About Natalie Siston
Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach, avid writer and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.
Have you ever stood at your sink asking yourself, what have I accomplished today? Have you moved paper from one side of the desk to the other asking, what’s the point?
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Hey Deliberate Leaders. I’m Allison Dunn, your host executive coach and founder of the Deliberate Leaders podcast dedicated to helping leaders build strong, thriving businesses. Each episode we feature inspiring interviews to help you on your leadership journey. And I am super excited to introduce our guest today, we have Natalie Siston,. She is a life coach speaker. She is a contributor to one of my favorite emails I get every morning Thrive Global. She is also the founder of small town leadership, and the author of Let Her Out, Reclaim Who You Have Always Been. Natalie, thank you so much for joining us here today.
I am very excited to be here. Allison, thanks so much.
Absolutely. I’ve got my kickoff question. I always like to start with a deliberate conversation. What would be your number one leadership tip for our deliberate leaders, listeners.
The number one leadership tip is to push against those moments where you’re biting your tongue, where you’re shaking your head, yes. And inside screaming no. I find this to be the number one thing that the people I coach leaders they work with the associates working with those leaders run up against it’s just this, this idea of fear of actually saying the thing that is on their mind that would push everything forward if they just bursted through the fear, push through the discomfort and said the hard thing.
I think that is such an incredibly valuable tip. How can we get someone to move from the like screaming on the inside to getting outside?
It’s good question because clearly I wouldn’t be so passionate about it if there wasn’t a way forward. And it’s tricky, right? It’s so tricky, because we want to be very careful about who we’re working with. We don’t want to upset the applecart, we don’t want to, you know, ruin relationships. That’s the reason we don’t we keep biting our tongue. That’s the reason we don’t say the thing that’s on our minds, we have to start with baby steps. And I always suggest starting with a good friend at work who you can’t, you’re not going to vent to them. But you’re going to say help me think through this constructively helped me for my talking points. So I can actually show up at the next meeting or the next dialogue and actually say what’s on my mind. And it’s slowly growing, that that zone of people you’re talking to and growing that over time. So finally, you’re in a place where you’re in the room with 50 people in the department meeting, and you’re comfortable raising your hand and saying the thing that might not be the popular opinion, but you know, 20 other people in the room are thinking it. So it’s starting small and then building out that experience. So you know that okay, I did it that one time it didn’t hurt. So bad people actually came up to me afterward and said, Thank you for saying the thing that’s been on my mind. And I think as leaders, we can also then look at that person and say, Wow, they have courage. And I admire that. And we know that courage is a top leadership trait.
I had, in my early professional career, a wonderful leader at the head of the table who would consistently say, if he wasn’t hearing from everyone, you’d be like, I know, you’re thinking something that everyone else is thinking, you know, Alli, what’s on your mind, you know, what, what is not resonating here with you? or What does? What about that excites you? And he’s like, draw it out of me so that I can get comfortable and having a voice in what was actually a very mature table. You know, when I was I was a young and you know, at the time? Yeah, absolutely.
So it’s reminding us that it’s this is a two way street. So you can be the person that’s screaming on the inside, trying to figure out how to get it out. And it’s up to the people around that person to do exactly what your former leader did. I think that’s a beautiful example.
Yeah. I, I also can relate in, in coaching with people like recognizing, like they have this really strong opinion, but they hold it back. And I don’t always necessarily understand what that resistance is. What do you think the resistance is?
Oh, gosh,this is a this is a it’s a tough one for me, too. So growing up, my parents gave me a button like the little you know, button that you put on jackets, this swag at the restaurant or whatever. And it said, I’m not opinionated. I’m just always right. And so I was eight years old when my parents gave me that button. So talk about being branded for life. But what I saw happen over a period of time is that that the sentiment of that pin started to diminish, because of all of the organizational dynamics, the voice in my own head saying, Oh, it’s not worth it. Why should I bother? Why should I exert the energy and I think that’s what happens to a lot of people. They wore that button really proudly as a small child as a teenager, maybe in their early 20s. They got into the workplace, and they started to see people around them not doing the thing. And so that became the norm. And that’s, I think, why we’re sitting in cultures where, you know, tons being held, and people are feeling that resistance because they don’t see it happening around them enough.
I don’t know what type of skill building we necessarily need to give, like young Emerging Leaders so that they can actually feel comfortable in expressing their opinion. Although I feel like it’s less common in our younger leaders than in our more mature leaders who have been suppressed and kind of blocked in from expressing themselves.
