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Culture: It’s A Team Sport with Abby Wambach

Culture: It’s A Team Sport with Abby Wambach

Melissa sits down with two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion soccer powerhouse Abby Wambach to talk teams and culture. Just how important is culture to a team and what’s the secret sauce to a constructing a powerful culture?

Melissa: Hi. Welcome to the cultur(ED) podcast. I’m Melissa Jezior, your host. On this podcast we talk to top culture makers in the world today from a variety of industries and backgrounds to unpack the visible and not so visible forces that make up this often overlooked superpower, culture.

Right now we’re in the heart of the women’s World Cup and this inspired me to learn from elite athletes and coaches to unpack their tips and tricks for building winning cultures. On our first podcast in this series I’m pleased to feature Abby Wambach, the highest all time international goal scorer in soccer history.

Well, Abby, welcome to the cultur(ED) podcast, and thank you for joining us. I have to tell you I’ve been so excited to talk to you. I’ve been—I read your book. I really, genuinely loved it. In fact I’ve been telling my husband about it, I’ve been telling my kids about it, I’ve been telling my colleagues about it. In fact I want my 13-year-old daughter to read it because I think it has so many great messages, and so it’s just, I’m really excited to talk to you today, so.


Abby: Yeah, the same. I’m so excited to be here, and thank you for reading the book and wanting to talk about it. You know, it’s a labor of love, something that I’m really proud of, and I’m glad that your daughter, and, you know, I have 2 daughters of my own, a 13 and 11-year-old, so this book is for sure something I’ve [been super] into and we are like trying to put—throw it down their throats, [essentially].

Melissa: [Laughs.] That’s awesome. I’m with you. I’m so with you. I think, you know, obviously your soccer accomplishments are like in a league of their own, like a 2-time Olympic gold medalist, you know, FIFA world, women’s World Cup champion. But I have to tell you I had one of the proudest moments on your behalf last Saturday. Actually, maybe even on behalf of all women. I was chatting with one of my daughter’s friend’s dads at a swim meet and I was telling him how excited I was, that I was getting to interview you this week. And he says, oh, oh, Abby Wambach. Wait, isn’t she the highest all time women’s goal scorer?

Abby: Mm-hmm.

00:02:01 And I was like oh, actually, let me tell you, no, she is the all time scorer period across both women and men. So it was like on your behalf I was so proud to say that to him. So I can imagine how this book must feel like such a labor of love and an accomplishment. It’s really cool.

Abby: Yeah, thank you so much. I appreciate you and I appreciate you fixing, you know, being somebody out there that’s editing both—

Melissa: [Laughs.]

Abby: —[versions] of my record, so that’s great.

Melissa: But that’s actually, I think, why—that was what got me so excited at the concept of talking with you about your new book, “Wolf Pack: How to Come Together, Unleash Your Power and Change the Game,” is I think you’ve managed to take something that so few people have accomplished—there are not many elite athletes in the world, and you’ve taken something so unique and not only made understandable and relatable, but something I think that everybody can rally behind. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about the concept of the “Wolf Pack” and how you came up with this concept, and what it means.


Abby: Well, so first of all, I’m going to start at the beginning. When I retired the president of Barnard College emailed me and asked me to participate and be the commencement speaker of last year’s graduation, and reluctantly I said yes. And I say reluctantly because, you know, I was nervous. Like I actually have not graduated from college yet, so I thought they would know that, like is this, isn’t that kind of a prerequisite [of a] commencement speaker at college graduations?

And then I wanted it to be good. You know, I’m a competitor. And it’s not like you can win a gold medal, but I really wanted it to be good for these women because this is a watershed moment in these women’s lives. And I remember trying to figure out—and my wife and I, you know, my wife is an author, so she’s like the number one person I go to with all of my stuff, especially when it has to do with words and writing.

00:03:53 And so we were talking about different ideas and how to shape the speech. And I had been obsessed with this TED Talk that I had seen about these wolves [being rangers] into Yellowstone National Park, and there was something that screamed inside of this story, something that was true to me, that felt true to me about these wolves, and the ecosystem, and how so similar I feel women and our experience right now is in our world, right? And how do we transition from that fear of change to progress, how do we go from there to there.

