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Episode 2

Fireside Chat with BIC Company

Gracious & Strong Podcast with Celia Swanson

In this episode, I share some of the good, the bad and the ugly of the hard-right decisions and sacrifices that were made by both myself and my family.

The following is a transcription of a podcast and may contain grammatical errors.

Celia Swanson: Hello listeners, and welcome back. This is Celia Swanson. Thanks for joining me for my second episode of the gracious and strong podcast. I’m sharing something very special today from a recent event where I spoke with the team at BIC company. This was part of their Women’s History Month focus, and it was shared at their BIC company’s North America town hall meeting just last week. The theme was to hear from women who were first in their company or in their industry, and to have them share their perspectives and lessons for women in the workplace today. 

As we round out women’s history month, I thought this message was relevant and timely for both men and women. Together, we must support the forward progress of women in the workplace and the way it impacts both leadership and life. The topics range from advice I would give to my younger self, work-life integration—because I don’t believe in balance—the good and bad impacts for moving to a virtual work mode, and women do you need to self-promote? You will hear myth-busting truths and how to break through your limiting beliefs. Vulnerability and authenticity are two very important themes to my story. How can you make those themes important in your story? I hope you’ll enjoy listening to my fireside chat. I’d love to hear your feedback, and I hope you’ll join me next time. 

Moderator: Good morning. I am privileged to introduce you today to Celia Swanson, author speaker, board director, and former executive at Wal-Mart. First of all, Celia, let me say what an honor and privilege it is to interview you today. On behalf of the BIC group, as mentioned, I am part of the diversity equity and inclusion allyship group here at BIC. And when we started planning women’s history month and anchoring around this concept of women’s firsts in history, you, of course, came to mind right away. As you know, we were both at Walmart for much of our careers and you being the first female EVP there was something that was somewhat legendary in my mind to be quite honest. So again, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me this morning about your journey so that we can learn from you. 

Celia Swanson: It’s my pleasure. I was thrilled when you called and, you know, what I would say is you took a chance to call me with the last-minute request, and I was so proud of you for still reaching out because, if you don’t ask, you don’t know; and it’s working out. So I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you for the opportunity. 

Moderator: Oh, good. I’m glad you see it that way. Well, I will dive into our first question then. Celia, how did you reach your level of success given the known gender gap? And, if given the opportunity to go back in time, what advice would you give yourself just starting out in your career? 

Celia Swanson: This is a great question. And I’m going to reference what I called belief windows, and those were the predetermined beliefs that I had about how I needed to act, how I needed to show up in the company, and they were more limiting beliefs than they were beliefs that help spurred me going forward. And I’ll start with the first one, which was, act like a man. When I was coming up through the ranks in the department store industry, I found my passion and why I say that is fashion and fashion merchandising is what I decided to get my degree in and how I decided to get into retailing. And I was in my sweet spot. I knew that I was doing what I was meant to do, but I wanted to go all the way to the top of the organization if I could. So I had that you know, goal in mind, I’ve always been in goal-driven. But I really thought I had to show up as if I was one of the guys. And what I learned is that that was so not why they invited me to the table. They invited me to the table because I was different, and I wasn’t one of the guys, and I had the voice of the audience that quite honestly dominated the customer base that they were serving and no one else around the table was a woman. And so I really had a unique opportunity to use my voice and make an impact, but man, I wasted years not doing that. And so that would be one thing that I would say, be sure you show up as your authentic self. Don’t apologize about it. Actually lift it up, shine a bright light on it, and be able to articulate and represent what’s different and unique about you at any table that you’re seated at in the business. 

