Originally aired on July 21, 2020 @ 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM EDT
A recurring series presented by Cloudflare co-founder and COO Michelle Zatlyn, featuring interviews with women entrepreneurs and tech leaders who clearly debunk the myth that there are no women in tech.
This week's guest: Christine Raschke is an Executive Coach who works with leaders in the entrepreneurial and corporate world. She helps them maximize their personal and professional potential by accessing their inner wisdom and confidence so that they can solve problems with creativity, clarity, and courage. She has coached executives and driven professionals at Google, LinkedIn, Bain & Company, Lyft, Twitter, numerous start-ups and other big corporations.
Women in Tech
All right, hi everyone. Welcome to today's segment of Yes We Can. I am so honored to have Christine Raschke here with me today. Welcome, Christine. Thank you, Michelle. I'm excited. Good, excellent. Well, I love that I get to talk to all these amazing women for 30 minutes every week, so it's always such a treat. So let's dive right in for the audience. If anyone has any questions or reminder, you can always send them to yesweekend at Cloudflare.tv and Christine and I will be happy to get to them. So let's dive in. So Christine, you've had an amazing career. You spent seven years at Bain, which is a really top -tier consulting firm. And while you were there, you helped a range of companies with all their projects and problems. I definitely want to hear more about that. And then you left this big company, great job, to go join a wellness tech company. I want to hear about that as a founding team member because a lot of people think about, hey, I work at a big company, how do I go to a startup? And then you decide to start your own business and now you're an executive coach helping everyone be their best selves. I mean, that's an amazing career, so I really want to hear a lot about that. So let's start two jobs ago when you were at Bain for seven years. And maybe you can start by answering, what did you do at Bain? What is a consultant? Just so that we can start there as a starting point. Yeah, yeah, I'm happy to. I would say, and I'm oversimplifying here a little bit, but in consulting, I think there are two types of projects. The ones that are more growth and innovation -focused, forward-looking strategies, and then others that are more operational efficiencies and productivity-focused. I personally love the projects that are growth-focused and visionary, especially when they were connected with making operational changes. So for example, I worked for this U.S. restaurant chain, a large U.S. restaurant chain, and we designed and implemented 13 pilot stores. What's really cool about the project is we did everything from the brand repositioning to the menu layout. We worked actually with their cooks and their chefs on new menu items. We then looked at what should the menu layout be and then really redesigned the store. So it was like a store of the future kind of concept. And based on those pilots, then they rolled out the new concept nationwide. And what I always loved is taking that 30,000-foot view of multi-year strategy, but then actually working with the team on at least getting that first building block out and done. And so I'd say that was my sweet spot at Bain. And what I've seen as well towards the end is really a focus more on technologies and which role does technology play across different segments. For example, with the restaurant chain, it's like, how do we enable stores with more technology? And what's the consumer-facing side of that? We actually worked on a third-party provider to build an app for takeout. And that was a few years ago. Fast forward now, especially during COVID, I think a lot of the Bain work now is about digital transformation and innovation. That's amazing. I hope they took your recommendation. Better positioned right now. That's great. No, that's very helpful. And obviously amazing to work with these big companies trying to think about their growth strategies. So you had this great job, prestigious job. How did you decide to join, to leave that behind, to join a startup? Because you joined Movewith, which was a wellness startup, but it was small when you decided to join as a VP of operations. How did you decide to do that? It was, having spent seven years at Bain, I started at the entry level all the way up to senior manager. So I had seen a lot and I had grown a lot. Bain is an amazing company, incredibly talented people, and you just learn so many hard and soft skills that are really transferable. So it's been an incredible journey. And it was really hard to leave because Bain was and still is a family to me. What I came to realize though, is that those projects where I did more of the operational work, that really resonated with me. That gave me so much energy and focusing on the what, on what do we want to do, but then also executing in the how, is kind of the type of person I am. I'm really a doer. I like to get things done. And so I had that urge to just jump in and get my hands dirty. So I went through my job search process and then joined MoveWith, which was very small. I was part of the founding team. We were like four people, five people. Wow. That's