Welcome bloomers! This week we take a breath from our traditional Sunday format to welcome our first interview feature of the month, with the phenomenal Thamina Stoll. Thamina is a gender equality & women’s health advocate, finance coach, investor, and member of the Global Leadership Team at Women@LinkedIn. I had the chance to interview her in person, and experience the refreshingly bold energy she carries – we had a playful conversation that left me three key seeds of wisdom:
🌱We tend to overestimate we can achieve in the short-term, but significantly underestimate what they can achieve long-term through small habits 🌱Ask yourself this question to silence an overthinking brain: "What is the opportunity cost?" 🌱Authenticity is a contagious force that, when we embody, helps others melt away walls we're socialized to build or forced to put up for survival with love & light, Jasmine PS. If you subscribed to The Bloom (welcome!!) recently here's last week's Sunday newsletter with our regular format 💌
One of the ideas you often discuss is creating space for women – whether that's in your role in the Global Women @ LinkedIn team, and your personal podcast and financial equity activism. What does it take to create space? First of all, it takes a lot of introspection, like trying to figure out, okay, what is the problem at hand, really analyzing what systemic barriers and systemic oppression, discrimination within this unique context of gender equality, what is really the status quo and what do we need to challenge? Once you've identified that, I think one of the most challenging things for me was creating language around the problems and unique experiences that women face. And that takes time because oftentimes you have this feeling and all these emotions stuck inside you, but it's sometimes difficult to convey what exactly it is that you feel. So the more you read up on things, the more podcast you listen to, the more interviews and female role models that you consume over time, the better equipped you end up being to vocalize your unique perspective on things. So I think that is a really important thing because in order to mobilize people and encourage people to take action, you really need to become very thoughtful in how you vocalize your message and your unique perspective.
It also takes less thinking, more doing. I’ve always been someone who does, before overthinking. So when I have an idea, I like to really dive deep right away, head first, and just focus on execution. Now that has pros and cons. As someone who considers herself to be an entrepreneur, I definitely have a sense of new shiny objects syndrome, learn about something, and I could go down a rabbit hole. But that's part of the fun. I think that's something that very many entrepreneurs experience.
Overthinking is such a paralyzing and pervasive force. What advice would you give to the overthinkers?
It's hard because women, our entire lives have been socialized into perfectionism. You got to watch what you say, how you act, otherwise, other people, including other women, unfortunately, will hold that against you.
I think once you start asking yourself, what is the opportunity cost that is associated with limiting your self expression, that's where it gets interesting. Because don't get me wrong, I used to have a lot of self limiting beliefs about showing up on social media, posting on Instagram, on LinkedIn, which are my two main channels and my coworkers and friends and friends of friends seeing that. But eventually I reached a point where my fear of remaining stagnant and not raising my voice had outgrown my fear of what other people might think about me and other people's potential judgment. And a lot of that is in our heads. We tend to think "when I put something out on social media, everyone that I've ever met will see it." But that's just not the case. So take a step back and think: what is the opportunity cost?If you don't want to be in the same place that you're in today and a year from now, then it's a sign for you, Okay, you got to change something. You got to take action. I'm not saying you have to make drastic changes. Move to a different country, break up with your partner, change job. That's not what I'm talking about. But oftentimes, as we know, for those of you who have read Atomic Habits, I'm sure a lot of people have, the idea of small actions compounding over time can make a huge difference. People oftentimes overestimate what they can achieve, let's say, within a day, a week, or a month, but they significantly underestimate what they can achieve and how much they can go in the course of 1 year, 5 years, 10 years.
Is there anything right now in your life that you're overthinking?
