When Cate Luzio launched Luminary back in 2018, she wanted to create a space and a community where women could upskill themselves and uplift each other. In four years, her global professional education and networking platform has grown to several thousand members across 30 countries and supports more than 60 corporate partners.
With today’s news headlines focusing on the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting, Luzio has been asking herself one question: “Are we really burnt out today, or are we simply at capacity?” She sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about where we are as a society, what women can do to be successful in life and in business, and how she’s helping empower women forward.
Jessica Abo: Cate, tell us about Luminary.
We are a global professional education and networking platform designed to support women at all phases of their professional journeys, women climbing the corporate ladder, women in entrepreneurship, women in transition. We do that through content, community, and connection, running dozens of events, programs, and workshops every single month and a full digital platform.
What are you hearing from your members about how they’re feeling right now?
I think there’s a lot going on. We’re still in a pandemic. We’re potentially entering a recession. We hear the word burnout quite a bit. But really when I think about it, it’s capacity. We, especially women, are at capacity. We have to network. We have to find mentors. We have to be a good caregiver or working mother. We have to find sponsors. We have to be on social media and become thought leaders. We have to be mentors and sponsors. Yet we also still have to do our jobs. It is really hard to carve out capacity to do more. There is a big double standard. The reality is, many of us just at capacity and we just don’t have enough time to do it all, and well.
As a former banker turned entrepreneur, what’s your take on where we are right now? How is it affecting entrepreneurs, corporations, small businesses, etc.?
I think it’s affecting all of us in very similar ways. If you think about women that are in the traditional workforce, they’re climbing that corporate ladder. There is a significant amount of messaging that every woman must have the goal of reaching the C-suite in order to succeed. And that is simply not true. Most women (and men) want to improve in the role they’re in, but they may not want to be constantly climbing — and you might not be able to during different points of your career either. However, we want, and deserve, access to new opportunities, exposure internally, mentorship and sponsorship, to be invested in professionally, and of course, to be compensated fairly. This is a great way to invest in your pipeline along with high performers and top talent.
On the flip side with entrepreneurs/business owners, we’re just coming out of a pandemic, with a looming recession in front of us, access to capital drying up with even less than before, and yet the questions that come rapidly include ‘how fast you’ve grown/scaled, how big is your brand, how much money you have raised, how many followers you have,’ when these are simply measurements, not necessarily measurements of success.
I think we have to really take a look at how we–as organizations, as founders, as part of a community – are really helping to carve out capacity, supporting the radical prioritization that allows us to succeed in whatever definition of success makes sense for us individually.
How can we go about making that happen?
It’s a very complicated problem. It’s gotten exacerbated by the pandemic. We now have very few boundaries. We’re being asked to do more with less. I think number one, we have to really understand what’s important to us as individuals. Whether you work for someone or you are the owner of that company, what’s important to you?
Second is radical prioritization. I call it ‘Rubber balls and Glass balls,’ and every day they can be different. Each day, you just have to make sure those glass balls don’t drop. Let the other rubber balls fall. The next day, they could be completely different. This idea of prioritization of where you want to focus your time and efforts is really important.
I think the other piece is organizations have to work with their women and understand what’s important to them as they carve out their own career paths.
From your vantage point, how is Luminary helping people navigate through this time?
We have a unique vantage point as we have both individual members — women and men in the workforce, in transition, and entrepreneurs — and corporate members from large corporations to small businesses, to startups. We work directly with business owners in providing access to community, mentorship, access to capital, access to what we call fuel to spend, really amplifying their business. We offer workshops, events, and sessions focused on those core learnings – how to grow, build, and scale, no matter how large or how small your business is.
It’s the same for the women we support who are on that traditional workforce journey or those in transition, providing access to education and development tools; community; a bigger, broader, more diverse network so that they can upskill and propel themselves forward regardless of where they’re going. We want to help them to create their own definition of success.
For the people out there who are really resonating with what you’re saying, what actionable tips do you have to help people?
Number one is self-advocate. You have got to be talking to your manager, your teams, any of those people in what I call your ‘sphere of influence’ making sure they’re understanding, number one, what’s important to you. Number two, what can you drop from your current schedule? Number three, what are the things that you can reprioritize or move to the side? This doesn’t have to mean forever but can be for right now. As you think about that career path you’re carving out, what are the key milestones you need to hit, and who’s going to help you get there?
In addition, we really need to think about what we call at Luminary The Four R’s — and it’s one of the workshops as well as one of the panel sessions that we host. How are you thinking about and leveraging your Results; your Resume, which is really storytelling in a sense; your Relationships, aka your network; and your Reputation? What are you known for as you carve out that next step in your career, whether you’re launching your own business, you’re scaling that business, or you’re trying to take the next step, even laterally within the traditional workforce? Or you’re in transition and trying to figure out what that next step looks like for you.
At the end of the day, you’ve got to advocate for yourself. No one cares about your journey more than you do.