View as webpage, click here.
Good morning and happy Monday!

Thanks for all of your kind words about our one-year anniversary. This week we’re continuing the theme of sharing stories of fearlessness – this time from you! We’ll continue to sprinkle them in the newsletter throughout the year. You are always welcome to share your own story with us.

Please don’t forget to take our survey! As we wrap up 2021, we’re thinking of the year ahead and how we can best empower you in your personal and professional lives, and we can’t do that without your honest feedback.

Have a great week!

Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

When was a time that you were fearless?
Earlier this fall, we asked our Fearless audience to tell us about a moment of fearlessness they’ve experienced as well as questions related to confidence, leadership and risk-taking. Their responses show courage and strength in all of life’s moments, whether relatively small or big.

– Emily Barske, Business Record editor

Monica Converse | Polk City, Iowa

Tell us about a time you were fearless.

After much soul-searching in 2020, I took action toward pivoting from a stable career as an engineer to working for an entrepreneur to grow her professional coaching business. It was a huge risk, but I am so grateful I did it as I am much happier doing something I am passionate about and working for an amazing boss who has the same values as me. Passions and values are everything – if those are not in alignment, you will never find satisfaction.

How have you found confidence? How can we help others be confident?
I have found confidence in telling myself everything will be OK. I now catch myself when I start my negative self-talk and try to change the script in my head and remind myself that I am a talented and capable human being who pours her heart into everything she does, and it will be OK. I also collaborate with others along the way to gain support and accomplish more than I ever could on my own.

If we can all just help each other more and focus on the good instead of our shortcomings, we can all be more productive and effective professionals and human beings. You need to think beyond yourself to stay centered. One way I do this is to prioritize time to give back to my community. It keeps me grounded, and you gain a lot of supporters and advocates through the process!

What does it mean to be a leader? What can leaders do to focus on women's and gender issues?
Being a leader is being confident in knowing who you are and what your purpose is, and helping others along the way. Leaders need to not only continue the conversation on gender issues, which creates awareness, but also take small actions along the way that can work toward the overwhelming goal of achieving gender equity. Every little thing you can do to make progress helps, and it helps you feel a sense of accomplishment.  

What does it mean to take a risk? What’s a time you took a personal risk?
Taking a risk means to take action on something you know in your soul you should do, despite what your practical side of your brain and our culture might expect of you. Life is too short to live based on other's expectations of you.

I know when I switched my career some people were probably thinking I was crazy. I also went through years of talking myself out of it before I found the confidence to make the leap. Hiring a professional coach really helped me sort through my thoughts and finally find that confidence and take action on it. I highly recommend it.

Stories continue below advertisement
Katie Cox | Urbandale, Iowa

Tell us about a time you were fearless.
"Katie, I nominated you for a local dance competition. I think you'd be great at it." My inner dialogue immediately responded with "Thanks, but NO THANKS." Yet, when I got the call, I found that instead of turning it down, I leaned in to learn more. And when I'd learned more about it, the voice in my head said, "Why not?" I couldn't find a compelling reason why I shouldn't, so I said yes before I could give it much more thought. The next seven weeks was a roller coaster of emotions ranging from "What the hell did I get myself into?" to "I am so proud of you for doing something so hard, girlfriend!" In the end, I danced like everyone was watching. What I hoped they saw was someone bravely stepping outside of their comfort zone to challenge themselves, and that ultimately paid off in personal growth and pure joy. I firmly believe finding ways to get uncomfortable and break out of the inertia of life is key to living fully and fearlessly.

How have you found confidence? How can we help others be confident?
Finding confidence is a proactive journey for all of us. It happens in the moments where we say yes when we aren't sure. It's in the reflection of our accomplishments. Especially those where we exceeded our own expectations and self-doubts. Confidence is doing the things that make us feel vulnerable, but appreciating the lesson they teach. We can help build confidence in each other by recognizing the gifts/talents/strengths we see in each other, and encouraging each other to use those unique talents. I am a big believer that when you invest an interest in others, you also grow in confidence by watching them thrive. It's contagious!

What does it mean to be a leader? What can leaders do to focus on women's and gender issues?
Being a leader is truly about investing in the people you have the opportunity to positively impact and help them reach a common vision or goal. It's about being emotionally intelligent. As a leader, you must have a good understanding of who you are, how you relate to others, and how others relate to each other and to you. It's about being inspirational not only in your words, but in your actions.

