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EP 277: The Black Relaunchers' Perspective discussion; a Mocha Moms + iRelaunch event

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Episode Description

Today, we are pleased to share an excerpt from The Black Relauncher’s Perspective Panel, a webinar hosted recently by Mocha Moms + iRelaunch. This panel highlights the professional return to work stories of four Black relaunchers, Catherine Duffy, Country Leader of Bermuda, AIG; Kuae Kelch, National President of Mocha Moms Inc.; LaBrena Settles, SVP, Program Manager, Bank of America; and Tiana Sousa, Contract Manager, Iron Bow Technologies; hosted by iRelaunch’s Diversity Lead, Janet Peterson (who is also a relauncher!)

At iRelaunch, we recognize that relaunching can be a difficult undertaking, and that the intersectionality of relaunching as a Black professional presents unique and additional challenges. Please join us as we amplify the voices of Black relaunchers in this frank and revealing conversation.

Read Transcript

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and co founder of iRelaunch and your host. Be sure to visit iRelaunch.Com to access our many return to work tools and resources, and to sign up for our mailing list so you can receive our weekly return to work report featuring career reentry jobs and programs.

Thanks for joining us.

Janet Peterson: Hello and good evening and welcome to everyone. My name is Janet Peterson, and I am the diversity lead at iRelaunch. And on behalf of our CEO, Carol Fishman Cohen and our entire team, we'd like to thank you for joining us for part two of a very important discussion that took place over a year ago.

Now the purpose of this conversation tonight is to amplify the voices of our relaunchers as they share their journey of relaunching their careers with you. And although this is a panel of black women, we want to include people of all genders and ethnicities into this conversation. Now, this event is very near and dear to my heart. And the reason being is that I'm a relauncher too. And I was in this audience as a listener during part one of this series, and I felt very supported in knowing that there were other black relaunchers that may have experienced similar concerns and challenges.

So I know very well about some of the fears and even some of the doubts that you may have in relaunching your career. However, my advice to you is to be strong and courageous and be hopeful of what the future brings. Now I'm going to ask you to do me a favor. So I want you to break up with your fears and your insecurities, and I want you to remind yourself of who you are and know that you add value wherever you go. Okay?

All right, so our moderator for this evening is Kuae Noel Kelch. She is the national president of Mocha Moms Incorporated, and she's on the iRelaunch Advisory Board. And Mocha Moms is a non profit organization with 100 chapters in 29 states and more than 100, 000 social media followers dedicated to supporting mothers of color.

Kuae is the vice president of media relations for the public strategy firm, Mercury, where she specializes in strategic communication, media relations, and government affairs. She is an Emmy nominated journalist with more than 30 years of experience in media. Kuae previously served as an editorial producer for CNN and has worked for NBC, MSNBC, The Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC News and King World Productions.

She is a former reporter for the Miami Herald and the former editor in chief of Black Family Today Magazine. Kuae holds a bachelor's from Howard University and a master in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and she's also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.

And Kuae I am going to now pass the mic to you.

Thank you.

Kuae Kelch: Thank you, Janet. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much, and it's always a joy to hear that last line, that I'm a member of Alpha Sorority, so thank you so much. I really appreciate it. It is such a pleasure to be here today. As Janet just said, my name is Kuae Noel Kelch. It is such a joy to be here with you all today to have this conversation. This is part two of a conversation that we started a couple years ago that clearly struck a chord. We're going to talk tonight about some of those issues and more. I think some of us have learned quite a bit over the past few years with COVID and many of the experiences that we've had, and we're looking forward to chatting more about relaunching from a Black relaunchers perspective.

So let me tell you who we have today. With us today is Catherine Duffy. Cathy Duffy serves as AIG's country leader of Bermuda. She leads local operations, including a cross functional team, and drives the achievement of AIG's strategic objectives in Bermuda. Cathy is the face of AIG within Bermuda for customers, brokers, reinsurers, and others.

She also coordinates with North American product leaders to provide direction to local underwriting teams. It features various AIG Bermuda boards, as well as sits on boards for various AIG Bermuda affiliates, and Cathy relaunched 15 years ago. That's correct Cathy?

