23 Jun

Words on Words


This month I’ve been reflecting on the importance of language. We rely so heavily on words – they’re the building blocks of everything. And yet there’s so much potential for miscommunication based on the different connotations we all have with certain words. Language can determine whether an environment is exclusive or welcoming, uncomfortable or respectful, volatile or productive. And, since our speech is so ingrained and habitual, it’s also a clear revealer of our unconscious biases.

Our team recently had a discussion about the kind of language that bothers us as female professionals. Much of what came up was what this article (a great resource!) refers to as “benevolent sexism.” These are words, such as terms of endearment, that “may seem polite or harmless, but […] undermine authority and impact perceptions about women’s competence.” As a team of all women, we often get called “girls,” and terms like “sweetie” are pretty commonplace.

I find this language belittling, particularly from men I don’t have a personal relationship with. And while it’s not (usually) intended this way, intent is not the same as impact. Gendered words that get used in the workplace don’t exist in a vacuum – they reinforce sexist attitudes and structural power imbalances that affect women’s livelihoods.

Another thing I’ve also noticed is the discrepancy between the words used to describe male and female leaders in our industry (similar to what’s described in this article). This may seem trivial, but when you think about how it correlates with the low percentage of women in the industry, particularly in leadership positions, it takes on a deeper significance.

Language is one of the easiest ways we can show respect, yet there is often a feeling of resistance when a person or group of people asks us to change the words we use. Some of you may have even felt resistant or defensive reading this post. Trust me, I get it! I feel the same way when I learn that words I use are causing harm.

Language feels like a difficult thing for all of us to change, but we really can re-train ourselves. It’s about having the humility to admit when we’re wrong, the vulnerability to ask, and the empathy to make the effort.

06 Jun

Adulting VII: Debt & Budgeting

Adulting with Liz (Round Two!)

We had such good feedback on the Managing your Money session last summer that we decided to bring back Financial Coach Liz Schieck from the New School of Finance. This time she discussed the dreaded “D” word: debt.

We discussed things like:

  • How to budget your money using 4 types of money categories
  • The questions to ask ourselves in determining why we have debt in the first place 
  •  How to sidestep debt in the future

As a bonus you’ll find photos from the event below


Dan & Rach’s Tips

Some good general tips to help with your debt right off the bat:

  1. Pay off your highest interest rate debt first (credit card etc)
  2. Ask your credit card company or bank about lowering your interest rates. Don’t forget you’re the customer. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. The worse they’ll do is say no, and then at least you asked.


Liz’s Adulting Advice

Before you can build a successful plan, you’ve got to unpack your debt, understand why you have it in the first place, and learn how to sidestep it in the future. Strategies and tips are ultimately useless until you deal with the emotional stuff, the root causes of your spending behaviour.

Most debt advice skips this crucial step. Many jump right into the super-exciting math parts, but there is so much that needs to happen before that in order to make sustainable permanent changes to your finances. 

If you don’t change your spending behaviour and if you don’t believe you can truly tackle your debt, you’ll never stop the Debt Loop.

First, deal with the emotional side of your debt, then do the math. This is crucial. It’s like having allergies. Instead of treating the symptoms—coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes—over and over, you have to figure out the root cause of the allergy and avoid it altogether. 

Spend some time unpacking how you think and feel about your money. Get to a place where you understand your Financial Tripwires and find motivation and strategies beyond the interest your debt is costing you. This is how to stop the Debt Loop. 

If you’d like to determine your personal Financial Tripwires and permanently break the Debt Loop, grab a copy of Shannon Lee Simmons’ book, Living Debt-Free, the No-Shame, No-Blame Guide to Getting Rid of Your Debt.


Event Photos