A year ago, I was at a conference and meeting Talia Wolf for the first time. We had spoken everyday for the past 2 years but had never actually met face to face. So as I made my way up to her hotel room, I had the anticipation of an eight year old who was meeting their pen pal for the first time.
So it shouldn't come as a shock that when the door opened, we locked eyes, exchanged big smiles and hugs and then a second later jumped on the bed and started talking to each other like old friends.
A few hours later, I met up with Joanna Weibe, and caught up. Before long we were met with Talia and Georgiana Laudi.
As I sat back watching all of us talk a mile a minute to each other, I couldn’t help but smile. These are people I have seen face-to-face maybe 3–4 times in my life but are the women who know me the most, and ones who I attribute a lot of my success. I felt so lucky to have them around me.. my shine crew.
How was the Shine Crew created?
A few years ago I was asked to speak on a panel at the CTA conference by Unbounce. I remember being so nervous. I was about to meet one of my idols.. Joanna Weibe.
Before I met Joanna, I was a mixture of obsessed/scared shitless of her. I read her blog everyday, had all her ebooks and was enamored by how she was able to grow her business the way she did. I knew I was going to meet her at this event, and my stomach hurt at the thought of it.
The night before the conference there was a speakers’ dinner. I was surrounded by Digital Marketing royalty and feeling like the biggest fraud in the universe. I was mostly sitting quiet, listening to everyone catch up and wondering why the hell I was invited to this thing in first place. At the time I was the Head of CRO at Shopify and feeling the weight of having such a high position in a flashy unicorn startup, while being in a very new specialty (CRO) and being a woman. As the night wore on, I remember shakily sharing my thoughts about what I was feeling, and bracing myself to the ridicule I would receive, especially from the women around me.
Joanna and Gia immediately jumped in and told me that they felt the same way I did, and we began to break down some of those thoughts & concerns over this dinner. For the first time in my career, I had people with my drive and lofty goals surrounding me and telling me they felt the same way. On the other end of the table Angie Schottmuller overheard the conversation, and came over to join us.
We bonded, we shared, we laughed, we got misty eyed. And for the first time since I started my career, I honestly felt like I wasn’t alone.
I had finally met my people.
At some point in the conversation I brought up what I had just read about the “shine theory”.
The shine theory was first created by Aminatou Sow of Call your Girlfriend and Ann Friedman at The Cut and the premise was that females tend to spend their whole lives comparing themselves to other women and feeling competitive. This was the wrong approach. If we wanted to be better women, we needed to surround ourselves with awesome women, women we want to be like.
‘When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her,’ explains Friedman. ‘Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.’
Towards the end of the conference, Joanna and I had made a pact. We would get a bunch of women together — women we respected, looked up to, trusted, and we would create our own little group.
“What should we call ourselves?” Joanna asked.
“The Shine Crew.” I said with a smile. (This moment will be important later.)
We told Angie, Talia and Nichole Elizabeth DeMére and before long a slack channel was born.
What I learned from my Shine Crew
Now as I was thinking of International Women’s Day and why I think it’s so important for women to surround themselves with women who make them better, not worse. I thought about what made my Shine Crew so special and why I think it’s so important for women to create their own “crew”.
#1. We limit ourselves with our thoughts.
Remember that moment I told you about? The moment where I named us the Shine Crew? Well, I forgot that I had made such an impact in our inception.
I was surrounded by such bad ass, incredible, amazing women that I started to suffer from imposter syndrome from my own crew.
I had completely erased the fact that I helped to create the crew we have today because I thought they were so much better than me — that maybe I shouldn’t be in it.
And then it hit me, if I didn’t have them — what other limiting beliefs would I hold? If I had forever thought that these women were so much better than me, and so much more successful than me — I could never reach their level of success.
Without this crew of incredible women, I would be comparing myself to the people around me — who are glorious, and wonderful, and unique in their own way — but they didn’t understand my goals, my drive and my business path. I wouldn’t have left my company and started my own business, and I wouldn’t have been where I am today and as happy as I am today.
Without them — I would have never thought their lives were possible.. for me.
#2. My Family & Friends were my comfort zone & I needed a new perspective in order to grow.
We have different backgrounds, different life stories, different time zones and are from different countries. By being so different we see the world in a different way. We push each other to think outside of our comfort zone. We’re not afraid to tell eachother to get your shit together. We know it comes from a good place, and we don’t have the emotional baggage (that we tend to carry from family & friends) that sometimes stops us from speaking our truth.
When you create your own shine crew — don’t be afraid to bring in someone who scares you. If you had asked me if I would have been friends with Claire Suellentrop, I would have said “you’re crazy”. Not because she isn’t the most delightful person in the whole world — but because she intimidated me. Her success, her passion, even her haircut. I worshipped her from afar. Bringing her into the group changed me. It made me realize that we create these boundaries, these stories, subconsciously. There’s no rhyme or reason to it but it could be stopping you from creating a bond with beautiful, strong, independent people.
#3. It allowed me to face my fears & my silly little hangups.
I’m the single one in the group. No boyfriend, no prospects, nada. So when I’m sitting around the skype chats on a bi-weekly basis and everyone is talking about their significant others — my stomach gets churny. Would I stop hanging out with them because of that? Of course not, this group is too important to me.
Now look at my own personal life. I hang out with single people. I wish I could say it’s by accident, but if I were honest with myself I would say it’s totally on purpose. As people I know couple up, I tend to see them less in my day to day life. It’s not meant in a malicious way. It’s just easier for my psyché to cope and doesn’t make me feel bad about the life choices I made and the priorities I’ve set for myself. This is my safe place, it’s not necessarily a good place to be.
Being around these women forces me to face my fears, and handle this silly little hangup of mine. Hearing about their life stories and the trials and tribulations they go through as a mother, wife, and partner give me insight on what my future holds. Since I’ve had these women in my life, sharing their own stories, I’ve opened myself up to people in my day-to-day life who I normally wouldn’t. I learned how to be part of a group of married people with children without all the negative self talk. This experience has only made me stronger, more confident, and more successful.
So what does this mean for you?
Ladies, it’s time to get your own shine crew. Go outside of your comfort zone, go outside of your TIME ZONE, and find your people. They may be at a conference, at a meetup, on vacation.. maybe they are at your mommy & me class or your local gym. Find the women who you want to emulate, who scare you, who would make you feel like a superstar just by knowing them.
The Rules of the Shine Crew Are Simple..
- DO help each other grow. Help each other with jobs, conference speaking, promotions, or help them get into that super special daycare everyone is dying to get into.
- DO keep each other in check. Don’t be afraid to speak your truth, share your views (no matter if they go against the group), and share your unique perspective in life. This will make you a better person.
- DO bring in people you trust. This is a democratic group. It’s not about creating a large group of people, it’s about creating a small group of YOUR people. You will be sharing EVERYTHING from salaries, to hardships, to your mental state. You should trust everyone in your group and should all agree on the people you bring in.
I couldn’t live without my shine crew, and can’t wait for you all to experience it for yourselves.