Menu

About

Blog

Transcript #57: The Feminist Identity with Mary Bloom of Snap Inc. and Anna Bloom of Airbnb Plus

Caneel AllowedPodcast Logo Black

Episode #57: The Feminist Identity with Mary Bloom of Snap Inc. and Anna Bloom of Airbnb Plus

Caneel Joyce:

You used to think that gender was a simple thing. For most of us, we simply were born into one, and for others, we have questioned and identified and discovered for ourselves what that’s going to look like. Whatever your gender is, gender does play a very important role in shaping what your life looks like. This is undeniable.

And in this post #metoo era, it is often an uncomfortable topic to discuss. Today we’re going to be focusing on what it’s like to be a leader as a woman. How women can support and empower each other, and some of the sometimes traumatic things that women face in the world. I have back on the show today Mary and Anna Bloom who are here to share some personal stories and some excellent advice for men and women alike around what it’s like to be a powerful woman.

You are allowed to be a woman. You are allowed to be a powerful woman. You are allowed to have unique and distinct needs that you can only address by gathering with other women. And men, you are allowed to be a feminist. Welcome to Allowed. Let’s start the show.

Before I begin the conversation today, I’d like to celebrate one of our listeners who sat down and took the time to write about the impact that listening to Allowed has had on her. When I received this email I was so touched and encouraged and I happened to be in the kitchen getting some spaghetti and meatballs ready and I’d had a long day and we’d just gotten a new puppy and it was really chaotic, and so seeing this email come through… I guess I must have been sneaking, looking at emails on my phone.

Seeing this email come through really reminded me that the work that my team and I are doing here does matter to you and it means a lot. So I want to share with you what she said. Financial Badass writes me, “I just finished your podcast on gratitude and entitlement.” This is podcast number three for those who haven’t listened. “And, I am as the kids say, shook, in the best possible way of course.

So much of what you and Heather were describing about life and motherhood and how entitlement can taint your perspective felt so relevant and relatable. Your story about a colicky baby Soren really resonated with me. I had a similar little trauma with Lucy, and after listening to this episode I feel inspired to look back at what was a really troubling time for me to find gratitude. Love your podcast and look forward to each episode.”

Well, that I can even touch one woman to heal any kind of wounds around their own motherhood is the greatest gift that I could ever receive. Thank you so much Financial Badass, you truly are a badass and I’m so happy to hear that there is a woman like you leading out there in the world of finances, and such a connected mother, and for taking the time to reach out. One of the ways that you can lock in the learnings and growth that you’re experiencing on your journey is by sharing and being witnessed. So I really encourage you, do take the time, do take the extra 30 seconds or one minute it might take for you to summarize some insight, some shift, some growth in your life that is happening and share it in a supportive space, and we have that space in our Facebook group for the Allowed podcast.

You can find a link to that group at caneel.com/podcast. You can also leave a note in the reviews, and all of that is helping you to be witnessed as one who is daring to grow. You are allowed to be seen. Please share your stories.

Today in the studio we have brought back Anna and Mary Bloom who you have met in previous episodes. They were on episode five, and they’re back today to tell us about what it means to be a feminist and how this concept has evolved over the course of their lives. The ways that they have been leaders in very feminine ways. Motherhood as an identity shift. Ways you can support yourself as a woman, and I think that you’re going to find the way that they show up in their organizations as women to be just profoundly inspiring whether you’re a man, a woman, or any other gender, and they’re here to share with us some of their wisdom. A lot of this does relate to the initial episode that they were on, where we were talking about the importance of being in groups and how that helps us in growing. So if you found that episode interesting, I know you’re going to love this one. Thank you, Mary, thank you, Anna for being here.

Anna Bloom:

Thank you for having us Caneel.

Caneel Joyce:

Its so great to see you back.

Mary Bloom:

Its great to be back.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah so would you please introduce yourselves and let our audience know a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Anna Bloom:

Sure. Okay I’ll go first. I’m Anna Bloom. I am the older sister by four and a half years of Mary Bloom…

Caneel Joyce:

Is that what your LinkedIn says?

Anna Bloom:

Yes. It would.

Mary Bloom:

Is that an important title?

Anna Bloom:

Very important to me. So I work Airbnb. I’m the head of content strategy for Airbnb Plus, which is a selection of homes verified for quality and design on Airbnb.

Caneel Joyce:

Oh so these are the really beautiful, higher end homes?

Anna Bloom:

Yes. Not as high end as the luxe homes.

Caneel Joyce:

Okay.

Anna Bloom:

They’re like the middle tier…

Caneel Joyce:

So they’re a little bit more approachable. Well designed.

Anna Bloom:

But they are some of the most awesome homes on Airbnb and maybe in the world on Airbnb Plus.

Caneel Joyce:

I’ll have to check that out. So you do content strategy?

Anna Bloom:

Yes. Content Strategy.

Caneel Joyce:

Cool. Mary?