A second belief window I had was, can I figure out how to say yes to questions—life-changing kinds of questions that I might’ve gotten? For example, could I relocate? In my early years I was married and we were, at that point in time, what was called DINKs: double income, no kids. And so we were able to follow our, our passions. And one thing I did right, is my husband and I negotiated that who’s ever career took off first. That would be the one we would follow. Now he was an architect, and I’m in retail. I did not think my career would be the one that would go through the roof, or certainly first. But he lived up to his commitment and that allowed me to be able to say yes to new experiences, to work my way up through the organization, to take on different challenges and opportunities that might cause us to move. And we, and he came along every single time, and it also was an ability for me to be able to say I was in operations the first many years of my career. And I got all the way up to an assistant store manager in a mall department store, one of our largest anchor stores. And then I decided, okay, I was at a fork in the road; I was either going to go up and be in store operations. Cause once you hit store manager level, there’s an income and a, and a cache about that leadership level. That’s hard to step back from. So I decided to go to the right and make a hard decision, a hard right decision. And I wanted to become a buyer. And so there was this buying job. Boys ware sizes 4 to 20 that had been open for six months, and they just didn’t find the right person for it. So I raised my hand, and I did that for two years. I wasn’t good at it, but I found that. I mean, I discovered that, and then what ultimately happened is two years later, I jumped into human resources and into corporate roles, but it gave me credibility with the merchandising divisions, wherever I was working, that I’d walked in their shoes. I knew what it was their jobs were about. And I knew how hard they were and what a gift a great merchant really is. So that was my second belief window. Is there a way I can get to yes? 

And then my third belief window was I, I can do it myself. I don’t need anybody’s help. I’m strong and flexible, agile. I can do it myself. What I learned is that, no, you really can’t. You need a strong network. You need people who believe in you. You need to have a perspective of constantly being open to feedback and learning. I think all of the perspectives from those three belief windows made a huge difference in my ability to navigate in a male-dominated business and to find how I could add value during that process. The second part of your question was, what advice would I give myself if I were starting out again. The first and foremost piece of advice I would give myself is show up with confidence. I can’t tell you how many times I was told at evaluations or feedback sessions, Gosh, there’s just something about you that I don’t think there’s a level of confidence. And what I had to learn is I needed to believe in myself. I wasn’t just being, you know, false that actually, I had, I had some real value that I could add. And when I finally accepted the fact that, you know, I believe in myself, well, then others can believe in you. Believe me, lack of confidence shows in ways that you never really understand until you finally can get over that hurdle that says, I can do this. I’m good enough. Okay. Let me in. I’m ready. And when you can show up with that level of confidence, man, my career just started to escalate. So that would be my one piece of advice. 

Moderator: Oh, Celia. That was perfect. I took a lot of notes and just so you know one of my favorites was, when you believe in you, others can too, right? It’s so simple, but unfortunately it’s something we as women tend to forget some days,being  focused on the perfection instead of just being confident in our ability. So thank you for that encouragement. So the next question is how would you recommend women continue progressing their careers during key parental periods, such as pregnancy, maternity leave, and the child raising years? This is a big one. 

Celia Swanson: This is a big one. And I think that it’s different today than when I was coming up through the ranks. And, you know, the 1980s and 90s, I would tell you that I made a personal choice not to have a child until I was a senior vice president. And, one of the key reasons why I made that choice is I wanted to be able to come back into the organization at the same level that I left. And I think that re-entry is really the hardest point to navigate. And I think you can navigate it by being very clear about the fact that you want to return. That, here’s the time period that I’m going to be taking off. I think today there’s a lot more latitude and policies, quite honestly, that companies have. But back when I had my daughter, I, it was a six-week maternity leave policy, and there was no parental leave policy at all. And that was my intention. I would be back in six weeks, and I was constantly checking in with the CEO who I reported to at that time, just to make sure that he knew I wasn’t going anywhere, but I’ll never forget the Sunday night before I was supposed to return. I had an appendicitis attack, and I ended up going into the hospital and having an appendectomy at like four in the morning. And I’m supposed to be in his office Monday morning at eight. And I remember calling him from the hospital bed, coming out of recovery, saying, I’m not going to be there today, I’m in the hospital. And he was like, no problem. So it ended up, ended up to be an eight week maternity leave. But the other thing that I would just say is, I think it’s so important that you have so many more options in today’s business world and explore those options, have a conversation with your partner about, you know, what do we want life to look like post having a child and what are our priorities and how are we going to negotiate this? 

