Today we talk some shizzle and learn the bizzle, while host Taylor Shanklin interviews Sylvie Légère, to uncover some entrepreneurial golden treasures. Sylvie Légère is a social entrepreneur, impact investor, philanthropist and author of acclaimed book Trust Your Voice: A Roadmap to Focus and Influence. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Smart Women Smart Money magazine, and Make It Better magazine. Taylor & Sylvie talk about her current work with the Policy Circle, an organization that encourages women to engage in their communities and take ownership of solutions.
Sylvie Légère has been involved in many different ventures throughout her career, but she has found her focus in working to bring people together and foster innovation. She believes that most people can find common ground if they work together, and she has been working to bring joy to others and help them connect!
Learn about saying yes, and not being afraid to do things that might not seem much fun, like;
- Sylvie owns a bicycle shop! So cool! Great way to connect locally.
- Doing Things That Don't Seem Fun Initially
- Learned tips and techniques to strengthen your voice.
- Skillsets she needed to build a growing and thriving organization.
- Learn about the process of writing and publishing a book.
- Inclusion in the Workforce: The Importance of Engagement.
- Facilitating conversations locally.
Connect with Sylvie:
Visit thepolicycircle.org to know more about how women become courageous and informed citizens who take ownership of solutions to the issues facing their communities.
Taylor Shanklin 0:01
Hey hail you lovely people out there. You've got a lot going on in your day with big dreams and big goals for your world. Are you ready to talk some shizzle and learn some shizzle from leading entrepreneurs, changemakers coaches, and overall interesting people who like to shake things up. I'm your host Taylor Shankland, CEO and founder of creative shizzle and I am stoked to bring you a fresh episode of talking shizzle today, this show is all about helping you think differently so that you can grow. Talking chisel is brought to you by our team at Creative shizzle where we help businesses, entrepreneurs, and social good innovators make amazing marketing shizzle happen. Check us out on the web at Creative shizzle.com Now, let's talk some shizzle welcome back to a new episode of talking shizzle. Today I'm really excited to have our guest Sylvie Légère on the line. Sylvie, how are you today? Good morning,
Sylvie Légère 1:14
Great! Good morning. It's great to be here. Taylor,
Taylor Shanklin 1:16
It's good to have you here. I'm excited about what we're going to talk about. We're gonna get into, you know, some founder stories that you have talking about the process of publishing a book, we'll talk a little bit about the work that you do at the policy circle. But let's kick it off with giving us a little intro, who is still below share? What's your backstory? What are you passionate about? Give us a little bit of a rundown on who you are.
Sylvie Légère 1:41
Yeah, well, thank you. Thank you for having me on the show. And I'm thrilled to be here. So I'm actually, I think the term that we came up with, I'm kind of a social entrepreneur. I've been I've spent most of my career in technology as a program manager back in the day. And I dabbled into owning a small business, my community and having a bike shops. And then the last was the last really six years I've been really focused on social entrepreneur and especially on civic engagement, and how do we get people to engage in their communities to make things better take ownership of solutions, and engage in a constructive manner. There's so much divisiveness in our country and polarization and, and we forget the things that are important and that most people actually can find common ground and find solution that really foster innovation, adapt patient of solution to local issues, and really freedom and free enterprise. So that's been really my, my focus.
Taylor Shanklin 2:45
First off, I didn't know that you owned a bike shop at one point, like a bicycle shop.
Sylvie Légère 2:50
Yeah, for about eight years, I was a co owner, my husband and is college buddy, the bike shop in our area was going bankrupt. Sadly, the previous owner passed away really suddenly. And they did not want to see the bike shop disappear from our area. So they kind of took it on. And I was a runner, I'm a avid runner, I was I recovering runner, I decided to start biking. And it's actually what got me into organizing things for women. Because back, you know, already 10 years ago, I'd say women were not that much into cycling, like road cycling, investing in a great bike. And women biking was just starting. So I was really part of that wave of organizing clinics, leading some rides, even myself doing some bike trips, and I really got into biking because we own the shop. And it's such a fantastic community. It also got me into triathlons. And it's a great way to connect and also become more aware of what's happening in your town and bring people together so it's been it was really a fantastic ride and we close it the our lease was up and and we were all involved in other ventures as well. So owning a retail shop requires a lot of owner attention. And we decided to let our lease go and and move on. But it was so fent it was really a great experience.