And so I thought wow, this is such a beautiful metaphor for what women are experiencing right now that if we could somehow intertwine some of the teachings that I have had throughout my life that made me, that differentiated me as a champion, then I think that we could kind of tie this all together in a little bow while using these messages of what, you know, a fairy tale is supposed to teach us.

00:04:56 You know, I want this book to serve as the new bedtime stories for woman and girls everywhere, because we all read certain stories. And listen, women. and little girls, and boys, and men, we are given messages every single day about how we’re supposed to be acting, what it means to be a girl, what it means to be a boy, and all of these things. And it’s really freaking confusing, truth be told, right?

Melissa: Yeah.

Abby: Because I think that as [we’ve] come down along the line of evolution, gender is going to be on a much wider spectrum, right? And as we see sexuality be given a big, much wider spectrum, so too will gender. We just have to get a little bit further down in the progress [world]. So combining this idea of an understanding about the messages that were taught about what it means to be a girl, and then using my unique experience of playing on the national [team], plus the lessons that I’ve learned in many ways by playing in this all women’s badass ecosystem, and then kind of tying it all together with this cool wolf story, the wolf pack story.

00:06:12 And I…I don’t know if it’s a great speech. I think it was a good speech. I think that I knew it was going to kind of be made or, or, you know, kind of make or break how I performed it, because essentially it’s a performance.

Melissa: Right, yeah, yeah.

Abby: And I think that it came off well, and I think that the graduating seniors were grateful that I was the person that that year was chosen. In the end that’s how it kind of got turned into the book “Wolf Pack.” The actual book itself is a little bit more expanded, and it goes a little deeper into the philosophy that I write about. But one of the most important things about this book—and I can’t highlight this enough—is the note to the reader which is in the first page.

00:06:57 You know, I think that we are in a place right now where powerful women are trying to figure out the feelings they have about the way that they interact with the world and then the way that the world responds to them, right? And I think that this is a unique opportunity for women, and this is a unique opportunity for men. You know, this is an invitation for men to understand what women’s experience is like.

Because when we’re talking about gender and we’re talking about misogyny, and we’re talking about patriarchy, and we’re trying to solve for it, we have to get really honest with the fact that men haven’t really been finding themselves inside a work that has been written from the perspective of a woman, because they’ve never needed to, right? To need to understand what women go through. This is important because men have to start putting themselves in the…with the perspective of women.

00:07:57 They have to put themselves into the experience of somebody who’s been oppressed or somebody who’s been marginalized. That is the way we actually get somewhere. Because I think that…I think that that is a really big thing. And I’ve just actually, in the last 24 hours, started to get the language around that. I’ve been thinking about this especially because of what happened yesterday with the women playing, and beating Thailand 13 to 0, and a lot of people having an issue with it.

And it’s like actually, we all have to figure out from our own perspective how we were raised, what we know to be true, what we believe to be true, right? And that’s what this book is. This book is a compilation of the things I believe to be true. And I really mined what I do know, and what I do know in truth. I mined it for its gold and it turned into this book, and I’m proud of it. So that’s the longest answer in the history of the world.


Melissa: No, no, let’s build on that, because I think you bring up some really interesting points. And part of what I found like really inspiring about your book was one of the quotes you mentioned was from Ava DuVernay, the first black woman to direct a film nominated for an Oscar for best picture, right? And she says—and I love this quote—is “regarding glass ceilings I’m most bolstered by folks who create their own ceilings and I’m less interested in banging down the door of some man who doesn’t want me there.” And I think this is an attitude that I really identify with in the corporate world, and I’m interested in how you see that playing out on and off the field.

Abby: Yeah. You know, Ava said it perfectly. That’s why I chose her. But I think that when I watch our women’s national team play that’s exactly how I see them. And that’s exactly how I felt. It was like, oh, we’re not actually over there following the rules that you set out and put down, and these unwritten and unspoken rules that we’re all supposed to follow by. Like we’re over here creating our own thing, because that’s our right.