You know, I was blessed that my husband was one of the first stay-at-home dads. Now he was an architect, I said that before, and we got to a point where actually we’d been married 17 years, and we didn’t have any children. And he woke up one day, he was 45 years old and he said, there’s gotta be more to life than this. And I went, what, but, you know, God had a plan and I’m, I was so grateful that I finally said stop and let me expand what life looks like, and we had my daughter at that point in time. I would also say hindsight is always 20/20, you know, prioritize your family at all the moments that you possibly can because what I never expected is that my husband would pass away at the age of 64, my daughter being 19 years old and he passed away from a sudden heart attack. And I can’t even imagine life without my daughter. I can’t even still wrap my head around losing my life partner, but you just never know how the story is going to play out. And so don’t miss out on that opportunity to have children and to, you know, expand your circle to expand your family. I guess I would say if that’s what’s important and a priority to you, it’s just you, you’ve got to strike the prioritization at the right points in time. That was a long answer. I’m sorry, but this is a relevant topic. 

Moderator: It was a beautiful answer. Thank you for sharing such personal details. I do remember when your husband passed and you being vulnerable sharing with the team at the time, and again, thank you for sharing right now. You’re right, God has a plan. And we do have to keep our priorities straight, for sure. So I’m going to switch to a question that is somewhat related or maybe a bridge. As you know, I have three young children and COVID has certainly brought its share of challenges to everyone in my household, for sure. Trying to figure out, you know, schooling and taking care of our two-year-old son. So my question to you, along those lines, is do you believe that COVID moving us to a virtual work model will have a positive impact on the progression of women at the most senior levels? 

Celia Swanson: This is obviously a very relevant question and timely question. I think COVID, if you just look at the numbers of women who are dropping out of the workforce right now is frightening to me about what the pipeline is going to look like in the future. And it’s all about the pipeline. If there are no women who are now prepared to take on the next larger role or the next key opportunity, then at the senior most levels in organizations that aren’t going to have women ready to take on those jobs. And so I think COVID has put such a strain on women and the disproportionate share of responsibility that they often have at home with homeschooling and still taking care of the family, whether that’s children or whether that’s aging parents or whatever the priorities are at home, it’s typically the woman that takes the lead on those priorities. And so I think that that impact is going to be very difficult on the workforce. And for senior leaders in whatever organization you’re in. I would also say that a way to overcome this will be to have men and women being very deliberate about those talent pipelines, the successors that they’ve identified. And I think so many organizations don’t realize that you actually shouldn’t just be preparing the person for the next job. You should be identifying women and individuals who have potential. And that’s a really hard thing to measure and determine, but that’s the key. Who’s got the potential to move three or four levels in the organization and then just invest in them, give them the experiences that they need so that when you get to the more senior levels, you actually have women in the pipeline who are ready. I have been so impressed with some organizations who have made a commitment to have 50% of their leadership team be women or 33% of their leadership team. That’s a huge step in the right direction. I think the numbers are somewhere in the low to mid 20% of women in the most senior levels below CEO. That’s a, I think there are only still 5 to 7% of females who are CEOs. So we have a long way to go. And it’s going to take deliberate actions to ensure that every company has women ready to take on those roles. And that doesn’t just happen in a year. That happens by investing much further back in a woman’s career and helping her be prepared to take on those roles when it’s time. One other thing that I would talk about in COVID, I do think COVID has the virtual world, let’s call it that, has made the ability the, to work from home, the ability to have access to work from wherever you are, I think that’s the positive side of COVID. I can tell you, I grew up in the years where you reported to work by 7, and if you weren’t there by 7:30, you were late and somebody was watching and then you had to stay till 5:30 and to try to blur those boundaries was just impossible. Now that’s not the case. And I think that’s awesome and fantastic. And at Walmart, the ISD division, the information systems division, they’re never going back to work in the office, never. And that’s because their senior leaders said, I need talent from across the world. And they likely won’t move to Bentonville, Arkansas. So, if I want to have a strong talent base, then I’ve got to be able to access the best talent wherever they are. I think that’s phenomenal. I was shocked when I heard that. But I’m so excited that that’s the case right now. 