Yeah, that’s my hope is that the younger generation will help turn the tides right, that this niceness that we’ve been the Gen Xers and the gen y’s have been conditioned to can like the Gen Z years are gonna be like, what is what is your What is up? Like? I tweet my feelings in 260 characters. So why can’t we just say the thing out loud? Yes, that is my greatest hope to I think that’s why I do the work I do. It’s why I work with the leaders where I work with them, because I want them to be able to pull it out of all their associates and, and it’s why I ultimately told my story to the world and the framing of my blog in my book, because that was my experience for a long time of just suppressing that opinion when it could have helped so much just to speak up.
Right. And I am on your website. Earlier this morning, just doing some quick research. Before we got on our podcast today. I love your positioning. I also consider myself to be a small town girl. And born and raised in New Hampshire. And so big, big success from thinking small, could you could you tell us what that means? And a little bit about your story?
Absolutely. I grew up in Republic, Ohio population 600. No stoplights only stop sign in one direction town motto small in size, big and heart. So when I was thinking about the platform I was creating back in 2016. As I was thinking about how to package up speaking and writing that I was doing at the time, this idea just came to me it’s small town leadership, because every time I take a stage, every time I write, it’s about how a lesson I learned in that small town has helped me be successful in my career. And so the big success starts by thinking small from the context of small town leadership is going back to basics. It’s going it’s not a fancy 16 step framework with all this stuff in it Not at all. It’s very much work ethic, rolling up your sleeves, doing the thing that maybe isn’t on your job description, but you know, needs to get done. It’s having a very strong sense of community. The thing I love about a small town, I don’t know if you can relate to this, Allison, but it’d be you could have a drag out fight with somebody during the day. And that night, tragedy strikes, fire, there are lots of fires, my dad was a volunteer fireman. So maybe that’s where that came from. But I always knew where the fires were happening. But literally, like, the whole town would come to rescue. And I think our organizations need more of that spirit. And even when I say things like small in size, big and heart, which is a town motto, Republic, I tell people, as you know, when they’re leaders, what is your six word phrase that helps you have a cornerstone of what your values and what you stand for are, because I drove by that sign every day of my life. And it makes sense. And it’s easy to articulate. And I get the purpose of why that stood in the middle of town. And we each need that both from ourselves personally. And we need to organizationally. So I have a whole set of these small town leadership principles that can work for big organizations to help them rethink how they’re engaging their workforce, how they’re inviting everybody to show up as part of this small town that is their company.
I love that. And I do resonate with what you’re talking about. Small towns are amazing. And growing up in one I truly do believe that that is form like our long term view on life. And you wrote letter out and reclaim who you have always been. Who did you write that for?
I wrote that for every woman who’s ever been standing at her kitchen sink, doing dishes late at night asking herself what in the world that I accomplished today. It’s for the person who is shuffling papers from one side of their desk to the other just asking themselves. What’s the point? Like I was made for bigger, better different things than this. I had different dreams and visions. So it’s really for that person who has a fire in them somewhere but it’s been extinguished. It’s gone out over time and I want her to come back. And so that’s where let her out. reclaim who us who you’ve always been comes from because she’s inside of us. And we have just beaten her down and beaten her down, beaten her down, she just needs to be invited back out. And over the past four years, I’ve had the experience of letting my inner girl out bringing back that button that said, I’m not opinionated. I’m just always right, like resurgence of all of those things that I experienced when I was younger. And I think that every woman in this country and world could benefit from having more of her in her daily life.
And we are living in a very fast paced, busy world and sort of that inner spirit does get dulled over time, and how, how do you help people bring that out and shine it, you know, shine it up?