00:10:00 We’re allowed to do whatever [we] want. We’re allowed to do what we need to do in order to achieve the level of success that we want to achieve. Because that is how greatness is made. People who are innovators and are trying to do things and create progress, the first thing to any kind of innovation is an idea, and it’s a belief that something different and more beautiful and true is possible.

So, you know, that is what Ava has been doing in her own way, you know. And I think we all have to figure out, right, like what is important to us, and to also figure out what kind of marginalization, what kind of messages we have been swallowing for our entire lives that we don’t even understand now. We don’t even know that we have these, let’s call it, implicit bias.

Melissa: Mm-hmm.


Abby: And we can’t even point them out. We just believe things to be true. Like oh, that’s just the way it is. How many times have you ever said that? How many times have you thought that? Tons.

Melissa: Yeah.

Abby: And we have to…if we really want to actually create a sense of equality, we all, especially those who are marginalized, have to figure out what it is that we really believe. And when you are a marginalized person, we are more prone to figuring out what we believe because we’re being tested against it often.

So this is a charge for men out there, this is a charge for women out there to actually figure out, draw the line back to where you started to come to believe certain things about what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man. And by the way, I also understand that gender does [run on a spectrum]. I identify as a woman and so I’ve written this book from the perspective of a woman. The leadership philosophy in it is universal.

00:11:56 So, you know, forgive me if it’s too female for some folks, because I do understand that there’s some non-gender binary…nonbinary people that can’t completely identify as a woman, but it is written from that perspective. I think it’s very, very important for folks to understand that though all the philosophies in here are universal, women have not been taught them, right?

Women have not been taught that you are allowed to [be] imperfect. Women have not been taught that they’re allowed to fail, right, and still be able to move forward. Women have not been taught that they can be grateful and also demand what they deserve. So that’s why this is super important to have this conversation so that we can actually say oh, okay, yes, men can agree to everything in this book, but apparently the things that I’ve written about in the book have been taught to men for all of history.


Melissa: But I think, though, that it’s really—if I’m hearing you correctly, and I completely agree with you—is that it’s not just about the idea of encouraging women to think this way, it’s really encouraging everyone to say hey, if you do hit a roadblock, right, spend more time and energy on creating what you want than spending time on asking others to change, right? Like own it. Take it as your own and do something about it.

Abby: Yeah.

Melissa: And I think that’s a powerful message and I think one that organizations are trying to, I think are focusing on, is trying to help people figure out how to bring their whole selves to work. And one of the other stories that really struck me in terms of people who were able to bring their whole selves to work was the new coach of the national team, Pia, about how she came on board and really worked on shifting an existing culture, and it was an already strong and successful culture, but she managed to bring her whole self to her job and really create this amazing sense of inclusion.


Abby: Yeah.

Melissa: So for our listeners, you can tell the story that you shared in the book of what it was like—

Abby: Oh, right. Right, right, right.

Melissa: —when Pia showed up for the first time? I thought it was a great, great story.

Abby: Yeah, well, it was first [meeting] ever. We hadn’t really ever met her. We knew of her. We knew of her. So she shows up and then we just said, you know, we’re going to win, we’re going to play beautiful soccer, and then all of a sudden she pulled out this guitar, right? And as an American, we are very serious. You know, you are on the national team, you’re representing your country, and so everything is very serious. So the idea that this woman would bring a guitar felt almost like a circus act. My initial feelings were like this is ridiculous, you know.

Melissa: [Laughs.]

Abby: But as she kept playing I just noticed a lot of us kind of started to lean a little bit more in, and lean a little bit more on. As time went on we realized music, for Pia, is a great love of her life.

00:15:02 And over time we realized that that was vulnerability, that she was showing us who she was without having to talk, without having to tell us, but showing us. And she was stepping into a different kind of power, a different kind of female power that we’d never seen. And I think that it brought us together so much. We love those ideas of those times where she would get her guitar out and play for us. It was amazing.