And so I think there are positive impacts from COVID. The last point I want to make on this question is about the concept of psychological safety. It’s something I’ve been learning and studying much more about recently. And this whole concept of, as a leader, you need to create an environment where people can take risks and people can fail, but people can still pick themselves up. They can learn from that. It’s not deadly, it’s not career ending to them. And you’re the one as the leader, who’s created this environment, where bring your best, we’ll keep developing you to bring your best, but don’t be risk averse. I think it’s just so important. 

Moderator: Wow. Thank you. That’s, there’s a lot in that answer and I think it’s all super important though. So thank you. So Celia, the next question is, what advice would you give for women who feel like they are hitting the ceiling? 

Celia Swanson: I don’t believe that you should ever believe that you’re hitting the ceiling. There are ways to navigate sideways, even taking a step down or leaving a company. If you feel like you’re hitting the ceiling and please hear me, I am not encouraging people to leave companies, but what I am encouraging people to do is get the facts. Sometimes you feel like you’re hitting a ceiling, but that’s not how the company feels about you. And so you get into, you know, a psychological swirl. And so often don’t take time to have a conversation with the leaders in the organization to say, where am I on the succession plan? If I’m not on a succession plan, why not? What are the things that you believe are limiting me from being able to get to that next level? I also think just having that conversation about what are your intentions, what are your aspirations, where do you want to go with your career, and making a partnership with those leaders who, who will be influential in helping you achieve that goal is really important. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with the EVP of people, Coleman Peterson. At the time I had been on a career path in human resources and I was his successor. I knew it. He knew it. You know, every time they went into talent review, there I was. And then the company came to me and asked me to take a job in running membership, marketing and logistics for Sam’s Club. And I said, what, why me? And at the time it was David Glass and Don Soderquist, they were the two leaders of Walmart, Inc., and they gave me all the reasons why. And then they said, you can always move back into human resources if this doesn’t work out. And if you don’t find real value and passion from this, well…I did that job for eight years. I mean, that’s the job I got promoted to executive vice president in, and I loved it, but I got to a point where I wanted to get back into human resources, and I knew they needed somebody with different skillsets to run membership and marketing for sure at Sam’s Club. Then when I tried to step back in and I went to go see Coleman, he said, you’re not on the succession plan anymore. This current group of leaders has never seen you operate in human resources. They’ve only seen you operate in your PnL role. And I said, how can that be? I mean, my, my whole career, right, was in human resource executive. But he gave me really great advice and I needed to hear that feedback. I was able then, surprisingly, to move from Sam’s Club over to Walmart because of the things that he told me I needed to do and how I needed to demonstrate my capability in human resources. And, I just, he looked at me during that conversation, and he said, I’m so surprised with how you’re accepting this feedback. And I said, why? And he said, because I really thought you would push back, and really stand ground on this is who I am and what I do. And I said, well, I still firmly believe I should be your successor, but you just gave me great feedback here. I need to do something with it. And that’s really an art to be able to get feedback and not take it personally. And so if you feel like you’re hitting a ceiling, go find out if you really are. And then if you are, do something about that, either change people’s perceptions or it might be that you’re going to have to take your skills to another company. Again, I don’t, that’s not what I want my ultimate message to be. My ultimate message is get the facts, and then get the feedback, and then you have choices about what you’re going to do. 

Moderator: Perfect. Very good. Definitely important to be willing to ask the bold questions, right? And Celia, as you mentioned, where am I on the succession plan here? The feedback it’s a gift and this is where I want to go from there. So, perfect. Okay. So the next one is about work-life balance. We’ve talked about it a little bit here and there, but this is a direct way. So Celia women are often told to create work-life balance and engage in self-care, but are not necessarily feeling empowered to push back on lower priority work assignments that might cause them conflict. In terms of the amount of time at the end of the day, that’s available to them. We see that this is particularly the case in support functions, which historically tend to over-index in women. So what advice would you give to women trying to create that balance and what feedback would you give to leadership in order to create meaningful change in this area? 

