Attuned Leadership for Women Podcast
Redefining Success for Work-Life Balance and Fulfillment with Nathalie Lussier
Have you ever wondered how some women seem to have mastered the elusive ‘work-life balance’ and wish you could get behind the scenes to watch them in action? In this episode, Dr. Crystal Frazee has a personal and thought-provoking discussion with Nathalie Lussier, the mastermind behind a thriving software company, mom to two little kids, and permaculture farmer to do just that. Together, they tackle the very real challenges that professional women encounter and share practical strategies to help you redefine success to prioritize your personal sustainability and fulfillment.
Tune in as they delve into the significance of managing expectations, setting realistic goals, and the concept of “enough” in both professional and personal spheres.
Nathalie’s passion for women in tech, creating change, and living in alignment with your values is sure to inspire.
Meet Nathalie Lussier
Nathalie Lussier is an award-winning entrepreneur who has been making websites since she was 12 years old. She graduated with a degree in Software Engineering and a job offer from Wall Street, but she turned down this job to start her own business right out of college. As the founder of AccessAlly, the powerful digital course and membership solution for industry leaders, she believes that access to education can help defy stereotypes and make the world a better place while providing a sustainable livelihood for enterprising teachers.
Quotes from the Episode
“I think that a lot of times what it comes down to is creating what we want and then also not letting society’s expectations dictate what that looks like and what that should be, because we’re all unique and we all want different things.”
“Actually, I have enough. I don’t have to keep working, keep pushing, keep trying to grow, and do all of the stuff that just puts pressure on ourselves.”
“In a world that glorifies working day and night and expects women to be flawless caregivers, to carry the mental and emotional load at home and do it all with a smile on their faces without getting depleted or resentful, no wonder the elusive work-life balance topic is such a difficult one for women.”
Dr. Crystal Frazee
0:00:00 Creating a life on your own terms.
00:09:30 Listen to your body’s signals.
00:13:12 Importance of self-awareness and reflection.
00:16:45 Importance of support and interdependence.
00:23:08 Rest is productive, prioritize self-care.
00:29:36 Listen to your body’s capacity.
00:33:50 Shift focus from numbers to goals
00:36:16 Liberate yourself from societal expectations.
00:45:24 Legacy of sustainable, purposeful work.
00:47:01 Long-term thinking yields lasting success.[00:00:00] Work-life balance for women.
Mentioned In This Episode:
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Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript!
*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: In a world that glorifies working day and night and expects women to be flawless caregivers, to carry the mental and emotional load at home and do it all with a smile on their faces without getting depleted or resentful, no wonder the elusive work-life balance topic is such a difficult one for women. Well, today I’m thrilled to dive into a conversation that challenges the status quo of how you use your time and energy and create success on your own terms. I’m joined by a remarkable woman leader that I admire for many reasons, Nathalie Lussier. The one we’re discussing today is how she’s created a life focused on her sustainability with space for her passions while simultaneously breaking free from expectations of her as a working mom and business owner in software.
Where do established and aspiring women leaders go to get answers to their biggest challenges, like how to deal with double standards, break free from hustle and burnout, drive change without being bossy, and how to raise visibility by doing less, not more? I’m Dr. Crystal Frazee, your host and a women’s health and leadership expert and author. I’ve spent the past 15 years developing the answers to those questions. I believe that your body has all the wisdom you need and that without much effort, you can leverage it for things like faster, better decision-making, creating a magnetic presence for influence, and even navigating perimenopause so your performance goes up instead of down. In this show, I will teach you what traditional leadership approaches overlook, how to leverage your body wisdom to break free from time and energy traps, shatter barriers, dissolve the good woman programming that stops you from living on your terms, level the playing field at home and work, and be the most powerful leader you can be. Get ready to rewrite the rules of success and satisfaction using the practical strategies of attuned leadership for women. Let’s dive in.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Welcome, Nathalie. Thank you for being here to share your insights on Attune Leadership for Women. For the new listeners, you may not be aware, but the subtitle for this show is Rewrite the Rules for Success and Satisfaction. And recently, I was scrolling through LinkedIn, of all places, and there is this picture that stood out amongst the sea of others. It was of Nathalie and her two young children sitting in a very tiny green plastic turtle pool on their beautiful farmland in Canada with chicken, or maybe it was ducks, roaming in the background, looking content, connected, and relaxed. And the caption said that her life is full, and although she’s checking in on her business every day, she’s offline more than usual. And immediately I knew I wanted to talk about how she’s navigated her life and the decisions to make it so she’s created what she has.
And for those of you that don’t know Nathalie’s work, you may be wondering why that really stopped my scroll. Well, she’s the founder of Access Ally, a successful award-winning software engineering company supporting online businesses across the globe with over two and a half million users of their learning management system. She’s been in Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, or maybe you’ve seen her in Entrepreneur Magazine.
