance about looking within and dealing with what’s uncomfortable. And I go very long, like I said. So I think that gives me a lot of lessons that I can use to give others and also a lot of lived experiences, how to create a safe space.

[00:09:09] Heather: This is probably why you and I connected so well initially, because I was not like that. I was the traditional don’t want to show vulnerability, the oldest in my family, take care of everybody else person, and then cancer hit.

And I’ve shared this before in the podcast – it taught me that vulnerability is. I can’t escape it, no matter how much I pretend it’s not. It is a fact. And I am better off facing it, admitting to it, accepting it, and then just being in it.

That actually empowers you to do, be and show up differently in a way that can really change for the better, and change how you perceive risk.

Also, because I think attorneys, something I’ve noted, is attorneys are great at seeing risk of change. All the potential problems, all the potential pitfalls. We are terrible at seeing that there’s massive risk in doing nothing.

[00:10:17] Rachel: There’s massive opportunity by embracing the uncertainty.

[00:10:22] Heather: Yeah, well, and also in understanding that there’s still uncertainty in doing nothing and going with the status quo, because the fact of the matter. And if the pandemic didn’t teach you that, goodness gracious, people.

[00:10:36] Rachel: That’s right, exactly. We only get one.

[00:10:38] Heather: There are so many things outside of our control that can happen within our lives and within our work, and that’s something that cancer taught me. I was like, wait, everything can change in a moment without me doing anything. It’s not my fault. I can’t control this.

If that could happen, then why not go ahead and embrace doing my own changes? That instead of thinking, oh, wouldn’t it be great if, well, let’s try it out and see if it works.

[00:11:05] Rachel: That’s right.

[00:11:06] Heather: It’s such a different mentality that most lawyers just don’t embrace.

[00:11:12] Rachel: That is another way that I’m different. I suspect you are, too. Hopefully we can have a retreat together or something sometime and honor this part of ourselves.

The Benefit of Having An Explorer Mindset

When you view it with a mindset that this is all an experiment and that we’re playing here, it takes such the weight off of this perfectionism that so many of us wrestle with, myself included, and makes it all feel a lot more joyful. We don’t know what’s over the hill. And yes, it could be a demon, but it also could be the most gorgeous meadow with a Ferris wheel, whatever.

It gives you a sense of adventurousness, but that is a long journey. Or not a long journey, but maybe a short journey, but a challenging journey for a lot of professionals, especially lawyers, I would submit, who are habituated to, like you said, anticipating what can go wrong.

So to switch to what could go right and get comfortable with that and you can plan for the contingencies. But, yeah, I mean, I love talking about the lawyer mindset. I also love talking about the power of play and creativity. And we could go there but I’ll let you drive.

Start Treating Life As A Journey (Not A Destination)

[00:12:24] Heather: Well, and I would just say this, it’s interesting because this came up in a coaching session recently with a client like, well, what if you were an explorer and you could see yourself as an explorer and changing that mentality into the explorer mindset of, well, what if? What’s the possibility? And how fun could that be?

And it’s interesting to me, I would say this is, I don’t know if it’s long journey in the sense of it would take years and years and years. Right. But I think what people, I would like people to know about this mentality is it’s cultivated, it’s a practice.

It’s not something that you do for a while and then you stop doing because you can go back to your habitual old thinking if you don’t keep up with the practice of reminding yourself and utilizing the tools that are out there and all the stuff that coaches use and therapy uses and that you probably help people with as well.

So it’s a way of being and living and showing up every single day, not just you do it. And I think that’s kind of the biggest misnomer that a lot of people, and especially attorneys, they want to know, okay, what do I do? What are my steps? One, two, three.

[00:13:38] Rachel: That’s right.

[00:13:39] Heather: And then I’m there.

[00:13:39] Rachel: That’s right.

[00:13:40] Heather: No, it’s not a destination.