Celia Swanson: This is a frequently asked question because I think so many of us try to find balance, and I don’t think there is such thing. And I think there’s prioritization, and I think there’s integration. What do I mean by that? I think that at different seasons and moments in our career, you have to make the choice that’s right for you of, are you on that hardened, steady path focused on career aspirations or is there a need for you to prioritize family or self-care, fitness is what I’m thinking about with self-care, and happens in seasons of life that happens in specific situations that you’re facing. And I think you need to be really clear about your priorities and what your end game is as it relates to your career and the impact that you want to make. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a workaholic, and that is not something I’m really proud of. I wish it would have been different for me, but it was also one of the reasons why I waited to have children is I knew that’s how I’m wired. And so I had to make those choices. I would also say that if you have this vision of a woman who has it all, don’t even try to be that woman who has it all because I don’t believe anybody does. I think it is all in the decisions you make and the grace with which you make those decisions in and out of the priorities that you need to chart the path that you want to chart. And this whole focus on self-care. I think that’s about prioritization as well. When I was coming up through the ranks, my hair was important. My nails were important and a massage. Those are the things that I just said, I need those in my life. And I prioritized them. I found a way, not always; the massage didn’t always happen the way I wanted it to, but I specifically said I wanted one once a month. And I just was able to build that into my schedule. The other advice that I would give is make sure that you’ve spoken to your family about what are the priorities that they need you to be present, where you need to be present for them. This was great advice I got when my daughter was in middle school, the whole point being, have those conversations, you won’t be able to be there for everything. I mean, that’s a given. So what matters to her the most and what mattered to my husband the most. And then I did everything in my power to be present for those. It made a huge difference. Not only on the fact that I knew I was being there when they needed me, but it took pressure off of my shoulders to try to decide, gosh, do I need to be at that event or not? And I mean, it was a huge relief valve for me when I had those conversations. And then I was always, almost always there for those moments. 

Moderator: That’s so helpful. Right? So for you to have the insights, to be able to prioritize, what’s really important to those who mean the most. 

Celia Swanson: My daughter will still, well, she’ll say to you today, I wish I’d had more time with my mom, but the time I had with her, but she was fully present. And it was the things that I told her I really wanted her to be at. And that, you know, is I think, yay, checkmark gold star on that. 

Moderator: So a big win for sure. Very good and good advice on self care. I don’t know if you remember this, but when I first left Walmart, you and I had lunch and you shared the self-care importance with me at the time I had, you know, three kids and the youngest was a newborn and you said, make sure you take care of yourself and go to yoga or whatever’s important. And I did that because of you. So thank you for the advice there, personally. 

Celia Swanson: You’re welcome. Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you, Mikayla.

Moderator: For sure. All right. Just a couple more questions. So you’re Cecelia. So the next one is, do you think that women have to self promote more than men? 

Celia Swanson: Boy, I loved this question because my answer is an emphatic no, and self promotion. I don’t like it in men or women; you can just read it when somebody’s being self promotional for simply having their name, face, whatever, reputation building, what they think is a good reputation. I get turned off by people who are self promoting. What I do think is so important is women need to build relationships for the purpose of building networks. That’s back to one of my belief windows, which I referenced in the beginning that I can do this myself. Well, guess what? No, you can’t. You need people who know what you do, know the quality of work that you deliver, know what’s core and, you know, value added about you because when those conversations happen in rooms where you will not be present about career opportunities or special assignments or development programs, you want people in the room who know who you are and can advocate for you. And, so all of that starts with building a network. 

