Women in Real Life and Emotional Intelligence

Michelle "Mitch" Shepard

Our show this week features Michelle “Mitch” Shepard. Mitch has a phenomenal resource that we want to let you know about. Mitch has over 20 years of experience in leadership development. She started out leading senior management teams on outdoor expeditions with Outward Bound and ropes courses, to unite and push them past their perceived limitations. Then after starting a family she traded in the tents for the boardroom, and created her own consulting firm, in 2001. Now she is navigating the wildernesses of corporate America helping leaders and businesses, both big and small, with awareness and relationships to achieve success together.

Mitch’s current clients have included high-tech companies; Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Intuit, Global Security, City and State governments and a lot of solo entrepreneurs. She specializes in emotional intelligence, one of Cathy and my favorite topics, and has an incredible amount of energy, humor and realism, and you’ll hear that as soon as you listen to her.

She realized that after she had kids it was difficult for her to dedicate the time to her own growth. She couldn’t commit to the travel, time away and cost associated for professional development. So she put together this phenomenal program called WiRL, Women in Real Life, which includes 28 inspirational and practical webinars and will be starting the week of April 28th.

Dr. Relly Nadler: I’ve known Mitch for over 20 years and it’s been phenomenal to be part of your life and see what you have been doing and really want to support your vision here. Let’s start off with a couple of questions about who has been some of your key influencers in your life, and what has been important in shaping who you are?

Mitch Shepard: Great, thanks. You have to start with the question that would normally make me cry, right Relly?

Some of my key influencers; I have to start with my Mom. Especially lately, I have really been aware of the impact that she had on my life and in particularly in that she worked so hard, she went back to school and reinvented herself, essentially. She got a new degree so she could get a higher paying professional job when I was just 4. Now, here I am in some ways reinventing myself when I have children almost the exact same age as hers were. It’s almost like I have a computer chip and I’m wired to be like her. It’s kind of interesting. She has just been an absolute inspiration, and my Dad as well. He’s taught me that part about humor and realism and building relationships. He has just always had that gift of gab and has really helped me.

Relly, I have to say this, honest to God, even if I wasn’t on your radio show, and if someone in a faraway place asked me this question, your name would come up. You have really had an impact from modeling the way as an instructor; transitioning your similar wilderness background into a corporate consulting and coaching practice that focuses on EI. You have been, in my career in emotional intelligence and consulting and coaching, the one I have always looked to. You said things to me that even you probably don’t remember saying, that have really had an impact. One of which, I’ll just say because it relates to EI; you said about 15 years ago,” you know Mitch, you have something that the research shows really makes a difference in emotional intelligence, you know what that is?” I said,” no, what?” You said, “initiative.” I never knew that about myself and I have thought about it so many times since. I could go on and on Relly, about all of the ways that you have helped me, but that is one of the biggest ones, so thank you.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: That’s fantastic. You know it’s a very special time in our lives when someone who is as wonderful and gifted as you Mitch, shows up and for people who are experts like Relly, to have that insight to share with you, to motivate you, to give you that tiny little inspiration that takes you over the edge to success.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Thank you Mitch. I have kind of seen you grow up and now your newest reinventing – tell us a little bit about the impetus and the inspiration for WiRL: Women In Real Life Leadership Summit.

Mitch Shepard: Relly, there have been many impetus for this that have been brewing and sort of percolating over time, but this final sort of straw that broke the camels back, that had me going, is that a year ago I attended an online summit myself. After years of essentially putting conferences and learning development opportunities on my calendar and then when it got closer and closer I would realize, jeeze, I’ve already been traveling for work, do I really want to leave my kids and my responsibilities and my clients and go away for 3-4 days. It became more and more difficult the busier I got professionally and the busier my personal life became with my kids, and they are really a priority.

About a year ago I attended this online conference, it was phenomenal—it was finally an opportunity where I could treat learning as a process and take in smaller chunks of information over time and really take it in and utilize it and apply it day-to-day. I had an “aha,” I thought to myself, even though I’ve had a goal for more than a decade now to create a women’s leadership program because it’s always been a passion, I thought this is the format. With the way technology works today, and with the busyness of our lives, I know that this is something that other women need. They need a way to keep themselves inspired and learning without having it be a huge price tag or a huge time commitment away from home.