The most important thing that leaders can do to focus on women's and gender issues is to have worthy conversations. The conversations that feel uncomfortable, but hold so much value in truly getting the issues on the table and understanding all viewpoints. It is in this place of foundational understanding where seeds can be planted and ideas can be formed and steps can be taken. I believe leaders hold the responsibility of making sure all voices are heard and creating space for the conversations to be had. That's where transformation starts. The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step (or sharing of a perspective).

Left: Humanitarian Malala Yousafzai. Center: Pop star Britney Spears. Right: Astronaut Jessica Watkins.
In the headlines
  • After previously stating that she didn’t "want to get married … or at least not until I’m 35," Malala Yousafzai tied the knot with her partner, Asser Malik, earlier this month. In an essay, she wrote about why she was cautious about marriage and how she came to change her mind. "I still don’t have all the answers for the challenges facing women – but I believe that I can enjoy friendship, love and equality in marriage."
  • Britney Spears is free from her conservatorship after a judge ruled in favor of termination. The 13-year arrangement had legally stripped the singer from making her own personal and financial decisions. An estimated 1.3 Americans live under conservatorships.
  • Astronaut Jessica Watkins will be the first Black woman to serve on the crew of the International Space Station. Though a handful of Black astronauts have visited the space station over the course of its 21-year history, almost all had short stays typically lasting less than two weeks. Watkins is expected to serve on the mission for six months.
  • The average female enrollment in full-time, in-person MBA programs has hit a record high – 41%. That’s up from 38.5% last year, according to research released by the Forte Foundation.
  • Iowa has more Latino and Hispanic elected officials now than ever before, according to the Latino Political Network. Of the 13 Latino or Hispanic candidates that won in elections this month, nine are women.
  • A Montana National Guard soldier, who has not been identified, has become the first woman to graduate from the U.S. Army Sniper Course at Fort Benning, Ga.
  • The NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament will expand its field to 68 teams – up from 64 – this season. The decision comes as the association continues to rectify its gender disparities.
  • Violence against Indigenous women in the U.S. is a crisis, but the extent of the problem remains unknown, according to a report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In some tribal communities, Indigenous women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average, according to the Department of Justice.
Being herself: Deanna Strable-Soethout
Strable-Soethout, 52, describes her professional life in three chapters. After finishing college at Northwestern University, she started at Principal in 1990 as an actuary. In the mid-1990s, she ran various product lines within Principal's insurance businesses and was named president of U.S. Insurance Solutions in 2015. In 2017, she became chief financial officer.

Through each chapter, she watched as other women leaders copied the styles and personalities of men. They didn’t let their guard down. Strable-Soethout wanted to bring her full self to the executive level, to not change who she was to fit someone’s else’s ideal.
Worth checking out
Without parental leave I might be dead (New York Times Opinion). Watch: Daughter interrupts New Zealand's prime minister during live chat (NBC News). Watch: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and Mellody Hobson on advancing women's equality (New York Times DealBook Online Summit). Women are more likely to want to work remotely. But what if it ends up working against them? (Politico). Would you manage 70 children and a 15-ton vehicle for $18 an hour? (The Fuller Project). How four women would redesign their workweeks (Politico). Watch: Melissa Vine: When awkwardness is a leadership skill (DisruptHR Talks).

Thanks to everyone who tuned in to our virtual panel discussion on women’s issues last week. If you missed it, you can catch a replay on the Business Record’s YouTube channel. (Fast-forward to the two-minute mark!)
Don't forget to take our survey!
One year ago, the Business Record launched Fearless with a mission to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. From the start, we knew we didn’t want to keep our coverage on gender issues separate from the other business stories that our staff covers, so we periodically publish Fearless content in the Business Record’s weekly print edition.

That being said, Fearless’ flagship product is our free e-newsletter that arrives in subscribers’ inboxes every Monday morning. You can see a full archive of the newsletters we’ve sent out on our website.

You likely spend a lot of time opening and answering emails, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make the Fearless newsletter valuable to you and worth your time.

Please take a moment to take our survey so we can learn how to best serve you.
Like this newsletter? Please forward to a friend!
Did someone share this newsletter with you? Sign up here.

Business Publications Corporation Inc.

515.288.3336  |

Contact the publisher and executive editor:
Contact Fearless editor:
Submit press release:
Advertising info:
Membership info:

Copyright © BPC 2021, All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is strictly prohibited.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign