Your fearless stories, personal leadership
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Good morning and happy Monday!

We’ve spent the last few weeks sharing the stories of six fearless women, and we’re continuing the trend this week by sharing YOUR fearless stories. Thank you to everyone who submitted a fearless moment. We hope that reading this collection helps you pause to reflect on what being fearless really looks like, and how you’ve been fearless yourself. You’re always welcome to share your story with us!

We’re also featuring a guest opinion piece from Angie Chaplin, who shares five practices for personal transformation.

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

P.S. This newsletter was produced earlier than usual so the team that puts together Fearless each week could enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. If we missed any big headlines, we'll be sure to keep you in the loop next week.

Your fearless moments
Storytelling is a powerful tool to help break down stigmas, build community and encourage empathy.

Every year, we share stories of fearlessness through the Business Record in part because we believe it’s our duty not just to report on what somebody does, but also to share about who they are.

We believe everyone has a story to share, so we encouraged readers to submit their own moments of being fearless. Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

We hope this collection of stories helps you pause to reflect on what being fearless really looks like, and how you’ve been fearless yourself.

We're featuring three excerpts of stories below, and throughout the upcoming year, we'll be sharing more individually in the newsletter. You can find all of the fearless moments on our website.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Lindsay Cannaday, VP, business development director, GreenState Credit Union
As a woman of color, it's always felt like my biggest adversaries were other women. I often would get "constructive feedback" that I was too aggressive or that I shouldn't speak up as much. On paper I was a high producer with quality outcomes who took on additional work, but my performance reviews never reflected that, which directly impacted raises and promotions. When I finally decided to leave a corporate job after close to 10 years, I had to choose my mental health over financial security.

Andrea Hansen, director of development, Iowa Public Radio
Several years ago, I applied for a job that was a professional growth opportunity and a leadership role. I was notified by email by a member of the search committee that I wasn't being given a phone interview. I wrote back and asked for specific feedback on my qualifications. The person took time to give me some information and since I was still disappointed that I wasn't able to be interviewed, I wrote again and asked to be reconsidered. I still didn't get the interview but I received a very encouraging response from the person telling me they were impressed by my self-advocacy and professionalism.

Allison Peterson, account manager, HealthPartners UnityPoint Health
My husband and I decided to move almost immediately following the graduation of our youngest child. After being in the same town for 27 years, we moved to a new city, started new jobs and became empty nesters all within a few months. It has been an unbelievable transition, facing a new identity outside of being a mom, becoming myself again and adapting to our new lifestyle.  It's taken a lot of courage and inflection, which has been challenging at times, but I'm finding it has empowered me to just be Allison again and start thinking about new adventures for myself.

Leading through life: Five practices for personal transformation
For 30 years, I have devoted my career to studying, designing, implementing and facilitating leadership cultures for industries ranging from higher education to nonprofits and financial services to the federal government.  

Examining companies and cultures of all shapes and sizes, I observed the impact of exemplary leadership in little moments and large milestones. Even so, fully grasping the power of a personal leadership culture – an internal operating system of values, behaviors and processes – would take a life-altering crisis.

It happened 15 years after earning my graduate degree in strategic communication and leadership from Seton Hall University and receiving the designation of certified master from Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of "The Leadership Challenge." At a time when my passion and purpose for leadership seemed to be climbing to new heights, behaviors related to severe alcohol use disorder led me to dangerous lows.

With my physical, mental and emotional health in crisis, I made a choice to begin leading an alcohol-free life. Forty days later, when the global pandemic shut down the treatment systems supporting my sobriety, I faced a dilemma – where do I go from here?

The answer was to look inward by turning toward the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership from "The Leadership Challenge." Understanding that "culture eats strategy for breakfast," I realized that if I didn’t strengthen my personal leadership culture, strategies for staying sober would risk failure.

Here's how integrating the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership for personal culture transformation makes sobriety work for me, and how you might embed the practices yourself:

Model the way. Authenticate who you are by clarifying your values, finding your voice and setting an example. When you align your behaviors accordingly, your actions articulate credibility and integrity louder than words alone. Expanding on a values exercise from "The Leadership Challenge," I designed and published Values to Vision cards with supplemental facilitation guides and created a values-mapping process to check that my behaviors align with my values of love, gratitude, connection, growth and well-being.

Inspire a shared vision. Visualize yourself leading your life by design, not by default. Articulate what your values and actions look like visually by journaling, crafting vision boards and sharing verbally with friends and family. The values-mapping process is an important resource for this practice because I can track and monitor how my appointments, activities and actions support what matters most.

Challenge the process. Through curiosity and creativity, what can you learn by rethinking how things have always been done? Master the art of learning from mistakes to put what you learn into practice. "Leaders are lifelong learners" is one of the fundamentals in "The Leadership Challenge." For me, challenging the process became a catalyst for continued success by looking beyond traditional pathways to sobriety, including practical tools from SMART Recovery that integrate into holistic leadership.