That was really one of the biggest reasons I created WiRL.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Tell us a little bit about this program and about how you would be overwrought, your schedule would be maxed out—I’m the same way, I would write down a million things, take myself off task, and it just didn’t work. This is a new program, it has some fascinating speakers and topics. Talk a little bit about the goals of the program and what impact it will have ideally, on real women.

Mitch Shepard: What I’ve created is four different categories of webinars that are happening live over the month from April 28th through May 23rd; Leadership, Balance and Happiness, Reaching Your Potential and Communication and Confidence. My ultimate goal for creating this and for the people who attend, is that regardless of where someone is in their life and in their career, that they would come to WiRL and be able to choose a few different sessions that will really help them understand a few things:

    1. What are my unique talents and gifts.
    2. How can I keep being enough of myself and bring enough of myself to my work, to my friends, to my relationships, to my children, family.
    3. My ultimate goal is that somebody would come to WiRL and their morale, their passion, and their motivation for their life and their career would soar as a result.


People ask me, do you have a certain goal or agenda to have a certain amount of women be in leadership roles or that kind of thing. I don’t. My agenda for myself and for every other women that I meet, client, friend or family member, is just to figure out—and the answer to this question changes a lot throughout our lives—the question: what is the right life for me right now? If that is being a leader, I want them to be able to come to WiRL and get some really quality and affordable development around leadership. If if is: I’m in a holding pattern but I still want to be inspired and I want to be the best at my job or the best mother, I want to not feel frazzled and overwhelmed everyday—I want them to be able to pick and choose a few sessions that will help them achieve that goal.

That is really the ultimate impact — that people walk away feeling confident, motivated and fired up.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I love it, and you know its so important for women to know that they have the choice to do what is best for them at a point in time that changes. From being single, to being married, to having children and to having a career that fits those life changes. This is outstanding, I applaud you.

Mitch Shepard: Thank you Cathy. It means a lot coming from you.

Dr. Relly Nadler: What so cool about this is that your passion exudes over the line here, and I’m hopeful that our listeners can really hear it and are also moved by it to sign up for WiRL.

Mitch Shepard: First of all, I’m glad you see my passion, because I have been working so hard and one of the best parts of this journey, for me, was reaching out to a number of phenomenal speakers, authors, coaches, and successful leaders across the world. Saying to myself, who do I need to interview, who do I need to have that care genuinely about this audience and who have something really valuable to give to this audience.

Here’s where my persistence really paid off. One of the people that I really wanted to get from the very get-go was Barbara Annis who is a world renowned gender intelligence expert. Even though we aren’t always focused on gender intelligence, I wanted to have some of the sessions in each category really highlight what some of the scientific and cultural difference between men and women are so that women can really normalize and thrive.

After literally, probably 4 or 5 emails to Barbara, through various avenues, LinkedIn and trying to get connected with her, I finally got a chance to speak with her and she was just off the tails of some research that she had done with C-level executive women from around the globe where she asked them two questions:

  1. What are the pitfalls that by design you avoided?
  2. What are the pitfalls that you didn’t avoid and had to work hard to get out of?

Then she compiled that into some research and some practical tools for how women can identify and not give into those same pitfalls. She has really practical solutions. She is one example of a speaker that we have in the Communications & Confidence area. I am overjoyed that she wants to be with us for WiRL. She is going to talk about The 7 Most Common Pitfalls for Women Series.

Another one that you two I’m sure have met, interviewed and know well, is Barry Posner. He is doing a leadership session for us on the 5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership. He is phenomenal. He was actually the first person to say yes.

Also, Sally Helgesen who wrote a book called The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work. She also has some phenomenal research about how we notice differently. Women and men take in information differently and that it really affects the way that we show up and the way that we communicate. She’s going to be going through some of that research and just building awareness, really, about how you can use that to help you be successful and what some of the ways are that it may hinder you depending on who you are presenting to or with.

Hear more about this program in terms of Women’s careers, courage and putting courage before confidence and what other speakers will be talking about at the WiRLSummit. You can find out more information about and sign up for the summit at www.WiRLSummit.com.  Listen to the complete recording of our discussion with Mitch, without commercials, above.


Leave a Reply