Mary Bloom:

I’m Mary Bloom. I am the younger sister of Anna Bloom, and also a product manager at Snap. I run our commerce and travel solutions.

Caneel Joyce:

Amazing. Tell me a bit about each of you. Where were you before you current career? And talk a bit about your education, some cool things that you’ve done.

Anna Bloom:

Cool things. Where to start.

Caneel Joyce:

Where to start.

Anna Bloom:

Okay I think I want to start with the fact that I wanted to be a ski bum after I graduated college, ended up hating the service industry and wound up working for the local newspaper in Park City, Utah-

Caneel Joyce:

Oh.

Anna Bloom:

-And there really got very interested in being in an innovator if you can believe that. I really wanted to tell stories in a new way with the internet. Ended up working late night… coding a little bit. Not too much, but launching the newspaper’s first video and interactive sideshow and from there I ended up applying to UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism…

Caneel Joyce:

Oh one of the best.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah. Learning a lot about documentary film, a little more about coding and interactive story-telling. While there I worked for the New York Times for a year, helping to launch their Bay Area blog and thought I was going to, once I graduated, go back to the newsroom, but wound up at YouTube working on an innovative news initiative and really falling in love with the speed at which tech went versus the pace at which the newsrooms were willing to change.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah, pretty different.

Anna Bloom:

And the job I wanted was not a job that a newsroom was going to give me. I was going to have to continue moonlighting or trying crazy things, and tech was just so open to the way people actually engage with information and I wanted to be a part of that, so after that I ended up applying and getting a fellowship with Code for America, which was all about working with city IT departments to create new and innovative apps for citizens, and then wound up after Code for America, after working with the city government IT departments of Philadelphia and Seattle, wound up working at a digital agency, and that is when I first called myself a content strategist.

Caneel Joyce:

Ah. What does a content strategist do?

Mary Bloom:

It’s a very big title.

Anna Bloom:

Well its content and strategy Caneel. So it’s basically… what I tend to say is we are responsible for the words and the messaging and it sort of doesn’t matter the medium. We shape the narrative within any given digital flow, and we worry about what things are called. We worry about the button text. We worry about consistency. We worry about the system, and its something that may not be visible to most people, but it is something that is essential for you to understand with clarity and ease how to move through a flow. How to add something to your shopping cart.

Caneel Joyce:

Mm-hmm.

Anna Bloom:

Why should I even try this thing? It’s essentially overseeing end-to-end, all of the content, all of the words, all of the messaging within a website, within an app.

Caneel Joyce:

So the choice of what are we going to call this feature has really shaped how we think about that platform, and it shapes the mindset and almost the culture on a platform.

Anna Bloom:

Totally. That plus the one-liner. The value proposition. So when I describe Airbnb Plus, and I say, “A selection of homes verified for quality and comfort”, we sweated so much of how to reduce what we were trying to offer into a single sentence, and that is… in effect the less room you have… It’s sort of like poetry. I think of it a lot like poetry. Actually my job is a lot about trying to reduce, reduce, reduce, to get to the essence in any given moment of what you need to know. So that’s-

Caneel Joyce:

Mm-hmm. I want to hire you.

Anna Bloom:

Okay.

Anna Bloom:

I think that it’s not something that had been a specialized job, and certainly not when I started out.

Caneel Joyce:

It’s so important.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah it is. I joined a 13 person content strategy team at Facebook, and now they have over 300 content strategists.

Caneel Joyce:

Wow.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah. It’s crazy. People are waking up and tuning into the fact that you do need writers. People who understand how to write well and how to write concisely and to mind all of those details.

Mary Bloom:

Content is everything for those… Content creation when you need to-

Anna Bloom:

Just content.

Mary Bloom:

It is just content so you need sheriff’s for that content.

Anna Bloom:

Sheriffs. Yeah sometimes we are kind of like the word police. Like, “You can’t say that, that’s not the word we use.”

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah.

Anna Bloom:

The problem is if you use one word and one moment in a system, and another word… So let’s say you call, for Airbnb, you call something a home, and then you call it a listing. You can imagine how-

Caneel Joyce:

That’s so different.

Anna Bloom:

Well so you’re trying to navigate a flow. Do I want a home or do I want a listing? Maybe listing or accommodation. What am I getting? So we think a lot about that. Actually a big thing now for Airbnb is thinking about do we call homes, homes anymore now that we have hotels? Now that we have vacation rentals? We have a number of different offerings, so that’s something that actually a content strategist-

Caneel Joyce:

Is it a dwelling?

Anna Bloom:

And then with accommodations we think about, oh is that our voice, because we’re about being friendly, and that feels very formal.

Caneel Joyce:

So it’s really how do we communicate the essence of what we value here through every choice of every word?

