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Rock-It Roadmap with Karen Gross

Ready to rock it, but don’t know where to start? Turn on this episode for a jolt of inspiration right now! In this solo episode, She Rocked It founder and host Karen Gross shares the ROCK IT Roadmap – a series of six top tips for a creative, courageous life and career. These empowering lessons are drawn from Karen’s decade of experience as a successful creative entrepreneur, her many She Rocked It interviews, and her time as a speechwriter and journalist, writing for and about trailblazing women leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs. This is the kind of roadmap you’ll want to hang on your fridge as a reminder to rock it everyday (head to our website to print it out)! Let’s all rock it – together.

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In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • [00:58] Introducing the Rock-It Roadmap and She Rocked It host and founder, Karen Gross 
  • [3:39] “R” = Raise your voice
  • [6:15] “O” = Own your value 
  • [10:01] “C” = Commit to your creativity 
  • [14:08] “K” = Kick out your inner critic
  • [19:12] “I” = Imagine and Implement
  • [24:22] “T” = Tribe vibes 
  • [27:59] Roadmap recap and how to rock some empowering apparel

Links from the episode: 

She Rocked It interviews:

Learn more about the Rock-It Launcher group mentorship program for creative, courageous women at https://sherockedit.com/rock-it-launcher

She Rocked It is a media and mentorship platform where creative, courageous women rock it together. We are eager to learn from, listen to, and lift one another up — driven by the belief that women’s voices are essential. On our podcast and Instagram Live interview series, She Rocked It host/founder and creative entrepreneur Karen Gross gets trailblazing women leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs to reveal how they rock it – and their insights may surprise you. Their behind-the-scenes stories, best-kept secrets to success, and actionable tips are sure to inspire the rockstar in all of us! 

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Rock-It Roadmap Transcript

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Hey everyone, welcome to the She Rocked It podcast. It’s your host and the founder of She Rocked It, Karen Gross. I’m in the hot seat right now. I’m really excited to get to talk right to you. I obviously love doing interviews with all of our incredible, creative, courageous trailblazing guests. But tonight, I just want to have a little heart to heart a little moment to tell you something that’s on my mind. And that is the Rock-It roadmap. Yes, this is a distillation of the lessons that I have learned interviewing plenty of women in season one of our podcast, season two, and also on Instagram Live and our interview series. And these are also lessons that I’ve learned in nearly 10 years as a creative entrepreneur as a singer, writer, Communications Consultant. So this is a kind of like a quick download on how you can rock it in your own life and I hope the Rock-It Roadmap is really helpful for you.

Before I dive in, just to tell you a little quick intro about me if you haven’t been following She Rocked It. I am a singer, as I mentioned, who has performed mostly around the Northeast in New York and Philly— I spent many years as a cabaret singer actually performing at places like Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and some New York cabaret clubs. If you’re a fan of Cabaret, you may have heard of Don’t Tell Mama, among some other cool clubs there. And I’ve also had in parallel a career as a Communications Consultant— as a speech writer, as a copywriter, and as a communications strategist for thought leaders, for executives, and have really had the opportunity to work with some incredible women leaders, and in those experiences got kind of behind the scenes on their lives. And I would be thinking, “wow, I’m learning about these incredible women, these pioneering women, it would be so cool if other women could hear the stories that I’m getting to hear as a speechwriter, and as a communication strategist”. So, She Rocked It was born, actually in lockdown in 2020, 2021, out of a passion for elevating women’s voices, and really pulling back the curtain on women’s experiences and what makes them tick. So that we all can learn from and listen to and lift one another up. So that’s a little background about me, you can learn more about me at karengross.com and more about She Rocked It of course, on our website, sherockedit.com. And I hope you’ll listen to more of the interviews here at the podcast to hear from some of the incredible women I’ve had the opportunity of speaking to. But as I mentioned, there are certain themes that keep coming up in these interviews about how we can all rock it. And as a writer, as someone who’s really into words, and wordsmithing, I love a good acrostic. You may know what an acrostic is, it’s like if you look from top to bottom, and you look at the first letter of a certain word or phrase, and then you kind of spell out something from that letter. It’s just fun, it’s something you may have done in elementary school. So the roadmap is an acrostic. It’s “Rock It” spelled out and every letter has a powerful lesson for you to rock it in your own life. So let’s start with the R Okay, you ready?