Melissa: That is very cool. And I do, I love the idea that she created, like she really did bring her whole self and created, as a result, it sounds like, this culture of inclusion that ultimately led to so much success. And I think that’s exactly what so much of corporate America is trying to achieve right now. You see so much of it continuing to play out in the news about diversity and inclusion. And I think she’s just a great example of this microcosm that she created of success by doing just that.

Abby: Totally.


Melissa: So the other thing you mentioned is one of your responsibilities when you were a co-captain was building team culture, so—and a culture, by the way, that was so strong, like books have been written about it. So I’d be curious, like let us in on the secret. Like what do you, how did you do it? Like what—[laughs]—I can tell you every CEO wants to build a culture as strong as you did. How did you do it?

Abby: Yeah. Well, the first thing is I stepped into an already existing strong culture, so I can’t lie and say that it was all my doing. You know, there was this very solid structure and culture that was there decades before I arrived. And that is because, you know, I followed in the footsteps of Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Carla Overbeck, Eva Heindricks, Karen [unintelligible] 00:16:51, women who singlehandedly, in ways, changed the dynamic of women’s sports and the way that women are viewed in sports.

00:17:03 And then how did they do that? How do you create culture? How do you maintain culture? And then how do you evolve with what’s going on in our modern days, right? Because early days it’s like I think that we all can remember a time when the coach or the boss stood on a chair in the locker room or stood on a desk in the office and told the team, and tried to inspire them, and tried to motivate them. And though inspiration is still necessary, I don’t believe that it’s the job of one person to create culture. I believe that the more modern way of leadership is to get the best people in the room and let them create the culture, let them create the system.

00:17:51 You know, and I have to share this, and it’s not to slight Sheryl Sandberg in any way, because “Lean In” was so important back in 2013, but we are…it feels like it’s almost an archaic idea where women should be like trying to mold themselves and fit themselves into a man’s business world, right? We are so far beyond that now that women need to step into their full selves, their true power, because it’s the women and the femininity that women can bring with them to the business world that can solve so many issues that the business world is experiencing.

So, you know, I think a lot about culture and I think about how the younger generation has to be not just inspired and motivated, but individually motivated. You have to reach out, and it’s harder to manage. It’s harder to lead. It’s harder to captain teams than it ever was because you have to figure out how each and every single person is motivated, and what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses, and how you can [use] each person’s strengths and compound those strengths on top of each other so as to not expose the weaknesses, right?


Melissa: Mm-hmm.

Abby: I think that just recently I was doing this event with Mia, and I was kind of [dosing] myself a little. I was like, oh, I wasn’t the best, I wasn’t that technical. And she just kind of shut me up. She goes, Abby, don’t do that, like don’t do that to yourself because where your weaknesses lied is exactly where my strengths took over, so if it had not been for your weaknesses, I never would have had a role on the team, right?

Melissa: That’s interesting, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Abby: And I think that we lose sight of that because all we do all day long is that we go around trying to protect our failures or our quote, unquote, weaknesses rather than saying oh, those weaknesses are actually where somebody else’s strengths might lie. So then this weakness isn’t necessarily something to be ashamed of. It’s something to like look for in other people, like where can somebody else help me here, right?

00:20:02 Because nobody does anything alone. And I think that kind of culture will allow managers, CEOs, people to understand how they can get a group of people that all come from different places, that have different levels of education, that believe in different things and have different politics, whatever it is we’re talking about, there is a way to bring people together. But you can’t do it without making yourself vulnerable first. You can’t do it without knowing who you are first. You can spot a fake a mile away.

Melissa: Oh, absolutely.

Abby: At least I can.

Melissa: Oh, no, I think you’re right, mm-hmm.

Abby: Yeah. Long story short.

Melissa: Okay, so building on that and building on those concepts, I’m curious like how big of a factor do you think culture is and the ability to show up and accept some of the vulnerabilities that you talk about, and the ability to bring your whole self, how much do you think those things play into the differences between a winning team and a losing team?