Anna Bloom:

Yeah.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah. I think about this a ton, when I work with leaders on… I help a lot of leaders with making speeches and their communication style and one of the big things we do at first is we just get them really used to speaking without using the words “Mean to”, “have to”, “must”, “should”, because those are words grounded in victim-hood so if you’re telling your team, “We really should do xyz”, you’re in villain mode. You’re presuming that they’re doing something wrong and it comes through very subtly that way, so I think word choice is extremely important. Well that’s cool. And I know you’ve also done some also incredible other projects that I want to dig into later that are completely extra-curricular. You know. To call them side hustles is a major understatement. It’s like a side marathon. Every time I talk to you there’s a new one that has just happened and you’re like, “Oh well yeah I just published a book.” No big deal.

Anna Bloom:

We’re working on focus. Just so you know.

Caneel Joyce:

Well, focus can look a lot of different ways. Yeah so, I’m excited to dig into that. Thank you for sharing what you do.

Caneel Joyce:

Mary, tell us a bit about you. Tell us how you got into your career and where you came from.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah sure. Well I sort of got into my career a little bit by following my older sister to California initially. I moved there after graduating, to the Bay Area, and got an internship through a friend from Study Abroad, at a tech company that was building apps on top of Facebook. I didn’t think I was going to be in tech. It wasn’t on my mind. I think Facebook was just starting at that point. It was kind of the first… The first hype bubble had popped. It was second the bubble, or hopefully not bubble that was starting.

Caneel Joyce:

And which company was this?

Mary Bloom:

This was at a company called Peanut Labs.

Caneel Joyce:

Peanut Labs.

Mary Bloom:

Exactly as it sounded. A really fun scrappy start up trying all sorts of different things. I think we tried to do a Groupon clone at one point. Anyways I had so much fun just being there, being in the mix, being in sort of a… having a whole remit, or having a whole area of the business. You know at 22 this was sort of unheard of especially like all of my other friends who kind of took a more traditional paths. I just ended up having so much fun that I ended up staying in the Bay Area, joining another company called Tapjoy that was really starting thinking about mobile advertising in a very serious way-

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah they’re big.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah, and that lead me to getting an opportunity with Scopely who was a client of ours-

Caneel Joyce:

Scopely. Woohoo.

Mary Bloom:

Which is how I met Caneel. Yeah, A really truly amazing company down here in LA. Moved down to run their developer relations, as their director of developer partnerships, spent a couple of years with Scopely having a lot of fun there too being… At a really interesting time where entertainment and technology were really coming together. Again, kind of before Netflix really took off and before Amazon took off, I think Scopely really is one of the pioneers of bringing entertainment and technology together in a really serious way.

Caneel Joyce:

For those who don’t know, Scopely happens to be where my husband still works and how I… Yeah I met Mary through my husband. He said, “You must meet Mary.”

Mary Bloom:

Awesome. Caneel’s husband. Yeah.

Caneel Joyce:

He is. It’s a gaming company. It’s a mobile gaming company.

Mary Bloom:

Yes, it’s a mobile gaming company and really thinking through mobile gaming as sort of the next frontier of entertainment or mobile entertainment, so at least when I was there a few years ago, and I think this is probably still true, is thinking about mobile gaming as a new medium to experience entertainment and interact and more than what you think of necessarily just gaming in your mind, so really doing some amazing work there.

Caneel Joyce:

Games are… There’s so much of the top creative talent is in games right now, and it really is the new frontier. What are some of the big games that Scopely has come out with? Just-

Mary Bloom:

Yeah sure, so Walking Dead which is a massive one, Yahtzee, are some of the bigger hits that they have-

Caneel Joyce:

The Star Trek game.

Mary Bloom:

The Star Trek game-

Caneel Joyce:

Which is beautiful.

Mary Bloom:

Gorgeous, and I think thinking about game production in such a serious way, looking for top developer talent, working really closely with the IP and licenser’s and I think that was a big reason they were in LA too which is so powerful just to be down the street from Sony and all of these studios.

Caneel Joyce:

They’ve grown very quickly.

Mary Bloom:

Yes. They’re doing really well.

Caneel Joyce:

And then you were on to Snap. What’s the connection between what you were doing there, developer relations, and what you’re doing now? It seems like a pretty big evolution.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah it was. I think the reason I joined, or the move to Snap, was right before they IPO’d, so they were looking for a revenue strategy, and actually the way they approached that was at first through partnerships, so my background in advertising and partnerships at Scopely, really lended itself well to the early days of monetizing at Snapchat, so what we did was we built out an API that third parties could build on top of, could build different buying solutions on top of that advertisers could then plug through, and that was really the impetus for the programmatic buying and self serve buying and sort of scaling of their revenue so-

Caneel Joyce:

Which was huge for them.

Mary Bloom:

Huge yeah, so that was also again a really fun time too right before they IPO’d, figuring out their whole revenue strategy, making sure that we were able to scale quickly, build the right solutions, bring on the right partners and at the beginning, the platform we were building for Snapchat, everyone was saying, “Is this really going to take off? Are they really going to make money?” And now in the past earning statements, we’re really scaling that revenue up on track to do a two billion dollar run rate, so it was really an awesome opportunity and excited to be a part of it over the past few years.