Taylor Shanklin 4:13
Well, that's really cool. I agree the the cycling community and triathlon community is, is a really strong kind of a network. So that was maybe one of your first kind of, you know, forays into really being an organizer or grassroots organizer and something I love about you Sylvie like you're very multifaceted. You do a lot of different interesting things. Uh, how do you start to kind of find your focus. So now like, you're pretty focused on some very specific social ventures that you do? How did you finally say, what's this one thing that I'm now ready to go all in on and really focus on?
Sylvie Légère 4:55
Yeah, that's always a great question because we're pulled in so many directions, right. We're out has to get involved in so many things. And what I've realized is, and I think we have to look at things in terms of, you kind of categorize, right, there are some things that fuel you, that's social, that's fun, and you bring joy to other people's lives, right. So you might have that as your focus, and you decide this is kind of my calling is to really bring joy to others and be a convener, the way you also find your your one thing that maybe is more harder a little bit or more work, is to try to see how everything connects. So I'll give you the example of actually the bike shop. The one thing I did not realize when I was owning the bike shop is actually it was not aware at all of civic engagement, I was part of some citizen advocacy group, to have more bike shops to have the city do a bike plan in that context. So it never occurred to me to are really late in the game and actually occurred to me and I didn't meet the city council, but it never, I'd never fully understand the connection between building bike roads, and a really an active community where active transportation is easy, and fully understanding and getting to know our representative and office, and also the agencies that engineering department, that community department to really be on board with, what's their goal, what's their challenges, and how can we just advocate together to make things happen, I was kind of just on the other side with this advocacy group and showing up at townhall meetings without fully understanding how decision making functioned in a city. And so I feel like, you know, in finding your one thing, you you need to be able to connect the dots back to the one thing that matters. And that's what I started engaging in, and I co founded the policy circle, because I felt like understanding public policy, local government, actually is the way to really get to the root of our problems and also advance some real solutions. So I'll give you another example. I was really passionate, I initiated a project to engage people with intellectual disabilities, and working out more and exercising more. And it was a great software that we did. And we tested with a lot of people. And I realized in meeting so many people in the community of people with intellectual disabilities, that a people needed jobs, they wanted jobs. And the only organization that will give these people jobs are, they could be big organization, but also really small ones, really community based one. And we need to lighten the load of corporations and small businesses in terms of regulations, red tape, etc. So that they can expand what they do to include people of all different abilities and their workforce. And that requires extra effort and requires extra resources that you need to dedicate to engage employees, someone with an intellectual disabilities, you need to train your employees, you need to kind of assign a mentor, you need to revise how the job is designed. And if you're a small business owners, there's a lot of things that you have to do in addition, and if if red tape and government regulations is another burden and having to file things and be compliant, there's another burden, then you can't do that. And that's why I feel like you know, I want to that's why I founded the policy circle and decided that my focus is going to be on engaging with local government and engaging in policy issues, so that we could keep our society and our country free for people to innovate and bring solution forward and include everyone in that process. So, you know, to summarize, I think to find your one thing, you need to experience a lot of different things. So as you said, I say yes to a lot of things that are just really unexpected, right? I'm an avid, I was an avid runner, a marathoner. It was a really hard, hard for me to become a cyclist. And I fully embrace that community at RIT, I had to learn everything about biking. And it just gave me that exposure, right. Same with this project with people with intellectual disabilities. I jumped into it with my trainer with my real trainer, and I said, you know, let's create something that will be engaging for people with intellectual disabilities to train more effectively, and that expose me to a whole other world and community and I'm so grateful I've met. So it's the same. So if you do different things, and that's what a little bit the policy circle is about, you know, giving you the tools to have a conversation about different issues such as mental health, economic growth, literacy, opioid crisis, you know, all these different topics that gives you some knowledge to then engage with people who are acting in that field and and maybe you discovered this is pulling my heartstrings. And also, I could bring forward my talent into this issue. So I think you need to say yes, and not be afraid to do things that maybe don't seem as much fun initially. And but with the idea that you will gain a breadth of experience that will allow you to discover your passion and also allow you to connect all of your dots.
Taylor Shanklin 10:23
Yeah, it's funny. I cycled first, and cycling then got me into running. So it's like the opposite. I think I had to get in good enough shape on the bike to be able to run.