Enable others to act. Psychological research shows that when we help others, the benefits are mutual. Mentoring and coaching are two powerful ways to walk along someone on their own self-empowered journey, even when their path might differ from yours. Soon after sharing my 30-day sobriety milestone on social media, friends reached out to privately share their own struggles, which led to completing certifications as a facilitator for SMART Recovery and Wellness Recovery Action Plan, plus training as a peer recovery coach. Creating connections and communities reinforces what Brené Brown describes as "the imperative of owning our story. We do this because we feel the most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories – it’s in our biology."

Encourage the heart. The effects of acknowledgment, recognition and appreciation are measurable, with proven impacts for the encourager and the encouraged. Cheer on progress over perfection, and choose to celebrate what’s good rather than what’s wrong to leave a positive imprint on minds, hearts and habits. One word summarizes my personal practice of encouraging the heart: gratitude. Championing and cheering for friends in recovery (regardless of what they are recovering from) becomes mutually beneficial because my own heart gets encouraged at the same time. Looking inward for self-encouragement through yoga, affirmations and mindfulness brings the practices full circle.

Daily and deliberate integration of all five practices reinforces my personal leadership culture. From individuals to industries, doing the same by strengthening systems and strategies from within creates a protective shield of resilience, no matter whether we’re talking about revenue, relationships or recovery.

Angie Chaplin is the founder and owner of Mindful Leadership, where she specializes in personal and organizational culture, strategy and leadership. She can be reached at

Left: Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes. Center: Baseball player Olivia Phicardo. Right: Singer Angela Alvarez.
In the headlines
Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for duping investors in the failed startup that promised to revolutionize blood testing. Holmes’ meteoric rise once landed her on the covers of business magazines that hailed her as the next Steve Jobs.

Olivia Phicardo, a freshman at Brown University, will be the first woman on the roster of a Division I college baseball team. "I'm just really glad that we're having more and more female baseball players at the collegiate level, and no matter what division, it's just really good to see this progression," Pichardo said. "It's really paving the way for other girls in the next generation to also have these goals that they want to achieve and dream big and know that they can do it."

For the first time in its 180-year history, women make up a majority of the players in the New York Philharmonic orchestra. It might not last long because there are 16 vacancies to fill, but it still represents a profound shift for an ensemble that had only five women at the beginning of the 1970s.

At 95, Angela Alvarez made history as the oldest person to win a Latin Grammy. "To those who have yet to make their dreams come true, know that although life is hard, there’s always a way out and with faith and love everything can be achieved," the Cuban-born singer said in her acceptance speech.

In Qatar this month, Katy Nesbitt became the first American woman to officiate at a men’s World Cup. "It's such an honor that I get to do this and to represent female referees in this way, and to represent my country," she said. She was picked as one of just six women who — for the first time — are joining more than 100 male officials at the World Cup.

Worth checking out
Opinion: More women in skilled trades is an answer to Iowa's skills gap (Des Moines Register). Changing gender dynamics at home, one lead dad at a time (The Double Shift). Empty classrooms, abandoned kids: Inside America’s great  teacher resignation (New York Times Opinion). Chanel Miller’s inconceivable reality, 5 years after #MeToo (Popsugar).
Pillars of Philanthropy
Our nonprofit community is driven by purpose. Each organization has a unique mission and niche within the community in which they serve. Many are established change-makers.

But when change-makers are met with new needs, challenges or opportunities – what happens? How is purpose-driven work altered by new community issues? Or perhaps matters that aren’t new, but are newly recognized?  

For this year’s Pillars of Philanthropy publication, nine nonprofit leaders wrote about what they’ve learned or experienced as they’ve taken on new goals or embraced uncertainty. These nine leaders are just a sampling of the many organizations that make a difference in Central Iowa.

But what I found so profound about working with each leader on their letter was that despite drastically different missions and focuses – from history education to animals, to mentorship, to individual liberties, to poverty, to sex trafficking survivors, to racial justice, to health care and general community support – each leader illuminated common themes. Persevering. Learning. Creating. Acknowledging. Overcoming.  

Through their lessons, we hope you can do good and feel good about change.  This magazine is dedicated to celebrating the work our nonprofit leaders have done embarking on the unknown, but it also reminds each of us to keep the issues that matter most at the forefront.

NPR book concierge
We’ve officially entered into peak curl-up-on-the-couch-with-a-good-book season, and NPR’s annual book concierge is a great tool to keep bookmarked in your tabs.

Since 2013, NPR staff and critics have gathered up their favorite books in a searchable database. To date, there are more than 3,200 recommendations.

Happy reading!

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