Absolutely. It’s, it’s a process to do this. And in the book, I call it real life story meets life coaching. So it’s my story from the time I was growing up as a small girl in a small town to move into the West Coast working in Silicon Valley back to the fortune 100. And ultimately, quitting my job admits the global pandemic and going at it on my own. But along that way, I asked people to reflect in four different categories. And the first is remembering, if we want to let her out, we actually have to remember who she was. And I invite people to do that by looking at pictures, home videos, scrapbooks, whatever, you know, my in my case, it’s what’s that my mom and dad’s house, and then I can look at when I’m visiting them on the weekend, that type of thing. For others. It might be talking to people and hearing stories that reminisce, help them reminisce about childhood. And then once we remember like, Oh, yeah, I remember the spark, I remember the silliness, I remember the confidence, then it’s reconnection, how do I actually reconnect to her at that visceral level? I can, how can I feel how she felt when she was doing those things that brought her joy and brought her alive? And then the biggest step? And Allison, I would imagine, these are the things you work with your coaching clients, because it’s definitely been what I’ve worked with mine on is identifying and removing the barriers to her. Because she was so awesome and incredible, then why is she Why does she get put away? Why did she get put in the corner? Why did she get diminished? And so it’s recognizing and looking at those things, whether they be external barriers, you know, I don’t have the time, money energy to do the thing that I’d love to do to bring her out, or mostly the internal barriers to stuff we’re telling him telling ourselves inside of our head. So once we identify those, we can actually crack through and say, Okay, I’m not going to let this barrier hold me back, hold her back anymore. And then we let her out.
Um, you share about the fact that you went back home and you were going through some of your old possessions. The button is one of them. What is your other key tie back to her?
That, you know, Oh, my gosh, it’s you. But it’s really the finding the box of diaries that I’ve kept since I was eight years old. That was that was the pinnacle that I knew this book had to be written. And I found them all. I’m 40 years old. And I found these on the very verge of turning 40. And I started rereading them. And it was horrifying and electrifying all in one. And I just was reading those going, holy cow, like, I was pretty, pretty fun kid like I was pretty spunky and spirited and I don’t feel like that anymore. And I want some of that back. So that was the moment it’s funny, people are listening to this, not see it. But I’m like I stare at them because they’re sitting in a box in the corner of my office. So I can just remember that they are there. And if I need a minute to just remind myself what my handwriting looked like when I was 15. And in love with four boys, you know, I can go pull out the 1995 version and take a peek.
That’s great. That is a talent and a skill that I now have writing in writing in a journal, but that I didn’t have as a kid. And I still wish that you know, someone had ingrained that in me. It’s because I grew up with a lot of siblings, and I don’t think my diary would have been safe is probably that I would have used. But that’s amazing that you actually have that as like the memory. Yeah, collection tool. That’s fantastic. In in some of your literature, you talk about discovering that you don’t have to walk down the red carpet, or make a million dollar order to lead an extraordinary life and inspire others. What does that mean? Was that mean to you?
That was there were several moments in this journey, not just a writing the book but just of building a business and being a mom and being a full time employee at the same time where I just put my hands in the air. I was like, why bother? Why get up early and do this, why stay up late and do this? Why take days off and do this when I could be just you know, quote unquote, normal. And then I got to actually writing and putting things together and I, at one point I said, well, no one wants no one cares about this story because there’s nothing tragic or triumphant about it. And I think that’s when I actually stood in my tracks. And I said, That’s exactly why this needs to be told. Because I feel like we hear all the stories of tragic and triumph. And some of my favorite authors are, you know, I will always read anything Brene Brown puts out always and always, her story is incredible. You know, I don’t anticipate having a TED talk that’s going to go viral. And then like, just blow up, right? I’m a big fan of somebody like Glennon Doyle Melton, who’s gone through a lot, you know, actually just blend into oil at this point. But those stories in my mind are framed with tragedy that turns into triumph. And granted, it’s a long journey for them. So I’m going to not take that credit away. But I figured, okay, my book is like normal Midwestern mom, telling her story. Because Wouldn’t it be cool if other normal or quote unquote, normal Midwestern moms can pick this up and see themselves in the pages of the person who’s working a job she’s good at, but isn’t sure if she wants to keep doing who’s raising kids who are amazing, but you’re, you’re doing your best, who’s in relationships with friends and wonders, you know, my giving enough. So that’s what I meant when I said, you know, you don’t need to rock walk down the red carpets, you don’t need to have the million dollar overnight success. Sometimes we just need to hear from people who are more relatable to us.
Thank you think and more now than ever, because there is no red carpets. Right? There’s, you know, there’s that element is not happening, that people are actually having an opportunity to maybe have paused in. So you know, to slow down, not being able to see some of their relatives, hopefully have gone to photograph albums and done that, that remember side of what you’re talking about. What are you seeing in today’s economy? And that’s exposing, you know, is there a new opportunity for you based on kind of where we’re at in the world?