Caneel Joyce:

Very cool. It’s a big identity shift becoming anything new, and when we take on a new identity, I feel we also sometimes are dropping another one or we imagine that we’re dropping another one, like I have to be this thing or this thing. Even as simple as, I’m a product person, or I’m a marketing person. That feels like a big distinction when you’re in the middle of it. I’m series A person or I’m a series B person.

Anna Bloom:

I actually wanted to bring up. Mary has this moms group. One thing I wanted to note. I feel like I have done everything first, except become a mom, so that’s interesting because I wasn’t able to show… I wasn’t able to model or show… We weren’t able to talk about… Not that you needed that. I’m just saying that I wasn’t… We didn’t have that to share.

Caneel Joyce:

I want to hear a bit about your moms group-

Mary Bloom:

Oh yes.

Caneel Joyce:

And then I have a topic I’m excited about.

Anna Bloom:

The reason why I bring that up. Mary was telling me just this morning, it was news to me, that she… Mary you said that there’s an identity… You felt a little lost when you became a mom. That “Who am I?” And you talked about building a group of moms as a grounding thing for you, at a time when there was so much you didn’t know.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah there were these two groups that were so important in this first year of [inaudible 00:20:43] life and this first year of becoming a mom. It was this Conscious Leaders group, as well as I found this really awesome moms group at this place called the LOOM, which is this super radical birth education and fertility and period and postpartum community center that is actually in my neighborhood. I think the woman who runs it is Erica Christianson, but anyway it’s really this great space for parents, for people that want to become parents, for a lot of questions around identity as parents, fertility, sexuality, all of these topics and that’s where I found a lot of awesome moms to connect with in a physical community. I think when I was pregnant, and the first few days of becoming a mom, there’s a lot of online forums that don’t feel that supportive… feel more fearmongery or 2am google holes of, “this cry sounds like this”, but this was really a space where we entered and it was around… The first day all of our babies were crying and they were only a couple of months old and the facilitator spoke about, “I don’t see anything of concern here by the way. You guys are all doing it fine.”

Caneel Joyce:

What a wonderful thing to hear.

Mary Bloom:

It was just such a… I don’t know if you can relate but as a new mom you’re just like, “I’m doing it wrong. I don’t know what I’m doing here.” So that was just really nice and created this space-

Caneel Joyce:

Its unusual to hang out with someone who cries.

Mary Bloom:

Yes.

Caneel Joyce:

If you had an employee who was crying all day, you would be concerned.

Mary Bloom:

You’re kind of like, “I don’t know if I’m a good manager here.” So I think for me, to go back to this, to have groups like that was really important because I didn’t have family right there close by, and it was so important to have… and I think again this idea both in my mom’s support group at LOOM and then in the Conscious Leaders group with Caneel… also these physically touch zones, to come and be there. And what was so nice about both of them was it wasn’t this baby-free zone either. It was, bring your baby, don’t bring your baby. Whatever. It was this fluid like bring your whole self here, which has been just… and finding and connecting I think with the moms group, other women who were going through… who had full identities before becoming a mom. Who had full passions and ambitions and relationships and friendships and navigating that with a baby and with this new identity and connecting with them in that way. I felt like it was so important over this past year to have both of those. I felt very fed. Very supported and very well nourished through those communities. I remember thinking when joining the group as well, “Oh well, Caneel I’m going to be on maternity leave for the first few months. I’m not going to have good content to share. I’m just going to be being a mom.” [crosstalk 00:23:58]

Caneel Joyce:

It’s so amazing how we don’t think that mothers are leaders.

Mary Bloom:

Oh my gosh its ridiculous.

Caneel Joyce:

That’s the craziest thing in the world.

Mary Bloom:

I can’t believe… I’m embarrassed that at nine months pregnant, Mary was like, “Well I’m not going to be a leader, I’m going to be a mom.”

Caneel Joyce:

I felt the same way. It was massive. I’m a mom? I didn’t even feel comfortable saying that for a couple of years. I hadn’t settled in yet. I still associate it with mom jeans, which actually I’m wearing today, for those watching the video. I’m hiding my pants on purpose. Okay these are literally actually from my postpartum year.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah so I think that was something that was crazy, because so much of becoming a mom, I think also actually also allowed me to really touch base and pull out other personas and qualities that continue to make me be a good leader in my career in the public sphere as well the private sphere. I just remember really cool moments throughout the group being so supportive of, like I came the first time and [inaudible 00:25:06] was the first time like a few weeks old.

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah that was so awesome that you did that. You brought the baby.

Mary Bloom:

I brought the baby. I brought my husband and I breastfed upstairs and-

Caneel Joyce:

You can do that.

