Sarah K. Peck’s Background

[1:40] – Sarah’s background is in psychology as an undergraduate and then a graduate degree in architecture and and design. She became really frustrated with how things were done. She was drawn to the entrepreneurial crowd. Started some side projects and businesses, then she began teaching and running her own consultancy. This was mainly around the idea that architecture firms needed to tell better stories to sell their big projects. She moved into tech after that. Today she is building her own company on the intersection of work and parenting this is specifically targeted to women. The name is Startup Pregnant. Mothers who are doing some incredible things and are often overlooked or forgotten.

Women in the workplace

[4:30] – Discussed an article in the Atlantic called: Why Women Can’t Have it all. She talks about the different reactions women receive when they are training for a big event like a triathlon on the side versus when they are having a baby. When she was training for the triathlon she was so cool. When she got pregnant people looked at her like she was a leper. It was like she had signed a cultural death certificate. When she became a mother she realized that she became more efficient and more creative.

Mastermind Groups

[9:00] – How do you become more aware of how you are spending your time? Openly talking about the things you are doing with your time. Some things are invisible and should not be. You should keep a time tracking journal to find out where it is all going.

[10:30] – Sarah runs mastermind groups to help people be accountable to their goals. She talks about how masterminds work and how these might work in an academic setting. She divides each year into quarters. She sets a series of goals for the 90 days of the quarter and then checks in every month on those goals. It is important to break it down to less than a year because it is really hard to understand progress when your endpoint is so far away. If you set yearly goals you don’t know until 12 months later whether or not you hit your goal. She likes to chunk things out into smaller pieces. Todd Herman’s program called the 90 day year is similar. The Best Self journal is another option.

[12:40] – She forms mastermind groups to help keep on track with this quarterly goal system. Masterminds with people on the same goal system helps hold all the participants accountable on a monthly basis. Mastermind also helps people stay on track when things are going off the rails.

[15:20] – Being in a mastermind for at least a year is essential. This helps form the habits around this system and helps people attain real progress. Reality is that some quarters don’t go as well as people imagine they will.

[16:00] – What is it that I put aside to spend time on myself and thinking about what I want to accomplish? Sarah lays out a case for spending time on masterminds. She references a couple articles about masterminds for Forbes (linked in the resources section below). She answers the question in a broader philosophical context. We live in a hyper-individual culture. We measure achievement based on what we believe has been accomplished solo. We need a bunch more community infrastructure to enable success. Working together is very important to our success.

[19:00] – Another question you can ask yourself if you are considering creating or joining a mastermind: is what I am currently doing working?

[19:45] – How much time do mastermind groups take? You can do it in a minimum of one hour a month. But this does not include setup time in finding fellow group members etc.

[20:30] – Finding the right people is important because you don’t want to get advice from people outside of your space. You need people facing the same problems as you. The conversations can go deeper this way. You need to come up with criteria for the kind of people you want to join you.

[22:40] – Her program is paid because she interviews people after the application process and matches them to their best fitting group.

[23:00] – She recommends setting up a standing time and requiring attendance at 90% of the meetings unless major emergencies arise.

Finding Time for Masterminds as a Busy Researcher

[24:00] – How do you find the time if you are busy person? We live in a world where we are going to be continuously bombarded by more things that we can read/see/do or consume or create that we have time for ever. The best thing we can do is create boundaries. This is one of the most critical skills of our day is creating these boundaries.

[26:10] – What it means is experimenting with eliminating almost everything from our lives and starting over.

[27:10] – An example attributed to Warren Buffet (probably misattributed) that describes a process of identifying the top 20 things you want to accomplish in your life. For Sarah this is having a kid and writing a book. Further down the list is running a marathon. You can really only do the first five. This means that numbers 6 through 20 are anti-goals. They are going to distract you from accomplishing goals 1 through 5. So for Sarah, running a marathon keeps her from spending time on her kids or writing her book. The little ideas are limiting your success to your big goals.

[29:30] – This elimination process is just reality and we need to honest with ourselves about what we want to accomplish. Of course there are things that take up life time. But the way to find time is to take a really hard look at what are you are doing and whether or not it really matters. The your gravestone will not have written “she answered emails really fast” etc.  This is not the list that you want.

[31:30] – Intentionally shifting your relationship to obligations.

How to say no when someone with more power than you asks you for something

[32:30] – Managers don’t have a great batting average. There is a power dynamic that is not in your favor. Especially for women. A way to say no that lets you off the hook is when you have clearly set your priorities you can respond with an or statement. E.g. would you rather me attend this committee meeting or finish this proposal. You put it back in the person’s hands that has more power than you. That puts them in the position of falling out of alignment with larger goals.

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