And I’ve actually followed Nathalie and her work as it’s evolved since 2011, friends. That’s a long time. And it got me thinking about all the ways that Nathalie must have had to reconcile different identities and ideas to get to this place with this life she’s created over the past 12 years.
So welcome, Nathalie. And I’m so glad to have you here. Is there anything you want to add to that intro before we jump in?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, thanks for having me, Crystal. I think, you know, you definitely hit the nail on the head. I think that a lot of times what it comes down to is creating what we want and then also not letting society’s expectations dictate what that looks like and what that should be, because we’re all unique and we all want different things. So for some people, you know, maybe moving to a farm is not their ideal scenario. But for us, it definitely was. And I’m happy to dive into how we balance. And I know balance is a tricky word when it comes to business, but we can definitely talk about that too.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah. I mean, I imagine that along your path, there’s been a lot of pivot points that probably didn’t sync up. You’ve made business pivot points as a business owner. You’ve made family-related pivot points as a new mom, an established mom, all the things over the years. And, you know, I don’t know if you want to take a second and kind of speak to some of those early pivots and what your drivers were in making those decisions.
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, so the one that always sticks out is how I started my first business in the first place. So I was studying software engineering, and I had all these great internships. But I realized during the internships that I didn’t want to work in those corporate environments that I had the opportunity to work in. So when I graduated, I had this job offer on Wall Street, and I turned it down, which was a huge thing because my parents are like, what are you doing? You just graduated. What’s happening? And that’s when I started my first business. That was a big pivot point because it was making a choice not in the regular society track, if you will. And yeah, that led to where we are today.
But I didn’t start a software company out of university. I was really into healthy eating and sustainability and things like that. So that was my first business. And I kind of called that my training business because I learned how to do marketing, how to use my tech skills to build a website and all of these things. Electronic, your e-courses.
Exactly. I ran my first online courses and all of that. And that kind of led to with many pivots in between realizing, yeah, I want a software platform to run my courses better. And that’s when we decided to start AccessAlly. Even though it wasn’t a software company at the start, it turned into a software company down the line. And then also in between that, I did a lot of coaching and consulting and um, even a live event that I was doing every year. And that was another kind of pivot too. And, uh, that was great. Like, I love that we, um, we did a couple of events in New York city because my husband and I moved there. Um, and then we moved to Texas and also did an event there. And then we kind of realized like, Hey, we want to start a family. And doing live events, it’s almost like a whole year of planning and marketing and choosing speakers and getting everything together. And then obviously the days of, I knew that with a baby, this wouldn’t really work so well. So I was like, okay, let’s just make this the time to focus on the software company and really make that our primary focus.
And that was huge for us. It really helped also grow up the company because I could hire other people to do customer support and help with marketing. And it wasn’t just me doing delivery all the time. Yeah. And I can definitely talk more about the balance between delivery and also support. I think that’s that’s right.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: That is huge. Before we jump into that, though, can we kind of like dig maybe three layers underneath the surface to say for you in the stories you just shared? What was it for you? Was it were you did you feel clear on your values? Was it you were realizing, oh, that doesn’t work for me and now I’m moving away from something that doesn’t feel good? What was pushing or pulling you?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, I think so starting my first business instead of taking a job that was I just kind of had this vision of myself waking up when I was like in my 50s or something and kind of looking back and being like, oh wow, like my life just wasn’t what I expected or what I wanted. So that was a very much like clear, intuitive, don’t do that kind of path. And then the other pivots within the business, I would say a lot of times, yeah, it was something didn’t feel right.
In the beginning, when I started doing events or more coaching or things like that, I was excited about it. It was going well. Obviously, it wasn’t… I’m not saying everything was easy because I think that’s also a false… We see the outside of other people’s businesses and we think, oh, it must be so simple and so easy. Everything comes easy for them, but I’m not saying that. I’m saying in the beginning, there’s a lot of good energy around it. And then when I kind of start to realize like, okay, there’s some friction here and maybe it’s super draining for me. Like I love doing it, but also like it takes me a couple of days to recover after I do. the live event or the code, like intense coaching days or something like that. And that was kind of like a, okay, yeah, I can see how having kids on top of this would not be a sustainable way to go. So those were a little bit more like in the body, I would say where, you know, my body is giving me those signals as opposed to maybe like a visual thing where I’m like in the future, seeing what I’m going to look like.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: And I love that because I’m writing notes of things I want to touch base on that you’re saying. And I just wrote in your body, like, cause I’m so curious. I, feel like the ability to listen to our body as women is something that through the lineages somewhere we have lost the ability and as a whole society, but especially as women. And so for you, Can you talk about that? Was that something that you actively did or just something one day you noticed like, oh, there’s friction and I don’t I don’t like that? Was it affecting sleep, you know, cognition and thinking clearly your work performance or was it just really something embodied?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, so I think, you know, I’ve done a lot of personal development work and a lot of different types of workshops and practices and things like that. So there was definitely, you know, being able to notice like, okay, like, there’s tension in my neck and my shoulders, and I like feel pain there, or I can’t move them very well. Also just, yeah, definitely sometimes I would just feel like exhaustion, like tiredness and stuff too. And I think just also recognizing that I’m not going to be high energy all the time, but noticing the patterns of when that low energy kind of seems to not really go away. So I think, yeah, like there’s so many, so many different ways of going towards this.