Mary Bloom:

You can do that and it was just this really cool allowance. I thought that was so radical that this group supported showing my motherhood, my femininity and still being a leader in that way and allowing myself to show up in that way right. Not just work Mary, but… And that this group of really powerful leaders and executives and co-founders still saw me by the way, as a powerful leader even as a mom. It wasn’t something that I had to hide or separate, which was so important to see modeled out there and allowed me, especially transitioning back into work after maternity leave to feel, even though it was [inaudible 00:26:01], but to feel that I could bring that self with me to work as well. I didn’t need to have shame or hiding around that, and I think that was definitely something so powerful with the Conscious Leader group.

Caneel Joyce:

You are allowed to be whole.

Mary Bloom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caneel Joyce:

I moved down to Southern California when I was super pregnant. I was probably five and a half months pregnant, but we were remodeling a really old house. It was very busy and with that I had little three year old, and I didn’t have a lot of ability to connect with other people and in my head I was still thinking to myself, if I go pregnant to a party, people aren’t going to think I’m cool. They’re not going to want to be friends with me. Which is sad, but then when I had the baby, I got really busy going to moms groups and trying different things and going to the… We have a really great… It’s a similar place here, called the Mother and Nurture center, which is nice because there are armchairs and you can sit there and breastfeed your baby and that usually is the only time that you can talk, because the rest of the time you’re really busy with taking care of the baby in other ways, so its nice to be sitting there while you’re breastfeeding and then be able to talk to other women who are in the same room. Nonetheless, I felt like I was so consumed in those groups, and the groups in general were consumed with talking about the baby, and I felt kind of left out. I felt like I could talk about my experience as a mother, I could talk about the baby, but no-one here really knows anything about my past, what I have done, what I care about that’s more than this, that’s different than this, and I noticed how the way that we treat women in society is we separate them based on these categories of, are you married or are you single? Do you have children, do you not? Is it a six month old or a six week old, or a one year old? And that systematically in our lives, we keep getting divorced from other women and we need… Actually it’s the continuity of what’s it like to move through the stages? That’s where we need the support of other women, so you need women who’ve been there, who have been on both sides, who know what the change is like. Not just who am I now, but what was I like before and what else do I care about? And that’s where I became obsessed with this idea of wholeness. I am a professional. I am a start up person. I am a prior academic. I am a mother. I used to live in San Francisco. That’s a big piece of my identity… I was like we’re not letting women congregate, because when you move to the suburbs out of the city and then like boom there goes your community. So there’s all these different ways that we get separated and then I created this group, The Trust, which is a women’s group around specifically, it’s not going to be all mothers. I want a couple of mothers, a couple of non-mothers, I want a couple of never want to be mothers, I want a couple who have older kids. I want it to be that we’re talking not about anything in particular, but that we’re gathering to be whole. When we come together as whole people, we become more whole. One thing that I’ve covered with both of you, which you may not have shared with each other, is this concept of feminism as an identity, and I wonder, because we have confidentiality agreements as coaches, and so with each of you I have a confidentiality agreement, and so I don’t tell you what your sister told me and vice versa, but I thought it might be interesting if you guys want to dive into that topic.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah.

Anna Bloom:

Sure, Yeah. What do you have to say about being a feminist?

Mary Bloom:

Yeah I mean I’m still working through a lot of the learnings. I think that was also a huge theme in our coaching this past year. Feminism in general is a huge theme of probably our lives and our upbringing as well. I think its interesting you bring up the way you phrased it Caneel, is feminism as identity as well, because I do think at least for me, I think that’s a huge part of my identity. I think, I don’t know if you would agree with this Anna, but also what we saw modeled with us with our mom and the community that our family was surrounded with and our dad too, just as feminists and the stories of being a feminist. Mom creating a maternity leave at her law firm, being this shoulder pad wearing corporate rockstar in the 80s and 90s.

Caneel Joyce:

Awesome.

Mary Bloom:

Such a badass. But I think what’s interesting, going back to feminism as an identity, is some of the stuff that we worked on was… it’s so hard to even say, but if you think of feminism as helping other women, there’s a bit of a catch, which is women need help, which is women are victims, which is I am a victim and other women are victims. This came to a head for me in one of our group sessions where I was… Often I think within the Conscious Leader group too, which I think is so cool, is you think you’re stepping into and saying, “I have this issue that I want to talk about”, and you give it a name, and then you unpack layers of it and it’s like that wasn’t the issue at all. I think I claimed that I don’t feel like I’m being active enough in social justice movements at Snap-

Caneel Joyce:

Not a good enough feminist at work.

Mary Bloom:

I’m not a good enough feminist at work, let’s talk through that, and I think what was really revealed was this belief that I’m holding… That I didn’t know I was holding, that our women are victims. We are victims and we need helping, and that was so hard. It’s so hard to just say aloud. Is that what feminism is or means? We say feminism is… Okay that means men and women are equals, and that’s what we believe and fight for, but I also think of feminism as my identity as I need to help other women, and that’s-

Caneel Joyce:

Does it matter? Is that an okay thought? What’s the implication?