Sylvie Légère 10:35
That's so funny. I could have handled all the gear, you know, like you put your on your running shoes, and you go and have a biking, you have to check your tires, you need the helmet, you need the gloves, you need the clipping shoes, you need your water, and then your phone and you need your tools, you need to you need a lot of stuff just to get going right. And then and then you need a good bike, you need great gear.
Taylor Shanklin 10:59
I think that's a good segue into the next thing I wanted to get in with you on and that is, like you said, you need a lot of gear. Okay, well, let's talk about the policy circles. So you founded it. You talk about how it started a bit in the book, though, I hadn't heard this side of the story, which I thought was really interesting. But then how did it start to evolve? You know, getting the right gear, getting the right team in place? Let's get a little bit of that story from you.
Sylvie Légère 11:27
Yeah, you know, though, first off, it started off with my neighbors. I invited them to a conference that was focused on women, it was run by the American Enterprise Institute, and it was a conference about public policy and women. And we came home and we said, you know, this was really great, but I don't we don't want to go downtown. Let's bring people together in our neighborhood and, and just just see what people have to say. And I said, Sure, let's just do that. And you always you can't really do things alone is what I I've discovered is that you really need to do things where you have other people that think that it's a good idea. It's not just your one idea. There's other people, you can't be a leader, without a first follower and a second follower, right, that's then your three, and then you're kind of a crowd. So you need to have other people that think this is a good idea. And then we so we brought people together and the energy that was there. And essentially, I went around the room and I send out an invitation and said, I'd love to invite you to talk about the direction of the country, and I call it political fiber, I was going to serve green juice, I did serve green juice and vodka, it's kind of weird mix, then we just went around the room. And this word discovered this power of giving the space for everyone to express their thoughts. And their idea. Instead of opening the floor to any comments, I intentionally went around the room and invited each of my guests to share why they were there. And what was their background in politics and policymaking involvement. And the overwhelming message there was that people have learned to not say anything to hide under a rock to just not engage because they were afraid of personal altercation and conflict. So there was really a need for a space to exchange on ideas, to practice to strengthen our voice and comfort and not be afraid of, of engaging in a constructive way and facilitating discussions in a constructive way. So we said, okay, let's meet again. And then more people came, there was like 25 people that came. So we divided up into smaller group, when we had said, Okay, let's read a book. And I said, Nobody reads the whole book. So let's read the first four chapters of the book. So we could commit that to reading it. And it was free to choose by Milton Friedman. And then we discussed that and the energy was amazing, right, taking a pause, taking the time to review information and document that you would not do in your daily life and for fun, but then discussing it with others. That's where you learned so much about the people that were there. You learned about their different life experience. They're a different perspective. And it's where you realize we can really find common ground and understand how the world works so much better. So the third meaning we had a discussion around health care because it was during the the whole Obama care era, Affordable Care Act. And then I was like, I cannot possibly put pull together this information. There's so much out there. I don't know what's what I'm not an expert. And that's where I decided to make Okay, I need to have briefs or I need to have something reliable. And I was sharing along the way I was sharing this experience with other women that I met at a public policy conference and they were experiencing something similar in Indiana, and they were the one who said well let's get together and express A little bit of a vision of what this looked like as a organization or just an idea. And then let's see if another organization would pick it up. And we could just be champions of it. And no one, you know, it was very grassroots, right? It was a gift to women, a framework to engage in difficult conversations about complicated topics like poverty, taxes, our social security system, the Constitution, you topics like that. And we couldn't find anyone to really pick it up. And then we decided to start it. So I had co founders to start this organization, I think that's the key thing, if you decide, and I decided I'm an executive person, like I like to take an idea, and turn it into reality and put together the steps to do that. But you can't do it alone, you need to have people that will accompany you in and that, that brings very different experiences.
Taylor Shanklin 15:59
Absolutely. So what were some of those other types of skill sets that you found that you needed early on, and building the policy circle to to really make it come to life, because now it's really a growing and thriving organization, and they'll do fantastic work, helping women become very well educated in public policy, and then even move into public official roles if they want to, you know, you help guide them. So what were some of those other early people you surrounded yourself or skill sets with?
