Women in the Arena

I choose me with Katanya Smith

February 07, 2023 Audra Agen Season 5 Episode 12
Women in the Arena
I choose me with Katanya Smith
Show Notes Transcript

Katanya Smith is a lawyer, advocate, published author, entrepreneur, and a former corporate executive. After almost 20 years in the financial services sector, including seven plus years in various senior leadership and executive roles, Katanya became one of the many Black women who joined the Great Resignation. Katanya is quick to clarify that she is not a diversity, equity, and inclusion expert. Nonetheless, as a former corporate executive she has been an intended beneficiary of DE&I work and has strong ideas about what is working, what is not working, and what we are not talking about but should be. Also, Katanya’s experience as an employment lawyer has allowed her to see, firsthand, how the system fails minoritized workers who bring claims of discrimination, sexual harassment or retaliation.


Go check out all of our episodes on our website: https://womeninthearena.net/

If you are ready to tell your story or want to refer someone, please email me at audra@womeninthearena.net

***Last thing- I'd love to interview the following women:

  • Joan Jett
  • Dolly Parton
  • Viola Davis
  • Ina Garten

Maybe you can help me get there****

Thank you all for supporting this show and all of the Women in the Arena!!

 | Timestamp Speaker Transcript  |   | 
 | 00:00.10 audraagen Ah  |  and I'll count us down so by 4 3 2 1 welcome and everyone and thank you so much for joining me again this week this week I have a pace setter with me and the pace setter and the most unique. And magnificent way this week's guest is Catania Smith and just listen to her accolades and her accomplishments in her life. She is an attorney she is an advocate. She is a published author and she is an entrepreneur. She's also a former executive. From this big thing called corporate America and financial services and now she is living her life on purpose. It is my honor. Well how do I so sorry it it. how do I ah how do I do that it just went out of my head. It is my how. I introduce you every single time I say it every I say it is my my honor and I can't it went out of my head I say this every so every single time I say it is.
 | 01:08.28 Katanya Smith No I know.  |   | 
 | 01:16.56 audraagen My both my something and my honor. Oh my God Why is it not there. Yes I I can't either. But we're going to say we're gonna say that and because like my brain just went So that's what I'm gonna say okay.
 | 01:21.14 Katanya Smith Is it privilege I can't remember from the other podcast.
 | 01:32.54 Katanya Smith All those Kaine's calls  | 
 | 01:36.27 audraagen Yes  |  it is both my privilege and my honor to introduce to you Kaania Smith Catannya. Thank you so much for being here and welcome to the show.
 | 01:44.63 Katanya Smith I am so happy to be here I'm happy to be here talking to you. Also you know I'm so happy to be on this podcast i. Thank you for amplifying women's voices and for giving us space to tell our own stories and our own voices. There aren't a lot of those pieces. So. 5 seasons of doing this I'm so proud of you and it's my absolute privilege to be speaking with you today.
 | 02:07.57 audraagen Well thank you I Appreciate you saying all of that and anybody who sits still long enough I will tell them the reason why I'm doing this is because it didn't exist before and it's something that something that I needed so I figured if so if I needed it.
 | 02:20.22 Katanya Smith Absolutely.  |   | 
 | 02:26.47 audraagen Then there was many other women that needed it as well and my bet was right? My hunch was correct. Yeah well I appreciate you being here and here's an interesting background as to how Catania and I met she.
 | 02:31.18 Katanya Smith Yeah  |  that's where the best ideas come from So certainly appreciate you.
 | 02:46.35 audraagen Put this compelling article I wouldn't say even article. It's more like a post on Linkedin and I bet she thought that it was completely innocuous at the time but it was such a powerful declaration that I reached out to her and said I I don't know. If you'd be interested in talking to me on my show. But regardless I think what you're doing is brave and incredible and keep going and lo and behold. She reached back out to me and we have become fast friends so I'm gonna not good I'm not gonna steal the punchline I'm gonna let you talk about what this post was and.