The first letter of Rock-It R is “Raise your voice”. Raise your voice? It sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not. And I’m saying this as someone who has been raising her voice professionally as a writer and a singer for almost 20 years. And still, it’s hard for me to raise my voice. So that’s something that we all have to focus on. And we’re going to root each other on and raising our voices. And it’s especially hard to raise your voice when it’s something you really care about, right? When it’s something personal when something that means a lot to you. And raising your voice can look a lot of different ways. It can look like asking for a raise, it can look like leaving a job or a client that no longer serves you. If you, if you’ve had that conversation, you know, it’s a hard conversation to say goodbye to something that no longer serves you. It can also look like asking your partner for something, something deeply personal. It can look like telling people like family that you’re a creative and you know, telling folks that you’re an artist or you’re following a creative path can be terrifying. And I know firsthand that you can get pushback. So raising your voice in that capacity is it can be hard. It can look like sharing your dream with a trusted friend, voicing your dream. So, raising our voices is so important to rocking it and it’s something that we all hear at She Rocked It are going to encourage one another to do in whatever shape that takes in your life. So let’s do it. Let’s raise our voices.

And in the episode that I did, the interview I did with Mary Jelkovsky she had such a powerful and simple message, which was “Just Ask.” Now in case you don’t know who Mary Jelkovsky is, she is an incredible influencer, she’s a TEDx speaker, she has a book out about self-love. And you would think that someone like Mary doesn’t have any issues raising her voice, but she actually had to cultivate that too. And I highly encourage you to check out that interview, which is from podcast season one. And she had to Ask, she had to raise her voice and the knock on the door to get things like her book deal. To get things like opportunities that we might think, “oh, that just came out of nowhere and someone approached her”. No, she had to raise her voice and ask for these things. So ,check out that episode to learn more about Mary’s belief and Just Asking. Ask the question, and learning a little more about how she got where she did and provided such a powerful message to her

followers.

Okay, ready for the O, we’re at Rock It with th­­­e O — “Own your value.” That’s the O on it. Own your value. This again, sounds easy. It’s it’s not and you know, someone like me, people think a lot of times “you’re a confident person, Karen, you know, you found that She Rocked It, You’ve been an entrepreneur!” I’m gonna be real with you. I have to psych myself up all the time. That’s that’s the real the real thing and there are days when I feel small. When I feel like I’m not sure that I can do this hard thing in my business, have this hard conversation with a client, look at a contract and decide what I’m going to get paid. So, I know firsthand, this is not easy to own your value. And as women, come on, there is a pay gap. There’s a serious pay gap for women of color—we need to think about these things, we need to fight against them. And we need to own our worth. And the­ best way to do that is to do it together, to really talk about what’s working for each of us. And each of us is going to be a different situation in our own lives, we’re going to have different ways that this challenges us, but if we’re honest about it, we can join forces and raise our voices and own our value. And that also looks like owning the fact that we’re each a rockstar. Yes, you are a rockstar. Just take that in for a second.

People think a rockstar has to look a certain way. Like you’re literally on stage, you’re wearing the Rock and Roll outfits, you’ve got like the makeup. No, you are a rockstar. And I’m gonna tell you something that fascinates me and also troubles me. There’s so many women that I’ve talked to women who are doing amazing things every day— whether you are a mom, an educator, you’re a lawyer, you’re an artist, whatever you are, I’ll say “you’re a rockstar” and so many women will go “no, no, no, not me”. Now, physicians, people literally saving lives, I’m like “you are such a rockstar!” and how much pushback I get. It like literally hurts my heart. So we have to remember that we all have rockstar qualities, we have to own our value. And I want women to honor and own their inner rockstar. There are so many ways that each of us are rocking it every day. And part of the mission of She Rocked It is to make sure that each of us honors and recognizes that. So listen, you don’t have to brag you don’t have to be boastful, whatever, you can honor it whatever way but honor your inner rockstar. Okay, hear me. Literally right now, I want you to think of two ways that you’re rocking it today. Did you get out of bed today? You are rocking it. It’s not easy to get out of bed. Things are crazy, right? Okay, so you’re rocking it. Did you say something kind to someone? You are rocking it. Did you go and make some money at a job that you like? You’re rocking it. Are you tuning into this podcast? You are rocking it! Okay, so say it with me Own Your Value and Own your inner rockstar.