And the second piece of advice I would give is don’t just build your network to say that you have a lot of people in your network. Be deliberate about those folks. When I finally lifted my head up from, you know, my work and realized that my work standalone was not going to get me the recognition or the next opportunities that I thought it was going to get me. I became very strategic about the mentors that I chose. Mike Duke was one of those mentors I chose. And to this day had I had no idea he would be the chairman and CEO of Walmart, Inc, nor did I ever think that he would become a sponsor for me. The reason I picked Mike Duke is he was running logistics. I had logistics at Sam’s Club, I was running that, but I didn’t know anything about the logistics industry. So I became a student, and I met with him on a regular routine basis, just for the purpose of being the best I could be at leading logistics. Then when he got moved over to Walmart US, and he was beginning on this trajectory that took him to chairman and CEO. That was right about the time I was making the decision to leave Sam’s Club. And he was so helpful to me. He went to Lee Scott and said, I need her over here helping me co-lead the Walmart US transformation. This was back in 2006. And he said, I think she’s got the capability and the leadership to be able to guide us through this process and be a co-leader with myself and McKinsey, McKinsey and Company consultants. That’s how I got my ability, my, my opportunity, I should say, to move across one division to the next and what a monumental opportunity that was. And, still today, he’s one of my advocates. And so choose those mentors wisely and then really invest in them, hoping and being deliberate about ultimately asking them to be sponsors. Now this whole idea of sponsorship is such an interesting one, because I believe that you grow into sponsorship relationships. I don’t think you can go ask somebody to be your sponsor. I mean, if somebody did that with me, I’d say no, right? I don’t know enough about you. I’m not going to put my reputation on the line. So I think you have to build into that. And sometimes you’ll never even know who your sponsors are, but because you’ve built this broad network, people are advocating for you. That was a long answer. 

Moderator: That’s great. I love Mike Duke, too. That’s that’s wonderful. So actually, I next want to drill into that a little bit more, the topic of who you look up to and mentoring. There are a lot of female leaders that I’ve had the privilege of mentoring under and looking up to Mary Fox, Mary Probst, Roz Brewer, Jane Ewing. And of course, Celia Swanson—you, to mention a few. So what female leaders do you look up to and admire? 

Celia Swanson: When I was preparing for this answer, there were so many, I was surprised. And I would say I would definitely put Mary Fox on that list and I’ll go back to Mary Fox in just a minute. I tried to come up with a variety of women and I would say, Roz Brewer, Roz is now CEO of Walgreens and first African-American CEO in that industry. And I’m like, oh my gosh. She’s just amazing. From a very different perspective is Brené Brown. I listened to Brené Brown all the time on podcasts and lectures, Ted Talks, et cetera. What I love about Brené Brown is she’s a researcher, but she talks about vulnerability and courage and resilience, but she’s just such a real person and how she talks about these things. And they are limiting beliefs that you need to get over and be humble and be vulnerable. And I just think she does a brilliant job. 

Another one who’s more contemporary. Brené Brown is contemporary, but Nikki Haley. Nikki Haley was the first governor of South Carolina. She then served as the United States ambassador to the UN. And I think Nikki will run for President someday. I think she could be phenomenal in that. I had the opportunity to meet Nikki when I was working within the Walmart, us division and bill Simon, the CEO knew Nikki and he created an opportunity for the leadership team to meet with her. And I wasn’t disappointed, a very progressive leader. So she would be one. And then Indra Nooyi, Indra Nooyi came to speak at one of our women’s history month presentations. And, my gosh, she just couldn’t have been more impressive than when I actually got to meet her. And she was the past chairman and CEO of PepsiCo company. Today, she serves on the board of Amazon and she teaches at West Point. Here is an Indian female executive that came up through the ranks at PepsiCo and just did brilliant work there. So those… 

Mary Fox I’ll go back to Mary Fox. What I so admire about Mary is that I met her when Walmart made the decision to put the apparel division in New York City and build a New York office. And Mary came in with just this passion and energy and just this bubbling, this that you’d go, what, you know, how could somebody be so excited about all this stuff? And then, you worry, you know, is that her real nature? And then I got to know her and we actually built a relationship together and through the thick and thin of Walmart’s decision to be in New York and then leave New York, Mary was very grounded in what was important to her. She didn’t try to be somebody that she was not, she wasn’t going to relocate to Bentonville, Arkansas, which is fine. And she made the decision to leave the company when we decided to move the apparel division back into Bentonville, Arkansas. And so I would also say she has great courage and great personal conviction. And now I see her doing great things in the companies that she’s been at post Walmart. And I was thrilled when I found out from you that Mary Fox was a senior leader at a big company. So my shout out to Mary, that I’m a fan of yours, although I’m sure she knows that. 