 | 03:15.67 Katanya Smith Absolutely.  |   | 
 | 03:24.34 audraagen What it was born out of.  | 
 | 03:25.61 Katanya Smith Yeah  |  that would be my pleasure so earlier this year I was thinking about making a transition. So I called my network reach out to some recruiters and I said listen I think I want to transition maybe in the summer at the end of at the end of this year so I started going through the interview process and as I started getting towards the final round of certain positions I was finding that I wasn't excited I was scared and not scared in the good way. So obviously if you're going to the right job. It's going to challenge you. It's going to stretch you. And there's going to be some fear and anxiety around that but that's not what I was feeling I was feeling panicked absolutely panicked and I remember talking to my husband about it because that's not who I am I love change I thrive and change I'm a super positive person to a false I always think that people are. And do the right thing and and mostly want to do the right thing so I didn't understand why I was so afraid of moving forward. So when I was talking to him about it interesting what he said interestingly what he said to me was you know what that sounds like ptsd and when he said that. I was surprised but I didn't really have an opportunity to process that because what he said next was equally impactful and he said that transition for you may not look like transitioning from 1 job to another. It may look like leaving 1 job taking a minute hitting the reset button.
 | 05:00.42 Katanya Smith And then when you're ready to embrace the next opportunity for what it is and you're not allowing it to be colored by 1 or 2 toxic situations that you've had in a multi decade long career then you're ready to move on and it was such a mic drop moment because I never really thought. About how certain situations in the past and certain toxic environments even though they're an anomaly. How and how much they had been impactful to me so when he said that I immediately emotionally leaned into the idea. But logically like my little virgo self was not going to let me just you know  |  go for it. So I talked to recruiters I talked to my network I talked to mentors I asked what is this going to look like three months down the road What's it going to look like six months down the road. What if I take a year off what if I take 2 years take 3 years off and finally got to the point where I felt comfortable that I could take a year or so off and it wasn't brave and I thank you for saying that because even that was terrifying right? like I have worked in this industry for 20 years through a financial crisis I've worked at companies that have had that have had huge reductions in force and I've always kept my job I've never had a gap on my resume and here I was saying I'm going to leave this fortune 50 company to go rest right? So the next.
 | 06:32.34 Katanya Smith Challenge for me which was how we met which was how do I message this to my professional network. So I sat there and I really thought about it. You know I drafted a couple of Linkedin updates and I ran it by a couple people I know but it just wasn't authentic and. I wanted to be honest about my experience I wanted to be honest about why I felt like I needed rest I wanted to be vulnerable which is not easy to do in such a public forum but I wanted people to understand that you know I've worked in this industry for 20 years I've worked for many different companies. Many doors have opened for me I've had great allies I have had leaders that I've worked for that if they called me right now and said let's March through a brick wall. My only question would be which I wear that's it and I've had. Really amazing situations. But there have been anomalies for me as a woman. There's been anomalies for me as a person of color. There's been environments where you know my entire day from beginning to end. Been a marathon of racial trauma and gender inequity and while that's not the majority of it at all and it's a very rare instance it had impacted me and I needed a moment to hit the reset button and I was surprised at how that resonated with so many women in the workplace.
 | 08:04.40 audraagen Well I think that there's a lot of us that can say oh my gosh we might find ourselves in this same head space of there are days where we feel like we just need to get through it and survive put our head down and just try and ignore.
 | 08:04.91 Katanya Smith So.  |   | 
 | 08:23.91 audraagen Onslaught that was happening and it's not always in your face. A lot of times. It's very subtle but even those subtleties start to wear you down after a while and I think at least for for me when I read that I was so drawn to this idea of.
 | 08:33.18 Katanya Smith They do.  |   | 
 | 08:43.67 audraagen She's acknowledging that what many of us if not all of us have experienced it really has made an impact on our lives in some way shape or form our energy level our outlook our emotions and. I really had to sit and think about it and go this is amazing. This is brave this is incredible that you have this opportunity that you can take a moment to allow yourself to catch up and heal so that you're better for whatever your your choice is to do next. But then you said something different. Um  |  you did not say hey I'm going to go you know drink mojitos for the next year you said I'm going to take a moment to figure out how I can take my time off from corporate America and be impactful.
 | 09:27.70 Katanya Smith Um.  |   | 
 | 09:39.31 audraagen In the world and that that just took my breath away that you're taking a moment for yourself to heal. But in the same time in your process of healing you want to go help someone else heal that is brave.