Mary Bloom:

Of women as victims?

Caneel Joyce:

Yeah.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah I guess its an okay thought. It just doesn’t sit well with me, because in my head women aren’t victims. Women are super heroes, are amazing or at least as equal as men, or we’re all humans.

Caneel Joyce:

What was keeping you away from getting more engaged at work right now, because I know you have been? You were on the board of the Women in Wireless group, which is a really massive group of women in tech here in LA, and [inaudible 00:33:37]. You certainly are committed in my view to empowering and supporting women, and in this season, for some reason, you’re spending your time in other ways. Can you-?

Mary Bloom:

I was angry at myself when I came back to work after maternity leave, that I wasn’t more engaged in helping gender and inclusivity issues at Snap. Why wasn’t I participating more? Why wasn’t I helping more? Why wasn’t I creating a group there or participating more in the group? There was a lot of shame around that and I was angry at that self, and I think it’s because I was wanting to come home and spend time with my baby and there is something… Even just saying that out loud right now here feels very true but also at a conflict in some ways with this identity or person I want to be. I want to be able to prioritize that as well as being home and being with my baby, or there’s shame in that.

Caneel Joyce:

Instead of seeing it as a feminist act. A powerful feminist act. I’m going to go home and be with my baby.

Mary Bloom:

And that’s crazy right?

Caneel Joyce:

But its so programmed.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah its so programmed, and I think the other thing that was again so powerful in learning from the Conscious Leaders group, was that’s okay and that’s powerful and actually I think that was coming from both men and women alike which was really cool, which is why aren’t mothers seen as leaders or as radical, or why isn’t that time as prioritized? That is so important to the world, and I think there is also this idea, of what does it mean to be… I think there is group work in helping the feminist cause, but there is also something that Caneel talks a lot about, which is being the field, being the plane of that change or of that work, or of that vision, and influencing and creating that through modeling, which was another thing that came up in the Conscious Leader group. I’m still sort of… Those are pretty raw concepts-

Caneel Joyce:

They’re big ones yeah.

Mary Bloom:

-That I’m still grappling with.

Caneel Joyce:

And there’s not a young mother that I’ve coached that that topic hasn’t come up. In a very similar way. As it did with me, by the way. When I found out that I was committed to seeing women as victims, and that I was so committed to it, I was insistent upon it, and how disempowering that actually is. I was just floored. I was floored. And I realized this was not a service. Its not aligned with what I want.

Caneel Joyce:

How has your identity as a feminist evolved?

Anna Bloom:

Its evolved and its stayed constant as well. The first community I helped create was a little girls group in middle school. It was a little feminists group called Towanda.

Mary Bloom:

Whoo.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah so its like 12 year olds getting together in a classroom with the science teacher.

Mary Bloom:

Wait Anna you have to say Towanda the way you say it. Towanda.

Anna Bloom:

Towanda. Its from Fried Green Tomatoes. Watch the movie.

Anna Bloom:

So anyway that was I think very formative for me and it was talk about a time of change. We talked about the changed formula, and its like, when you are 12 so much is happening. So much change. To have that group… We would do sleepovers, we would talk all the time, I think was very important at that stage of my life.

Caneel Joyce:

It was organized around feminism?

Anna Bloom:

Well yeah it was which was crazy because in the 90s there was this whole backlash. At that time, it’s 1994, and it was not cool to call yourself a feminist. Now its so cool. Little girls where these t-shirts that say the future is female and everything and it was-

Caneel Joyce:

Its finally cool again.

Anna Bloom:

It’s finally cool again. I think it all came about because of a lot of different things. One of them being that we all… I was thinking about this before I came here. There was this book that came out that was called Schoolgirls, which we all read. It was by Peggy Orenstein, and it was talking about the confidence gap in girls in eighth grade. It followed two girls. A reporter did it and leveraged a lot of studies at that time that were coming out around leaving girls behind or are girls not performing as well as boys? So things like, in the classroom, girls were timid to shout the answer, even though they knew it. All that stuff. And so we were reading that in middle school-

Caneel Joyce:

As part of Towanda?

Anna Bloom:

No I think it all came together… It’s not clear in my mind, but ultimately we ended up forming this group. I think it was about 10 or 14 girls and it actually gave me the confidence to write a little column in the newspaper… In the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune had a kids section, and I wrote a column-

Mary Bloom:

I didn’t know this.

Caneel Joyce:

Wow. See she’s constantly dropping these things. Oh this is a little-

Mary Bloom:

Always.

Caneel Joyce:

A little side hustle. [crosstalk 00:39:39]

Anna Bloom:

So what happened. There were a lot of things that happened at my little school, private school. One of them… Suddenly you’re in fifth grade or sixth grade, and nobody is treating you any differently like a girl, and then in gym class there was this thing that happened which was, all of the gym teachers started telling the boys every third pass needed to be to a girl.