[00:13:42] Rachel: That’s exactly right. And the longer I’m on this journey, the more I appreciate it’s the journey itself.

One of the places I’ve done a lot of healing work. One of the slogans is, you don’t do these practices to get better. You do them to get better at loving yourself.

It’s in the journey. And the more I drink from that fountain, I perceive it as like, oh, it’s kind of like how going to church is for some people. I go regularly. I get a dose of this really positive mindset and healthy tools, tools for healthy thinking and get reset. I mean, Heather, this reminds me of the gratitude challenge that interconnected us did in December that you were a part of. And that transformed me as mean, I proposed it, but I was struck. I mean, I don’t know if you recall, but two days in, I was sleeping.

Just, it’s so simple. So I don’t think that all these tools are so much work and so awful. I mean, you and I became better friends. We got to know each other, but also we cultivated wellness. I mean, I’m doing another one right now, and I can’t get over how helpful it is and joyful. It’s not a thing on my to do list. It’s a source of energy.

[00:14:56] Heather: Yeah, it gets to what I like to say. And I do this in a self care challenge that I have. This is not about doing. It’s about a way of being.

[00:15:09] Rachel: Amen.

[00:15:10] Heather: And that’s probably the biggest shift that lawyers and really any professional high achiever has to learn because we have been conditioned to. Well, we just do ABC, we check these boxes and we get to this destination. And that’s not really what we’re talking about.

We’re talking about a way of being, a way of showing up. Because the fact of the matter is, things will still happen in life that take you down. You will get a diagnosis of an illness that you didn’t expect. That sucks, right? A parent will die, a friend will.

You will go through a financially unstable period. There’s all these things that happen in our life that we don’t have control over. And even if we did have some measure of control that got us there, once it’s done, it’s done. And so there’s ups and downs. And so how do you just show up that way?

It’s interesting to me that you mentioned church. Whether or not you’re a church person out there, it is like, because I do go to like, I am a Christian. And as you get deeper in faith, you learn that there’s so much more that you still learn and that you don’t know yeah.

And this deepness is what we’re talking about. When you read something and you learn something, and then five years later, you read the same passage, you’ve had five more years of experience, living wisdom that brings new knowledge and viewpoints to that one passage that you thought you understood five years ago. But now that’s what deep personal work is like about yourself. And there’s always more. Always.

[00:16:50] Rachel: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

Why Peer Support Is Needed To Build The Law Practice You Want

Back to lawyers and our earlier conversation. Something I see all the time is, I would presume this happens with men, too, but I see it so commonly with women lawyers. We got to where we are by being the good girl, by being the disciplined student and all of that. When you get to a point where your career demands something different out of you than just obedience and high production, either it’s demanded externally, or you have an inner drive that something’s got to give and that you’re more than a hamster on a wheel or production, someone’s profit center, and I know that happened to me, this can follow you outside of the practice.

So if anyone’s listening and they think if they leave the practice and get into the business world, this problem won’t follow them, they’re wrong.

Getting into a posture of taking control, I say grabbing the steering wheel of your life is a journey, and you need certain tools. And I would submit you also need a community.

You need people around you who can help you, who are going to support you. Because we all have blind spots. We all have places we get stuck. That’s human nature. And so, like Heather, I’ll say to people, okay, I’m an eight out of ten in terms of skills that can manage my own stuff.

Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re an eight out of ten as well. Together, with you helping me on my team, we are a 16 out of ten. We have it covered. And so I just love that you get people who have a stake in one another’s success and put them in a protected space to help, and it’s unbelievable.

Our natural impulse is to help one another.

And if people feel safe, they will get vulnerable. Even those who are really guarded will let their guard down, and they will be so relieved to be supported. And we’ve all experienced that.

But I think professionally, a lot of lawyers don’t have an opportunity for that.

The Benefits of Peer Support

Career Advice & Progression

And really, it’s bigger than getting amazing career advice, because you will get career advice.