I’m going to tell you what Divinity Roxx said about that. And yes, her name is Divinity Roxx. That’s R-O-X-X. But come on, She’s rocking it. She was on tour with Beyoncé as her bass player, musical director, she writes children’s music. She’s an incredible creative. And what she said to me also in podcast season one was she said, “Don’t ask for permission.” Just don’t go for it, do it. And that’s powerful. That’s how we own our value. We don’t wait for someone to tell us “you got a gold star, you should go ahead and do that thing.” No, we have to own our value, we have to tell people what we’re worth, we have to take that on. And again, it helps to have women around us who are going to root us on along that journey.

Okay, you ready for the next letter? We’re up to C—you’re ready for C? There’s actually a double C in this one, so get ready. It’s Commit to your Creativity. Okay, commit to your creativity. As I mentioned, She Rocked It is a community of creative, courageous women, what we— lots of C’s there, right? Creative, courageous women. And creativity can look different for each of us. You know, creative might be defined as, as I read it in the dictionary, it’s marked by the ability or the power to create. And the creative impulse, you know, women are so creative for so many reasons, right? It’s about not imitating maybe sometimes creating something that’s uniquely your own. There’s so many ways to define creativity. So, I want to start to broaden this definition. You don’t have to be a fine artist. You don’t necessarily have to be a painter, a designer, a singer— creativity can look in a tons of different ways. And I’ve learned this firsthand because we have a program called the Rock-It Launcher program. It’s a group mentorship program that helps women transform their unique brand of creativity into a career that rocks. And in this program, I’ve seen the vast array of creative women and what they’re doing. And we’ve had women in the program who are podcast producers. We’ve had a poet and a grief coach, a speech writer, women working in nonprofit organizations and universities, women looking to open brick-and-mortar stores. All of that is creative. Owning a business is a creative act. Being an entrepreneur is a creative act. We’re creating our lives every day. So, consider yourself a creative in whatever way feels good for you, and then commit to it. Okay, Commit to it. And, again, sounds easy, not always easy in our society, because our society often tells us and especially tells us as women that doing something a little bit out of the box, a little bit unconventional— maybe not a safe choice, maybe not a choice that gives you quote, unquote, security, right? Well, we have to have the strength to push back on that and commit to our creative calling, whatever that looks like. And I’m here and let me tell you, that’s part of the reason, again, that I’m so passionate about creating this community is because I experienced that pushback, people asking me, “Oh, as a creative person, you know, you’re going to need to get a real job, you should have security, you should have a full-time job a nine to five.” Well, I have made a living off of my creativity for almost a decade. Now, it is possible, it is possible. And I want you to be able to find a way to pursue your creative calling that is fulfilling. And by the way, it could be full-time, it can be a side hustle, whatever that looks like to you. But commit to your creativity. Because let me tell you, it is important. Your voice is important. Your fulfillment is important. Your creativity is so so important.

And I spoke to an incredibly creative woman, one of the most creative women I know, Jennifer Blaine, in season one of the podcast, what she said in our conversation was, “Keep inventing yourself.” I mean, that’s like the ultimate creative mantra, right? Keep inventing yourself. I mean, not only commit to your creativity, but evolve, evolve, and keep creating yourself. I’ll tell you who I was two years ago, I didn’t even have She Rocked It in my in my view, you know, and now this is such a huge creative passion for me. So just keep on inventing what you want your life to look like, keep on creating your life, creating a life that you love is such a creative act. And it’s an exciting and challenging and beautiful and rewarding creative act. So commit to it, commit to all of it, and keep inventing and I might add reinventing yourself.