Abby: I think that culture is everything because culture sets mindset, right? And mindset has everything to do with winning and losing. The way that you [attend], the way that you practice, the way that you are every single moment, every single day at work determines outcomes of big moments, right? It’s not the game days that determine the outcome. It’s like it’s the previous 3 months. It’s the previous 6 months. It’s the previous 4 years.

Like what is your business doing consistently well? And that is the stuff that will determine success or not. It’s not about scoring more goals or having more on your bottom line, or having more sales on your spreadsheet. That’s not what determines success. That is an outcome, right? For me, I believe that in order to fundamentally break down all of the things that will allow your team more chance at success, mindset is one of the most important things that is very embedded inside of what the culture is, right?

00:22:08 And mindset is created by each and every single individual. So on the national team, when we would go out and train, it didn’t matter what we were doing, every single time we were going out to train we were going out to become better, not I’m trying to be better than her, never like that. It was like I am trying to get better today. I want to make sure we gain today. And the only way I’m doing that, right, the only way that I’m making these gains is if I’m pushing my body, and my mind, and my heart to its limit every single day.

And the faith and the trust that gets built between a person on her right and a person on her left that is doing that kind of work every single day, that is what’s called mindset, and that is what culturally allows a team to [arrive on] the podium or have certain successes, whatever they might be.

00:23:05 It’s the belief system that every single day they’re going to bring it. It’s not just bring it when it’s the tournament time. It’s—

Melissa: Every day.

Abby: —the sacrifice and all of that every single day. So consistency at a high level is kind of my definition of true success. It’s not winning championships, it’s consistently being able to be excellent.

Melissa: So one of another, one of my favorite quotes in the book was—and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I really love this quote and the subsequent quote that you mention after. But it’s “I’ve never scored a goal in my life without getting a pass from someone else.” And I’ve watched footage of you scoring a goal. Maybe you can tell us what happens when you would score a goal.

Abby: So a couple of months ago I was watching some videos, and when the kids get in trouble I force them to watch some of my old goals, and it’s real fun for them.

Melissa: Oh, yes. I may have to adopt that. [Laughs.]


Abby: Yes, so my 11-year-old, Emma, she’s like who are you pointing to? And I just said, you know, I was like that’s actually a really great question, and it’s an important one because I think that noticing these things is exactly what I’m trying to teach my daughters. Like I’m trying to teach them the little micro movements and the micro things that I witness from powerful women.

So I told her, I said, you know, before every goal there’s something that happens beforehand. Somebody has passed me the ball. Some defender has cleared to fall off the line and passed it out to a midfielder, who passed it to the final assist giver. I’m pointing to all of those people.

I’m also pointing to the bench player who happened to stay after practice late with me 2 times that week. I’m pointing to the coach for drawing up the play. I’m pointing to every single person who had an impact on that specific moment because in soccer, you know, the game is fluid, and everybody is kind of trusting, and it’s like this, an amoeba-like structure that’s happening throughout the entirety of the game.

00:25:02 So there’s an immense amount of trust that goes into it, and with any kind of trust, when good things happen, we have to celebrate that, and we have to champion each other. So essentially this is the story that I believe everybody can relate to, right? Everybody understands what it’s like to score a goal on some level, right, to have any kind of success.

And if you are the goal scorer you better be pointing, pointing to the coach, pointing to your midfielders, right? If you are the person who gets the promotion, you’ve got to be acknowledging the folks that got you there, you know, whether it was a mentor, whether it was somebody who allowed you the opportunity to get the job, whether it was your parents or your brothers or your sisters. It doesn’t matter who, it just matters that you acknowledge any success that you got, because nobody’s ever done anything alone in the history of the world.

00:25:55 And I think that that’s an unforgettable thing, especially with how autonomous we’re making our lives with social media and technology. I believe it’s almost a lost art, the art of gratitude and the art of thanking somebody for their experience or their influence in that moment of your life.

Melissa: And I think it’s so important, too, in terms of creating that, like, positive team culture that you’ve been referencing, like yes, it is a lost art in many ways, and one I think that is so essential to building trust and support across any team.

Abby: Yeah, and ask yourself this, like ask yourself this one question. What kind of a team do you want to play on, you know?

Melissa: Yeah.