I don’t think At least, okay, I have a hard time remembering if I had a hard time sleeping. Yeah, definitely. I think I’ve noticed patterns where if I work like closer to bedtime, then I have a hard time turning off my brain and actually falling asleep. So that’s always been the case, like, you know, especially in the early days. Yeah. Yeah. Especially in the early days of my business, I would do that a lot because I didn’t have anything specific. I didn’t have kids or anything to take care of. So I would just work later into the evenings. And then I had a hard time shutting off my brain and going back to sleep properly. And then of course, you’d wake up groggy and then it’s hard to get going the next day. But I think I’ve learned to like just shut it down like by 6pm is kind of like I don’t go back on the computer and like try to work or anything. I mean, it’s not like I thought maybe it’s like the blue light of the screen or something, but it’s really just like my brain turns on to work mode and it just will not stop after that.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: It keeps solving problems. Yes, exactly. Yeah. So let’s take a second and highlight this listeners 6pm 6pm. Right, because I mean, my clients, they have 10 hour days because they go, they work as soon as they wake up, then they go to work, then they come home. And then they’re still doing stuff. in the bed, from the bed. And that is really a vicious cycle. And making those choices, which sometimes we have to do, but will make it harder for you to sense what’s going on in your body. But if it’s okay with you, Nathalie, if I take a second to circle back to some points that you said, that the depletion is initially what sounds like you noticed the most. And I’m imagining you did something like what I call a check-in. You’re like, hmm, what is going on? I seem to be more tired. You’re listening to your body. Maybe you’re asking, what do I need? And you said something that made me think a good prompt for listeners is, how many days do I want to feel like this? So whether it’s great, Right. Things are going good. I feel well supported. I’m clear on what I’m doing today and the outcome it’s creating. Or I’m not feeling so good, you know, physically, emotionally or mentally. And how many days am I going to make choices that leave me feeling this way? I don’t know if that feels accurate to you.
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, I really like that prompt. And I definitely kind of trained myself, probably in university where sometimes I would just have like a bad feeling or like a weird feeling of like, I’m not happy, or I’m mad or like something’s going on. And I kind of trained myself to ask, like, why do I feel this way? And so I’ve been doing that, like, well, for many, many years now. And why do I feel this way? And sometimes I could trace it back to like, Oh, it was an offhanded comment from someone in class. And that just kind of hit me the wrong way. And then I can just let that go. Uh, or it might be like, Oh, I just checked my bank account and it’s kind of low, you know, that’s giving me some anxiety or whatnot. Right. Or it might be something completely different. Like, Oh, you know, it’s raining today. Like that’s the thing that’s making me unhappy or whatnot. So just being able to check in. And then once you know, like, what’s the thing that’s causing you this not so good feeling, like it could be a different types of not so good feelings. And then you can either let it go or change it. So if it’s like, okay, my bank account is causing anxiety. Let’s do something like let’s get out there and make some sales or whatever it is. So I think that also helped a lot over time.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah, and where you can’t actually do something, where can we be more self-compassionate and regulating in the moment, just being present to that feeling in the body of like, oh, yeah, there’s frustration, there’s fear, there’s anxiety, and just, even just, I’m just adding to what you’re saying, not correcting what you’re saying, but saying, also just being there for a moment, being present before we jump into fix-it mode. Because that percent. Yeah. All new for so many people.
Nathalie Lussier: I think that’s the trick is if you’re not aware of what’s causing it, then it’s just this background feeling and it feels like you can never deal with it. Whereas if you know what it is, it’s like, oh, OK, like I know where it’s coming from. It’s not just me all the time. Right.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Right. Yes. I was telling Nathalie before we got on that my daughter was up most of the night because we have a new school year starting and we found out what teacher she got today. But all night she was just a mess. And You know, I know that it’s the transition, but in her body, she doesn’t know. And so I love that, Nathalie, the ability to say, what is this related to? What is this about? What’s going on for me? And oh, you said, why do I feel this way? That is great. Like awareness is how we change anything. That’s awesome. So did you have role models? in being an entrepreneur and being a female leader and living this kind of life. Yeah.
Nathalie Lussier: So I think, um, like my sort of earliest mentors or people that kind of shed light were probably my Taekwondo teacher. So she had her own Taekwondo school and she always said, you know, Hey, if ever you want to do your own school, like I can help you, I can teach you how to start a school. So I ended up getting my black belt in, in martial arts. And I definitely like thought about that for a minute, but I was like, Oh, you know, I really like tech and I’m going to go into that space and see how that goes. But she still kind of was that early mentor and early like possibility. But then definitely, you know, after that, there’s been so many mentors and so many business people that I’ve learned from and coached with and gotten advice from and just even looked up to. Marie Forleo was one of my first coaches, Laura Roeder as well. So those are kind of early, very early influences in my business. Yeah, there’s just been so many people, I think, along the years.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah, absolutely. We keep integrating, right? Yes. Well, let’s go to the topic that you brought up in the beginning about how do we know when we need support versus when to jump in and just take care of things ourselves.