We also have with us LaBrena Settles. LaBrena is a Senior Vice President at Bank of America in their Global Risk Management Division. She served in the United States Army for nine years, four and a half in the Army Reserves, and four and a half as a Medical Service Corps Officer on active duty. After deciding to have her... second child, LaBrena made the decision to stay home.

This career break lasted for 17 and a half years. During those 17 years, she started a property management company and ran it successfully for 12 years and helped start a psychology clinic, which she managed for seven years. LaBrena launched three years ago.

Also with us is Tiana Sousa. Tiana has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Culture from Howard University and a JD from the St. Thomas University School of Law. Tiana spent the better part of a decade as a stay at home mother to three wonderful children and rejoined the workforce in 2020 as a Contract Manager at Ironbow Technologies where she also serves as the Chairwoman of the Ethics Compliance Committee, and a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Corporate Governance Committee.

She's also a member of Mocha Moms, whoo! Howard County Chapter. And Tiana relaunched three years ago.

It's such a pleasure to have you all with us today to talk about, as Janet said, an issue that is very near and dear to Janet's heart, but also to mine. I, too, am a relauncher. I was home as a stay at home mom.

For a little more than 13 years, I had worked as a journalist for some period of time and I felt blessed and honored to have the opportunity to be able to stay at home with my kids. But what I didn't realize when I made that decision was that I essentially wiped away my professional identity. And I didn't realize how much my professional identity was so important to me.

It was important to me, I know now, to work for all of those high profile news outlets. I wanted to be able to say I work for Oprah Winfrey. I wanted to be able to say I work for NBC. And when I took that away and became mom to my children I was having some issues with that. I was having issues with defining who I was.

And I became very concerned about who was I and how did I define myself? I also dealt with a lot of other issues. I... I lost a lot of self confidence during that period of time as happy as I was at home with my kids. I was hemorrhaging self confidence. I was starting not to believe in myself. And it was devastating to me to go from feeling very strong as a professional woman to not feeling strong to feeling weak.

Also during that period of time, my marriage was slowly falling apart. I was just going through a really difficult time. And struggling to get back to work. I realize now that I made a lot of mistakes. At least I would call them mistakes. I. didn't share my story with anybody. I kept it close to the vest.

I, I felt shame. I was afraid to share with people that I was having a difficult time getting back to work. I was still national president of Mocha Moms. I felt some shame in sharing with my fellow mothers that I was having this kind of difficulty. And it, it really weighed on me and it took quite a bit of time for me to get back to work, almost six years to get back to work, and it wasn't until I started to share my story with others and I appeared in a New York Times Magazine article featuring my story that the type, started to change. So I'd love to hear from you ladies a little bit more about your stories. If you wouldn't mind sharing with us, Cathy, why don't we go ahead and start with you.

Talk to us a little bit about you're relaunching and also before that, when you were at home.

Cathy Duffy: Good evening everyone. Kuae talked a lot about the emotions that we experience when we do step away from our careers. But, I just like to call myself the queen of reinvention. I have launched my career, relaunched my career twice. My first relaunch was after an eight and a half year absence when I dropped out at the height of my career to take care of my newborn son and stayed home and four years later had a newborn daughter.

Coming back into the industry after being out for so long was tough and I had to make myself really small after being defined as too ambitious when I tried to return at a time when being described as ambitious was not a compliment for women. My second relaunch was after the company I was second in command for, shut the Bermuda operation down, leaving 16 people who joined the organization because of me, were out of a job.

I made sure they all had jobs before I took one. This time I was only out for about nine months before finding another job. Interestingly enough, Both times I was accepted back into the industry by the company that originally brought me back home in 1988, Excel, now known as Xa Excel. Each time I reentered, I had to take 10 steps backwards to start all over again.

And after the embarrassment of stepping into my light too soon after my first relaunch, I decided to hide again after my second relaunch. I felt it was safer to be behind the scenes so I could fly under the radar. And soon, I was helping everyone else to do better financially and career wise than I was for myself.

Something happened when I turned 55. I realized I had far less years ahead of me than I did behind me. So I decided it was time for me to step, to stop leading from behind. And instead to put on my big girl shoes and leave from the front again. As soon as I made that decision, the phone rang and it was a headhunter letting me know I had been identified by the then global CEO of AIG, Brian Duperreaux, to leave the Bermuda office.