Something that I'm trying to stop overthinking and unlearn is body dysmorphia. For context, in 2021, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Lipedema, which is almost exclusively unique to women. There are very few men, cis men who can suffer from it as well, but it's mostly cis women who suffer from Lipedema. And it was a complete shock. Now it's nothing life threatening, but if the illness progresses, it can have a serious impact on your quality of life. And unfortunately, to this day, there is no cure to it. I ended up having three Lipedema related surgeries. And as a result of that, I have dozens of scars all over my body, which today I refer to as my battle marks. Around the same time, I also started having some reproductive health issues. And this past fall, I completed my first round of egg freezing, which unfortunately was less successful than I had hoped because it turns out that my fertility at age 28 has already declined. There are some days where it's really tough, and overthinking. But I think at this point in time, I'm the most thankful for my body that I've ever been because it has allowed me to really exceed everyone's expectations from an academic and professional perspective, including my own. It has allowed me to move to different countries all by myself, all while healing from emotional and physical abuse, depression, anxiety, chronic illness. Let's pivot to your work – where do you find most inspiration?
I derive most of my motivation for my own lived experiences, both the good and the bad ones. To give you an example, I randomly mentioned in my Instagram story this past summer that I was going to go in for a consultation with a fertility doctor. Really randomly I didn't think much of it. And then so many women started reaching out, asking me all these questions and asking me to document my journey. And I wrote a LinkedIn post that went semi viral, received more messages, including from the CEO of a well known fertility clinic who reached out to me asking about potential collaborations. Then she introduced me to the head of egg freezing of her fertility clinic. I interviewed her for my new podcast. And then things just kept evolving. From there, I got connected to this incredible talent or team, two women who are working on making egg freezing more accessible in the United States and now I joined them as an advisor and early investor. And it's just a testament to when you actually start being very transparent and show up and share glimpses of your life publicly, you never know what that can turn into. That's a big inspiration force.
For someone who might want to, like you, begin to be more open and transparent about certain aspects of their lives, how do you get into the habit of openness? Does it come spontaneously to write a post, or do you sit down for more structured unfiltered thoughts?
I wish I had this super elaborate process that is very calculated. And there are certain things where I definitely try to reverse engineer. If I have a long term goal, for example, going briefly back to the egg freezing journey. I know that eventually I either want to join a venture capital fund that focuses on investing in female founders or start my own fund or at least become a limited partner in such a fund. And because of my own personal experiences dealing with a chronic illness, fertility issues, and all of that stuff, I'm really passionate specifically around the topics of women's health. So I asked myself, okay, how can I make a name for myself? I'm not a doctor. I don't have any background. There's millions of women who suffer from chronic diseases. There is a lot of women who have fertility challenges or who have completed rounds of egg freezing, the big difference is I started talking about it. So then within my sphere and my immediate environment, people will start associating egg freezing with Thamina.
And finally, if you could gift one part of your story to our bloomers today, what would you love to give?
Everything that I do, I always try to show up as my most authentic self. And being genuine and also vulnerable with those around me has allowed me to form very meaningful relationships with people, may that be university professors, managers, mentors, coworkers, friends, you name it. As a society, we tend to teach people that they have to play, that we have to play our cards well and not reveal as much. But for me, the opposite has been the case. Once I started being more vulnerable and opened up, other people started doing the same. And just by virtue of me going first and be vulnerable with them. That resulted in a lot of people becoming emotionally invested in my journey. And as a result, they started supporting me, introducing me to other people, put their own reputation on the line in the name of my broader mission and vision. And so my advice to people would be, or if I could gift a skill to the people out here, it would be really to become comfortable showing up as your most authentic self with yourself, but also with the people around you because you'd be surprised. It could open doors that you didn't even think would be imagined and wouldn't even think would be possible.
Our newsletter this week was supported with love by The Week, an organization creating engaged conversations around climate change for populations who are aware but not yet truly engaged because they don’t know how or what to do. The Week's approach is based on recent insights in the psychology of climate change, as well as research on past movements that successfully broke through a grim status quo. The team is growing quickly and are urgently looking for a USA corporate program director, as well as several other job openings in Europe!
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