022: Diane Darling: She Said It – Quotes From Remarkable Women

This is a perfect time to share the voices of more women. Diane has great ideas for using quotes in presentations to keep your audience on their toes while introducing them to people they may not have heard about.  Learn who really said: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”

We all crave stories and inspiration. Whether you are speaking to a group, beginning a meeting, or starting a coaching session, quotes are a powerful way to begin. 

Diane also talks about her vision for getting more women onto Corporate Boards and tips for refueling as an Introvert.

Buy your copy of She Said It and start quoting more remarkable women today! BUY HERE 

Learn more about Diane Darling on her WEBSITE 

Edited Transcript:

ERH:  Today, I am thrilled to welcome Diane Darling. Diane is a pioneer in social networking – before Facebook and LinkedIn. In 2003, McGraw-Hill commissioned her to write the Network Survival Guide and went into the 2nd printing in just 90 days. Collectively, her books have been translated into seven languages. She has lived and worked all over the world. She taught at Harvard Business School, 20th Century Fox, Cisco Systems, and Bank of America to name a few clients. She has also appeared on NBC Nightly News and in The Wall Street Journal.

While Diane has taught me a lot about building relationships, and trust and the power of helping others, today we are here to talk about her new publication, “She Said It, A Collection of Quotes From Remarkable Women,” and it’s available on Kindle.

As you know, The Art of the Break is about breaking patterns in a positive way to do better work. At this time in our culture, it’s tremendously important to bring the voices of more brilliant women to the forefront. So, let’s do that together. Welcome, Diane.

Diane Darling: Thank you so much for having me.

ERH:  How did you decide to publish She Said It?

Diane Darling:  I love quotes and when I wrote my books, I wanted to have quotes at the beginning of every chapter. I find over and over again at conferences, particularly conferences for women that the quotes are still from men. I also find the references for books to read or biographies are men. I felt there needed to be a collection of quotes from women. I had a journal from a while back and noticed some interesting quotes and they were by women. I just started cutting and pasting and cutting and pasting and putting this book together.

One day in the snowstorm I thought, let me just put this together. I wanted to experiment with publishing on Kindle. I had not done that before. My books are published in the traditional manner with McGraw-Hill.

I also didn’t really see this as a book that people would want as a physical copy. With a digital book you have a library. You can just leave it in the Cloud on Amazon. I envision somebody putting together slides for a conference, or a presentation, a sales meeting, or a board meeting, or whatever it might be and they are looking for a resource.  They wouldn’t necessarily want to say, “Where’s that book?”

Also, I was tired of the same three or four women’s quotes by Margaret Mead, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc. They’re three or four that cycle over and over again.  They’re not bad quotes, just very well-used.

ERH: Yes.

Diane Darling: I searched for quotes that were all across the gamut. Only one or two were anonymous and I struggled with that. It was also funny, when I was doing the research, how some quotes get attributed to the wrong people. There’s one quote, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” It’s actually a woman here in Boston who is a professor. She’s a devout Mormon, which would not have been the connection that I would have normally put together, but a lot of people wanted to give that quote credit to I think I saw Mae West, Dolly Parton, I saw all kinds of things.

I wanted to be sure that the quotes were accurate and appropriately attributed. I think I actually have a picture of Abraham Lincoln with a quote next to it saying, “Don’t believe everything you see on the internet just because it has my face on it.”

We can assume the best in people and not necessarily realize, “No, maybe that isn’t their quote.”

ERH: It aligns with the whole discovery of truth today. Timing to me feels really important with conversations that are going on right now.  As you pulled these together did you find that it changed your presentations, or have you worked on that all along?

Diane Darling: I feel like I have worked on that all along. My general guideline for presentations is if it’s more than 50 people, I will do slides. The reason is that I think it’s unkind to people who are on the edges to have them try and squint, and hear you and feel left out.

I use visuals which are usually quotes or pictures because I don’t have to do a lot of technical presentations. For super technical people, it’s a different issue. Also, my biggest competitor as a speaker is someone’s cell phone. They’ll give you about 10 to 15 seconds and if you don’t engage them, they’re on their phone. Yesterday, there was a woman sitting next to me at a meeting and she was shopping. I was just like, “Can you just please put away your yoga pants for the moment?”

Knowing people are distracted, I like to use the element of surprise where I’m not going to necessarily read the quote, but I put something that people will look at and then they’ll laugh and then I go to the next thing and people are like, “Oh wait a minute, what did I miss?” I’m like, “Get off your phone,” it’s my subtle message to be present.

ERH: That’s a great strategy. I love it.