Nathalie Lussier: Yes. Okay. So I have this analogy, I call it kind of your, your tree. So imagine that you’re a tree. So at the top, you know, you have your branches and your leafs, and that’s basically all the stuff that you do and that other people see you do. So like, that’s your, you know, your business or your career, that’s your care work, whether that’s, you know, your children or parents or other people that you take care of, that’s your leadership, that’s your product creation, that’s all the stuff you do to like maintain the things around you, essentially. And then underneath that, you have your roots. And that’s basically what provides the energy to do all those things. So you’ve got your personal energy, you’ve got your community, you’ve got the amount of time you have, support, any team members you might have, you have money, natural capital, mentorship, creativity, health, your experience. So basically all the stuff that you sort of accumulate over time can kind of help you do more of the kind of above ground stuff that, you know, everyone else sees you do. And I think it really comes down to balancing those two and to making sure that they actually feed each other so that you’re not, you know, if you have too much top growth, you’re going to fall over, right? And if you don’t have any top growth, then you don’t have enough to feed your roots, right? So it basically kind of works all together.
And so I think using this kind of analogy, also, I want to be very clear, like not everyone is grown in the same environment. So some people might not have the same resources. So they might not have the same access to team members or money or Their time might be completely different too. So I think that’s also helpful with this analogy is that we’re not all starting from the same kind of roots or the same environment, growing environment, essentially.
And then with that also as a tree, we’re not in isolation. So we’re sort of in a forest, right? So we have other people around us, like the community piece, the team piece, all of that, where we can essentially feed each other through our roots. So there’s actually like mycorrhizal networks that do this in nature where You have mushrooms kind of siphoning like water or nutrients from tree to tree. And so we can really help each other. And I think trying to be a tree in isolation is a really bad idea. The same goes for being in business or really living life as a human. So I’ll start with that, but we can dig in as well.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah, I love that. You may not know this, but I have a bachelor’s from the University of Georgia, and it’s in ecology and environmental design. And it’s really where I learned to be a systems thinker, that you can’t have one thing that doesn’t influence other things. That has been like the foundation of who I am. And so I appreciate that you see things like that. Because I mean, that really is if the root system is not healthy for a variety of reasons, all kinds of things are going to happen that are not ideal. And I also love the co-regulation of that and the interdependence instead of being fully independent, which is the mindset most of us have. If I kind of start with one of the first thoughts I had as I was imagining my tree, maybe we’re like different species and so we all, all the trees look different. They’re in different soils and different environments. But if I look at my roots and what’s really helped me flourish the most, It would be taking away the perspectives of who I’m supposed to be, especially as a woman, especially as a female leader, especially as as a mother of two girls. You know, it’s peeling those things away to discover who I actually am, what my values actually are and the steps I get to make, like just to claim my agency. We’re talking about energy like energy flows through the roots, but so much of it gets sucked up and wasted. And I’m in my mid-40s and I feel like I’ve wasted so much energy over my life that I wish I hadn’t, you know?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, I can definitely, definitely see that. And it’s interesting because when your roots are strong, you can prune your tree, right? You can cut branches and remove things that don’t make sense, you know, or that you don’t want to focus on anymore, or that, you know, like the pivots that we talked about. As long as your roots are strong, you’ll grow new branches on the existing ones, or you’ll kind of keep going. And I’ve even seen trees cut down to the whole base, and then they grow all the way back up. So if your roots are strong, that’s the most important part. You can reinvent yourself. You don’t have to be stuck in the ways that you are. And when I say roots are strong, that could be financial resources so that you can bounce back in during tough times, or it could be you know, community support. So if you’re sick, someone will bring you soup because, you know, they care about you and that kind of thing. So I think those are the types of things that we can focus on, you know, building more of somehow, you know, whether that is through the work that we do or relationships that we build and things like that. And we kind of talked about, you know, being close to family, being close to community. And I think that’s really important. That’s something that we chose to do. So we when we moved to New York, you know, we were young and we’re like, Oh, we’re gonna like, you know, not take over the world, but you know, kind of explore the world and all of that. And then when we moved to Texas, we were like, Oh, we want it to be a little bit warmer. So that was our thinking there. And we were like, Oh, we don’t need to be close to like our family will be fine. And then after we had the kids were like, Okay, we got to get closer to family. This is really important. And I see why people, you know, move back home or stay close to family for sure.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: And so you have that now. Yeah.