Abby: Like do you want to play on a team where everybody’s like out to get each other? Do you want to play on a team where like we’re all competing against each other and there’s no positivity, and it’s like sinister? Nobody wants that.

Melissa: Nobody wants that, yeah.

Abby: Create the environment that you want to be a part of, right? And before you can do that, before you can figure out exactly what kind of environment you want to be a part of, you need to know who you are.

00:27:00 And there isn’t enough personal work that’s done in the world. There isn’t enough holistic personal work that is done for people to figure out exactly who they are so they can actually start figuring out the environment they want to create around them.

Melissa: Let’s flip the script here for a second and talk about failure for a little bit. You know, I think in theory failure is something that people are okay with. In fact I think in corporate America we’re talking a lot more about needing failure as a necessary component to innovation. But I think sometimes, you know, people are fine with it intellectually. I think it’s a whole different story when that failure becomes really personal. So maybe you could tell us a little bit more about your philosophy on failure and how you think corporate America could benefit from following the same philosophy.

Abby: Well, I think that for women and men failure takes on a very different look. I think that men, for all of time, have been able to fail. And I think it was Michelle Obama that said men fail up, right?

00:28:00 For women it makes perfect sense to me that women are so afraid to fail because there’s a scarcity mentality that’s been planted inside of us and among us. And it’s a numbers game. When you think about a table and there’s 10 seats around that table dedicated to a board or whomever, and 2 of those seats statistically are being given to women, it makes real actual sense why women would be more afraid to fail, because that would give them less chance of getting one of those seats at the table, right?

Melissa: Mm-hmm.

Abby: And for men it makes sense, it makes people understand like, oh yeah, like I’ve got more chance and more opportunity, so inherently I’m going to feel more comfortable about taking more risk, where women aren’t. And that’s why this message, and this philosophy, and this leadership tactic that I’m trying to [impart] in women is that it’s like we can take ourselves out of the game.

00:28:59 Not only by not even playing, but then when we do make a mistake, or we do fail, so many women take their balls and go home, right?

Melissa: [Laughs.]

Abby: We can’t do that. We have to step in and say you know what, this was a mistake and I’ve learned from it, and I’m going to make this into one of the best things that ever happened to me. And I think that women too often worry that this is going to be their demise, this is going to be the moment, because we all are made up of this imposter syndrome as well, because we haven’t been around as long as men in the business world.

So for me I think that there’s a ton more work. And it’s a mindset. It’s a switch in my mind that you literally can make right this second that any failure of your life in your past and any failure in your future you can use as evidence and an opportunity rather than an end line.

00:29:56 And that is in your mind. You can train it. And it’s not easy. I’m not saying that it’s going to be with a snap of your fingers. It’s going to be hard. You’re going to struggle with it. It’s going to be something that you might have to, like, have an existential crisis around.

But the more you do it, the more little failures you can point to and say okay, this is an opportunity, this is an opportunity and turn it into fuel, you will find yourself in 6 months, in 12 months, in 2 years a much stronger person and somebody who’s more capable and willing to take risks. The people who are capable and more willing to take risks are the ones that innovate more, are the ones that are more creative, are the ones that actually [feed] higher. You know, it takes money to make money situation, and that’s exactly what this is.

Melissa: So I read that you jokingly said, after being selected to the Hall of Fame, that that honor means you’re officially a has been. But somehow I suspect the best is still yet to come from you, Abby, so what’s next?


Abby: Well, I think that I’m in it right now. You know, I, for so much of my life, being a professional athlete, there was always something that was next. There was the next Olympics, the next World Cup that I was training for, right? And I think I’m trying to disassociate myself from these massive end lines. Do I have goals? Of course. But I’m trying to rebalance the skills of my life to make them not so…that there’s not like this finish line with a checkered flag.

Like I want to have a beautiful life and I want to create a beautiful marriage, and continue to create a beautiful marriage, and raise beautiful children, and have amazing experiences. And, you know, I’ve written 2 books, and this “Wolf Pack” book has been nothing short of a miracle for me because it’s brought a different kind of life to the context of what I knew to be true and what…and it forced me to actually do some real personal work, right?