 | 09:43.65 Katanya Smith 2  |   |   | 
 | 09:53.80 Katanya Smith Well thank you for that I think part of it for me too is I would have a really really hard time just resting indefinitely right? I really and for me giving back to others and helping women. Something that I enjoy but there was a comment in that post that really stuck with me someone responded. Um  |  you know I understand that you want to do rest. But then you're also talking about doing free work. Is there an opportunity for you to truly rest. And even though again for me helping others I get joy in that I also constantly hear that person's voice in my head causing me to check in with myself so when I first went on sabbatical I find myself very quickly. Helping this person with a young woman who's starting her first business helping her with her business plan and doing a strategy plan for a nonprofit and getting to the point where I was very quickly getting overwhelmed to the point where I'm up at six seven o'clock working going to bed. Very very late and I realized that I needed to kind of take a step back and find purpose and something that I could really focus on so that I could really have impact with respect to that thing and eventually one of the things I started my career as an employment.
 | 11:23.59 audraagen What? what.  |   | 
 | 11:26.96 Katanya Smith Lawyer early on so one of the things that happened to me a lot is that people who are going through difficult times in the workplace will call me and say hey this is what I'm going through what do you think? and while I don't give them legal advice I do want to help them navigate.
 | 11:31.69 audraagen Um.  |   |   | 
 | 11:40.90 audraagen Um  |  ah.  |   |   | 
 | 11:44.88 Katanya Smith Through it and thinking about how do we make these workplaces safer for women like what can we do and looking around and seeing California New York have some really great laws that have either been passed or great laws out there in the process of passing. Also the senate passed the speak out act and a lot of those those laws are focusing on non-disparagement agreements. So non-disparagement agreements and the workplace are agreements where employees are promised or promising that they're not going to say anything bad about the company and. While those don't seem to be really impactful to women you have to understand that if you are being sexually harassed or you're being abused in the workplace and you have no one to talk to. You can't go to an executive coach and say how do I deal with this. You can't go to your friends and say hey how do i. How do I do this? It is a very isolating feeling and as a survivor of domestic violence. 1 of the things that I can tell you is before they hit you. They isolate you right? and it's a situation where by isolating underrepresented groups and. Ah  |  this allowing them to really talk about sexual harassment talk about abuse talk about racial trauma to anyone it really further damaging damages them and we that are really hard to articulate unless you've been through it.
 | 13:12.62 audraagen So Let me ask you to elaborate a little bit on that because there there may be some audience members that have fortunately never been subject to this kind of trauma this kind of abuse. We also have some. Amazing men in our audience that have started to ask questions and to because for the purpose of for them to understand what our existence is like what our experience is like on a day-to-day basis Because. There are many many men that are starting to acknowledge and recognize that there are some cultural norms that they've inherited that may not serve the purposes of being inclusive and trying to help balance out that whole gender equality and and that won't move us all forward.
 | 14:01.84 Katanya Smith You.  |   | 
 | 14:04.91 audraagen So will you give us a ah few examples of what workplace abuse might look like microaggressions that kind of thing.
 | 14:13.53 Katanya Smith Sure  |  um  |  that's a great question just to give 1 example  |  um  |  I'm sitting in a meeting right? and there's maybe 2025 people in a meeting I'm the only black person there. There's maybe 2 or 3 women there as well. A question's asked that is squarely in my area of expertise so you know I lean in chime into the conversation and I look back down to write some notes in my notebook and I realized that the mood had changed. It was oddly. Very very quiet in the room. So I looked back up and everyone's kind of staring at me and I couldn't really process process. It. What is this about at first and then what seemed like 5 minutes but is probably 5 seconds someone leaned over and said we're not going to take her idea are we and I was so shocked by that comment because the focus of it wasn't on the information that I was providing it was on the messenger that was providing it.
 | 15:15.89 audraagen Um  |  ah.  |   |   | 
 | 15:26.70 Katanya Smith And I remember thinking to myself. Oh I could be in trouble here. Um  |  and I knew that how the people in that room responded was going to tell me whether or not this person was an anomaly or this person.
 | 15:30.18 audraagen And.  |   |   | 
 | 15:45.80 Katanya Smith Was representative of the culture of this organization and it seems like literally Audre when I touched forever waiting for someone to respond to this and just hoping that there would be some ally or some group consensus that that was inappropriate. And that just didn't happen. Everyone kind of shifted in their places. The movement started again and they continued on as if I hadn't said a word as if I was an invisible person in the room and ultimately. Went down a different path and the solution that I had presented early on it was adopted but then the credit was allocated to 1 of my white male peers and any allyship in and that room anyone who would have spoken up to say hey. You know I think that's a great idea or hey even I disagree with your idea but to demonstrate that I'm not invisible in that room would have been meaningful and I think it's really important one of the strongest male allies I've ever had. 1 of the things that he would always do is when we were in a room and I would say something and it would be ignored. He would use his privilege to say hey Catania I think you were saying something. Do you want to repeat that again because I don't think everyone heard it.