Alright, we’re up to K. Well, I love the letter K because I’m Karen. Okay. All right, but the K here in Rock It stands for “Kick out your inner critic.” Kick out your inner critic. Oof. Yes, we’re gonna have to do that right. I’m here to help you and support you, all right? I spoke to Ashley Berke last season for season one of the of the podcast. Ashley is an astonishing, creative person. She is the Chief of Communications for The Philadelphia Orchestra, which is one of the premier orchestras in the world. She’s a total rockstar and she actually tattooed on her body this mantra— “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt,” that is quoting Sylvia Plath, the poet. She actually felt so strongly about this mantra that she literally tattooed on her body— she revealed this to me, in our conversation, I actually know, have known Ashley for years, and I had no idea she had this tattoo on her body. But as a reminder, to kick out her inner critic she tattooed “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”.

And, you know, even the most confident and powerful women that I’ve had the honor of speaking with, they all have insecurities, too. They all have self-doubt, too. I’ve learned that in my journey as a communications consultant and speech writer, you know, you think you see someone on a podium, who’s so powerful, who’s got it all figured out. And I’ll tell you, most of those people that I’ve had the opportunity to work with, they had some of the same questions and doubts that we all do. But they have been able to overcome and perhaps make friends with some of those doubts and insecurities. And I think that’s what we all need to learn. We all are going to have those little voices unless you’re, I don’t know the odd person who just you know, feels like a rockstar all the time. And God bless you if that’s you, you know, more power to you. But I think a lot of us have that inner critic or may even be so-called impostor syndrome, where we may have things like, you know, “I don’t think I should be the person who is in this leadership role.” “I don’t think I should be the person who raises my voice for change,” or “I don’t think I should be the person who’s standing on that stage” or “I don’t think I should be the person who opens that brick-and-mortar business in my neighborhood”. We may all have those voices in our head. And I’ve got some news for you. Those voices may not go away. I’m not sure that they get 100% Quiet. But what we can do is we can get to know them. And we can kick them out, at least temporarily put them outside the door, let them out into the cold, maybe they’re knocking on the window a little bit. But let’s just try to quiet them down, kick them out, quiet them down and go forth. Because we need you. We need that brick-and-mortar store. We need your voice on that stage. We need your voice in the boardroom. We need your voice in the bedroom damnit! Asking for what you want.

By the way, I know firsthand, that’s not easy either. But we’re going to kick out those voices saying we can’t do it. We can’t get there to the dream that we have to the thing that’s in our heart. And we need to go for it. And again, that’s why we’ve got this amazing community so that we can build that courage together to kick out our inner critic and follow our creative callings. And one more thing I’ll say about this is my inner critic is particularly strong, because I am a perfectionist. Anyone else out there who else is a perfectionist? I mean, I’m an editor. I’m a copy editor I’m—I’m a, might say a damn good copy editor. And part of the reason is because I’m a perfectionist, I need to cross every “t” dot every “I”. And that has really stalled me at times, because I feel like everything has to be perfect. And what I’ve learned, actually, in recent years, is that it’s important to have progress over perfection. Because if I’m caught in a spiral of perfection, shit’s not going to get done, shit’s not going to happen. Or it’s going to take a really, really long time. And I’m going to be lagging behind the eight ball of where I want to go. So yes, I want things to be good yet. Yes, I want things to have a great vibe. Yes, I want people to have a great experience. Yes, I want my t’s to be crossed and i’s to be dotted. But I’ve learned to find that balance. And I’m continuing to learn that, to find that balance of having things looking fine, great. And holding myself back and reigning myself back, because it’s just not 100% Perfect. So, you’re gonna have to navigate that balance in your own life if you’re a perfectionist, but please know that I understand deeply, if that’s something that’s been holding you back, and we’re going to work on this together. Okay, this is not something I’ve 100% solved, because I find sometimes that I’m writing the perfect email, and it’s sitting in drafts for way too long, right? But together, because the world needs us, we’re gonna have to make those baby steps so that we can make progress and not be paralyzed and stalled by perfectionism.