Improve Your Finances

Statistically, women who have an inner circle in or in the center of their network make two and a half times their peers, and you get amazing career advice.

Improve Your Mental & Physical Health

But you also get all these other intangibles that I don’t speak to in my marketing.

You get a sense of belonging that lowers your blood pressure. It’s really good for your health. You have a sounding board.

A lot of women, myself included, at different points, have been working so hard, so addicted to productivity, that maybe they haven’t managed their health or their friendships.

And so when you’re surrounded by people who really know you and really feel love for you and care in your future success, it’s a game changer.

It’s bigger than your profession, it’s bigger than your income.

[00:19:44] Heather: Oh, absolutely. And I would say a couple of things based on what you’ve just said.

The Problem Of Feeling Isolated, Without Support (& Why Peer Support Is The Answer)

First and foremost, probably one of the biggest complaints I hear from men and female attorneys both is how isolated they feel.

And I would submit that the vast majority feel isolated not because of the firm or company they’re in, not because of other people. It’s because of their inability to admit out loud how they feel and be vulnerable around other attorneys.

They assume they are unicorns, and they’re the only ones who struggle in this way or struggle with this thing or feel this way. And therefore they’re terrified of admitting to other people what they’re struggling with and how they feel. And it’s this horrible snowball effect where it just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.

And we convince ourselves there’s nobody like me. That’s where impostor syndrome comes from. That’s where we convince ourselves we’re the only ones because we never bother to say it out loud. And a lot of it goes into the mindset. As we said earlier of the lawyer, we don’t like vulnerable.

We also care incredibly about what others see us as and how we’re perceived and what others think and whether they judge us. And we make all these assumptions and it prohibits us from sharing with our peers.

The actual remedy, a lot of times, or the starting point for the remedy, is to share, is to tell others how we’re feeling, what we’re struggling with. Because guess what?

You’re going to find out you’re not alone. You’re going to find out you’re part of a bigger group, and you’re going to start gaining that sense of belonging and trusting others and sharing more and realizing you’re not the unicorn you thought you were. And it is a game changer.

[00:21:35] Rachel: Just that one thing, 100%. And I can give you ten examples where that has shown up in my community. And it’s so striking. Just to build on a few things you said.

First of all, I would submit that fear of coming out of, I agree with you, isolation is less of an external problem and more of an internal pattern that needs to get broken. I think a lot of us grew up with the sense that any demonstration of humility could lead to humiliation. And so I think those two get conflated a lot for attorneys, and they’re so worried about letting their guard down and looking other than, you know, taking off the brave face, as I call it, that they’d be humiliated, they’d lose professionally, they’d lose personally.

I think it’s a great example where they can take the career strengths kind of off the court, outside of the court, and it can be very destructive. So I think getting comfortable with their humanity and that it’s like perfectly normal and stop the self imposed isolation.

I think also building on something you said, the isolation, the shame, the sense that they’re a unicorn, that no one would understand all of this, to me, that’s dysfunction. And as the dysfunction carries on over the years and is not addressed, you can think of it like a progressive disease. And so it’s not going to get better. It’s not going to stay neutral.

You can read someone’s post or something, some quick hit, but you need consistent help to change the course of your life, to get your life on a healthier track. So little snippets, little sound bites is not going to get you there. You need consistent help.

[00:23:16] Heather: You think as the attorney that you are that, well, I’m smart, I’ve gotten here, I should be able to do this on my own.

Most attorneys who first hire me, they go through this process and admit to me, yeah, I’ve been trying on my own, and I keep thinking this is stupid, but my spouse finally told me, well, you’ve been trying for years and it’s not happening, so why not try something else, right?

And it’s like, actually, you shouldn’t be able to do it on your own because as you said earlier, everybody has blind spots. And I saw a post this morning about this very thing.

Why is it so easy to see this in other people but not in yourself? Well, because you can’t see it in yourself. Other people see it in you, you see it in others, but we don’t see it in ourself. That’s why they’re blind spots.