 | 17:12.31 Katanya Smith And there were times that people tried to reallocate things that I said to him and said hey I think he said this and he'd be like absolutely not that was something Ka Tanya said tanya. Do you want to expand on that a little bit so and tell us what you're thinking there but that's the type of of allyship. That is so meaningful to women so meaningful to black women in the workplace.
 | 17:34.52 audraagen I I would agree and that's why I wanted you to explain to it a little bit because more and more I'm starting to get questions. How can I help what can I do different We. We recognize this is a problem we want to make some changes. And it sounds like it's just as simple as acknowledging that you're in the room and that you've said something good bad or and different you're in the room and you're trying to contribute just like everybody else that is in that room.
 | 18:06.20 Katanya Smith Right? And I think that's the the difference and I always say I'm not a diversity athlete inclusion expert but that is the difference to me between diversity and inclusion right? Diversity is thank you for having me in the room. Although I just absolutely deserve to be here. But inclusion is including me in the conversation making space for my voice at the table and those 2 things are very different but they're both extremely important and in that situation. That's what was missing and that's 1 situation but there's so many. Different types of microaggressions that women women of color deal with all of the time. Um  |  you know pretending that you don't understand someone when they've spoken very clearly. Questioning someone's executive presence because you know in my case I wear my hair at a natural hairstyle and questioning whether or not that's appropriate in a workplace or professional so there are so many things in and the workplace day in and day out. That we're dealing with and having that allyship definitely lightens the load that we and the weight that we carry through the workplace.
 | 19:21.14 audraagen So that is that is what you're referring to when you talk about this trauma and this ptsd that you suddenly found yourself Experiencing. You didn't have a name for it before that because for you  |  it was just and for many of us I shouldn't say just you for many of us. Whether or not we want to acknowledge it out loud or not ah a lot of us feel that way because a lot of us have been on the other side of this these microaggressions and just blatantly being looked over that we've sucked it up so much that. We think that it's just Normal. It's just a part of being in the workplace. But the reality is it's not.. It's not normal and it's something that has affected us to our core that we haven't even acknowledged but you and your soul did and thank Goodness. Your husband is very intuitive and said just rest just be because you can't be your your best self until you get over or shouldn't say get over that you are at peace.
 | 20:20.39 Katanya Smith Um.  |   | 
 | 20:35.70 audraagen With what has happened to you in the past you can't change it. You can understand it. But maybe you can help influence change in the future I give him kudos quite quite a lot because he is also a huge advocate ah without him realizing or not for all of us.
 | 20:48.77 Katanya Smith We have.  |   | 
 | 20:54.15 audraagen By just allowing you space to breathe.
 | 20:56.76 Katanya Smith Yeah I Absolutely have an amazing partner and I definitely appreciate that and I definitely appreciate us having the ability for me to take this time right? That's not something that everyone has so in certain cases you have to find other ways like maybe. Leaving the public sector I mean even leaving the private sector and going to the public sector.. It's definitely going to be a lot of work So You're not going to rest in terms of that but certainly a different type of environment. Um  |  and there are other ways that you can find to rest making sure you're taking. Your vacation time making sure that you're taking time to unplug making sure that you're setting boundaries those are other ways making sure that you're setting time and the day for yourself to work out or to do something that you love and having certain non-negotiables. So if one of your non-negotiables is that I'm having dinner every night with my family I'm going to be home I'm going to turn my phone off making sure that you stick to those non-negotiables.
 | 22:00.86 audraagen And you had when you and I had met before you said something to me that once again set me back in my seat and and made me take a breath and it was much around the legacy that you have carried in your family. Because your family is full of extremely accomplished people. But it was something along the lines of having to survive your professional life and who wants to just survive their professional life that sounds that sounds like torture to me. But would you mind telling me telling the audience a little bit about that story and how that became so pivotal to the moment when you're like no I need I need to take a pause because I need to do something different and more meaningful So I can move forward.
 | 22:52.28 Katanya Smith Absolutely so my grandfather is a nuclear physicist right? and he was a nuclear physicist at a time when it was very rare to see a black man in that profession in that role and he dealt with indescribable racial trauma. Day in and day out and whenever he talked about his 30 year career he always said he always said these words but for the grace of god that I survive and he has said that so many times to our entire family.