So what’s really interesting is I was I was always planning on taking my business full time in 2020. That was my goal I set for myself in 2019, I had an exit date planned. And that date coincided with the day that the governor of Ohio started shutting the state down. It literally this that the day I was going to turn in my resignation was the day that the governor started shutting things down. And my husband looked at myself that morning, and he said, Is this the day to do it? And I thought he was questioning my ability to do this in general, like, we’ve talked about this, I’m ready. And after I realized He’s like, No, no, no, I get it, you’re gonna do this. But it’s like today, it’s today, March, whatever it was the day I’m like, I see what you’re saying. I said, Okay, so maybe not. So I held. And every day that I showed up to do my job from then until the time I resigned in June, I knew it was a choice. I knew it was a choice of showing up and doing that work or not, and going and voting on myself kind of thing. And finally, what happened, it’s you answer your question about the economy and just opportunity is, I found the pandemic to be a time where people are ready to focus on themselves, people are ready to develop, people are ready to say there’s got to be a better way for me to live my life for my company to move forward. And I found myself attracting clients, and I found myself creating my own stages, my own virtual stages for those who wanted to join me. And enough things finally lined up that I said, It’s time. And it’s, you know, for me, it’s going to be an amazing year, from kinda like the success standpoint, just not of what I built, but what I’m able to provide for my family as part of this. But just in terms of showing the possibility. You know, it’s I think one of the things that I wrote in the book, and that I think, probably even came to you, as part of the Hey, can we talk on the podcast was, you know, who quits her job in the middle of a global pandemic? That was one of my middle of the night thoughts, and which is when I did a lot of my writing, and I said, someone whose dreams are bigger than her fears. And so I think that’s what’s happening, the pandemic, there are people who are really questioning this, and we’re seeing a ton of women, unfortunately, leave the workplace because they need to take care of their family. But I’ve also talked to a lot of women who have either left or will eventually leave the workplace just because of family demands, but also because they’re saying I can find another way to do this. It doesn’t have to be quote, unquote, the way it’s always been done, you know, through hierarchical structure, organizational structure, and I’m willing to figure that out. So I think that we’re gonna see a lot of people come out of this experience, reinvented
Well, first off, congratulations on launch. You were your dream? I think that’s amazing. Did you actually choose that day? It was that the day that you launched the business the day they got done?
No, I waited. I waited about three months. Yeah. I did tell I did tell a small number of people that day that I my intent was to eventually resign. So I wasn’t quite in the dark, you know, but it was a couple months later that I officially submitted the, the notification.
Okay, fantastic. Well, I again, congratulate you on, you know, believing in yourself and overcoming the fear of that. What is next for you? The nurturing stage?
Yeah, you know, they, they say that when you when you write and launch a book, the first year is critical. So having conversations with people like you is super important. And I’m extraordinarily grateful. It’s figuring out what goes along with the book. And I’ve told so many people, I said, You know, I have a, I have a business plan for 2021. It’s looking really solid. And I’m excited to continue serving the clients I serve the organizations I serve. And hopefully the stages start to open back up and or are the virtual stages continue to be available, because I’m ready for let her out to be a movement, not just a book. And I stood up a UI invited, like some close colleagues and friends to beta test a group coaching program over the summer it was, it was my way of testing the book content and testing a group coaching program. And it was amazing, so much so that they’re like, we don’t want to stop meeting. So we’ve kept that going. So I feel like there will be a unity build to let her out and it just needs to be let out. And then I’m really going to ride the wave and follow the flow of where it takes me.
Outstanding. Well, I will happily share and promote let her out. That is fantastic. Um, I definitely want to make sure that our listeners know how to actually get in touch with you or best way to follow you other than your thrive global that you publish on.
I’m very easy to find because I’m the only Natalie Siston in the world and I can be found at all the places that Natalie Siston and then small town leadership, and let her out. And for your audience specifically and I’m going to let her out there’s a ton of resources for the book that are free for the taking that I’m excited to bring to the world you know, along with reading the book or just to download to check it out to see what it’s all about. Yeah, pretty darn easy to find. So what I’ve been telling everybody is like get in now because I feel like we’re on the verge of something big. So join me now on my Insta following my LinkedIn following and I’d be happy to be in community.
Oh fantastic. Natalie, it has been such a pleasure to connect with you today. I’m excited to see what you continue to do and let her out.
Awesome. Thanks so much for having me.
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