Caneel Joyce:

Ugh.

Anna Bloom:

So I… Up until that point, nobody questioned anybody’s potential or differences in potential, and I remember saying… I’m very much an athlete. I knew I was the second fastest kid in my grade because there was a little boy who would beat me. His name was Deepak. It meant a lot to me that suddenly I wasn’t going to be competing with the boys anymore at that same level, and so I wrote this column saying what I wanted, which is basically… And this is something that came out of that group, is that I didn’t want special treatment. We didn’t want… The woman of Towanda didn’t want special treatment. We wanted to be treated the same and so that was the column, but I think that really gave me a sense that there was power in coming together as women in a group. I think that gave me a lot of confidence, and protection at a time when my body’s changing, everything’s changing.

Caneel Joyce:

Protection.

Anna Bloom:

Do you like boys? Who are you going to be? Yeah I think protection is part of it. So safety. And safety in knowing… I felt like we were all discovering things together as girls and deciding together that we were going to be open. I think that we did talk about, are we gay or are we straight?

Caneel Joyce:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s awesome.

Anna Bloom:

We did. People were questioning that. I think we talked about that. Do I like boys at all?

Caneel Joyce:

Amazing.

Anna Bloom:

Which was really cool.

Caneel Joyce:

Oh how incredible would it be if everybody had a group like that?

Anna Bloom:

A lot of people think middle school is the worst, and middle school is like the best for me.

Caneel Joyce:

Geez.

Mary Bloom:

That’s so cool.

Anna Bloom:

Weird.

Caneel Joyce:

I was bullied in middle school, and I would have loved to have a group like that. Girls that you can count on.

Anna Bloom:

Yes.

Caneel Joyce:

Girls that you can count on.

Mary Bloom:

We’d like to offer you membership. Delayed membership to Towanda.

Caneel Joyce:

I get to be in Towanda.

Mary Bloom:

We’ll accept.

Anna Bloom:

Totally. You’re in Towanda.

Anna Bloom:

And then later on actually the group kind of stayed alive.

Mary Bloom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Anna Bloom:

It did stay alive.

Mary Bloom:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caneel Joyce:

Mary were you in Towanda?

Anna Bloom:

There was a science teacher that kept it alive.

Caneel Joyce:

Oh.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah seventh grade science teacher.

Mary Bloom:

I took it on and Anna I remember was in high school and came back as a guest speaker at Towanda when I was in middle school, telling us to continue the good work and [crosstalk 00:42:58]

Anna Bloom:

Continue to support each other.

Anna Bloom:

My message was it’s okay to call yourself a feminist.

Caneel Joyce:

That’s rad.

Mary Bloom:

I think that is such a turning point and it was important to have that group and then also of course having that modeling for me through you and mom, of just continuing to… We were talking about this Anna on our way over here, is to continue to let your voices be heard. Continue to keep contributing and speaking and sharing, and I think that constant, and that message is constant, has been hugely helpful in just living really full life and living a life where we don’t or try not to feel like victims or lesser than.

Anna Bloom:

I think what’s interesting is… That group was so important to me and now… If you go back to that story I was telling you about, every third pass to a girl. Suddenly the world sees a cap or a limit to your potential. I think I’m still hunting for a way to make it equal for everyone to thrive and to varying degrees I’ve made different strides at trying to help make that field more equal, and I’ve realized certain things do work, don’t work, neutral, whatever, but I think that in terms of my identity as a feminist… I remember really looking up that definition of the word when I started using it and really wanting it not to anti-boy and wanting people to see it that way.

Caneel Joyce:

Men can be feminists.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah.

Caneel Joyce:

There are some great feminists. Including my husband.

Anna Bloom:

My dad.

Anna Bloom:

I think the thing that has been a struggle for me is the heroing piece.

Caneel Joyce:

What do you mean by heroing for our audience?

Anna Bloom:

Okay. Heroing is a concept that Caneel taught me through teaching this around Conscious Leadership, where you can enter a drama triangle. A drama triangle is a place where people are either heroes, they are victims or they are villains, and what that does is it keeps you in the drama, it keeps you… You can correct me please-[crosstalk 00:45:46]. It keeps you in the fray. You can’t get out of it and have perspective. You’re not going to be open to new ideas, and you’re committed to being right, and what happens when your hero is… You are trying to… My understanding is you are trying to get rid of the pain.

Caneel Joyce:

Temporarily [crosstalk 00:46:13].

Anna Bloom:

Yeah let’s fix it, and it will be all better, and I think the fallacy also is that you can’t fix anything or hero anything or anyone, and that what happens to me with the feminist identity is you know… Put on my cape, and when you do that you are allowing for feelings to be felt.

Caneel Joyce:

[crosstalk 00:46:55]’

Anna Bloom:

Feeling good and feeling bad and all that and that has backfired mainly at me, because I’ll get upset if things haven’t been fixed, so there’s no… I think that has been hard, and sometimes it’s not off the top, a problem I can solve on my own. I think that’s there is culture. There is something systemic.

