• Sarah E. Brown

The Lies We Have Been Told with Areva Martin


Do you often feel like you need to follow the standards and expectations set by other people in order to be successful?


Women have always been fed lies and expectations that are set by society, their workplace, or by men. Women should work harder, do this, and do that– these are the key principles that affect and limit women. To acknowledge and understand these lies is what will set you free to grow as a business leader and as a woman. The world will feed you toxic lies but it is up to you to recognize them and create solutions individually or collectively. To be a woman and to be a leader is already a power in your own unique way. Are you ready to share it with the world?


Areva Martin is an award-winning civil rights attorney, advocate, social issues commentator, talk shows host, and producer. A CNN legal analyst and Harvard Law School graduate, Martin founded Martin & Martin, LLP, a Los Angeles-based civil rights firm, and is the CEO of Butterfly Health, Inc., a mental health technology company. A best-selling author, Martin has dedicated her fourth book, Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We’ve Been Told, to helping women worldwide recognize, own, and assert their limitless power.


In this episode, Areva talks about why recognizing the lies is important in breaking the stigma and expectation set by society, our workplace, or even the people around us. She also shares some of the common lies and narratives that people expect from women and how recognizing them is a way of healing.



What you will learn from this episode:

  • Discover how recognizing and calling out the lies and issues is your step to awakening the leader in you

  • Learn why you should first understand the situation you are in to get the right solutions

  • Understand how healing and growth can come from this recognition



What I wanted women to do was to first acknowledge it, to open their eyes to it, and start that healing process. You start to, quite frankly, recognize that you are enough.
- Areva Martin


Valuable Free Resource:



Topics Covered:


01:45 - You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge: why it is important to first understand and recognize the lies before anything else


02:46 - Work harder, keep your head down, and accept more assignments are just some of the lies women have been told


03:37 - Recognition is the key step to starting the healing process and recognizing that you are more than enough


04:35 - Understanding the situation as individual women leaders or as a collective and coming together to create solutions: What you can do to overcome the closed door and welcome new changes


05:48 -Facing the lies and the stigma: How looks, color, and ethnicity do actually matter in the workplace and how these standards aren’t issues for men


07:20 - Ripping out the narrative and painting over it: How the predominant narrative of expecting women to do more drove Areva into writing her fourth book


08:31 - Acknowledging and changing the lies, expectations, and misconceptions that society have about women– not as a movement against men, but as a movement for change


10:08 - Q: One of the biggest lies that every woman at every stage in her career was told? A: You can't have it all, that you have to make a binary choice between having a career or having children. There's not a day that goes by that I don't talk to a woman who's either confronted that or feels as if that's a decision there in the midst of making right now in their careers.



Key Takeaways:


“Start to examine what lies they've been told in their own life and how those lies have shaped and impacted their careers and what they want to do differently.” - Areva Martin


“You can't really fix what you don't acknowledge.” - Areva Martin


“I wanted women to know that they are enough. And then in most cases, they are doing enough. And it's not what they are doing or not doing, it's that they're trying to lean into a closed door.” - Areva Martin


“We're not told is that so many decisions are made about how far you go in the workplace have nothing to do with how hard you work or your work ethic. It has more to do with relationships. It has to do with, oftentimes, unspoken things that are happening deals that are being cut in rooms where women often aren't included.” - Areva Martin


“It really is not a one-size-fits-all. You know, that's not how this works. This is about understanding the situation that we are all in as women, and then coming together to create solutions.” - Areva Martin


“I would hope that after someone reads this book is that they start to examine what lies they've been told in their own life and how those lives have shaped and impacted their careers and what they want to do differently.” - Areva Martin



Ways to Connect with Areva Martin



Ways to Connect with Sarah E. Brown



Full Episode Transcript:


Areva Martin 0:00

Start to examine what lies they've been told in their own life and how those lies have shaped and impacted their careers and what they want to do differently.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 0:17

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women, where we talk about challenges senior female leaders face in being happy and successful at work. I'm your host, Dr. Sarah E. Brown.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 0:36

Areva Martin is an award-winning civil rights attorney, advocate, social issues commentator, talk show host, and producer. A CNN legal analyst and Harvard Law School graduate, Martin founded Martin & Martin LLP, a Los Angeles-based civil rights firm, and is the CEO of Butterfly Health Inc, a mental health technology company. She's a best-selling author, and has dedicated her fourth book, which we're going to talk about today, Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and Lies We've Been Told, to helping women worldwide recognize, own, and assert their limitless power. Welcome, Areva. Thank you for being here.