Needless to say, I got the job and I have been leading AIG Bermuda for nearly five years. I'm also the first woman to hold this position. I feel like I have come full circle in my life, as I seem to be in the same position I was in 1999, when I left the industry to have my son. I have been an only for most of my career and life, and not much has changed in 40 plus years.

And that's why I participate in programs such as iRelaunch. Because they help to diversify the workforce with women who will make a difference. I'm looking forward to chatting with you all. And unlike Kuae, I did not lack the confidence when I came in. I was defined as too confident. And I made myself small, but making myself small helped me to learn so much more about being a better leader.

And we can discuss all of these as time goes on. Thank you.

Kuae Kelch: Thank you, Cathy. We're gonna, we're gonna come back to that because I'd love to hear more about the labels that were assigned to you, cause it sounds like you have quite a few labels that that people assigned to you they thought you were too ambitious.

I'm sure there's some other labels that you could probably share with us. So we'll try to get back to that in a moment. LaBrena tell us a little bit about your story.

LaBrena Settles: Sure, I'll try to keep this short and sweet. I started my career journey straight out of high school by joining the Army Reserves. During my junior year of college, I joined the ROTC program.

And upon graduating with my bachelor's degree, I was commissioned into the Army Medical Service Corps, now on active duty. I met Corey, my husband who is a young officer on Fort Hood, our first duty station. We got married decided to start our family shortly after that. And almost immediately after that, we actually welcomed our first daughter, Cameron, two weeks after we celebrated our one year anniversary, and a month before I graduated with my master's degree. We made the decision for me to stay home her first year. And I was really good that first six months of, getting out of the military and having worked full time and, going to night school to get my master's degree. I was really good the first six months.

But around month, I'll say eight or nine, I started driving everyone around me crazy. And it was so bad until one day, both me and my husband looked at each other, and we said at the same time, It's time for you, me, to go back to work. So around month 10, I started looking for a role and I was fortunate enough to get hired fairly quickly.

I started with Pfizer as a pharmaceutical sales representative about two weeks before Cameron turned one years old. And I worked for them for a couple of years when we decided to expand our family and we welcomed Camille into the world. And I decided to give it another, this whole stay at home thing, another go.

And I was more prepared this time, so much so that I actually stayed home for 17 years. This time around year two, I decided to start a property management company, which I ran successfully for 12 years, and I helped to start and run a psychology clinic for about 7 years. During that time, I was able to get various certifications, get a lot of experience to put those certifications to work.

And I joined actually served in leadership positions in the various organizations in order to use those certifications so that I could have good resume bullets. Around, I'll say, year 17 when Camille was entering her senior year of high school, I decided to really go back to work this time. I had a couple of false starts, but I was determined to go back to work this time and I was fortunate enough because I had all of that experience from the volunteering and owning my own companies that it was a pretty seamless transition.

I was able to come back in at a salary that I was happy with and comfortable with. And on September 28th, I will celebrate three years of being back in America. So this Thursday will make three years for me.

Kuae Kelch: That's awesome. That's awesome. Thank you so much. Appreciate that. Great story.

Tiana, share with us a little bit about you.

Tiana Sousa: Sure. So originally from Boston, mom of three great kids, went to Howard University for undergrad, went to law school down in Miami. I was living my best life, came back up to the DMV after law school, did not want to practice, and ended up teaching at Howard for six years. So it started with I was on the mock trial team and debate, and all that stuff in undergrad, and it started with, hey, start as an adjunct.

Then I just ended up loving it, so I ended up teaching there for six years. Fast forward, the husband at the time is getting out of his residency program at GW, so now he's a doctor. Making lots of money and I get, or we get pregnant with twins. And it was like two, two against one. So the decision was made after, really honestly having for my age, especially a great career.

I was at Oxford in England at round table discussions talking about all kinds of issues and. I sat across from Dr. King's daughter, and she's giving us money for our speech and debate team and, I'm showing around the, I'm higher up at Carnegie Mellon and, speaking at Yale I started the Howard- |Yale Great Debate.

We stole that from the Denzel movie but that still goes on at Howard today. And I hadn't even this is all, before I'm 35 years old and so I find myself in my early 30s having done all these great things and now I'm home changing diapers. I'm home changing diapers, um, supporting, every dream that the then husband had.