Moderator: That’s very sweet. Yes. There are a lot of Mary Fox fans within the BIC organization. She’s our first female general manager for North America. So, she also holds a first title, like you do, Celia. So I figured you’d love that company. So that 

Celia Swanson: Does not surprise me. She’s got the courage and the conviction to be able to take on a first role. So that’s great. 

Moderator: Yeah, it’s amazing. And she inspires all of us every day. So that’s a powerful list, Celia. Thank you. Okay. So you’ve shared so much with us today, Celia I’m so, so thankful. I know that we’ve learned much from you and there’s also more that we can learn beyond this hour that we’ve had together. So tell us a little bit about how we can go find out more about your current work, your journey, your top tips for women, maybe a little bit about your book, your podcast. Tell us more.

Celia Swanson: You bet. Thank you for this question. I really appreciate it just this month, the month of March, we relaunched my website. And so that would be the first place. If you want to learn more, I would suggest you go. And my website is What I love about the relaunch of the website is we created a content hub, and it’s called that when you get into the website and you can go directly to the content hub, and there you will find all of the blogs that I’ve written. You’ll find some of the resource guides that I’ve written, and you’ll have access to playbooks and resources that I’ve developed over the last couple of years, all for free, all that you can have access to. My hope here is that my website and the content hub will be a resource for leaders who are trying to invest in themselves and also amp up their leadership qualities. And that my hub will be a place that they would start their journey of learning. The second thing is this month, last week, in fact, we just launched my podcast. The title of my podcast is Gracious and Strong podcast. You can find it on Spotify or iTunes, this new way of connecting with people, I think I’m going to love it. And I hope you’ll go and listen to my podcast. Last but not least, I’ll talk about my book, here, I have a copy of it. My book is titled Gracious and Strong. You can get it at,, or Amazon. Or if you want to go on to my website, you can also buy the book there. 

You know, the story behind gracious and strong goes back to Walmart. When I was at Sam’s Club and I was EVP of membership, marketing, logistics. There were some really challenging times. We went through five different CEOs, just in the 11, 12 years that I was there at Sam’s. That’s hard to do. That’s really hard to make those, you know, hard right decisions. When a new CEO comes on, they have a new strategy and they want to build their team. And I was the only executive that thrived. I used to say survived, but now thrive through those five CEO changes. When I retired and I started looking for board director roles, I went and interviewed with a woman by the name of Beth Pittman. I said to her, she was, we were talking about why would a company want me to be one of their board directors? And I said, why would you be the best person to tell the story about who I am and why I would be a great board director? And she looked at me and she said, because I worked at Sam’s Club during the time that you were leading membership marketing logistics. And I will tell you that the word I would, the words I would use to describe you are gracious and strong. And I just went, okay, book title. I’ve been thinking about writing a book. Everybody said, write a book, write a book. But that was it when she said gracious and strong. So, buy the book, if you like the stories and lessons and things, the book is written in such a way that each chapter could stand alone. And at the end of each chapter, there’s an application process. So exercises or, you know, reflective time to really think about the topic of that particular chapter and then apply it in your own leadership journey. 

Moderator: Perfect. Thank you. I would agree with Beth Pittman and I think gracious and strong are the perfect words to describe you. And I think you just showed the audiences today. So we really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to share all these wonderful insights with, with us and just want to encourage our audience again, the website is Sounds like there’s a ton more that we can learn from her wonderful resources. So thank you again, Celia and hope you have a great day. 

Celia Swanson: My pleasure.

Moderator: Bye. Take care.

Celia Swanson: Bye, Mikayla.

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