Diane Darling:  I also like the idea of having a quote or a person that wasn’t necessarily top of mind, or wasn’t necessarily somebody that everybody knows. I like finding remarkable women of color or minorities who have not necessarily received a lot of visibility, and people may not know their story. One, in particular, is a woman named Madam Walker. Madam Walker was an African-American woman who invented a process to straighten black hair, African-American hair. Her story is insane if you read it. Covered wagons, the whole nine yards, she ended up living next to the Rockefellers in New York. She was a mega-millionaire before Oprah.

I also like the women who were in the movie, “Hidden Figures.” There are so many amazing women of all colors, but there is no doubt that women of color have had a bigger challenge. I think anytime you can introduce that person to a new audience it’s inspiring.

I was a speaker at a conference a couple years ago and the keynote speaker was a woman, Carlotta Walls. She is the youngest member of the Little Rock Nine. For people who are not familiar with the Little Rock Nine, they are nine children who are African-American and smart enough to go to the “white school integrated school.” The government in Arkansas did not want that to happen. President Eisenhower had a call in the National Guard. Carlotta had to wait two years before she got accepted into the school. She had the grades, but it was two years before she could get in the door.

Quotes allow is to share stories of hope and resilience. I wasn’t alive at the time, but my parents were and it doesn’t feel that old. It doesn’t feel that long ago and you can’t imagine that somebody is not allowed to go to school.

ERH:  It is hard to imagine and it still happens.

Diane Darling:  Yeah. It still happens. I feel it’s my role as someone who shares knowledge through writing and speaking to share names or a story that people may not have known. It’s an opportunity for them to grow themselves and then continue to share that story.

ERH:  I love hearing about these stories and learning about people that I’ve never discovered before. I think that’s an interesting way of thinking about quotes.

Diane Darling: As I was working on this book I realized, hopefully, that this will be one of many. You realize this will never be done. There’ll just always be more and more amazing people. It’s also really interesting to look at the next generation coming up, these younger people who don’t have the cluttered filter that those of us with a few wrinkles on us have, we worry, and they just express themselves and assume they can do whatever they want.

The Girl Scouts were in Washington DC the other day lobbying to change the name of a bridge. I wanted to get some of their quotes because they think it should happen and they were very persistent, and they didn’t really worry about rejection the way that some of us who are a little bit older are fearful of.

ERH:  That’s a wonderful idea. If you are a speaker or a writer, you can be listening every single day for words of wisdom and when you hear something that’s inspiring to you – share it! If it’s a person, ask their name and say, “Look, that was a really inspiring thing you said. Do you mind if I put that on my next presentation as a quote?” I have to believe that would be humbling for somebody to hear.

As I was going through your book, I learned something new on every page.  One of my favorites was, “There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,” by Jane Austin.

That reminded of an Anne Lamott quote that says, “You can either practice being right or practice being kind.” I love the idea of using quotes to inspire and bond people. As we learn more, we can send great women’s quotes to you for more versions of this book.

Diane Darling:  Absolutely. Thank you. As I’m listening to the word kind it reminded me of a story. Someone approached me the other day because their son had received feedback from his job that his writing wasn’t good enough for him to get the next promotion. The parents wanted to help get a writing coach. While that’s not necessarily what I do, I can do that, and/or I know people who can. I said, “Let me learn a little bit more to see if I’m the match or if not, I can point you in the right direction.” I thought at first, so the person who gave him that feedback was right. In my opinion, they were also kind, but not everybody is going to feel that way when you get that kind of feedback.

That may have been tough feedback to hear, but that person cares about me because how many people would never say anything to me, and that I wouldn’t necessarily progress in my career when it’s something I can change, and I can learn.”

ERH:  Absolutely. When you get feedback about something that you can actually work on, whether it’s from a loved one, or a boss, or anyone it’s really a gift. If you’re struggling with how to have a difficult conversation, you can actually go to a quote that inspires you and use that to kick off your conversation. I’ve always loved when meetings start with a poem or start with something that’s unexpected.

Diane Darling:  Yes.

ERH:  I love the thought of using inspiring quotes to help people see things in new or different terms. It aligns with my mission of breaking patterns for better work or a better world. Are there other things you are working to change in the world?

Diane Darling:  Yes, it’s getting more women on Boards. I keep hearing there are not enough executive women or enough of them with a certain skillset. Also, I know women are not necessarily part of their network. There’s no doubt about it. There are not a lot of executive women the way there are men.

My challenge is why are Boards made up the way they are?  Is it time for us to rethink Boards? Women can enter from a different place. I don’t want to say they’re entering at a different level because I don’t want to come across as if they are junior.

For example, I would like to see Delta Airlines or American Airlines or any airline, to include a flight attendant on their Corporate Board, not on their Advisory Board, on their Corporate Board. They should include a mechanic too. For Ford, include somebody who’s on an assembly line because they see the organization from a different perspective which is valuable.