And I, like you, Kuae, was just like, who am I? And there's nothing wrong with being home, first of all, let me say that, and changing diapers. I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I did I was totally lost. I didn't recognize that version of myself and I found Mocha Moms. And they were honestly, hands down, a lifesaver for me which is why I'm still active and was so active.

I've served in many different roles within the organization because, we were in a community where, you know, everyone was great, but there weren't a whole lot of people that looked like me or my children. And, I just wanted them to have identity and, to have good role models and reference points.

And so that went on and, like LaBrena three years ago, I decided I wanted to just, be able to do for myself. And so I just started applying to jobs, and a neighbor at the company, her name is Jill, that I am at now, at Ironbow she referred me, and I got the job, and it's just been all uphill ever since.

That's where I'm at.

Kuae Kelch: Tiana, how did we lose ourselves? How did these, we are all strong Black women, right?

Tiana Sousa: I think it's the overachiever thing. I think it's the overachiever thing, honestly, Kuae, I think it's if I'm gonna be a wife, I'm gonna be the best wife. I'm gonna be your mama, I'm gonna be the best mom.

I'm gonna have five kids. They're in GT. I'm gonna have the best kids. I think, but, you can get so hyper focused, or at least I know for me, that you look up and you're like, hmm, how did I gain all this weight? And when was the last time I saw my friends? And did I eat? You know what I mean?

Yeah, the did I eat thing. But everybody else is good. And that is what I think for me was if they're good, I'm good. And I, and that wasn't true.

Kuae Kelch: Yeah. A lot of us keep this inside. We don't share it. We, we internalize it. We keep it to ourselves and we think in some ways we're the only one who's going through it.

And when we talk to people, we realize that we're really not alone. And when we talk to people we realize that a lot of the feelings that we're having are okay. We can get through it, especially if we talk to other folks.

Cathy, I wanted to get back to you for a second because you, you said that you were labeled a lot of different things.

Talk to me about that labeling.

Cathy Duffy: I, I am in an, in industry that is predominantly white males. And the next group that is doing quite well are white females nowhere near as much as the white males are. Growing up in Bermuda, I don't know if people on here are familiar with Bermuda. Bermuda is majority black, so I never viewed myself as any less than anyone else because I just, no one ever told me I was so I always.

I have always presented myself and continue to present myself in a way that I feel I should be in whatever room I'm in. I do believe that we are always where we're meant to be. But when you show up in that manner, you will get a lot of resistance from people that want to keep people like us in a box, that want to stereotype us.

And so they do things to play with your mind to make you think that you're the problem versus the problem is a system that has been created, and it takes a lot to move beyond that. And as I said, as a person, I'm 60 years old, so I've been through quite a bit of change in the industry, but it hasn't really changed.

If we really think about it, so when I was labeled as ambitious, that was when if you were labeled that as a woman in those days, that was not considered to be a compliment. I shrank myself for a period of time because I was like, oh, my gosh, I'm ambitious. I didn't realize people saw me as being ambitious and so I shrank myself, but that actually was one of the best lessons that I've ever had in my life because I then got to view people from different positions in their lives.

And what I realized is when people are labeling you with something. It's never about you. It's always about them and I wouldn't have learned that if I didn't have to go into that place where I shrunk myself and started to observe and wasn't the one that was out front for periods of time in my life.

So labeling is never about us and if we're strong enough and actually I hate that. Why do black women have to be strong enough? Why can't we be just as vulnerable as anybody else, but if we have the resilience, the patience, the tools to understand that every trial that comes to us is to grow us, and it's for us.

And we will all lose ourselves from time to time, but that's all a part of our growth. Yeah, I can live with just about everything you can can imagine because of the length of time I've been in this industry, but it's fine.

Kuae Kelch: A lot of this is, you're right, a lot of this is about bouncing back and how we bounce back and how we pick ourselves up and how we deal with the barriers that we're faced with.

LaBrena you we've talked before about this and you really didn't, when it came time to go back to work, there were gaps in your resume, but it didn't appear as though there were gaps. So share with us a little bit about how you managed to be out, but also close those gaps, at least visually on your resume and as you talk to folks.

LaBrena Settles: I guess the best thing I could say for someone who's actually trying to go back to work after being out as long as I was out is to prepare. There is no such thing as overpreparing. Be very intentional about your job search. Once you figure out what you want to do, look at those job descriptions for that.

