Contributed by: Arielle Scherr
I had the opportunity to sit down with Renée Trudeau, an author/consultant and featured speaker for our Pathfinder Program, about authenticity and fueling her passion. Girls can hear more words of wisdom from Renee at the Pathfinder Leadership Summit. Learn more at http://genaustin.org/what-we-do/Pathfinder/.
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing girls today?
Hmm, so many! I would say one of the most important issues is girls learning to accept themselves, so self-acceptance, kindness toward self, and becoming their own best friend.
What is it about GENaustin’s mission that speaks to you?
I’ve been an advocate for, wow, probably 20 years and have been actively promoting programs and I was on the board and I’ve been a speaker. And I think the piece that speaks to me that’s related to work — because I do women’s empowerment work so it’s related to the work that I do with women — is that I really see the GENaustin work is helping girls find their voice and own their power. So that’s the piece of it that’s probably near and dear to my heart. Find their voice and own their power!
What advice would you give to a girl who wants to pursue a career in your field?
So, I have two coaching/consulting businesses and I’m an author and speaker and was also a communications executive for 14 years before I do the work that I do now. But I would say that if someone wants to be an author/speaker, let’s just chose that, to really follow their heart and really get clear on what they’re passionate about. What makes them cry, what makes them laugh, what makes them want to stand up on a soapbox and yell about, so what it is that sets them on fire. And when you get clear on what sets you on fire and what alights you and what really fuels you, then letting that be the fuel and turning that into a message that you want to share with the world. Then that message can be articulated through books and articles and speaking and helping others in many different ways.
What leadership qualities do you admire in a person?
That’s easy: authenticity and vulnerability. I think it’s really easy when you’re a young woman to look at women that have achieved a lot of outward success and accomplishment and kind of put them on a soapbox or think that they have it all together or think that they’re somehow magical or mystical and really everybody is the same. Everybody wants to be seen and heard and connect and belong. We all want the same things. So, leaders that can really connect with people from the heart, leaders that can be authentic and vulnerable and willing to share about themselves and their struggles and their hardships are not only more relatable, but they’re naturally more inspiring as well.
What successful woman inspires you, and why?
One person that is inspiring to me is an author and a spiritual teacher, Marianne Williamson is her name. She actually just ran for Congress and the reason that she’s inspiring to me is she had never run for public office before, but she very much comes from a platform where she’s trying to unify the United States around peace, so peace-based work is what she does. And she had the courage and the bravery at 62 years old to go out and run for office, run for Congress. So that was very inspiring to me that all of us sit here and we grumble and complain about politics and the issues that we’re all struggling with on economic levels and political levels, but to actually have the energy and the willingness to put yourself out there and go and run for public office was just incredibly inspiring to me.
Why are you passionate about girls’ issues?
A lot of reasons! Interestingly, I always thought that I would have a girl because I am such a strong feminist and I have always worked with girls’ issues and worked with women. I didn’t, I had a son, I have a sweet 13-year-old son! I think that mentoring and supporting and championing girls is part of my responsibility as a woman. I had a lot of mentors in my life that weren’t necessarily in my family of origin, but I sought them out outside of my family. A lot of mentors that had a big impact on me and they really helped mold and form and support my path. I had a really successful career path. I guess I feel a lot of it is passing it on and I see it as my responsibility and, gosh, it’s an even stronger word than that. I just feel like I got that support and it’s now my turn and my responsibility and MY JOY to champion girls!
I think that girls are facing a lot of really tough issues right now. I’m very involved in our school, working on issues there with students and parents, and I see so many girls struggle with issues around feeling secure or feeling good enough or feeling like they have to have it all together or be perfect. It just makes me want to hug them and tell them ‘You know, your ordinary self is enough and just who you are is enough and you don’t have to go and achieve all of this in order to be worthy of being good enough.’ So, all that has really inspired me and fueled my passion around girls issues, and that I have a boy makes me just as passionate about the girls’ issues that I want to model for him and teach him. I brought him to documentaries, I brought him to the Wonder Woman documentary and he loved it, and I brought him to some GENaustin events. So, really taking a very active effort in educating boys and men as to some of the unique challenges and hardships that girls face.
What advice would you give to your 13-year-old self?
My advice to my 13-year-old self would be to be gentle with yourself. To know that everything is going to work out, to ask for support, to know that you’re worthy of support and you deserve support and to let your life shine!
Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally-recognized life balance coach, speaker and president of Career Strategists, an award-winning coaching/consulting firm. Her corporate clients include Fortune 500 companies such as Dell, Ernst & Young and IBM, women’s conferences and nonprofit organizations. Trudeau has been facilitating/creating transformational events for women for more than 20 years and she’s on faculty at the prestigious Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and Omega Institute. A sought after life balance expert, Trudeau’s work has been featured in the New York Times, US News and World Report, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Healthy and more. She is the author of the best-selling books The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She and her team have trained hundreds of RTA-Certified Facilitators in more than 10 countries around the world to lead self-renewal groups for mothers based on her award-winning curriculum.