Areva Martin 1:25

Thank you for having me.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 1:26

So you told us a little bit, and I reiterated that in my introduction, about why you wrote this book, to help women worldwide recognize, own, and assert their limitless power. Say something about why we need to understand these lies in order to do that?


Areva Martin 1:45

Well, because we've been fed so many lies, and I focus on five in my book. And obviously, that's not a comprehensive list. Any woman that sat down to think about what they've been told throughout their lives could probably come up with a much longer list, and you can't really fix what you don't acknowledge. So it was important to call out the lies so that we had a framework from which to start to address them. And quite frankly, so many of the leadership books that have been written for women gloss over what women have been told throughout their careers and immediately start talking about what women need to do to fix themselves. And I wanted to shift that paradigm and focus on the system. And I wanted women to know that they are enough. And then in most cases, they are doing enough. And it's not what they are doing or not doing, it's that they're trying to lean into a closed door.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 2:32

I love that analogy, leaning into a closed-door! So the point you're making is that you can't fix what you don't acknowledge. So give me and the listeners some samples of the lies that we need to acknowledge.


Areva Martin 2:46

Starting with hard work alone is sufficient. Women are told throughout their, you know, from the time they're little girls, teenagers and adults, to work hard, to keep your head down, do the work, be the first person on the job, the last person there, accept more assignments, take on more responsibility. We're not told is that so many decisions are made about how far you go in the workplace have nothing to do with how hard you work or your work ethic. It has more to do with relationships. It has to do with, oftentimes, unspoken things that are happening, deals that are being cut in rooms where women often aren't included. So this notion that hard work alone is sufficient is one of the biggest lies that women are told.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 3:25

It's certainly a lie I was told! I can remember being told that by my father from a very, very early age. So once I acknowledge that it is a lie, what do I do about it?


Areva Martin 3:37

Well, there's no one-size-fits-all for all women. It depends on the situation that you find yourself in, where you are in your career, and what you want to do about it. But what I wanted women to do was to first acknowledge it, to open their eyes to it, and start that healing process. Because for a lot of women, these lines have been quite traumatizing. I had a woman who wrote me that she couldn't get past chapter three of the book without weeping, thinking of how many careers she walked away from, how many great job opportunities because she believed there was something wrong with her. So for a lot of women, what you start to do immediately is start to heal. You start to, quite frankly, recognize that you are enough.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 4:17

And that in and of itself is very empowering. But when you're in a situation and a corporation and you are leaning against that closed door, as you talked about it, and there's something that you really want, you recognize you're enough but you're leaning against the closed door, then what?


Areva Martin 4:35

Well, again, it depends on the situation that you find yourself in. Where are you in your career? Have you been passed over for promotion based on your gender? Based on your age? Based on your race? Sometimes, it may involve filing a lawsuit. Other times, it involves making a complaint to your HR department. It may involve banding together with other women in the workplace. It really is not a one-size-fits-all. You know, that's not how this works. This is about understanding the situation that we are all in as women, and then coming together to create solutions. Again, there are some global things that we all can do like support legislation at the federal level, at the state level, that makes it easier for women to stay in the workplace like universal pre-K, like paid family leave, like the child tax credit. So those are some big picture, macro-level things that all women can be doing. But on the micro-level, women have to look at where they are and what their individual situation is.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 5:33

And I like the way you talk about addressing the situation at or addressing the problem at the macro level at the end of your book and banding together with other women. Give us another example of a lie that we've been told.