 | 23:25.70 audraagen But but.  |   | 
 | 23:30.50 Katanya Smith And he did survive it and we were all able to thrive you know  |  based on everything that he went through and what he was able to provide for us and for his family. However  |  when you have scars that haven't healed. If. You don't take the time to heal them. You're going to bleed all over the things that didn't hurt you and even though he survived it. It definitely impacted the dynamics of our family it impacted how he felt when when he came home. It impacted how he interacted with us. Impacted whether or not he was around it impacted us in so many different ways and I promised myself that I didn't want to just survive a career I wanted to thrive I wanted to grow I wanted to excel and that has been. The case for the most part. Um  |  but when I have had those few anomalies with 1 or 2 situations. What I've done is I didn't want to be my grandfather and just kind of look down and take shots fired right? because that was his way of coping I wanted to. Actively navigate what I was dealing with whether it was racial issues or gender Inequality I wanted to be able to actively navigate it in those those rare situations and when that happened I realized that whether I'm navigating it.
 | 25:06.35 Katanya Smith Or I'm putting my head down and shotsfired to a point that you made earlier and both of those situations. There's kind of an acceptance that this is just way things are right like I'm not confronting it I'm not actively constructively confronting it I'm just tiptoeing around it and allowing it to stand in its existence. And at the end of it after everything that I tried to do differently I literally ended up looking at myself in a mirror and seeing my grandfather and all of his scars staring back at me and that is one of the things that terrified me because I've done everything in my power. To make sure that that wasn't the case only to land in the same space and I don't think that we're taught often as women. How do we not just navigate. But how do we? actively Confront situations. Where there is gender Inequality where there's racism whether you are Asian Black Queer Whatever you are in the workplace. How do you?? How do you actively and constructively Confront in a way that's going to create Change. And I hadn't learned that no one ever taught me that and I thought because I I thought navigating it and learning to navigate it effectively I thought that that was you know literally The best thing ever right? like take I took so many classes on.
 | 26:38.21 Katanya Smith How to navigate the workplace like I've taken so many Linkedin courses I've taken executive coaching I've done all of these things about navigation. But no one has taught me to constructively um confront something head on.
 | 26:54.26 audraagen Because things will never change. You're they're teaching us how to adapt how to succeed in spite of how to navigate difficult buses difficult organizations. We've all taken a bazillion courses on that. But.
 | 27:02.52 Katanya Smith Right.  |   | 
 | 27:13.80 audraagen You're right? No one has ever said you really want real Change. You have to look it straight in the eye and you need to deal with it unfortunately dealing with it lands on my shoulders your shoulders and every other ah protected group out there. Female. Queer Asian Black doesn't matter it all falls on our shoulders because otherwise it's just status Quo So have you through trial and error learned how to constructively Confront it so that there's the best possible outcome. Outcome for both parties.
 | 27:52.94 Katanya Smith So it's so it's a work in progress right? But 1 of the things that I think is important is and my generation.
 | 28:02.90 audraagen Um  |  that.  |   |   | 
 | 28:04.16 Katanya Smith You know you didn't really talk about Race or gender because you wanted to blend in and you wanted to assimilate right? That was the way that you were going to get ahead and I feel like there is implicit Bias and then there's racism right? and implicit Bias You can go to the person and and I always start from the assumption that.
 | 28:11.61 audraagen Yep.  |   |   | 
 | 28:23.96 Katanya Smith It's implicit Bias If something's happening right? I don't jump to negative to negative. Um  |  negative Bias immediately. So having open discussions. You know  |  being able to say hey you know when I was talking. Um I brought up this idea I think it's a great. Idea I'd like to at least talk about it and have it considered if we ultimately decide to go on a different path. That's absolutely fine. But I want to make sure that we've kind of talked this through so that we as a team are making or making the best decision so wanting to have those discussions. Being able to discuss things with a person head on and being able to educate them if it's implicit Bias now that you're informed  |  you'll change if it's something that they that the person doubles down On. Then calling that to their attention but having constructive conversations and tying it into the work so not necessarily making it and and tying it into how we drive impact instead of attacking the person like you're doing this. And you're doing that and you're saying this but talking about how it impacts you and how it impacts the work.
 | 29:37.61 audraagen Because then it takes the pressure off of both of you if you're just talking about work. There's no  |  there's there's no emotion in the body of the work because it's just a thing. It's not leaving living in breathing. It's just a thing and you get to just.