Caneel Joyce:

There are things in your control and things out of your control.

Anna Bloom:

Its like I’m not seeing the bigger picture or understanding that there are other factors at play and so that can end up in a lot of hurt for me, because why am I not good enough to fix this? Why am I not succeeding?

Caneel Joyce:

You take on a lot.

Anna Bloom:

I take on… End up taking on the world when… Yeah.

Mary Bloom:

And I also think there is this thing with heroing that you brought up that’s true too Anna, which is not only are you taking on something that’s outside of your control, but you’re also potentially again, treating women as victims, as not creators. That they need heroing, that they need rescuing-

Anna Bloom:

They need a hero-

Mary Bloom:

Whereas again-

Anna Bloom:

If we’re feminists-

Caneel Joyce:

We need to pass the ball to the women.

Mary Bloom:

Yes.

Caneel Joyce:

That’s Heroing.

Mary Bloom:

Yes. Correct.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah.

Caneel Joyce:

Which isn’t to say that it’s a bad rule either. You can see the wisdom in it. It’s more like how its received… The messages that it sends. Back to content strategy… What is the message that this sends? How is this going to be interpreted? One of things… I love the work you’re doing at Airbnb right now. I would love you to talk about that with women. I love the cleanness and neutrality of it, that its really letting women be heard without controlling. Can you please tell us about that?

Caneel Joyce:

I think this is actually really valuable for anyone who is trying to get something going.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah I think… Within the business unit of Plus, I’ve helped to bring together 70 to 90 women, and we began actually with listening sessions and trying to understand how women were feeling on the team, and we did it by function, so engineering had the discussion. Content strategy had a discussion. One with design and legal et cetera.

Caneel Joyce:

What is a listening session?

Anna Bloom:

We created a guide where we asked women how they were feeling, what kinds of issues they were facing but also what are the types of things that they had learned at other companies that they would want to bring to the team around inclusivity and belonging and out of that came some themes, and the strongest theme by far was women not feeling truly heard, and we have addressed that on the team in different ways, but what was magic, was when we came together to have something we called the ladies lightening talks, which was a brainchild of a data scientist on the team, who had seen that done at another conference and she wanted to bring it. We actually took a page out of PechaKucha which is the 20 slides, five minutes or something like that. It’s five to seven minutes. And we asked women to, in the company of women, have a chance to say something… Anything. We kept it really loose. It was so cool. We had 10 talks and they ranged from, how does Venmo make money? To imposter syndrome… Which is really… Actually I want that woman to make a blog post and share it because it will go viral. It’s beautiful. So what was interesting is we had some trouble getting women to sign up, but then once we started talking about the women who had signed up, more and more joined and then-

Caneel Joyce:

Ah social proof. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Anna Bloom:

This couple of people who were definitely not into public speaking, threw their hat in the ring and one of the women, an engineer, talked about her solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, and yeah and out of all the things we have done in the last couple of years as a group, this was… There was something about this that was so moving and important for everybody and we’re going to do it again and [crosstalk 00:51:56], but it was very simple.

Caneel Joyce:

So simple. Just show up and be heard.

Anna Bloom:

Yes.

Mary Bloom:

And be seen.

Anna Bloom:

And be seen. Be heard. And I think, back to the group stuff. I do think it was important that it was women. I think that it was important in the sense that there was a safety in that, but then also there was an importance to the fact that it could be anything. It was anything you would like to say, and a chance to simply give it a try, even if you weren’t into public speaking and yeah it was really cool.

Caneel Joyce:

And the only goal was just being seen and heard. It wasn’t to get a promotion or teach anybody anything that they really needed to know to get the job done. Yeah very free. What an act of service.

Anna Bloom:

Yeah that was very cool.

Caneel Joyce:

Powerful.

Caneel Joyce:

Well Anna and Mary thank you so much for being here today, and I have learned a lot about each of you. Every time I’m with you I learn more about you.

Anna Bloom:

It is so fun and I just really appreciate your insights in bringing some of this out of us, because I’ve learned things about Mary that I didn’t know.

Mary Bloom:

Yeah same I thought I knew you so well.

Caneel Joyce:

And thank you listeners for dedicating this time and space to yourself, to your self exploration, self discovery and your personal growth. It is of service. If you enjoyed today’s episode and you’d like to get even further into the community that we have forming around the Allowed podcasts, please join us at the Facebook group for Allowed, and you can find a link to that at caneel.com/podcast. That’s where you can also find show notes with th links to all of the resources and inspiring content and work that Mary and Anna and I have discussed today, so I will meet you here next week again. As you go through your journey, please go to our Facebook group and share the things that you are learning about yourself. It is so amazing to be witnessed in your growth and you truly won’t believe how it impacts you simply to be seen and heard as one who is daring to grow. See you next week.

 

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This