[00:24:01] Rachel: Yeah, you’re a human. I mean, stop shaming yourself like the self shame. And again, we can have a million posts about this, but until you have consistent help and you’re really fed up and sick of shaming yourself and realize that the shame is what keeps you in the shame. It’s pain on top of pain.

Until you’re ready, you’re not. But I see this all the time. Go on. I’m sorry, I think I interrupted you.

[00:24:24] Heather. Well, the other thing I would say is the consistency is so key because it’s habitual. We have habitual thoughts, habitual thought patterns, habitual reactions, habitual responses, outwardly, inward and outward reactions. Right? All that is habitual.

And the way that the brain works, you’re just going to keep doing them. Unless you do something to help break it and create the consistency. So it does take time. So that’s the other thing that I hear a lot is, well, I should be able to, I did this, right recently, and then I went back and I’m like, yeah, that’s normal because that’s how the brain works. It’s okay.

Remember, you’re a human.

[00:25:05] Rachel: Yeah, I wrestled with this for years. And honestly, sometimes I’m still taking down this. My friend calls it a she beast.

I should be like this. I should. Should.

They say you’re should-ing on yourself, okay, I’ve made a mistake, or I’ve gotten like someone in my community, someone who presented recently said, that’s info, not ammo. And I love that.

[00:25:29] Heather: I love that.

[00:25:30] Rachel: Yeah.

Okay, so I’ve learned something. It’s a data point. I need to make a change. But then if I shame myself about making, quote, a mistake or gathering that data point, I turn it into something negative and then I layer shame on top.

That’s what I mean by shame on top of. It’s not really shame on top of shame, it’s a learning point with then shame layered over it. So now I’ve turned this into this negative thing. I don’t want to talk about, I’m embarrassed about, I hate myself about, I am distracted about. We all need help. I mean, we wouldn’t expect someone to go to the Olympics and coach themselves.

[00:26:04] Heather: No.

[00:26:04] Rachel: Right. Or any professional sport. I mean, this is completely normal. And I just think we need to normalize it more.

[00:26:12] Heather: We do, and we need, and I’ve said this before in other podcasts, but it bears repeating, human beings all have different strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, et cetera.

We are here, we are made to connect with other humans. Right? So you, the lawyer, obviously have certain strengths that you utilize in your daily activities, in what you do to help other people. Many lawyers choose this profession because they want to help other and serve others.

Why on earth would you think you’re the only one made that way? We’re all like that. Which means, by the way, other people are meant to help you and serve you. It’s a two way street, not a one way street.

[00:26:52] Rachel: That’s right.

[00:26:53] Heather: Something I learned when I had cancer. And this was a really hard lesson for me because, as I said earlier, I was the oldest. I am the oldest in the family. I took care of everybody. Everybody looked to me for all the advice. It sucked to all of a sudden be the vulnerable person who felt horrible, who might not live, who everybody else was trying to see what they could do for. Right. I hated that. I hated that feeling.

I fought against it for a while, and I finally just got so exhausted, I let go and was like, fine, it is what it is. I have to accept this. But what I learned once I did that was that allowing others to actually help me and pulling that in strengthened me and allowed for much deeper connections with those people. Connections that were fundamentally changing who I was in very deep ways and enabled me to then pay it forward to them later on because I learned more about them. 

[00:27:51] Rachel: Just like you and I. Right. That’s why I named my company what I did. I mean, vulnerability or self disclosure breeds connection.

And we’re all, I mean, building on something we spoke about before we went on air. We’re all part of one human family, and so the more we can get to know one another and we can connect on this level about what’s bothering us, what we feel, and so on, we can find resources everywhere and stop feeling that.

It’s the pain of feeling detached from others, the pain of feeling rejected, the pain of feeling not included, the pain of feeling scared of other.

And so when we can enter spaces where we can really hear other people, in my opinion, the conditions are set right, so that’s allowed to flourish. Right. We can really move the needle.