00:31:57 Because when you actually put something in print you have to be damn sure what you’re saying is true to you. You have to be damn sure. And it doesn’t have to be good. I’m not saying that [every book] that has been printed in the world has to be great. I’m saying it has to be true. And it took a long time for me to really uncover not only the truth of what I believe about the world, and about women, and about my experience, but how I came to believe it.

I think those 2 elements are very, very important for people to map out what they want for their life so that they can go about achieving some of the things that they want to get done down here, because life is short. So that’s kind of, that’s what I’m doing now. I have a leadership company that I started this last year and I’ve already taken 20 women through a 10 month long program inside of—

Melissa: Very cool.

Abby: —[a private] school which is a, you know, it’s the passion of my life because I do a lot of speeches, and I go into the corporate world, and I talk about women’s leadership, and empowerment, and pay equity, and all of those things.

00:33:02 And that was awesome, and it’s great, and it pays the bills. But the truth is, is going in on a one off situation at one of the women’s conferences or one of the yearly conferences these corporations have per year just felt a little…there was a void. I’d wonder am I actually making a difference, right? Is this actually moving the needle? Am I actually doing something here?

So that forced my hand into creating an actual leadership program that is… So essentially I’m going out and speaking about women’s rights. That’s checking the diversity, box, right? And creating these leadership programs, and offering them, and going around the country talking to women over a long period of time. That is me trying to check the inclusion box because that’s the thing that I don’t think all corporations really, truly get and have figured out, right?

00:33:55 Because diversity is hiring, you know, having a specific number of women versus men that you’ve hired, or diversity is hiring a trans person. And then the inclusion part is making sure that those women are able to use their voices. And not only that, but they’re actually getting into the top tier levels of management, which is where we see the biggest cutoff in the separation between men and women—

Melissa: Yep.

Abby: —in the business world. So that’s kind of what I’m doing. And I’m parenting. And right now specifically I’m going to be watching the World Cup today, and—

Melissa: [Laughs.]

Abby: —you know, just super happy to be alive, super happy that soccer gave me a platform to be able to really do good work in the world and work that I’m very passionate about. And yeah, I couldn’t be happier, actually.

Melissa: Oh, that’s fantastic. So 2 more quick questions for you. What’s the one word you think about when you think of culture?

Abby: I think…I suck at doing one words, but I’m going to try.

Melissa: [Laughs.] Okay, you can…it has to be one word—it doesn’t have to be one word.


Abby: I think it’s figure out-able.

Melissa: Figure out-able.

Abby: I think culture is figure out-able. It’s physical as hell, but I think that, you know, every company, and every country, and every generation, like we have these cultures that we are kind of working within, and every person has a role in that.

Melissa: Okay, last question, and this is kind of a fun, silly question, but it’s one that we ask all of our new hires when they start at Eagle Hill. What’s the one superpower you wish you had and why?

Abby: Hm… Okay, well, I have 2 answers. One is a very practical, boring one because I travel so much, so it would be for sure time travel.

Melissa: Same with me. I’m with you on that. [Laughs.] Wouldn’t that be so easy?

Abby: Totally. Totally, and would just like make my life so much better, so much easier. But my real answer would probably be to fly.

Melissa: Very cool.

Abby: Yeah.

Melissa: Well, Abby, thank you so much for joining us today. I loved learning more about your background and your philosophies, and kind of putting a voice to all your cool ideas that you’ve put together in “Wolf Pack.”

00:36:08 I really think you talked about all the personal work that you did and it really shines through because it is, it really, really is a great little book, and I loved it, and I loved your messages, so I wish you so much luck and success, too, moving forward.

Abby: Awesome. Thank you for having me and good luck with everything, okay?

Melissa: No problem. Thanks so much, Abby.

Abby: Okay.

Melissa: Thanks for listening to our cultur(ED) podcast. If you liked the show and want to learn more, check out our cultur(ED) website, And please follow us on iTunes. If you’d like to know more about our research, visit

00:36:45 [End of recording.]