 | 29:41.47 Katanya Smith Absolutely.  |   | 
 | 29:49.97 Katanya Smith All right.  |   | 
 | 29:57.41 audraagen Refocus the situation and then hopefully have a constructive outcome where everybody is is participating in one way shape or form. So I I'm curious. Are you using these same.
 | 30:08.22 Katanya Smith That's correct.  |   | 
 | 30:15.80 audraagen These same tools that you have learned are you using these tools and this opportunity that you've taken to rest working. Are you working with them cohesively or I guess set a better way is are this part of what you're doing on your. Your rest period your sabbatical which is an emotional rest a little bit of a physical rest but also one that I understand is allowing your creative side of your life to flourish whereas you haven't actually had the opportunity to Nourish that side.
 | 30:38.76 Katanya Smith Um.  |   | 
 | 30:50.65 audraagen Of you for a really long time So that's that's the question. It's all very long wordy question to ask you.
 | 30:54.69 Katanya Smith And now I get it I get it. So certainly you know because I'm not in that environment. You know during the sabbatical I don't have the opportunity to really test out those theories right? But 1 of the things that. You know? and why why I have really focused on um on making sure that people who are subject to racial inequality sexual harassment abuse are able to speak to. Their friends their tribe they're able to speak to an executive coach and kind of talk through those issues outside of the organization is because that's where you typically have those conversations of hey I'm going through this. How do I confront it with this person right. It's hard to have those conversations and the organization because once you say hey I feel like I'm being discriminated against I feel like I'm being sexually harassed. There are certain things that have to happen next. So having the ability to kind of have those conversations outside of the organization is. Really really important. Um  |  but 1 of the things that this has allowed me to do is to really connect with my with the women in my life I have a superstar group of women in my life that I like to refer to as the goddess gang.
 | 32:23.17 Katanya Smith And they have you know helped me been such an important part of my personal and professional self and and who I've become so and talking to them when we do sit down. Ah we talk about things that we're going through in the workplace we do talk about them differently. And I will say that they have really been part of this journey to help me speak up right and speak out like they've been part of the journey of saying hey you know being a great professional  |  a great executive doesn't mean you know you take all the abuse that's thrown at you and you just. Mile and you be professional. It means that you're able to have conversations constructive conversations about the things that are happening to you so that you can help make change and the conversations that we have will certainly be part of. You know my what makes me better at whatever I do next whether I go back to corporate America at some point or not these are being able to constructively confront these issues or skill set that will help you no matter what you're doing.
 | 33:35.13 audraagen So during this time of sabbatical. What do you envision for yourself on utilizing your time because as I explained to the beginning. You're not one to just sit around and watch. You know hallmark movies all day long. It's just not going to happen. You might do that for a day maybe 2 and then you're done. You're good. Um  |  but what with your time because I know that it's very important to you to match up your time with purpose.
 | 33:50.74 Katanya Smith Right.  |   | 
 | 34:05.47 audraagen Because time is the 1 thing that we can't make any more of so what do you envision for your sabbatical and how you plan on showing up in the world with your purpose.
 | 34:05.90 Katanya Smith Um.  |   | 
 | 34:19.14 Katanya Smith Yeah  |  absolutely helping make workplaces safer for women and for people of color for any underrepresented group is first and foremost not just. Because of my grandfather and the legacy that he that he lived through um  |  watching everything that he went through and you know I always um  |  tell this story but I remember one day coming getting off the bus and coming home from school. And he was sitting in a car reading the paper eating a banana and I thought it was so bizarre right? and I went over I knocked on the window and I said what are you doing and he said this was the only moment of peace that he felt like he had in his life and. You know that was just so sad and I remember feeling like that's just not something that I want in my life. Um and making sure that that workplaces are safer.
 | 35:15.90 audraagen Um  |  yeah.  |   |   | 
 | 35:31.88 Katanya Smith For people because we spend 15 hours a day at work most of us and we spend time that we're not there thinking about work and when it's abusive and like listen everyone's going to have you know that coworker that gets on your nerves. Everyone's going to have that boss that you have to manage up those are normal things that you have to deal with. But if you're dealing with any type of abuse in the workplace. It can seem all consuming when you're going through it and just making work spaces. Safer is absolutely first and foremost of all. Top of mind for me and every opportunity that I have to do that whether it is helping someone navigate through a situation that they're going through or helping write letters talk to legislators to get legislation passed that will make. Workspace is fee for those things are super important to me.
