Communicate Your Way to the Top! A #SHRM19 Interview with Carol Schulte


I had an opportunity to do something that a lot of bloggers probably didn’t have an opportunity to do this year, which is interview their speaker twice. Of course, it wasn’t meant to happen that way, but due to technical difficulties, I had to ask for a re-do. Luckily, it was with someone that I have grown very fond of over the last few weeks. I was first drawn to this session and speaker because I am a female leader that wants to succeed in my career, so I thought that improving my communication skills would be a great way to start. Once I realized I would be interviewing Carol, I started learning more about her, and let me just say one word: WOW!

Her LinkedIn profile says that she is an international speaker, an experienced trainer, and sought-after coach. She is the creator of 'Spark your G.E.N.I.U.S.' and founder & CEO of The Brave Institute. Carol has traveled and lived abroad for eight years and has some extraordinary stories that I hope she shares in her 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) session. She’s lived in 15 different countries, although some very short stints, and can speak conversational French, Spanish, German, basic Thai, and English. Impressive, right?!

It was my honor to interview Carol Schulte prior to the SHRM conference this year, and I hope you will take the time to read through this interview and learn about what it’s like to live abroad and why Carol chose to do so, what you’ll learn from her session in Las Vegas, her expertise in the area, why communication is so important, plus so much more. There are even times where the conversation became emotional, not only for Carol, but for me too. You may not be able to read the emotion, but believe me, it is there. After reading this interview, please visit the SHRM Conference Schedule and add Carol’s session to your schedule. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Without further ado, my #SHRM19 Interview with Carol Schulte.

Carol, I am so impressed by your background of living in 15 different countries and being multilingual. What is it like to travel, speak all over the world, and live abroad?

One of the things I enjoy the most and find so fascinating having lived in various places, is you discover people are people, wherever you are. It’s fascinating to learn about different cultures and how people live, act, and behave the way they do. Ultimately, I think that it’s so cool to hear stories from people all over and even though we all have different backgrounds and experiences, we also all have hopes, fears, and big dreams. We do our best to figure out why we’re here, what we’re supposed to be doing in the world, and how we can give back and contribute. Obviously when you visit more developing countries, you recognize how privileged you are, and at the same time, you realize how generous people are regardless of how much they have. It’s really about family, community, and helping one another. Having the opportunity to see that firsthand is pretty neat.

I also love traveling because every day is a new day. It takes you out of your comfort zone, you don’t get stuck into a routine, and you get to have your eyes open to new things. Plus, you get to play tourist all the time! I will say, it’s also an opportunity to realize we can choose to take on that curious mindset at home too, and discover new neighborhoods, new ways to work, or even play tourist in our own town if we want to. It allows us to have that kind of fascination factor, or to feel as though we’re experiencing a city for the first time. So yes, I’ve had amazing opportunities abroad, but we can also take that mentality and apply it anywhere and everywhere.

I really love that. I’ve been living in a small little town for the last couple of years and I feel like I’ve sort of explored it, but not quite enough. Now I’m getting ready to move to the big city of Orlando. It’s like I do get into those routines that you talked about and I’m thinking to myself: I need to get out and explore more. I see all of these places online like caves and springs, so many beautiful things. I just need to go exploring.

That’s the thing too... You realize the more you see, the more there is to see. So many places to explore and I don’t think I’ll ever be done traveling and wanting to see more!

So, tell us about your session at #SHRM19, and what is the one take away you hope every attendee has?

One big takeaway I hope every attendee will have, is it starts with you. There are small ways you can be brave in respect to how you stand out and how you speak up. I think with women especially, we need to own our voice, our ideas, and our gifts; and not only be confident enough, but be brave enough. One of the things I talk about is the difference between confidence and bravery. Sometimes we wait to feel confident enough before we do the thing and yet often, we will never feel confident enough to do the thing. We have to choose to be brave before we feel ready. Women especially need to know what they have to share is valuable. They need to learn the small tips, tools, and techniques on how to start to put yourself out there more powerfully. It starts with something very easy like choosing to raise your hand in a meeting or literally just taking a seat at the table, instead of sitting in the corner or not being a part of the conversation. I think women really need to be reminded they have valuable ideas to share, their opinions and voice matter, and they have to stop putting themselves down in order to make others feel more comfortable.

That’s super great advice. I was very lucky to have a great female mentor when I first moved to Florida because I was not the person I am today. She really pushed me out of my comfort zone a lot. She kept telling me I should do things and I didn’t want to do those things. But now here I am; I am speaking a little bit, plus so much more. I am much further than I was five years ago because I had a great mentor and because I did the stuff myself; I pushed myself.

Having mentors is so important! Especially women. We need to lift each other up, encourage each other, and be each other’s cheerleaders. A lot of women in the corporate field feel other women are their competition, and that’s so sad because none of us are going to get to where we need to be, want to be, or where we could be by competing with one another. We really need to collaborate and help each other out. 

 What inspired your interest in this topic and what are your specific experiences that have developed your expertise in this arena?

I think [my inspiration came from] having the privilege of working with a lot of women through the years. I see so many of them with so many gifts to offer, so much brilliance to share, so much talent to give, and yet a lot of them are playing smaller than they know they can. They don’t see what others see or they’re afraid to put themselves out there. There is so much potential that is going unseen or that is not being fulfilled and I think that’s sad.

On a more personal note, I can absolutely relate. Luckily we have our whole lives to be a work in progress, but it’s something I work on on a regular basis; feeling I’m enough to do what I want to do, to go after my dreams. Growing up, my mother was always my biggest fan, my number one cheerleader. And when she passed away, my world ended for a long period of time. That’s what motivated all of this travel and living abroad; I was escaping for a long period of time. I wasn’t brave enough to face the world without that one person who really got me. And it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life after that. Ultimately, whether it’s helping women feel empowered enough to ask for a raise or promotion, share their ideas, or even go skydiving or climb Kilimanjaro; I now get to be the cheerleader for other women the way that my mom was for me.

That’s so awesome, I love it! My mom is my biggest cheerleader too, so I get that. I post things on Facebook like pictures and stuff I do and people are always asking why do you post so much of your life. I tell them it’s because my mom (and dad) are 900 miles away and they like to see what I’m doing. It’s one of the ways we stay in touch by being so far away.

Family and parents are important; having parents as cheerleaders is a blessing.

In your opinion, why is it essential for female leaders to demonstrate effective communication in the workplace?

I truly believe the quality of your communication determines the quality of your life. If women really want to stand out, get noticed, and be recognized as the leaders they are, they really need to hone in on their communication skills. It’s the one way they will stand out. It’s the one way people will be able to see what they have to offer and to hear their ideas. It’s time for women recognize they have a voice. And communication is not only about your words, but also in how you show up; what you bring to the table and the confidence and charisma you exude. I think those are all really important skills for women because unfortunately we have to work harder than men to be able to get noticed, stand out, and prove ourselves and our abilities. It’s a shame, but it’s the truth. Communication skills are one of the key ways to be able to do that. It’s why I’m very passionate about empowering women and giving them the tools they need; communication is one of those tangible ways they can put their best selves forward.

I’m really excited for your session. I can’t wait to get this blog typed up so others can see how passionate you are about this and will want to attend your session and connect with you. What is the best way for readers to best connect with you on social media?

Please find Carol on these various online platforms:

LinkedIn  ● FacebookInstagramWebsite

Carol Schulte will present “Communicate Your Way to the Top!: Communication Strategies for Female Leaders Who Want to Stand Out” at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference & Expo on Monday, June 24 from 4:15 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. Please make sure to join me in checking it out!


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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