great. So you joined MoveWith and what was, as you look back, what was similar and what was different as you think about your time at MoveWith, as you grew that company compared to Bain? What was similar? Yeah, that's a great question. One similarity is strategic thinking and the analytical rigor that we had at Bain really applied to such an early stage startup. Because I was working with Holly, our CEO, hand in hand on kind of figuring out which customer segments are we going after? What's our go-to-market strategy? So actually a lot of those same tools and steps still apply, even if you're more scrappy in going about them. I would you need to ramp up and become an expert really, really quickly. At Bain, I was either working in a different industry or for a different client every three to six months. And so you learn how to learn fast. And that was incredibly valuable in the startup world. When I joined, my part of operations was a little bit of a catch -all initially of like sales and customer support and the fitness content production was in my world too. So you jump in and you learn really quickly. I would say that's number two. And number three, storytelling and communication. In consulting, you really hone your ability to construct an argument or present something in a compelling point of view, usually backed up by data. And that came in handy during the fundraising process. Really going out and pitching VCs, telling that story and presenting different angles was very important. And then I would also say internally to convince the team, not convince, but to inspire the team and really rally the team around a common mission. I'd say those are three that stand out to me. That's great. That was great. Were there anything that was very different between the two? Yes. Also many differences. Everything else was different. Yeah. Yeah. Also many differences. I'd say one is being scrappy and working with a small team. At Bain, I mean, any bigger consulting firm, huge backup infrastructure. Usually, especially when you're seeing a manager, you have a big team that you can work with. And so yeah, check of all trades, you're really scrappy and you need to make decisions with limited data. Especially in that category that we were operating in, we were launching audio fitness workouts, which was actually a category that was very novel. So there were not many players to look at. So I think you learn how to make decisions with data and some analytical rigor and then you trust your gut. And you learn from that. Sometimes those are great decisions and sometimes not. So I would say that would be one. Which ties a little bit to the second one, decision-making in general. In consulting, it's a service industry. You're the one who recommends something to the client. It is, of course, up to them to then make the decision and implement it or go forward. I would say at MoveWorth, you really get used to daily decision-making, right? I mean, you've been doing it for 10 years. Every day, small and big decisions. So I think you hone that skill, which is incredibly valuable. And maybe the third thing is really owning something end-to -end and building something from the ground up. In consulting, you get hired by fairly established companies. So you work on really important questions, but you work on part of the organization. And when I think about MoveWorth, where we launched audio fitness classes, I also worked with us here on what is even our fitness content strategy, which movement categories do we want to launch? I mean, like Cloudflare TV, right? What are all the elements of that? How do we want to produce it? What equipment to use? We set up post-production in LA. And so there were so many pieces, and it was quite a thrill to set it all up, but you're also launching yourself into the unknown. Yeah. What you're saying really resonates with me, especially around the, you have to make a decision, then you have to go implement it. And as you said, you don't get every decision right. And one of the, I think, most under appreciated skill as being in an operating role is the scar tissue you build up. Having to live with these decisions and see how they turn out, because I think it's those things that actually help you make the next decision. You're like, actually, I've done that three times, and this is where it went well, where it went wrong. And I've learned from that. And I do think that scar tissue, when you're making all these decisions constantly and having to live with the decisions, is a very powerful thing to have to live through. Yes. That's great. I love that. Well, again, I know that there are a lot of people who are thinking about what you did. They're like, wow, I'm at a big company. That's me. Christine just described my role. I like rolling up my sleeves and getting things done. I mean, if somebody was listening right now, and they worked at a large company, and they're intrigued by a tech company or a tech startup, and they don't really know what that means, but they know better because you just did a great job describing that. And they said, Christine, what advice would you have for me? What would you say? What are some questions they should ask themselves, or how should they think about it? Was it hard to leave Bain? I'd love for you to maybe to spend