An Example of How Peer Support Uncovers Blind Spots

I just wanted to say one more thing about building on something you said a couple of minutes ago about lawyers with a brave space. I just wanted to share a story about a woman in my community. She’s in one of my mastermind groups, and she was sharing about a professional conference that she wanted to go to.

She was very concerned her previous employer would be there, and mutual clients that followed her or that maybe worked with both of them would gravitate towards previous employer, and she would kind of lose, not save face. She would lose face at the conference, to the point that she was considering not going, wow. And so she brought this to the group.

Her insecurities about what if they choose this person over me? And a comment that was shared with her is like, who cares about how you look publicly? The real issue is the insecurity that you feel internally. Like, let’s set aside the strategy of where they go. It’s how you talk to yourself.

And so if you can kind of zoom backwards to that teenager walking into the cafeteria who’s worried about being included at the right table, are they going to reject me or include me? That’s the core emotional issue.

And as soon as that got talked through, it was like, it doesn’t matter if you go or don’t go. What matters is how you are speaking to yourself when you walk into that room again, that fear based control, like, we don’t control how that client, who they’re going to socialize with or whatever. Let’s prepare you no matter what happens, and let’s talk about how you are speaking to yourself about that.

It was just such a perfect snapshot into the kind of thing that I think a lot of us lawyers, a road we might go down mentally. And in a good example, where we’re stuck in the bottle, we can’t read the label. We need other people to kind of bring us back to a healthy spot.

The Reason Peer Support Is So Needed (In Addition To Having Mentors, Family & Friends)

[00:30:34] Heather: So tell me a little bit about. Because when I bring people on, I ask, what do you want to impart upon the audience and what kind of questions do you want me to ask? And one of the things you mentioned was, it’s not just about having a circle, like a networking circle around all that’s great, right? You want that, and you want different levels, you want mentors, you want peers, but you really focus in on peers, the importance of having peers, people you view as your actual peers. Tell me more about that, what you mean by peer support and why.

[00:31:12] Rachel: Say your peers, this is a bit of more art than science, but I’m going to do my best to be two women lawyers speaking about this orderly, systematic way that we would both prefer. Your peers are people who are situated similarly to you. So in the masterminds you’re put together, it’s defined very narrowly. You are with people who work in the same workplace as you.

Some of the masterminds are aligned that you’re at the same stage in your career as well, which often can mean the same age, but not. Or similar age, but not always similar life stage, but not always.

So let’s say, for example, women in big law who are newer partners who are newly made partner, that might be someone who’s whatever in their low thirty s, and it might be someone who’s older. However, they are now being tasked with being a co owner and bringing in business. It’s a different mentality. So the reason I say with your peers is because they might be in a mentoring program where they’re paired up with some 60 year old guy who’s a rainmaking partner in the firm and is tasked coaching them.

And they’re thinking maybe he’s kind and supportive, maybe they get each other, maybe they don’t. But taking it all with the facts as favorable as possible, he’s a great mentor and he’s a father figure and so on. On some level she’s thinking, yeah, but he’s allowed into spaces. I’m not allowed. He’s included in conversations. He’s taken seriously when he opens his mouth and I’m not. And so that’s why it’s so important to be with people that you feel an affinity with. And so we’re all going to define that a little bit differently.

Some want to be in spaces where all kinds of demographic characteristics are very tight to them and some want it more broadly. But biggest way we are defining peers in the masterminds are a similar workspace. And ideally there’s some similarity as well about your career stage. However, in the community where it’s more broad and it’s all women lawyers together, we’re speaking there about boundaries and about powerful conversations.

And all women lawyers are each other’s peers in that space. As long as I can create a safe environment where people can get real and share and ask for what they need, and that everyone feels respected, all women feel respected and included, that’s vitally important to me.