Areva Martin 5:48

That looks don't matter. We're often told that it doesn't matter what you look like. If you have the talent, if you have the skill and the experience, we know that's a huge lie because the beauty industry is one of the largest industries in this country. And women are judged on their looks! There are all kinds of studies that show that white women’s Eurocentric looks are the predominant standard in the workplace and that other women of color, are often told that they have to measure up to those standards. We know things like weight matters. Women are often told that they have to be a certain weight in order to advance in the workplace. Hair texture, hairstyle, skin tone, all of those things that shouldn't matter in the workplace, absolutely, positively do matter. So women spend most of their careers on this treadmill trying to live up to these ever-changing beauty standards, to make themselves spin into the workplace, to make themselves more attractive in the workplace, and to really advance their careers. And those aren't the same standards that men have to live up to. Men get a suit and a tie. And nowadays with business casual a pair of khakis and a shirt, and that's it. They don't have to worry about, you know, their hair, the color of their skin, the size of their girth. All those things are pretty non-issues for men.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 7:02

And it's very empowering to recognize, "This is a lie and that I'm okay the way I am". So Areva, you've had a very successful career yourself. You obviously overcame all of these lies yourself. What prompted you to want to write this book?


Areva Martin 7:20

I was always taught that to whom much is given much is expected. And I was quite, frankly, frustrated with the narrative. That was the predominant narrative in a lot of women's leadership books that came out in the early and mid-2000s. Books that told women that they needed to do more. And as we were going through the racial reckoning that this country experienced over the last 18 months or so, again, there seemed to be something missing from the conversation about systemic racism. And that was systemic gender bias. So it felt like a perfect opportunity to have this conversation, which for many can be an uncomfortable conversation. But for others, it's a quite empowering conversation. But while we were examining all the things that were holding people back in this country, it felt appropriate to also talk about women. So that was, in some ways, the impetus for it. But it really started before the civil unrest, as I looked at the leadership books that were available to most women and just had conversations with women who are trying to figure out what more could they do? What more could they do than feel frustrated?


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 8:26

What is your vision of what a woman would do after reading this book?


Areva Martin 8:31

Start to talk to other women. Start to talk to the men in their lives. Start to, for themselves, unpack what they have been told. As I said, I called out five lies. They probably- each woman could sit down and, maybe, you know, come up with their own list. I've encouraged women to have awakening parties, where they get together in groups with other women, get together in groups with men, and start talking about these issues. One thing that was very clear to me too, is that there's this notion in this country that women have achieved equality because women are in colleges. We're graduating from college. We're in jobs. We have 41 females that are heads of Fortune 500 companies. So oftentimes, the headline is, you know, women are equal to men. And as much as that is true, there are so many ways in which we are not equal, including in pay and salary. There was just a report out that shows female doctors, over the course of their careers, make $2 million less than their male counterparts in the same practice areas. So those conversations, you know, we aren't having enough of. So I would hope that after someone reads this book is that they start to examine what lies they've been told in their own life and how those lives have shaped and impacted their careers and what they want to do differently. So this is a wake-up call book! That's why it's called "Awakening". This is you know, your friendly reminder that there are things wrong in our society and it's okay for us to acknowledge them and to talk about them.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 10:01

Marvelous! Areva, is there any question I should have asked you about this book that would inspire people to go read it?


Areva Martin 10:08

I think one of the biggest lies that I know pretty much every woman at every stage in her career was told that I think is so important that we talk about is this notion that you can't have it all, that you have to make a binary choice between having a career or having children. There's not a day that goes by that I don't talk to a woman who's either confronted that or feels as if that's a decision there in the midst of making right now in their careers. That's one of the biggest myths we have to dispel and disabuse women. Younger women coming into the workplace would, quite frankly, be torn apart internally over that decision. Can I have a child and be successful in my career? We need to put an end to this notion that women, who are the only, you know, species on the planet that can birth children, can't do that and have successful careers.


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 11:00

Well said! Well, I have read the book, and I think it's excellent. I commend this book, Awakening: Ladies, Leadership and the Lies We've Been Told, to all of you. And Areva, thank you so much for being with us today.


Areva Martin 11:15

Thank you!


Dr. Sarah E. Brown 11:16

Thanks for listening to the KTS Success Factor Podcast for Women. If you like what you're hearing, please go to iTunes to subscribe, rate us, and leave a review. And if you would like more information on how we can help women in your organization to thrive, then go to www.sarahebrown.com. You can sign up for our newsletter, read show notes and learn more about our podcast guests, read my blog, browse through the books or contact us for a chat. Goodbye for now.

 

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