Nathalie Lussier: So our families are about an hour and a half, um, or like Robin’s side of the family. And then my parents are actually eight hours. It was just, you know, there’s not like a perfect in between, but that’s great though. It’s a drive. You can do it. Yes. Then taking a plane, like halfway across the world, kind of thing, the country.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: That’s amazing. That’s I’m so happy. I didn’t know that. And I’m so happy now that I know that for you and for the kids. Yeah. The other thing, if we go back to the roots, is really kind of like your relationship to yourself and your relationship to rest, your relationship to your own recovery. I feel like that listeners would go, yeah, I understand financial wellness. I understand community resources. And we have a lot of studies that show that actually smoking isn’t as much an indicator of your lifespan as connection is and how essential those things are But really, our relationship to knowing our own capacity as a culture seems to be disabled, like seems to be really inadequate. So where do you feel like you’ve learned that? Or what are you governing when you think about your own capacity?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, I think it’s changed over time. So I think that’s also something to be aware of is it’s not the static thing that will always be the same. So I think, you know, when I was in my 20s and early 30s, before kids, yeah, like I had capacity, I could do a lot. And And also I’m an introvert. So I feel like sometimes where I go to an event or do a lot of networking, you know, it, that can be like, okay, yes, it’s like a rush. And at the same time, like I really need to recover after that. So now like I’m, you know, with kids, I know that my capacity is more limited because I want to give them my capacity as well. So I don’t want it to be just for my business. And, and also we have a farm now, so we have, you know, dairy sheep, which we milk, you know, every day in the summer. And then we also have chickens and ducks and all kinds of stuff growing in our greenhouse. And so for me, yeah, some of those things that I do actually refill my well. So gardening for me is very therapeutic. It really helps me get energy back. And also the food itself also is amazing. So that’s also very nourishing as well. But at the same time, yeah, I know that I can’t spend the same amount of time working And I know that my mental capacity isn’t there also. And I don’t know if it’s, you know, I feel like all of us kind of have reached this point where we’re like, yeah, my brain is just not what it used to be. And, and also I think, you know, taking naps, like that makes such a huge difference and going to bed early and not working, you know, right up to the to the time that I go to bed, all of those things have made such a huge difference in just being able to do things. But I think just having kind of this mindset shift that rest is productive and we don’t always have to be producing to be doing good in the world. And sometimes even not doing anything is better than trying to push and move things all the time. So I think those are kind of big realizations for sure.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Well, and even if we go back to your metaphor of the tree, they have a rest cycle, you know, they have a production cycle and then they have a recovery cycle where they replenish themselves.
Nathalie Lussier: Exactly. So some trees will like lose all their leaves in the winter. And that also feeds them because the leaves decompose and all of that. And that helps the roots, too. So it’s like being able to go to that dormant period is so important. And I I do feel like I live a little bit more seasonally now because of the farm. So I know like in the winter, I’m not milking your sheep. And I have a lot less like gardening to do. So that kind of slows things down. But my tendency would be to like, okay, great. Like I’m not working as much outside. Let’s work more, you know, on the business and, you know, just being like, no, like boundaries. So we moved to a four day work week at our company. And so, you know, Fridays, nobody works. And I think that has been huge to just be able to like give ourselves permission to take that time off, just spend it outside or resting. Like I definitely take naps almost every Friday now. And those are those are nice, like guardrails for ourselves so that we don’t get into overwork.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Right. And so a couple of things here, listeners, this is not like a small, tiny hobby farm we’re talking about. She has a farm like a real, very large farm. This is like a major commitment, a huge endeavor that she’s involved in. And so I just want to make sure the picture has been painted and that they understand I have a potted garden. OK, we’re not talking about the same things here. And also, you know, Nathalie puts out a lot of really interesting thought leadership and she’s published, you know, some articles, blogs, I think maybe on your website. I’ve seen them out in the world about the four-day workweek and how that’s gone for them. And I highly recommend that you follow her on all the things, managing teams. I just love every article that I read that Nathalie writes. So highly valuable. Check that out. I’ll link to it in the show notes for you. But you just mentioned something that I would like us to shift to and that’s about boundaries. And it sounds like a lot of the boundaries that you put into place that have helped you manage your capacity And also I want to ask, it sounds like for you, your capacity, you’re monitoring your energy level as a like indicator, because a lot of people hear the word capacity, which is basically a volume. How much can something hold, you know, but how do we relate to that in our bodies? What are the signs? And so is that right? That for you capacity, you’re monitoring as far as your energy level and your mental clarity.