Okay, we’re up to “I,” we did “rock” now we’re down to “it”. So, we got “I” and I’m going to give you again, a double “I”— Imagine And Implement, imagine and implement. And that’s a pairing, an intentional pairing, because we can imagine that without implementing, we’re just stuck in vision, in envisioning things. So, we actually, in our Rock-It Launcher program, which I mentioned, the group mentorship program, we spend a lot of time in the beginning on imagining, and envisioning what our career could look like, and what our ideal life could look like and what ideal self-care can look like. And putting something in your mind, creating a vision, imagining things is incredibly, incredibly powerful. I just saw, I think on Instagram, Ashley Graham, who’s the like rockstar model body positive superstar on Sports Illustrated, but she’s a mogul. She was asked like about creating vision boards and like, without a hesitation, she’s like, “Yeah, of course, I create a vision board that’s like, huge part of what I do”. And I was like, “Okay, I feel validated”. You know, there’s a little woowoo about vision boards. But I think part of the power of something like that, whether it’s a notebook and a diary, and writing things down there, or creating a whole vision board or putting things in a spreadsheet, whatever is your style—you’re planting a seed into the universe, into your mind, you’re creating a ripple effect just by creating a vision. And I also think voicing it in some way is important, voicing it to a trusted friend, voicing it in a community of women like in the Rock-It Launcher, or even voicing it into your journal sends out a powerful ripple effect. So, start to imagine start right now, listening to that inner voice of what your career could look like. And by the way, don’t get stressed out if you don’t have a perfectly clear vision. You may have just a whisper of a vision. You may have just an inkling of, “Gosh, I’d love to do a little more writing,” “Gosh, I’d really love to do more showing up on stages as a speaker.” “Gosh, I’d really love to be on more podcasts”—call up She Rocked It, you know, let’s talk! You know, there might just be little voice says inside, write them down, don’t disregard them. I have learned more and more to tune into those voices because they’re there for a reason.

Okay, but the second part is implement. So you’ve got some visioning laid out, whether it’s in your journal, whether it’s on a vision board, whether it’s something that you’ve talked through with a friend, you kind of putting the vibe out there. But then you have to actually set the wheels in motion, because it’s dangerous to just get caught in the vision place. In fact, I did that almost did that with She Rocked It. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, I spent a lot of time sort of marinating and planning and “how could this look?” And what is it and what you know, what is this concept and then ultimately, the rubber needs to meet the road, you need to take the leap. So, for me, that was like, “Okay, I’m gonna hire someone to help me with this.” Whoa, that was a huge leap. Because I’ve never really asked for help in that way to have a consistent person helping me and then I brought on another person, oh, my God, this is like, but with every step, my muscles got stronger, I can do this. I’m implementing this dream, this wild dream. And it started to happen. And here we are, okay, friends, season two of the podcast. But I’m going to tell you, a year and a half ago, this was in the imagination stage, this was in the vision stage. And here I am recording this and speaking to you, all right, know that I understand. If you were just in the beginning, if you’re only hearing the whispers, now, you’re in just the right place. Don’t worry, stick with me and stick with those visions, and then gradually start to implement. Okay? Because it’s unbelievable. Once the wheels get turning, and you start to build some momentum step by step, you start to make progress.

And I spoke to Mallory Hank Johnson, she goes by MJ, and she has just so many great ways of expressing herself—she’s an incredible content creator. And we had a great conversation in season one of the podcast, and what she said was,”Don’t live what others think you’re supposed to pay are within those parameters or within a box. Break the damn box.” Yes, break the damn box! I love that. That’s right, envision things that may be beyond the conventional, envision things that really are speaking to you. Because the truth is, no one tells us this, by the way—no one tells us that everyone is figuring it out as they go. We all have the opportunity to create our lives, we all have the opportunity to negotiate for what we want. We all have an opportunity to break the damn box. They don’t tell us this, especially as women, but I’m telling you, you can break the boxes and envision a life that really speaks to you. And then implement that life— stick with us here at She Rocked It to get the inspiration you need to do that. Okay? That’s why we’re all here together.