Sylvie Légère 16:34
Yeah, and I think that's applicable, because I'm also on the several boards of different tech startups. And I think it is key to have as a partner in a new venture that has done this before, perhaps, or just a mentor, someone you could talk to, who has taken something big or has worked into a large organization, because those people, you know, they they kind of, for instance, with the policy circle, when we first started, we had like some processes in place. And Angela Brawley, my co founder kept saying, Well, how is this going to work when we have 10,000 members? How is this going to work when we have 10,000 circles, right, like to always think bigger, so you need to surround yourself and it might not be your partner, your co founder, but a sounding board a someone you can talk to who is being part of building something big, because you need to be able to have that as a vision, you also need at some point down the road, and you just need to plan for it. And I was really lucky with the policy circle. As I was building it and getting some traction, someone came to me and said, You know, I've done I've built a nonprofit. And I think I can help you professionalize your organization because especially if you are in the especially in the nonprofit world, very quickly, you are under a lot of scrutiny, where you have to have audited books, you need to have governance documents, you need to have, you know, employee handbook much earlier than you would in an LLC in a private company. So at some point, you will need to professionalize your processes. So you need to be ready for that, or you need to really think about, Okay, I'm going to need someone a real accountant, I'm going to need someone who will put in place all of these documents, and someone who has that experience. And there's a lot of services that do that. And then on my board, so this was a little bit like a year, and I think I got someone to really become the executive director, also on my board and my co founders, Kathy Hubbard and an incredible network. So you need every successful enterprise, you need people and you need a network. And I talk about this and you need to constantly nourishing your ecosystem of relationships and building out those relationships. And you need someone who has a really extensive network, who can bring credibility to your venture, because they know her and or him and, and can really move you forward. So that's another piece. And then honestly, you need to have someone and this is early on also, I think a year and I brought someone who had a pretty broad toolbox, in terms of technology, so building out our technology, but also building out all of our collaterals you know, all the creative, like the template for the PowerPoint presentation, the little PDF set, you want to send the badges that you want to share, you know, a lot of those creatives early on you need to have someone on your team to do that to help you with that. I think that you know initially and then you need to have like thought partners, you know, obviously, you need to be able to kind of grow and maybe someone who could back you financially. You need to think about that and you need to have a Hot partners, someone who could help you like grow the strategy. And you can also bounce off a lot of hurdles that you may be crossing, you know, there's that's why there's, you know, YPO groups, there's a lot of groups of peers of the startup cause, you know, these caucuses or these incubators, or small groups, where you could really share hurdles. And that's really helpful.
Taylor Shanklin 20:24
Absolutely having a thought partner and I just admire the your humility and saying, like, I can't do all of this alone, that's not a good idea. And like, you need these other people who bring different skill sets, and who bring different thoughts and different ideas and different perspectives. So kind of the next place I want to take this in, to round us out is talk about your book. So you help people and really, going back earlier in the conversation, when you first invited people over for the first conversation, to talk about the bigger issues, you know, what you really do is you help people learn how to trust their own voice. And you wrote a book called trust your voice, and you have a podcast called trust your voice, tell us about the process of writing that book that's big and hard and scary, and you had to do a lot of things, to lead into that next phase, to be able to say, Alright, I've got enough meat here, to write a book,
Sylvie Légère 21:27
the need for writing a book was to have a place to tell the story of the policy circle, like, I have to say, you know, the policy circle transformed me as a person, as a leader, just everything, it really changed me. And I wanted to share that journey. And it's not about the what, you know, how the policy circle functions that it's you bring women together to engage in a policy discussion, we have about like 60 briefs, you pick a brief from the library, and everybody comes prepare, and we have a facilitation guide. You know, that's that's kind of the word, right? But the effect that these conversations have the effect of leading a conversation, taking that risk, inviting people to participate, that changes you and enhances your ability to lead. So I wanted to tell the story of the why the policy circle is so important to me. And I think to other women that changed their lives and their journey. And I wanted to tell their stories. So I wanted to write a book to say that I had someone to help me write the book, because you this is, it's a little complicated, because it's not a linear story, right? I didn't want to just tell the chronological story, I wanted to share a journey of transformation, and also what I believe are kind of the pillars to really have the confidence to trust your voice, and to deepen the relationships with the people that you meet. And so we identified all of these different pillars as a first part of the process, right? And kind of creating an outline. It's like, well, what is it that? What are the important messages that you want to share? And then we went through each of the chapters in balancing, sharing some studies, sharing some facts, you know, some knowledge, some of my personal experience, and that was really hard, because it's really hard to actually talk about yourself, and tell your story. And that's where it's helpful to have someone to bounce things off. Because what you think, is completely insignificant, not that interesting. Other people find interesting, you know, like you just said, you always you do all kinds of things. I'm like, Yeah, you know, I know, I don't think it's that interesting. So you need to have someone who you need to bounce off ideas. And I think that's a key part of the process. So we went through, identify all of the key pillars and then build the stories around each of them. I wanted to also give a part two, it's like, well, how do you engage and facilitate policy discussions in your community? So I incorporated some tools that I developed to do that in the books. I wanted to be a guide that people could refer back to in their journey in their life growth.