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah, definitely energy level, mental clarity, and I think mood as well. So sometimes, you know, I feel like I’m just so down today and I’m like, no, I need to just not work today because I need to recover from whatever I’ve been doing. And sometimes it’s, you know, we put up a hundred bales of hay into our barn last night, so I’m sore. It was super heavy. And at the same time, you know, like at mood wise, like I’m very happy today. I feel good. I feel energized. So yeah, just kind of, there’s different aspects of all of these things and being able to kind of figure out what does that actually mean and where do I need to rest or where do I need to give myself a little bit more grace around, you know, what I’m supposed to be doing in the day to day stuff.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Right. So if I hear you, maybe you’re thinking you need more physical rest, but you don’t necessarily need mental rest because you’re physically exerted from yesterday. Exactly. Is that right? Okay. So when women are learning how to listen to their body, I recommend that they break it down into physical, emotional, and mental. In an ideal world, we’d feel physically energized, able to do things, and comfortable, emotionally grounded, hopeful, be able to access states like joy, contentfulness, and mentally be clear, focused, and creative. When we cannot be those things, it’s a real sign that we’ve moved beyond our capacity for too long. And there’s boundaries externally with others. And there’s boundaries with ourselves that really help us maintain that capacity. And so can you talk for a minute about yourself boundaries?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah. So I think for my self boundaries, uh, the, you know, the four day work week is, is really helpful. Um, I think the going to bed and not, uh, you know, working up to those are kind of some basic ones, but I think also just focusing on what I eat and, you know, staying hydrated and, you know, all of these things, I think those are really important too. So every now and then I’ll be like, Oh, I really just want to eat like a donut or something. Right. And I know that I’m not going to feel good after. So I’m like, okay, I’m going to find something at home. That’s, you know, going to make me feel good tomorrow as well. So those kinds of things definitely help as well. But yeah, it’s interesting for, for my own boundaries. I feel like. I’ve sort of structured my life in a way that I don’t need to worry about that as much. I know that sounds weird, but I feel like. the routine that we have, the people in our lives, like they all feel really good. And I feel like that, that kind of takes care of a lot of the potential issues, I guess.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: So if we go back in time, at some point, you didn’t have the support, and you might have felt like you were working too much. And your energy was low. Maybe your mood wasn’t where you wanted it. And your productivity wasn’t as good because mentally you were kind of drained and depleted. And yeah. And so how was navigating that? What were the steps?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah. So I remember a very specific time in my business where that was the reality. And I think how I was trying to deal with it was that I would just avoid work and avoid my inbox. I didn’t want to feel the stress. So I thought just not interfacing with it would kind of help me, which obviously was just delaying the inevitable because I have to get back into it and do work and all of that. So that was not a very good way of dealing with it. And I think what I realized was I was just taking on too much and my expectations were completely wrong. And also I was not communicating with my clients very well in terms of those expectations. So I was pretty much, you know, people pleaser, which I think a lot of us can fall into and kind of realizing, okay, no, like I’m going to burn out if I do this. And, um, as much as I want everyone to be happy all the time, this is not going to be sustainable otherwise. So that was kind of a big, big shift. And yeah, putting those boundaries into place was more around when I would be available, what they could expect, how quickly things would happen, that kind of stuff. And that made a huge difference. And eventually I was able to start hiring as well. I started with a virtual assistant and things like that to kind of take stuff off of my plate as well.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Who has access to your energy and how much? Exactly. Yes. So a lot of what you’ve said is just the dream scenario. You know, the women that I work with are running companies and they’re navigating challenging, evolving times and they have systems in place, but they’re not really working and they’re trying to diagnose what to change. Is it the business structure? Is it the people? What is it right? They know they’re over their capacity. And so do you have any wisdom or insight from your experience as to which thread to pull? Like, what is the guiding decision maker that you think people could think about?
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah. So I just what you’re describing, you know, I’ve been there. And I think what really shifted for me was when I realized what the goal of my business is. And I think a lot of times we think about goals for companies to be like, okay, reach X amount of money or X profit or things like that. And I basically had this shift because all of the stuff I was reading about, like goal setting for companies was yeah, around that, like set quarterly goals, set annual goals. tell people about them on your team and then go after it together. And I realized it’s just not motivating for me. And I don’t know if it’s just me or if other people feel this way too, but I realized numbers were not motivating me. And so I realized that I just want to focus on 3 things in my company, which is take care of each other as a team, take care of our customers and clients and make sure they have a good experience. And then number three is continue to improve our products and processes. And that’s basically how we run our company. We have core values and things like that, but those are basically the goals that we have. It’s not a quarterly goal or a certain amount that we need to make or a certain number of customers that we’re trying to go after, anything like that. And that really gave me the permission to just be happy with the way things are. And that doesn’t mean like we’re not trying to improve things. Like I