Look to see what certifications they're looking for, look to see what job skills they're looking for, go after those certifications. But know that companies need more than just certifications, they want experience as well. Look within the organizations that you're volunteering in, see if there's opportunities there for you to be able to leverage those skills, to leverage those certifications, to get the experience, so you can put those things on your resume.

And it shows a couple of things. It shows the people who are working alongside you in the trenches, your sisters, your sorors. It shows them that you have the ability. They have an opportunity to see your work ethic. So they'll be more than happy to go about putting their name behind you. They'll make those recommendations for you.

They'll make those introductions for you. They'll look at your resume and help you take that time to get a return on your investment for all the time that you're putting into these organizations by letting them know, hey, I'm looking for a job. And when it comes time to it, and they make those introductions for you, be prepared when you go into those meetings.

With these people have a list of questions that you're ready, that you want to ask and even ask them, hey, do you have a list of questions? I know you're hiring people. Do you have a list of questions that you typically ask in an interview? And when they give you these questions, you go back and come up with about 5 or 6 different answers that you can apply to about 50 or 60 questions.

So you don't have to prepare for all those 60 questions. You can leverage those five or six answers to go to a variety of situational based questions. And then once you get the interview, you sit down and go into that interview fully confident, knowing that you deserve to be there, you have every right to be there, and remember that yes, being a program director in Jack and Jill, it counts.

Yes. Yes. Being a the health committee chair in AKA. It counts. All of those skills are transferable skills that transition that can transition your resume from being, Hey, I've been out of work for 17 years to I've been really active during those 17 years and this is why. Because what they're looking for is someone who has leadership skills, someone who can communicate, has presentation skills, organizational skills, leadership skills.

All of these skills you're putting into work in these organizations that you're freely giving your time to. And those are transferable skills that can work for you. And another thing, when you're volunteering at these organizations you're able to tap into those soft skills. That a lot of people who've been in their career in corporate America do not have.

Because when you're leading in a volunteer organization, that means you're bringing people to actually get things done. And you're not, you don't have that positional power. You're getting them to do things because they like you. They don't want you to fail, or they don't want their organization to fail.

Which is completely different than, hey, I'm the boss and you need to do what I tell you to do. So I took all of that information, put it into my resume, let my a couple of my sorors take a look at it, a couple of my Jack and Jill sisters take a look at it, they made introductions for me, I made sure I went into there ready.

And and they gave referrals to me and I was able to capitalize on that and come in with a salary that I could walk away from. I could be happy accepting.

Kuae Kelch: So I'm going to, I'm going to hop out for, I see a couple of questions in the chat that are really interesting based on. What you're talking about.

And I'm going to throw this, Tiana, feel free to answer any of you. Feel free to answer. And Tona just asked what LaBrena is sharing is good, but what about doing all this, getting the interviews and then race and age steps in. So I'm going to throw that out to all of you all. We are black women and we are of a certain age, whatever that age may be.

So I'd love to hear your thoughts about how that impacted your process. And how that continues to impact you as you work and as you relaunch your careers, maybe another time. So one of the things that I, just a really brief response to that is I am of the opinion that you just keep going. And honestly, if that comes into play.

Tiana Sousa: I can't make you not racist and you can't make me not a black woman. I don't need to work for you. You lost out because I have a skill set that would benefit your organization. Let them lose you. And we can't give up on that. That being said, opportunity was not meant for you, point blank and period.

And I would prefer to know that you're a racist now. And so you hire me and I get into that job and then I have to deal with your attitude and your issues because I cannot be successful in that type of environment. It's an uphill battle.

Kuae Kelch: Absolutely. And one bit of advice that I carry with me at all times, and that is go where you are valued, go where you are valued, know your worth and go where you're valued.

And you certainly don't want to go to a place where you're not valued and you're not seen in the way that you want to be seen and treated the way that you want to be treated. So that's important. Really important. I want to, I'm looking at the time, I'm going to keep us moving. We have some questions that came in to us from the, those who registered and so I'm going to share these with you all and feel free to chime in.

Please share tips on how to mentally prepare to re enter the corporate world after taking a break for almost a decade. We're talking about mentally prepare. What did you do? What do you suggest?