And last, but certainly not least, we got our “T.” “Tribe Vibes.” As I keep saying again, and again—how does all this happen? It happens with support, it happens with the right tribe. And you know, I’ve always been passionate throughout my life about the power of women coming together to support one another. In college, I was the house manager of a house called Womanist House at Wesleyan University, where we’d have women’s gatherings. I’m actually currently part of a speech writing group that’s of women speech writers in that field, and I’ve always loved the power of even just getting together with a bunch of girlfriends and being honest about our lives and sounding, using each other as sounding boards, and giving each other feedback and insight. There’s something so powerful about that.

So informally, and more formally, I’ve witnessed and experienced the power of women gathering and finding our tribe. But on the flip side, I’ve also been kind of a lone wolf entrepreneur for much of my career. So She Rocked It, interestingly enough, was born during lockdown when we were so isolated, and that just magnified for me the power of community, the power of needing a community, and we started this community virtually. And now re, we’re starting to meet in person with some incredible live events. And please check out our website for a schedule of future live events. But find your tribe, I hope this is the tribe you’re looking for. But if it’s not, go find the next tribe, go find a tribe that’s going to help you because what I’ve learned is that man, we get farther faster with others— we can, it’s true, cliché— teamwork makes the dream work, whether it’s a team that you’re working with directly in your business or in your life, or a team around you of women, like here at She Rocked It that’s going to help you follow your creative calling, with gusto, and with lots of confidence. So, I also use the word “vibe” intentionally here, because it’s a vibe, I’m sorry, it is a vibe when you find your tribe. When I go to the She Rocked It events, or even when I do an interview with a woman on the podcast or on Instagram, there is literally a certain electricity that I feel. There is a jolt of electricity from being in a room, even in a virtual space with women who are just on the same page, with women who are kindred and like-minded, creative and courageous. So, tribe vibes I’m telling you, it is a vibe. And I’ll tell you what, also, this is the vibe I’m looking for right now. The world has way too much negativity, in my opinion, it— there’s too many reasons why we should feel like we shouldn’t move forward. But I’m going to put that over here to the side and believe in the energy and the electricity that we’re creating here in this tribe, in this power network of creative women here at She Rocked It, so whether it’s here or somewhere else, find your tribe and find the vibe that you’re looking for.

Okay, so there’s the Rock-It Roadmap. Here’s something really cool—I know that was a lot to digest, you can actually go to our website, sherockedit.com. And on the page with this podcast episode, you can download the Rock-It Roadmap. Hang it up, put it on your fridge, put it on your mirror, put it in your office, put it in your car, wherever you want to see it so that you can remember these steps, these actions. And you don’t have to do them all in one day. You can focus on raising your voice, another day, you can focus on imagining what you want your career to look like how you want your creativity to manifest itself and then starting to implement it. So, remember, take it step-by-step, even small baby steps are actually big leaps. So, last time I’m going to tell you how to Rock It here is the Rock-It Roadmap. “R” — Raise your voice. “O”— Own your value. “C”— Commit to your Creativity. “K” —Kick out your inner critic, “I”— Imagine and Implement, “T,”— Tribe vibes.

Oh, and one other way to rock it I forgot to mention is, if you’re watching this on YouTube, you can see I’m wearing a She Rocked It t-shirt, this is our yellow bolt t shirt. If you’re listening on the podcast, I’m wearing my, our yellow shirt with a black bolt. And I just feel so confident in our She Rocked It merch. Sometimes, like I don’t know what to wear, especially, you know, after lockdown. I feel like I want to dress more casual. Who knows how we’re supposed to dress these days, and I put one of our shirts on, and it just makes me feel like I can rock it. So, check out our merch. It’s on the sherockedit.com website on the shop page. There’s t-shirts, there’s a really cool ball cap, there’s a beanie, there’s a mug— and I really hope that this merch gives you the empowering energy that will have you rockin’ it all day long. So, check it out!

OUTRO: Thanks so much for tuning into the She Rocked It podcast. I’m your host, Karen Gross. This episode has been produced by Tori Marchiony with audio engineering by Teng Chen. The She Rocked It theme song is by Karen Gross and Tim Motzer. Visit our Instagram page @sherockedit to join the conversation and visit our website sherockedit.com To learn about how you can join our community, support our work and attend our live events. Also, you can apply on our website for our Rock-It Launcher group mentorship program. See you there!

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