said, improve our products and processes is definitely on there, but it just kind of lowered my stress level so much around the business. And also I don’t feel like we’re failing all the time. Right. you know, if you’re going after like this huge number, this huge growth of like doubling the business each year or 50% or, you know, whatever, it’s, you’re kind of on this constant treadmill. And what I consider this as like the power of enough, like as long as we have enough to like pay ourselves, pay our team members, that’s, that’s good. You know, like that’s a good business in my opinion. I feel like that, that was really liberating into what we need to do. And like, again, kind of like, I don’t need to hire like five more people because I want to grow to like 10 million or whatever, whatever huge numbers people think we should be doing. That’s kind of what has worked for me. And even on the personal side, what does enough look like? So what does, you know, enough time look like for you? What does enough money look like? What does enough support, um, all of those things. And I think. There is an answer to that, even though it might be a little bit confronting. I think it’s, it’s really liberating once you say, actually, I have enough. I don’t have to keep working, keep pushing, keep trying to grow and all of that stuff. So how that, how that lands, but.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah, it’s I love identifying what is enough for me in this season of life because it’s ever-changing What is how much extra time do I need how much of how much do I need to have healthy roots? first and then realizing also I deserve that and without first reaching a set goal. Because what I see is so many people push to the goal, and then they get there and they’re like, well, now I just want to burn it all down. Go to a deserted island by myself. Yeah. And if we could flip that, and the reason why we don’t naturally do that, well, we’re not taught to do that typically, but especially as women, time is used historically for control and constraint. But it’s 2023. It’s time to know that we get to decide how we use our time and for what purposes, including for our own wholeness, our own sustainability, and our own sense of satisfaction. Part of it is people-pleasing. And that’s not a personal failing on anyone’s part. That’s cultural lessons that we’ve learned. And when we can just be aware of that, as we said earlier, the more aware you are of something, you can change it. And noticing those moments where you’re denying yourself the resource you know you need. You’re setting a goal, but you’re forgetting yourself in the goal setting. You know, it’s just a moment to stop, be aware of what you’re doing, check in with yourself and take the big picture. It’s so valuable. And it just keeps coming back to the tree metaphor. So I love that so much.
Nathalie Lussier: Yeah. And I love what you mentioned about how we’re reaching for this milestone, but along the way, we’re sort of not happy and kind of grinding and just making it so hard for ourselves to get there. And then when we get there, we’re like, okay, I’m exhausted. And like you said, I just want to get rid of it and just move away to a cabin in the woods or something. And, you know, I’ve definitely had similar thoughts of like, Oh, like if we just like got rid of everything, it would be so much easier. And then I remember like, no, but if we do it the way… If we run the business the way we want to run it, the way that… It’s the kind of company we want to work for because we love it and it’s fun and all of that, then I can keep doing this as long as I can, basically. There’s no reason to burn it all down and sell it or whatever things that people think you should be doing because you’re doing it in a sustainable, fun, and Hopefully useful for the world way and it’s not like this thing that you want to get as far away from as possible basically Mm-hmm.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Mm-hmm. Yeah less extractive business practices and personal ways of relating to our careers so that we can flourish and nourish ourselves with our work and And even I just felt you all, some of you listeners, you just, I rolled at me, but really it’s something to think about. It’s the like number one burnout prevention strategy is to bake in the systems from the beginning that you don’t have to recover from in the end. You know, that makes so much sense. Yes. Well, I would love to know if you’re comfortable sharing Nathalie. Are there any ideas of who you needed to be or expectations of being a woman in tech or a farm owner or a mother? What are the important roles that you’ve had to redefine for yourself that helped you be more sustainable?
Nathalie Lussier: That’s a good question. Over time, I’ve taken on more roles and kind of let go of some of the things as well. So I know for being a woman in tech, you know, there was a part of my career where I was like, I really want to support more women in tech. I want to like maybe speak at universities or even like younger schools and just kind of encourage more women to go into tech and all of that. And I kind of, as I became a mom and as I moved to the farm, I kind of realized I still am super passionate about it. And we hire a lot of female developers at Access Ally, but also it’s not just up to me to change the ratios and do all of that work. So just kind of being like, okay, I can just be who I am. kind of be the example that I can be and also focus on kind of the closer sphere that I have a little bit more influence over, which is my family and the farm and kind of our closer community. And so I think a lot of times, yeah, like I have this vision of I want to be able to have like this huge ripple effect and like change all of these things. And at the same time, I am just one human and I don’t have like the world’s responsibility on my shoulders for like the whole women in tech side of things. So that’s been really, you know, liberating as well.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Entirely. Oh yeah. Like what’s within my control. And you are, you’re influencing your local environment with your farming practices and you’re teaching others about that just by sharing your story. You are an exemplary, you know, women leader with a successful tech company. And by sharing your story, And I think also the authenticity that you show is refreshing and so needed. You’re not afraid to talk about the fact that you have a permaculture farm and you have a technology company. What is it on your website? It says on the Nathalie Lussier website, there’s three things at the top.