Have you ever seen the elephant that has the people around the elephant and the people are blindfolded?  They all see different things. The person near the tail thinks it’s a broom. The person near the ears thinks it’s a fan. The person on the trunk thinks it’s a swing. They each have a different perspective of what this thing is although it’s all an elephant.

Corporations could rethink Boards.  I love watching Undercover Boss and I’ve been interviewing some of the undercover bosses and they’re shocked at the level they have to go to understand and they are saddened that they have to go undercover to hear the truth about their own company.

ERH: Yes. As you keep moving up the corporate ladder you get more disconnected, because we haven’t shaped the system itself to connect all levels. I love you’re thinking around Boards. I’m a Board Member for a Civic Leadership Program in Portland, Maine. We have an Emerging Leaders program and the whole focus of that program is to get young people on Boards to connect them to their communities and to bring their voices into the community. I would love to see that happen across the country both for-profit and nonprofit. That would be beautiful.

Diane Darling: Which brings me to another topic I coach on frequently, why are companies losing millennials? This is a conversation I have with businesses all the time. They’re not loyal. They are only after themselves. I said, “Yeah, they’re a text message away from their next job.” You can either embrace this or you can argue about it, and because of the sheer numbers of the millennials, arguing is not going to work.

How can you engage that population? What is it that they want? I was helping someone the other day, an executive in Seattle and he was really frustrated because he felt like he had trained his staff, he had motivated them with a lot of money, but they weren’t actually implementing his plan. I said, “They’re the helicopter generation. They’re used to you hovering over them all the time. You can’t train them and leave them alone and walk away. They’re looking for that feedback every few seconds if they’re doing a good job or they’re doing a bad job, or here’s what they need to do.”

It was interesting that it’s not right or wrong, but again, if I’m on the trunk, I’m not thinking what’s at the other end of the elephant.

ERH:  It’s about storytelling too, right? It’s linking people to the mission because one of the things that I love about the younger generation coming in is they really want to know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They’re asking questions in a way that many of us and me when I was younger for sure didn’t ask. I just was happy to have a job and I find that it’s a thoughtful generation and a generation that’s led by their values and a desire to do what’s right. As leaders we have to spend more time talking to them about what we believe in and why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Diane Darling:  Absolutely. There’s also something I read, which is a little sad, is that they believe they will be in debt their entire lives. They don’t have this, “Oh the mortgage will be paid off and all this other stuff.” Because they’re going to be in this teeter-totter situation, they want a quality of life. They don’t necessarily want to sell their soul to give it up because they don’t really see it ever ending. I’m not sure that that’s a great mindset and I think it’s an opportunity to look at public universities or other ways we can help them not come in with this huge amount of debt.

ERH:  Great point, we do need to address college debt.  Before we go, one of the missions of Art of the Break is about taking care of ourselves and allowing ourselves space for reflection and thinking. What are some of the things that you do to pause and to refuel you?

Diane Darling: Well, I test as an introvert, which surprises people. I’m from the Midwest, I’m very, very friendly, and I also test as an introvert. When I go into networking events, I go in with a full tank and I leave empty. I’m exhausted. Time away from people is something I gift to myself, some quiet time. When I go to conferences, I take a big shawl and I’ll put it over my head and find a little corner, so I can just have a little bit of downtime for even just a few minutes that refuels me. I do some meditation. I use an app called, “Simple Habit,” that lets you do five-minute meditations.

Those things are important to do to take care of yourself. On the flip side of it, I can get very isolated fast. I’m single, I don’t have kids, and I’m not married, my parents are in heaven. It’s my cat and me, and to take care of myself, I have to force myself to get out. I will try and have at least one or two meetings a week that start at 7:00 or 7:30. That forces me to get up, get dressed because when you work alone, you live alone, you can be in your PJs at 3:00 in the afternoon not having showered, having had a full day at work. In any other environment, you’d get fired. You couldn’t look like that. You couldn’t smell like that. You can act that way. One thing that is important to do, particularly for people who are on their own, is to find some community because it can be very isolating for sure.

ERH: Wonderful ideas, Diane. I honor you in our world and I really thank you for spending time with the Art of the Break.

Diane Darling:  You are so welcome. It’s been my pleasure.

ERH:  Thank you. You can learn more about Diane Darling at dianedarling.com. You can purchase your copy of She Said It through Amazon or Kindle and begin quoting other brilliant women today.

Link to She Said It: http://bit.ly/SheSaidIt-BreakTogether

Link to Diane’s Website:  http://bit.ly/DianeDarlingBreakTogether