The Power of Breaking Rules and Being a Chief Troublemaker w/ Shelley Zalis

by | Sep 21, 2021 | Podcast

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Guest: Shelley Zalis, the Chief Troublemaker, is an internationally renowned thought leader, movement maker, and champion of equality. She is a pioneer for online research, becoming the first female chief executive ranked in the research industry’s top 25. She has devoted her career to elevating women, connecting leaders for change, and advancing equality across industries.

Today, as CEO of The Female Quotient, Zalis works with Fortune 500 companies and impact organizations to advance equality in the workplace. She has fostered a multi-generational, international community of women rising to catalyze change. Through The Female Quotient’s signature pop-up experience, the Equality Lounge®, Shelley creates a “home of equality” at conferences worldwide, such as the World Economic Forum, Cannes Lions, and SXSW. She also leads initiatives within corporations, creating tools for equality and activating solutions for change.

Shelley is an admired speaker and member of the Washington Speakers Bureau and a skilled moderator who has interviewed influencers such as Katie Couric, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sheryl Sandberg, and Arianna Huffington and more on topics related to equality and leadership. Shelley authors a Forbes column that provides inspiration and advice for women in the “messy middle,” middle management, looking to grow into leadership positions. She is co-founder of #SeeHer, a movement led by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to increase the percentage of accurate portrayals of women and girls in advertising and media. In 2020, she was named on the Worth Groundbreakers list of 50 Women Changing the World. She is on the board of directors for MAKERS.

Episode in a Tweet: Be your own Chief Troublemaker; don’t be afraid to break some rules, create boundaries, push boundaries, and create more inclusive and equitable companies.

Quick Background: I met Shelly through her son, Jake Fleshner, the executive producer for all of David Meltzer’s programming. He prepped me for going on Meltzer’s show “Office Hours” and introduced me to Shelley. Shelley and I hit it off instantly, and I was intrigued by her work at The Female Quotient (FQ).

During the interview, Shelley shares the story of how the Female Quotient came to be, and we discuss why we need to break certain rules and shake things up—describing why she calls herself the Chief Troublemaker. I love that she unapologetically herself and pushes boundaries to create a life she loves and a company helping other women do the same. I appreciate Shelley’s insight on the need to use new language to shape the way we think about the workplace, and others agree. FQ is becoming the expert on what women want in the workplace, being sought out by Fortune 500 companies looking to attract and retain talent, especially female talent. Shelley has so much fun sharing her insight into what women want and what leaders need to do to rethink how we work.

You can find Shelley here:

Want to know more about the messy middle? Check out my blog on middle management success. 

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