Nathalie Lussier: Oh, yes. So I recently changed that. OK, so it’s creativity, climate and business. Yeah.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Yeah. And you just put it right out there. This is who I am and these are the things that I stand for. And I think the more of us that do that, the more we can find each other. And, you know, Kelly Deals has the metaphor that when it comes to any change we’re collectively trying to make as a culture maker, There’s a wall in front of us and the wall is much bigger and the wall has more resources and more history and is way more established. And here we are with like little spoons digging in the side of the wall that’s hundreds of feet taller than us and trying to tear it down. But if we were all standing together at the wall with our tools and some of us are feeding each other and some of us are entertaining each other and other risks are stronger and can push more and have bigger tools. And it’s the collective effort of working towards what we’re passionate about that makes those differences. And so that’s another visual that always comes to me that it’s great. We all need to be at the wall and you’re at the wall in your own business and in your own community. And by talking about it, and living those values, then you bring others to you that want to do the same thing. I love that so much. Yes. Yeah. And as women leaders, talking about the expectations that have been placed on us consciously, unconsciously, that we have courageously and authentically let go of so that we can take that energy and that time and use it in ways that serve us and our real goals. I think that’s another conversation. That’s another wall. And I am so grateful that you’re here to be a part of that.
Nathalie Lussier: Thank you. Yeah, I think, you know, I really like I recently read the book Radical Homemakers. And that whole book kind of talks a little bit more about, you know, the role of women in the household versus in the world, you know, in careers and all of that. And I really enjoyed it because they feel like, you know, staking your claim and saying, I want to take care of my family, even if you still have a career is a very like taking your power back kind of move and be able to say like, this is what matters to me. And, you know, I am going to also have a career and also, you know, have a business or whatnot, but at the same time, like these are my priorities and, you know, Capitalism and all those things, they don’t get my best energy, right? My family, again, can get that first. So I feel like it’s just a really interesting reframe on what we want as women. And I think it’s going to be different for every woman as well. So I think that’s a really liberating thing to think about too.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Right. And you could be setting yourself up in ways that you’d be really pleasantly surprised with. You may not be chasing the highest growth rates that you could be with a tech company, but you’re creating a very sustainable company that’s lean. And if you decided down the road, that’s highly sellable. That’s very valuable to have a company with longevity that showed consistent growth versus rapid growth. So it’s smart in every front. And I love that radical homemaker. I’ll link that for the show notes. Is there anything else you want to share before we start to wrap up? Any other stories or ideas about this little gathering in the turtle pool? Yes.
Nathalie Lussier: I think for me, it’s also, you know, the legacy that we leave is if we have children, you know, giving them the permission to live their lives too. And I think giving them that similar openness of what does life look like for them? What are the shoulds that they need to do or maybe don’t need to do? And I think that, you know, a lot of times we we kind of forget that we’re role modeling for them too and being able to not just be on our screens all the time and be able to spend time with them like that can go a really long way as well. And at the same time saying, Hey, you know, mom is working on her book or mom is doing a presentation and it’s really important. It also shows like you can do both. Right. And I think that can be just a great example as well for, for, for children of any gender as well.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Mm hmm. So powerful to have those role models. And even if you don’t have children, you know, to be the woman leader to anybody in your life, men or women, boys or girls, it’s all it’s all chipping away at the wall. Well, Nathalie, I would like to end the show by asking you a question with just, you know, a brief answer, however you want to answer it. But what’s a lesson or a secret you wish you would have known years ago?
Nathalie Lussier: Mm hmm. I would say probably a lesson or secret I wish I would have known years ago is that a lot of times you will do work and it will probably survive much longer than you expect it to. So do a really good job at it. So like my husband has a really great long-term thinking. Kind of like when he’s coding and things like that, he’s like, okay, you know, in five years or 10 years, how is this feature going to be used? Is it going to have changed? Are people going to want to do these five different things with it? And so he can really like think long-term like that. Whereas I’m a little bit more of like a quick start and I like to just get something going, see what happens, tweak it over time. And I’ve really realized like some of the work that I’ve done has lasted for like 10 years, 15 years. And the things that I spent a lot of energy, I don’t want to say perfecting because I don’t, perfectionism is bad, but more like polishing or kind of making really strong have really stood the test of time. And I think that is amazing. Like not having to reinvent the wheel is also a big part of, you know, having the time to spend it offline and do all those things that we’re doing because we spend the time up front to do it right. So I think that has been really powerful. And I think that’s kind of a thing that my younger self did not understand.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: Absolutely. That is a key in what’s the saying, working smarter, not harder, doing it right, investing in it, refining. It’s really about commitment, committing to something. Yeah.
Nathalie Lussier: And I’m realizing like the long-term longevity of the, of the work that you do, because I think we’re all like, Oh, this is just a social post. Like I’m just going to post it once and then it’s done, but no, it could also be a blog post or a podcast or all these things, which are going to live on for like a really long time because it’s the internet. So just thinking about that, you know, spend a little bit more time to just like, make it, make it good. And then, you know, let it be out in the world and, you know, getting in front of more people basically.
Dr. Crystal Frazee: I love that. Thank you for sharing it. And thank you for sharing your whole story. I guess when I think about the changes that you’ve made since 2011, I see you as a little bit of a pioneer. There’s a lot of big influencers doing a lot of cool things. But as far as this conversation goes, I feel like you’re really a standout example for all of us. And I appreciate your thought leadership and hope we get to have more conversations on the topic. Thank you.
Nathalie Lussier: Thank you, I would love that.