 | 36:29.47 audraagen So are you having individuals reach out to you as a result of that post and saying I desperately need your help.
 | 36:38.22 Katanya Smith I have had individuals reach out to me because of the post. But also because I started my career as an employment lawyer I often have friends of friends reach out to me and you know of course you know I don't give them legal advice but certainly. Um  |  reaching out to me about difficult situations and how they should navigate it and some of the things that I've heard are just um  |  are just a really hard listen to and not just what happened  |  but the impact that it's having on that person. Um  |  a lot of times people are having health issues. They're not sleeping at night. They're you know going through horrible physical manifestations of distress that they're feeling and it's ah very very difficult to watch and to. Listen to. But I definitely want to help where I can and a lot of people have reached out because of the post as well to say hey you know this is what I'm going through. Hey. Thank you for articulating something that we all feel and saying it out loud.
 | 37:48.34 audraagen And like I started the conversation. It was very brave because many of us have felt that but we have sort of contained that emotion because if we fully experienced it. We may not be able to get out of bed and do our job and.
 | 37:52.65 Katanya Smith It.  |   | 
 | 38:04.42 Katanya Smith Right? All right.  | 
 | 38:07.41 audraagen And so we've just sort of held it in and then having you say out loud hey I experience this too I am with you I have been going through this you are not alone. It doesn't matter the level of degrees you have or have not what your job is or isn't where.
 | 38:21.34 Katanya Smith Um.  |   | 
 | 38:24.42 Katanya Smith Right.  |   | 
 | 38:27.39 audraagen We All are experiencing something similar and I'm with you just you showing up completely vulnerable and authentically and saying this is me this is what I'm feeling. It gave it for me Personally  |  it gave me this this idea Of. Oh I'm not by myself in this and it allowed me to take a little bit of an exhale because I've realized that even though yes the name of my show is women in the Arena. We don't always recognize that we're in it.
 | 39:01.92 Katanya Smith Um.  |   | 
 | 39:05.38 audraagen Together We feel like we're a little siloed and when you lifted the veil from that I realized no we truly are in this altogether.
 | 39:16.28 Katanya Smith Absolutely thank you for saying that you know you know the word brave Always I'm like ah because I don't feel that way right? There's always  |  There's definitely a level of fear even now of what comes next and you know. And I'm I'm very very very lucky that we're in a great situation and that we can do this but there's still always that fear in that kind of figuring out how to redefine yourself right? Particularly someone like me who has defined themselves in relation to their career for such a long time. Now I have to find different ways to really define who I am um  |  you know and that's great and I'm loving it. But there's also a level of fear to it as well. But I responded to every single person that reached out to me. As a result of that post because I understand if you're reaching out it probably hit you so deeply because there's something that you saw of yourself and that post right and through that I've built ah extended my tribe extended my goddess gang. Um  |  but certainly it's listening to the stories that women have gone through is definitely something that has really impacted how I want to spend this time and kind of redirected me in a way because.
 | 40:48.52 Katanya Smith I Think when I think about women's issues I think about them very very differently and not the day in and day out pain that some women are feeling in certain workplaces.
 | 40:59.55 audraagen Do you know? what's next for you then and know that you're taking it one day at a time but do you know what? your next forward step is.
 | 41:10.88 Katanya Smith Haven't even thought about it. You know I promised myself that I'm going to you know if something comes my way that I'm like I can't pass this up then I'll deal with it in that moment. Um  |  but ultimately. Really I gave myself some time before I even think about what's next I gave myself time to really take care of myself. Um I gave myself time to really work on the things that I'm working on and and. This phase it may take years to see change. Um  |  but definitely making sure that I'm I'm helping that bowl that ball roll a little bit up the hill um  |  but you know I'm not putting any pressure on myself. Maybe. Little over 60 days into the sabbatical and I promise myself I'm not putting too much pressure on myself to feel like I have to figure out what's next today and that's the beauty of it of having that freedom of kind of being present and living and the now instead of you know thinking about you know three months from now six months from now.
 | 42:18.12 audraagen Like I said you've given yourself space to create and not just produce which is very very different in those 2 things is producing is just mechanically producing a product creative is having a blank slate and having the ability.
 | 42:23.94 Katanya Smith Right.  |   | 
 | 42:37.66 audraagen And the freedom to do anything and that that's both it. Yeah  |  it's both exciting and terrifying all the same time I know well I want to give you a moment to have an uninterrupted. Um.