one more minute on that. Yeah. It was hard, and it was not. I think that Bain was so integrated into the fabric of my life. So it was almost hard to unwind that, but I realized I actually don't need to unwind it. I'm just like, you know, taking a different perspective on that network that I have. And so for me, well, to answer your question, I think there are, it is important to get clarity on what you want, or what's important to you when you make that step. So for example, a few questions I would, you know, I ask myself, and I also work through with some clients, is what do you really want? Like, what is your long-term goal, and how might a startup experience fit into this? What environment do you thrive in? I also think another question that's important is, what gives you energy, and what depletes your energy? Because there are specific, you know, startups have a specific dynamic. Now, obviously, depending on the role, but I think that's an important one. And what's your appetite for risk? And the reality is, there's also a very diverse startup ecosystem. You know, are you drawn to the scrappy, early-stage startup with the high highs and the low lows, where you can be a check of all trades, which can be actually really exciting for someone who wants to be a generalist? Or do you want to go to a high-growth company or startup that, where you can maybe find a more specialized role, go deeper, be part of the scaling, and not take as much risk? So I think, answer those questions, and then even look at the map, and see what you learn about yourself. And also, like, tap into, like, just your intuition. Are you drawn to this, or not? What are some warning signs, or do you want to keep going with the exploration? That's great. That's great. That's very helpful. So thank you for sharing that. Okay, so let's let's go back to move with. What are one or two projects, or moments, or initiatives, when you think back to your four years building this company, again, this wellness company, that you're most proud of, that you can share with the audience? Yeah, one big moment for us, when about one year in, we completely pivoted. So that was really huge. We did a complete 360. And so, just, I would say, the top line, or move with this, our goal, we were building a platform for fitness instructors to digitize, and, you know, kind of distribute their content. So it was, in a way, a two-sided marketplace, where we had coaches, fitness instructors on one, and then fitness goers on the other side, and we would have the app in the middle. And we started out on the ground with a local concept, where we would connect fitness instructors with spaces. That had certain limitations, and what we realized, we can only realize that vision if we go digital. So we made that call, which was hard, but we really bought into it. And within two months, we built an app, we produced fitness content across five movement categories, with an amazing group of fitness instructors, and we launched an app within two months that we were really proud of. Now, many iterations and improvements after that first version, but that felt truly rewarding. And so, to me, that was the essence of a startup experience. Those crazy stories you hear, we went through that, and I'm pretty proud that we pulled that off. I would say that's one. And then, a second one is about a person I met, through me being the liaison to the coach side. We did a dinner in LA with fitness influencers and athletes, and I met this incredible athlete called Blake Leeper. And he is such an inspiration. He was born without legs, and so as of nine months old, he was learning how to wear prosthetics. And today, he is a Paralympic athlete. He's a world record holder. He's, I think, three times U.S. champion. And he was telling his story from such a positive angle. He talked about, if you dream big, if you work hard, and you have a positive attitude, you could achieve everything. And hearing that from someone like him, to me, just like, you know, I think, opened his world. Like, if he can say that, everything is possible. And so, it was truly, I felt truly honored to have people like him on Mooveth, on the platform, and helping them amplify their voice, because I think those people need to be heard more. That's amazing. I love those stories. I love hearing these stories about, like, what a group of people who are passionate can create for the world. And I feel like you just bottled it up perfectly. Like, it is amazing. So, you know, you had this great experience of being in this amazing experience at Mooveth. How did you think about the impact you had in these roles? Was that important to you? And like, how do you think about that? Yes. I would say impact and, you know, being successful was always important to me, though it changed over the years. Very early on in my 20s, in my early Bain years, I would say, you know, doing a great job, and ticking all the boxes, and being a top performer was very important. And throughout my career at Bain, even as a senior manager, actually what I started to care more about is elevating others, and really helping others grow, my team or mentees. I would say that was the one kind of shifted Bain, in addition to, of course, still caring about the business results, but there was something that really resonated