Cathy Duffy: I'll take that one first. Okay. I was out for eight and a half years, and when I came back, I was 45. That is ageism, racism, all those things that you the other caller asked about. But sometimes, we can get in our own heads as well. Yes, there are people that will judge you for that.

You have to do a lot of mental preparation, a lot of self reflection. I remember when I decided that I was going to come back in and doors were slamming in my face, left and center, by people who I mentored and sponsored who did not want to hire me because they felt that They wanted to be me, so how could I work for them?

So I had to do a lot of soul searching myself. I am a twice a day meditator. I write a grateful journal. I do daily affirmations. I walk in nature quite a lot. Nature is an amazing teacher for change. It is an amazing teacher for us that there are seasons. And it's free so I do a lot of, even every single day of my life, I still do those things because we are constantly bombarded with lots of obstacles and the only way that we're going to get through those obstacles and still present ourselves in a way that we can inspire and motivate others is we have to find our centers, and know what it is that we want to project into the world and how we want to be of service. So yes, those things can be obstacles, but they are giving you such gifts. Of such gifts, of how to be compassionate, empathetic, and resourceful.

Tiana Sousa: Yes, I agree with everything that Cathy is saying. And I put therapy out there, but I actually mean it.

Those things work, and if they're working, great. But I just think as a community, and as black women, how we are raised. We are raised to be strong. We are raised not to cry. We are raised to be tough and to not, really talk about what ails us, what happened in our childhood, whatever may be happening, and that's obviously not going to be the case for everybody, but for a lot of us, there's trauma, and I'm just going to say it, and I'm also going to say it, and it is okay.

It is okay to go and to talk to somebody who is a professional and I don't got nothing against church, okay, but it is okay to go and talk to a professional to get you centered and you right and to deal with the things that might be on your success, because we shouldn't have to shoulder it all and we are conditioned.

And I think it's a really great tool to be able to have raise to do that.

Kuae Kelch: What was the most surprising thing you learned in your first few months back at work, ladies.

LaBrena Settles: That imposter syndrome is real. And I had to have many sister to sister conversations with myself. to remind me that of who I am and whose I am.

Kuae Kelch: Yeah, and it goes on. Imposter syndrome doesn't go away. It goes away and then comes back. When you think it's not happening.

LaBrena Settles: I could not allow myself. I had been given, afforded an opportunity.

And I looked around at people who had been doing the role for 20 and 25 years and I'd be in a meeting with them and I'm like, you're just as good as they are, and I was, but I had to remind myself of that, but I had that fear, I had to look it in the face, recognize it for what it was, and claim my victory, because I had no choice, I am who I am, and I'm gonna go after it, and I deserve to be there, so anyone who's facing that, you deserve to be there, you've given the opportunity, used the skills you have, and sometimes you're gonna have to stare yourself in the face, Get in front of a mirror, do those affirmations, whatever it is you need to remind yourself who you are.

Kuae Kelch: Absolutely. What advice would you give to long term unemployed women, 15 plus years, some of you who have, were out for 15 plus years, who are trying to reenter the workplace given this unstable job market?

What would you share with them?

Tiana Sousa: I think LaBrena Is an excellent example of...

LaBrena Settles: I think I already answered that one, right?

Kuae Kelch: You did. The network is super important. Tapping into your networks or even creating a network if you don't already have one, I think that's super important. I think that as I talk to people, the more and more I talk to people, the more I heard back from them about job openings.

People would reach out to me and say, I remember you told me a few months ago that you were looking, I don't know if you still are, but I heard about this, and I can connect you to that person. I realized I needed to do so much more of that. I spent a lot of time sitting on my computer applying to jobs and wondering why my resume was not getting through the automated system.

I understand now why it wasn't getting through the automated system, but had I just gotten the word out and talked to folks. I think that it just would have been much more beneficial to me because they would know and they would think of me when things come up. Yeah, networking. In an automated system, there, there is a, an app or something, there's a website that you can feed your resume through and it'll tell you how many hits you get and let you know if you need to make an adjustment to your resume so it will get seen.

Yeah, that's important because I think I spun my wheels a really long time not understanding why my career break was not being understood. I know that things advanced a little bit more. I know LinkedIn allows you can put your career break on your resume and it's more acceptable to do that.