 | 42:40.19 Katanya Smith Um  |  absolutely absolutely I'm excited. Um.  | 
 | 42:56.16 audraagen But with the audience because what you have shared with us is so amazing and so vulnerable and I'm so grateful for you being here but I want to give you space to speak directly to the audience and leave just a ah ah final thought with them.
 | 43:10.81 Katanya Smith Yeah  |  so I think I would end with 2 things 1 you know Aja I talked to you about this and you know it was really important to me for any women who are thinking about going into the financial services feel that we're both in that you know they don't hear. Um  |  they don't hear these stories or my story and think I don't know is that what I want to do and again I just I've worked for a lot of different companies. You know I've been promoted a bunch of different times. Um  |  I've had doors open for me and I've overall had an amazing experience. So I always want to encourage women that this is an absolute great place for you and I would like to see more of us at the table and I think that's a really important message to leave and that when. I talk about these things that I'm talking about them as really rare anomalies over a multi-decade long career and I want people to kind of understand that because I do want to see more women I want to see more people of color when I walk in a room I don't want to be. 1 of few are one of only anymore. So certainly encourage. Um  |  anyone to any underrepresented group to find who's interested in the financial services industry to go that way and also if you're in a position.
 | 44:43.87 Katanya Smith Where you feel like you're not in a safe work environment and you're telling yourself that those tears that you're crying at night is because you're not strong enough and you're telling yourself that your strength is measured by how much abuse that you can take It's not. And what you're feeling is real because work related trauma is still trauma and you know you absolutely have to give yourself you have to acknowledge that so that you can heal and so that you can move on and embrace wherever you are. For all the beauty that it has and not allow your experience to be colored by you know 1 or 2 bad experiences. But what you're feeling is is absolutely real It's not your fault and you know certainly you know. You can inbox me and I'll definitely talk to you about it and provide help provide any resources that you know I have at my disposal.
 | 45:49.30 audraagen Well thank you for that that is that is an amazing and impactful statement to leave with everybody that they're not alone and it's not them and what they're feeling is real and thank you for being generous with.
 | 46:00.90 Katanya Smith Right.  |   | 
 | 46:07.77 audraagen Allowing people to send you direct messages I don't know how many you will get and but but I I assure you that you will all very much appreciate her advocacy and her thoughtfulness and her warm personality and and she just is so giving. And the fact that she's taking her time that is her time to heal and giving back to make change is a true gift and I Thank you for doing that.
 | 46:38.28 Katanya Smith Thank you? No Thank you? Thank you for having me again. Thank you for this conversation. You know I told you this before but anytime I get to talk To. You is a pleasure. So. Thank you for your time. Thank you again for this podcast and for amplifying female voices. It's so Important. So I appreciate it.
 | 46:58.87 audraagen Thank you for saying that and it's it's one of those things just like you I am compelled to do it. There is no  |  there is no um agenda with it. There is no absolutely no reason other than I feel like I have to and.
 | 47:11.29 Katanya Smith You know.  |   | 
 | 47:15.96 audraagen I Know that that's the same for you  |  You feel like you have to and this is the way you show up for the world.
 | 47:20.50 Katanya Smith Right? right? And you tell me that you did it because you're a mad and I hope you stay mad because that means that that means that you are not complacent. You know there's nothing wrong with with anger so stay mad because that's a reminder that there's something wrong. So I.
 | 47:25.10 audraagen Yes.  |   |   | 
 | 47:39.77 Katanya Smith I Definitely would love to see you stay mad in a good way.
 | 47:41.54 audraagen What yes I take that I take the anger and I turn it into something constructive and positive and put it out in the world because I want to see things change as do you? That's why we got we get mad and we do something different to help change it.
 | 47:52.76 Katanya Smith Right. Absolutely absolutely.
 | 48:00.88 audraagen Well thank you again for being here. Thank you for your advocacy. Thank you for your work and just thank you for now being part of the tribe I am very I am very honored to be part of your your goddess. What is it Goddess group.
 | 48:17.90 Katanya Smith My God is gang. It's ah actually a song by by a rapper but she calls it Her God is gang and I I love the way that that sounds I I adopted it and appropriated it from her I.
 | 48:27.66 audraagen Well I will I will take it I like being part of any sort of goddess gang. So I'll take it. But thank you again for being here and I want to thank the audience for being here reach out to Catania If you have any questions and we'll see again next time and we let me hit pause.
 | 48:34.84 Katanya Smith Um.  |   |