with me and gave me energy. And at Mooveth, it was also somewhat relationship-based where, well, first I was very proud about the product that we're building, because we're helping people live healthier lives. And again, in my role, I was working with all those coaches, and my role was to listen to their stories, to truly understand what is it they want, and what are they struggling with, and also how can we help them to make more money. So part of it is also like fitness instructors are not very well compensated. So bringing that together and being that liaison, that bridge to our product team was very rewarding. So I'd say that that's kind of how I would describe my impact, kind of connecting those dots, and being part of the product vision and product realization. Yeah, again, I think that is the essence of when it's done well, when you have a group of people come together and use technology to enable something. And in this case, it was a platform that helped all of people live, your customers live healthier lives. At the same time, the fitness instructors have a more economic prosperity and a platform, and so they can focus on what they do best. That is a great use case for technology helping to solve a problem and making the world a better place. So thank you for sharing that. Okay, so you left MoveWith after four years of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and enthusiasm, and can-do attitude, and building this great service. And you started your own business. And so now you help people be their best selves. And it's not just people, I would say like professionals, working professionals be their best selves as an executive coach, personal growth. Congratulations. How did you decide to do that? Because that seems very different than kind of being an advisor, a consultant at Bain, where you're advising companies, and then you were like building things as VP operations at MoveWith, and then you decide, hey, I'm going to be an executive coach. How did you decide that? Yeah, it was a bit of a dream. I would say my transition into motherhood played a big role into this. It really brought up a lot of questions for myself on what's important to me, actually your question on like what success means to me, and what I'm uniquely good at, and how can I have the biggest impact with that. And so I did, I, you know, explored those questions over multiple months, and to be honest, stumbled on the coaching path, and suddenly it clicked where I'm like, wow, this is amazing. I can actually bring my experience in the strategic and business world with the startup world together with this other, you know, with the, with really this skill to help others find their own answers. And so I, it just said light bulb went off and was like, I'm going to pursue this. And I jumped in and I'm loving every minute of it. So that's great. Okay, so now what is an executive coach? I'm so proud of, like, so excited for you, happy to do that. You went through that journey and decide this is what I want to do. And so what is an executive coach? Is it the same as a therapist? Is it different? Like what can you, let's start with that. What is an executive coach? Fantastic questions. Yeah. Okay, good. So an executive coach typically works with, you know, executive, executives or leaders in a, you know, corporate and entrepreneurial world. And I would say the essence of it is it's, it's a really reflective, inquisitive process to maximize, you know, your professional and personal potential. Now, what does it actually mean, right? So what's different in therapy is therapy is more backwards looking, you really explore your past. Coaching is very much in the present moment. And you're focused on the future and really realizing whatever those goals are. So it's in a way very action oriented. And there's also an accountability structure that comes with it. So it can be a very pragmatic tool. Similar to, I would say, therapy, a market that was quite stigmatized, let's say 10 years ago, coaching was going or went through the same development where two years ago, people were thinking, well, why should I hire a coach? You know, am I having issues? Am I underperforming? And I would say there's definitely like a role for that. But really what coaching is about, it's for people that have a growth mindset and that want to grow. It's a practice like exercise and meditation in a way, because what it is, it's a practice for self development and growth. And you're using the coach as one vehicle. And I think there are different vehicles to do that. But the coach can actually play this, the role of accelerating the process and actually helping with those transformation and that step function in a way. And when I think Eric Schmidt said a while ago, like the previous CEO of Google, he's like every top performer and every athlete has someone in their life who is a coach. And it's true. If you think about, I just learned recently that Pavarotti, the famous opera singer, he had a singing coach until the end of his singing career, which kind of blew me away, because you think someone who's done it for decades, they get to a point where they're like, got it, right? And if you think about actors, like Hugh Jackman talked about that in a podcast interview the other day, like actors have a singing