Taylor Shanklin 24:13
It's it's a great book. I've got it. It's right there on my shelf. I've been inspired by your book. I've been inspired by the work that you do. I've got one final question for you. What is a tip that you would give to your younger self? If you could go back and speak to your younger, the younger Sylvie?
Sylvie Légère 24:33
Yeah, I think the one tip is to really value and develop an ecosystem of relationships. I think like my younger self, I was very, you know, my background is more in technology. And I think a lot of women were really focused on the to do list on the achievement on the what we are doing, and we invest less time and value and we don't value as much the time that is spent building relationship showing up at Chamber of Commerce meetings, networking with people maybe going to taking up golf. I mean, golf is one great way to get to know people going to baseball game, it takes a long time baseball games, but when you sit in the seats, you have a chance to do to talk to people to exchange to get to know them better. And I think as busy women, and I'm gonna say women in particular, because men value that naturally, a lot more than the men that I've seen, they value taking the time to expand their network to get to know people to say, oh, yeah, I know this person, they just do it. And they have a very broad broad network. And, and I think women, we have a tendency to kind of stay with our close friends, girlfriends, and not expanding our network as much as we can. And in various and very different spheres, whether it is what I call Town Hall relationships, a political sphere of who represents you, or your representative, who works in the city, who's your alderman, develop that ecosystem or relationship, or in the professional sphere and the industry, you know, just go beyond your own company and within your own company, to get to know as many people as possible outside of your narrow department. So that would be my lesson learned because your life is so much richer, knowing that, you know, there's, there's someone that you know, and in every state in every city, and that's what makes life worthwhile. And that's how we grow. And that's how you can advance your goals. And that's what how you can help others is by connecting. So I think that would be my, my big advice to my younger self, and to everyone,
Taylor Shanklin 26:47
like 1 million times agree with you. Yeah. And all of that. Also, baseball games are long,
Sylvie Légère 26:54
it's long when you're playing, but when you're there, you know, it's it's actually I go to baseball game, and I invite people because you're sitting there you, you can, you can really engage in all kinds of conversation while watching the game. It's really the only sport that you could do that at a hockey you cannot put your eyes off the ice because you're gonna miss something, right? Same with basketball, those are really fast paced games. But baseball is slow and things are happening. And you could go get a drink and, and you meet the people around you. And it's just a really wonderful environment, I think to develop relationships that are personal and a business business environment as well. And you don't have to stay for the whole game. You can leave after the seventh inning stretch, right, you can leave but it's a really great environment to do that. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a big Cubs fan.
Taylor Shanklin 27:43
All right, well, so me this has been a pleasure. Thanks so much for sharing. I really enjoyed your wisdom today. What's the best way if people want to find out more about the policy circle or get in touch? follow you online? Where should they go?
Sylvie Légère 27:56
Yeah, well, you know, I have also my podcast trust your voice podcast. So I invite people to do that and visit the policy circle.org is a great place to learn about the policy circle and what is and people can follow me on Instagram. So v dot leisure. That's my instagram handle. And that's how you can find me.
Taylor Shanklin 28:18
All right. Well, thank you so much, everyone. We hope you enjoyed this episode. I know I learned a lot from Sylvie and we will see you next time on a fresh episode of talking shizzle where we will talk some new shizzle we'll see what that is next time. All right, bye. Well, hey there. That was fun. I love how much mind blowing and mind opening shizzle our guests bring to us with every episode. We hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as we did. Make sure you hit that subscribe button on your favorite podcast player so that you don't miss a beat of the talking shizzle podcast. And if you're listening on Apple, be sure to let us know what you thought and leave us a review. We'd love to hear from our listeners so that we can bring you all the good juicy Business Growth shizzle that you would like to hear about. Get in touch with us and follow along at Creative shizzle.com or email us at podcast at Creative shizzle.com Until next time, keep making your shizzle happen
Transcribed by https://otter.ai