But there was a time when it wasn't, and I still think there's some stigma attached to it. So I'm hoping that'll change over time.

Another question, how did family, friends, and acquaintances react? When you said you were taking a break from your careers, how did you, also part two, how did you prepare financially before you took a break from your career?

Cathy Duffy: I would definitely like to answer that one. My husband was going to divorce me, honestly. It was because I went from being this well put together business woman and I became a hippie woman. Like before it was the, I was cycling around with my son on the back of the bike and I, I was actually the major breadwinner in our family as well and I just, and he was like, what are you doing?

It was, I would say for the first three years or so, maybe two and a half years, I didn't think we were going to make it because I had changed so much. And we had not prepared financially because. I didn't know I was going to do that. I did not know that I was going to not go back to work. I actually thought that I would go back to work.

But when it came time to put in the ad in the newspaper for the nanny, I just couldn't do it. So, it was a very impromptu rash decision, but that it was based on my insecurity because my mother died suddenly when I was 13. I didn't want to leave. I didn't want my son to know me as a corporate woman if I were to die, and he would not have known me as a mother.

And I'm not judging any person that works. I do think women have the right to choose whatever works for them. So don't think that I'm looking at anyone that decides to continue to work as someone who is less than. That is not the case. We all have to do what is best for us. So it was quite a struggle for us in, initially, but I came from nothing, so it is really easy to make things stretch, it is really easy to make something out of nothing you just have to put your mind to it, and you just have to say, this is for A much deeper reason than the finances.

So sometimes when we're over prepared, that's when things actually disappoint us. But times when we have no attachment to what we're doing, except for good intentions, that's when more arrives at our doorstep.

Tiana Sousa: Yeah, definitely have to be willing to just start over. We were fortunate in that, my spouse at the time was able to financially take care of us. I did not need to work. But my response was really a mixed bag. Some people would say, I wish I could stay at home. Others would say, why the heck would you stay at home when you have a doctorate? Some people just didn't have anything to say, they were my favorites.

And other people would say, Oh, you're such a good wife and a good mom, for doing it. And I'm with Cathy where it's if you, whatever you choose, you should have the choice to do. It's so when I was at work or if I decided to go back to work, does that mean that I'm now not going to be a good wife or a good mom?

I'm not really sure how to take this. People who had nothing to say were my favorites but I do think the, one thing that I'll say is, we talked about Mocha Moms and support, and we're talking about networking, but just having the family and the friends, I have family and friends on here right now who are like, I'm on here because You're on here.

Hi guys. And that's who you need in your circle. That's who you need in your life. The people who are going to support you, because even if they don't know how to get you that next job, they're going to be like LaBrena's friends and say, but you're still a baddie. Don't let anybody tell you're not.

You get up and keep going. You keep pushing. And honestly, not to sound cliche, I do believe, Eventually it does work out how you, when you see yourself, when you start feeling more confident in yourself, because we, like I said, we all get lost, I definitely, even when I started working was still a little lost.

I think I'm just now starting to get it together. You, when you but it shows up in your work. It shows up in the interview. We've all interviewed people and been like, Not so much, and then interviewed other people will be like you maybe don't meet every criteria check every box, but I like your energy, I see your potential, you know be that woman.

Kuae Kelch: Yeah, that's super important. We're going to have to end this portion of the program. Cathy, Tiana, LaBrena, this has been wonderful. I know we could talk much longer about a lot of different issues and I know there's a lot of, a lot that we didn't get to because this is an ongoing conversation.

We probably need to have a part three and a part four. Because there's a lot that we have to talk about. Times are a changing and there are a lot of issues that come up that we haven't even dealt with and that many people are dealing with and they need help and they need support. So I want to thank the three of you all for joining us today.

It has been wonderful. Thank you for sharing your stories. I'm a firm believer that when we share our stories with each other, when we lift each other up, we will all be better off for it. So really appreciate it. And I know everyone could see some of them in you and vice versa. So thank you so much.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thank you. And thanks for listening to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we talk about return to work strategies, advice, and success stories.

I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. I hope that all of you who are listening, who are relaunching, will check out our resources on and make sure that you sign up for our job board and make sure you're on our mailing list. You will get our weekly return to work report, which is full of opportunities specifically for people who have taken career breaks.

Thanks for joining us.

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