coach, they have an acting coach, they have a dancing coach. He works with a life coach to really help him think through decisions and what a career mapping part of it. So it's just this incredible process that helps you to dig in, to dig deeper and find those answers. And maybe lastly, what I would add is, coaching really bridges that inner with the outer world. So how I work with my clients is like we focus on becoming more self-aware, emotional regulation, understanding what gives you energy, what drains your energy, what are certain blockers. There might be stories you're telling yourself that are really holding you back. So that's the inner world. But where the magic happens if you connect it with what's happening in your work environment, right? Are you just launching a company? Are you scaling a team? Do you have some interpersonal issues, team dynamics that you want to work through all the way to making tough decisions or giving really honest feedback? So it's this whole bucket of business related questions that you're dealing with on a day-to-day basis. So kind of figuring out how to tap into your best self while you're solving that is what a coach can help facilitate. That's great. It does feel like there's an emergence of this field because there's so many professionals. And I think what you just, you did a great job describing why it's so important is you got to work on your craft and having a coach to help you do that can be really powerful. So that's great. I love that. I actually recently started to work with a coach and I think it's been amazing. I think you did a great job describing what an executive coach is. So thank you for that. So you, you know, in this role, you're kind of back to your main days where you're working with all sorts of leaders, but instead of companies, it's leaders, right? So you kind of see a portfolio of people in industries and roles and seniority. Maybe what are some of the common trends that you see? Like what are the most common questions that come up with some of the, your clients that you work with or areas where they want to dig in and work on? Yeah. There are a few, I would maybe start with one that comes up quite a lot, which is lack of confidence or what some call imposter syndrome. So the question I get from actually high achievers and people that are very accomplished on, I got lucky with the promotion or I don't know what I'm doing, or am I even meant to be here? And it's often paired with a question around or the statement, if I only would have more confidence, then I could, or then I would. And it's something that many of us struggle with and can really hold us back. And I think part of the issue is that there's the expectation when we step into doing something new that you have it all figured out. Now that doesn't mean you're not capable, but the reality is every time when we are doing something new, be it small or big, we have to figure stuff out. Even right now during COVID-19, this is new for all of us. You've got to figure it out and it can feel incredibly uncomfortable and uncertain. And Brennan Brown, just I, I, I discovered in the last two months, she coined just recently this term FFTs, which she, which, which she calls like effing first times. And she talks about the uncertainty that comes with it and the overwhelm as well in, in that time. But if we work through those periods, you come out with more courage and more resilience. And I think that's where the consequence, while it's helpful to have some, I don't think it's a prerequisite for really going through, you know, those, those phases versus it often it's actually results. And so if you reframe that in your mind, and I work with my clients on it quite a bit is we all have that most resourceful, most resilient inner self. You notice moments when you're kind of on top of the world and you just actually don't care what others think and you're doing your thing and you're really confident. So how do you connect with that in times of uncertainty and struggle? And you talked about it earlier when you said, when you're building a startup is there's a lot of uncertainty. So actually that can be imposter syndrome along the way. And like, you could just take that as a given, or you could rewire the way you think about it and say like, okay, how do I, how do I just approach that and show up differently in, in light of that? I love that. I, I, imposter syndrome comes up all the time in our company in Cloudflare all the time. I'm just curious, do you see imposter syndrome mostly among women or is it men too? Or I'm just curious if there, do you see a gender bias there? Yeah, to be honest, it's both. I think men articulate it slightly differently than women. Okay. Not exactly how they, how they bring it up, but it is, it is both genders. I think there's something about, you know, human nature that change and uncertainty and FFTs. FFTs. FFTs. Yes. Okay. Okay. Great. So we have about five minutes left and I definitely want to get through a couple more questions. And so I actually want to get through three more questions. Let me start with this one. So especially right now, I mean, there's a global pandemic going on, but even without a global pandemic, I do think this idea of like personal care, personal growth, like we're just learning so much