[00:33:42] Heather: So a couple of things from that, what I think I’m hearing, and I have a very similar viewpoint, is it’s important to have people who you feel aligned to where you can align to in similar struggles, similar situational issues that come up, where you feel like you can fully say everything.

Because when you are in that so called peer environment where maybe the person is ten years older than you, but they also just made partner along with you, and so they’re going through the same situational struggle as you are, then that could be considered a peer. It kind of depends on what your situation is. So it’s very personalized and also what you see as peers, but that’s very different. Than the person who’s 15 years ahead of you, who has a big book of business, who may have been where you are, but they’re not there anymore.

That’s the other thing. Even if they are similar to you in many ways, just more along the career path, they’re not current peers, and you’re still likely to discount and say, yeah, but it was different then, it’s a little different now. You’re not actually experiencing what exactly I’m experiencing. Right. So I do think there’s benefit in having those people in your network.

[00:35:03] Rachel: Absolutely.

[00:35:06] Heather: They’re mentors, not peers. There’s a difference. And you want all of that in your network because, let’s be honest, we go to mentors to ask very specific questions and get guidance on very specific things, but we don’t necessarily open up with them on all of the things we’re struggling with, right?

[00:35:23] Rachel: 100%. Exactly.

I think for a lot of reasons I can get into in a different podcast, I find mentors very naturally. And so in particular kind of women that I look up to, I find very easily, and I have a lot of them, and I always have my whole career. But there are certain things that I would be much more apt to bring to my peers than to them. I don’t want to waste their time. I don’t want to talk about something too petty. I don’t want to be a complainer.

I want to demonstrate to my mentors that I’m taking action on everything they’ve shown me and I’m not stuck. Perhaps. I mean, I do vulnerability again. I would be more open book than most, probably.

But with your peers, you care more about what they say. Their feedback is going to feel more actionable and applicable and like you understand clearly, you’re more likely to let your guard down and be really transparent. So they’re able to speak to the full spectrum of what you’re going through versus a cleaned up, sanitized version that looks really good for someone impressive.

[00:36:32] Heather: Well, and you’re more likely then to be fully vulnerable, really actually share your struggles, feelings, opinions, and then get the best help possible from your peers, because if you don’t do that, they’re not operating from full disclosure, which they need to be able to brainstorm well with you.

[00:36:52] Rachel: Thank you. That’s exactly what I was trying to say. Much better said.

[00:36:57] Heather: This is why I have a pod, right. I’m a little seasoned at the podcasting by now. We’re at the end of season three, so there’s a reason.

Before I let you go today, what kind of final words would you like to leave the audience with? What takeaways? If they take nothing else from today’s interview and discussion, what do you want them to walk away with?

Final Advice: Be The Master Of Your Life (& Get The Peer Support Needed to Take Control of the Reins)

[00:37:21] Rachel: I would like your listeners to know that the calvary isn’t coming and that if they want to have a life they want, they’re going to have to take matters into their own hands. So, as one of our peers said in a post recently, it was fabulous…

It’s not a solid strategy to wait for your firm, your employer, the judge, whatever, to become conscious or whatnot. You need to put on your big girl pants or big boy pants or big person pants and choose to take the reins.

And that will likely include asking for help. If you want to get there in any manner of time, if you want to take years and years and years, take the reins by yourself. I tried it. It went exponentially faster when I surrounded myself with people who cared about my progress and made themselves available.

[00:38:11] Heather: And I would even say this idea that waiting around, hoping, wishing it would happen, you’re giving away so much of your power when you’re doing that.

[00:38:22] Rachel: It’s deeply toxic.

[00:38:22] Heather: You’re really telling yourself, I don’t trust myself. Even though you don’t realize what you’re doing, that is what you’re doing internally. Your subconscious is telling you that 100%.

[00:38:30] Rachel: That’s why I said it’s progressive.

This train is going more and more into a negative place. If you’re not willing to go charging into whatever steering in the engineer’s room or whatever the front cable car and grab it, if you’re not willing to do that, it is veering already.

