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How Attorney Nancy Giles Tackles The Extreme Work-Life Balance Of Being A Woman Business Leader During Covid-19

A crisis of this size magnifies everything in your life — the good and the bad. Take stock of what’s working, and take a moment to really appreciate it. Take stock of what’s not working and see what you can do to improve it. It’s a rare opportunity to put a microscope on your biggest challenges.

The covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.

As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Giles.

Nancy R. Giles created Giles Law, PLLC to support, advise, and represent businesses facing legal issues and conflicts. Nancy considers herself a member of her firm’s clients’ teams, staying in close contact with them to keep their goals and strategies in focus. Equipped with 20 years of experience in commercial litigation, Nancy and her team use inventive and efficient strategies to create exceptional results.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I have been drawn to the law for as long as I can remember. Especially in these times, I love getting rid of the hyperbole and culling things down to the provable facts. I enjoy deposing a witness who is used to talking his or her way out of things because they can’t do that in a deposition — they have to answer the question being asked. And when they answer just to get off the hot seat, the very next questions are Why? How? How do you know? Who does know? I want to get to the truth, and I want people to know the truth is not negotiable.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

The team at Giles Law is always working on offering our current, and future, clients the best legal team we can give. We are constantly evolving our practice and learning how we can better ourselves to better serve our clients. Our entire team is committed to their personal growth, which contributes to the firm’s growth.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so, so many that it’s hard to pick just one. The first person who comes to mind, however, is my best friend since law school, Angie. When I was immersed in the competition of law school, I thought I had to hold on tight to everything I got, and treat everything as a competition. Angie is smart and fierce, and also one of the most generous people I know. I’ve heard there is a Dutch proverb that says, “(S)he who gives to me, teaches me to give.” Angie was so consistently generous with her time, money, energy, and love, that I learned not to hold on to things so tightly. I learned to take chances, give my energy and money away, and trust in the good. Angie taught me that, because she gave freely, with no expectation of anything in return. This lesson has changed who I am. It makes me a better businessperson, a better money manager, a better advisor, a better parent, and a better person during a crisis.

Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family-related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

I thought my biggest challenge was homeschooling, but that turned out not to be true. My biggest challenge is succumbing to “woe is me” thinking and going into the rabbit hole of worry. This year has been hard and sad and anxiety-inducing. And yet, it’s only difficult because it was nothing like we expected. If I can let go of my expectations and start to practice seeing the opportunities at this moment, I can thrive, and so can my family.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Ask for help. Give myself some grace when things feel a mess. Give others grace, too. Help them when I have something to give. Be honest with my daughter. One morning I snapped at her to hurry up and I felt bad about it. I told her, “Honey, I am just having a grumpy day. I’m grumpy, and you didn’t do anything wrong.” She understands that, and it gives her permission to have a grumpy day, too.

Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

I have said more than once that I feel like I am working twice the hours with half the productivity.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I have a business coach with whom I regularly check in to keep me focused on my goals and to keep me from focusing on “what ifs.” I practice gratitude every single day — there is so much around us for which to be grateful. I also practice little mantras and sayings to help with my mindset. I may be working harder with less measurable productivity, but I’m also raising a thriving daughter and thriving business during a global pandemic. That’s where I try to keep my focus.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Fortunately, I am lucky to have an amazing system that helps me best work from home while balancing homeschooling. My daughter has five adults in her life who regularly care for her. We have resources to make homeschooling work for us, even if it’s not ideal. I sometimes feel that I am drowning, and yet I have it really, really good.

For people working several jobs, or unable to homeschool due to work or language barriers, or first responders, or people in tons of other circumstances, no amount of advice will make this situation manageable. Mindset and having support is key to make this impossible situation work. My very best advice, however, is to elect leaders — including local leaders, right down to your neighborhood association representatives — who will put structures in place to enhance our communities and enhance collaboration and community when crisis strikes, and make it a priority to do the little (and big) things that strengthen your own community, and the support structures in it. It would be disingenuous for me to tell a single parent with three kids and two jobs how to find a better balance. What that parent needs is support, not judgment, and not advice.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

Introverts need their alone time, so look for creative ways to ensure everyone is getting the solace they need. Maybe someone takes the kids for a drive for an hour, or the garage is designated as someone’s free space. As we’ve all learned, this is also a time to try new hobbies and do projects we maybe otherwise wouldn’t have. My 6-year-old can tackle a 500-piece puzzle now. I’ve started teaching her some embroidery and crocheting, and she “writes” songs on our piano. We even refinished some wood chairs together, which is something I had never attempted before. I am in Arizona, so the summer was the hardest because we couldn’t spend much time outside. I made a “summer survival list” and added to it any time I had a thought about something fun we could try inside. I also try not to feel guilty about screen time. My daughter is online more than I ever expected or intended, but it’s also how she stays connected to her friends. We are very deliberate and cautious with the security settings and rules, and have downloaded some apps that have been highly rated for education value so she can play online games sometimes.

Many people have become anxious about the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

1. A crisis of this size magnifies everything in your life — the good and the bad. Take stock of what’s working, and take a moment to really appreciate it. Take stock of what’s not working and see what you can do to improve it. It’s a rare opportunity to put a microscope on your biggest challenges.

2. So many things in our world haven’t been working for a long time. Coronavirus gives us a chance to reset to some degree. We can take this moment to set our own intentions regarding how we want our lives and our world to look when this is over.

3. Every single thing in life is temporary. This, too, shall pass.

4. Practice gratitude — it is life-changing. You will rarely hear from me on a deep level without my including this. It has absolutely changed my life.
5. I believe Covid is creating a paradigm shift, though I’m not sure where that shift will end up. People are more engaged — look at voter turnout, for example. We have had to be more forgiving and more flexible than we are probably used to being. I hope and believe Covid has shaken us awake.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain it?

Listen and validate. Don’t fix it. In business and personal relationships, people want to be heard. They want to get it out and know someone heard them. A lot of the stress caused by the pandemic doesn’t have easy solutions. I often agree with people that they have a right to be anxious. Or angry, or depressed, or whatever the case may be. It’s a reasonable reaction. Again, I come back to the truth. It doesn’t help to pretend our feelings are something other than what they are. I’m a big fan of rage! But…I get it out, and I return to who I am. And I am so grateful for the people who listen to me and validate me without judgment or advice. When people want advice, they’ll ask for it. Otherwise, it’s important to just be present with them in the muck. I feel this way to some degree about my clients as well. When someone comes to me, they are usually concerned about some level of litigation, and litigation is not usually a fun, exciting project for a client — it can take a huge emotional and financial toll. But I’m in it with them. I often have to tell people things they don’t want to hear, but I empathize with the fact that they feel — and often have been — wronged.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I don’t know that I could ever pick a favorite. I love words and have been collecting quotes since college. I went back through a few of my very favorites, though, and I love this one from Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I see many people — including my past self — looking for ways to help people and do something that matters to the world. The most important thing you can ever do for the world, though, is to look inside yourself, get honest about everything you see there, and be your one, true, authentic self — be the person no one else can be. As Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one alive who is you-er than you.” See, I managed to get another quote in there. Seriously, though, come alive, and you will never lack people who need your gift. I certainly never thought litigating corporate disputes was going to turn out to be meaningful. But I help people grow their businesses. I help them become better business people. I help employees and colleagues. I speak to people about success and believing in yourself. I came alive and realized the power of who I am, and we all have the power to do that. I learned that my title or career path doesn’t matter nearly as much as my authenticity and finding joy in what I am doing.

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Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!



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Karina Michel Feld

Karina Michel Feld

Executive Producer of Tallulah Films