more about that. And I do see it much more at the forefront. And I think an executive coach is a piece of that. And I'm just so, so excited for you and your business. And I love that you're helping professionals be their best selves. So do you have some, a couple of tips that you can share with the audience of maybe where to start? Like just kind of, if people are like, yeah, I want to take better care of myself. I want to invest in myself as a working professional. What are some, what are some tips? I mean, you gave us one with, you know, rewiring how we think about imposter syndrome. It's such an important question. To me, self-care is, it's typically defined as kind of one of the building blocks. I think what one of the biggest unlocks for my clients is understanding what is really important to them and what drains and what increases their energy. And so a very simple exercise that people can do. And before I go into the exercise, I think you've got to understand what fuels and drains you at work and outside on a daily basis. It's not just a general high level. It's like actually like, look at what you're doing and how you're feeling. And so if, for example, a quick exercise to check how you're doing at work is write down all the roles or jobs you had in the last two years to like make two columns. One is that's what I love doing. And that's what I hated doing. Take 15 minutes, bullet points, write it all down and then look at it and see if you can detect themes. And for some people, the big realization might be like, gosh, I should really change shops. But for the majority of us, it's actually more about, well, I'm in certain types of meetings that maybe I shouldn't even be in to degrade my energy, or I should delegate more, or it's just sometimes like small changes. But that awareness, again, at the very minuscule level, can make a huge impact on your energy and then add on sleep and exercise and all those other pieces. But you might be able to work the same number of hours if you like rejigger those building blocks, you'll feel way better and more energized. I love that. You know, that your exercise you just shared with us, I always ask the interview question of every single person I interview, whether it's actually, I've asked the same question for 10 years. What are your, what parts of your job like lifts you up? And what parts of your job weigh you down? Like what are your favorite things to do on your to-do list? And what are the ones that you're like, I'm willing to do it, but they're always the last things I do. And you learn a lot. And it kind of matches up of like, is that job big? And you should find work that lifts you up because then it's not. Everyone in those jobs, right. That they are best suited for. And it's a team effort too. Right. You can't do it all by yourself, but that's where the leadership comes in. Right. Of course. Okay, great. Okay. Well, that's, thank you for that tip. Okay. So two more questions and we're down to the last 90 seconds. So, so let's say people are listening to this and they're like, wow, I need an executive coach. I want to invest in myself. I want to be my best self. Like how do you, how does one go about looking for an executive coach? What advice do you have? Yeah, I would say be clear in your goals. What do you want to get out of it? And then there are a lot of fantastic coaches out there and it's really the mix of their personality, education skills, life and work experience, and then interview three to four coaches. The personality fit is really important. So you should feel comfortable to be open and vulnerable. That's how you'll get the most out of it. Okay. And let's say someone was listening to like, wow, Christine sounds great. I want to put her on my interview list to consider how can people get in touch with you? What's your website? Yeah, my website is my name, christineruschke.com. So that's, that's the best way or LinkedIn is always a good. Okay. That's great. I do think interviewing a couple is a really good piece of advice. All right. Finally, before we have to wrap up your Whitman technology, where's industry like exceeded your expectations and where has it fallen short? It exceeded my expectation when I joined a female led startup move with that we talked about coming from a very more male, you know, still dominate changed a lot in last year at male, more male dominated industry and was phenomenal to work with an all female team. I think there was this attitude of, you know, yes, we can like your segment and you create the world that you wanted, especially as when it came to parental leave policy. So we kind of created the world that we wanted to see in working with two inspiring, incredibly capable women and the rest of the team was truly, truly transformational for me. That's awesome. All right. Well, Christine, yes, we can. You've been an amazing guest. Thank you so much. I wish you all the best in your new business. And I know you're going to be wildly successful helping lots of other people be their best selves and your own during the time too. So thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for having me, Michelle. That was amazing. Thanks, everyone. If you have any questions or any guest ideas, please email us at yes, we can at Cloudflare.tv. Thanks for watching.