[00:38:49] Heather: Well, and there’s two things there. If you’re not willing to do that, why on earth would anybody else be willing to do that on your behalf?

Let’s be honest here. Something that I was deeply, really profound for me, and it probably shouldn’t have been, but it was, when I went through coach training, was this idea that everybody has their own self interest. Everybody’s selfish. Even the most wonderful people who are kind, they are selfish to some extent because they need to care for themselves first, to some extent.

And so if you are in that space where you’re just waiting for it to happen, like somebody else is going to make it happen for you, I’m sorry to tell you, nobody’s going to do that. They’re all looking out for themselves. They have their own worries and issues to deal with. They’re not thinking about you. So it’s not going to happen if you’re not doing it.

[00:39:32] Rachel: Absolutely. And statistically, we’ve talked about this. There’s a ladder of success, and at the bottom of the ladder and at the top of the ladder are givers. In the middle are takers and matchers who are transactional or are more selfish. Let’s say I use selfish with an asterisk, but let’s set that aside.

Givers, the bottom of the ladder of success, are doormats at the top of the ladder have boundaries, and so they are oriented towards others, but they also maintain, they keep their oxygen mask on themselves. And so I think that’s where a lot of us good girls and maybe some good boys as well, or good people are led astray because they think kind of being good is being purely selfless.

And there is an element of looking out for yourself that is challenging when you got here by just being good. So how do you do that in a way that’s elegant and is not to another conversation that we are both passionate about is not scorched earth and let’s burn it all down. How do we set boundaries in a way that’s kind?

[00:40:40] Heather: I would argue that it’s actually not selfless to be the doormat, because at some point it’s going to impact you. We’ve seen the statistics on stress, anxiety, depression, bad coping mechanisms, suicide, the attorneys out there who are that way. You can’t do that forever.

And at some point it’s going to impact your work, it’s going to impact your relationships, it’s going to impact your ability to serve the people you claim to love the most and care for the most, and you’re not going to serve them very well. So you’ve got to pay attention to that and you’ve got to care for yourself and have real boundaries.

[00:41:17] Rachel: Oh, yeah. I definitely am not putting selfless on an altar. I think that you’re not a misnomer.

[00:41:24] Heather: Yeah, no. I just wanted to point that out to people who think in those terms. It’s like, no, that’s not actually good, and you’re not being as selfless as you think.

[00:41:33] Rachel: For many years of my life would put others needs before my own, and I’m still shaking off some of those habits.

But I think that by operating that way, I was able to help a lot less people.

When I can care for myself, I can help more. It’s such an important paradigm shift that I think maybe it requires getting to midlife to really look that one in the eye. Maybe you have to have a bunch of life has to happen to you. Life has to life you a bunch. That’s all.

[00:42:05] Heather: I think that’s a great place to leave it here. Before we go though, let people know, and I will put links by the way, in the show notes, but let people know where they can connect with and find you.

[00:42:15] Rachel: Absolutely. I’d love to connect with any of your listeners. So I’m on LinkedIn, both myself and my business. So the business is interconnected us. They can go to our website which is interconnected us. Those are the two places we have an open house once a month. They’re welcome to come and check out the community or they can set up a call with me if they think that the masterminds or some one on one coaching might be something that would benefit them.

[00:42:38] Heather: Thank you so very much for this awesome conversation that we had today.

[00:42:42] Rachel: I love speaking with you. Thank you, Heather. Such a pleasure.

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About Rachel Clar

Rachel is the founder and CEO of Interconnected Us. A networker to her very core, Rachel is passionate about relationship building, including using the power of community both for business development and to improve wellbeing.

Before founding Interconnected Us, Rachel worked in the real estate development sector, developing affordable housing and solar arrays. Through Interconnected Us, Rachel helps women lawyers envision the lives they want and then strategize alongside their peers to make their vision become a reality.

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