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Feb 28, 2023 | Podcast, Your Business

Bringing Your Pipe Dream to Life with Philippa Girling

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About the episode:

How often do you think about your dreams and consider what it would take to make them become a reality? I am so thrilled to share today’s episode with you where I interview Philippa Girling who made her dream of buying a chateau in France and turning it into a women’s summer camp a reality. Philippa is reminding us what it means to fully enroll yourself and others in your biggest vision – no matter which chapter of life you find yourself in. This episode will make you feel inspired by fearful opportunities and ignite your willingness to bring your own dreams to life. 


Topics discussed:

  • How a family vacation in France turned into buying a chateau with 50 other women and turning it into a women’s summer camp.
  • Why diversity and inclusion for women is important for Philippa and how Camp Chateau encourages women to be authentic 
  • The importance of bringing others in your dream to keep it alive and make it a reality 
  • Recognizing and becoming uncomfortable with your privilege and taking action 
  • Using your past experience to support you in your dream job, even if it’s a different industry
  • Enrolling not only yourself but others in your biggest vision and how Philippa did so 


About Philippa Girling:

Having spent over 25 years in the financial services industry, Ms. Girling recently became Chair and CEO of Camp Panier, a Netherlands-based company focused on establishing and promoting equitable spaces and experiences for women. Their first venture is Camp Chateau, a summer camp for women in SW France.  

Prior to her current role, she served as Chief Impact Officer at Varo Bank N.A. and was responsible for the strategic design, execution and measurement of the social and environmental impact of the company, including developing the ESG strategy, setting goals and measures for how to execute the strategy to provide financial inclusion and opportunity to all and providing leadership and direction for the diversity and inclusion commitments and activities. 

Prior to this role she served as Varo Bank’s Chief Risk Officer for three years, where she led the design, development and management of the risk management framework to meet the regulatory standards required for Varo to successfully become the first neobank to attain a national bank charter. In the CRO role, she had direct responsibility for Credit Risk, BSA/AML, Compliance, Information Security, Third Party Risk Management, Business Continuity Management and Operational Risk Management. She regularly presented consolidated Enterprise Risk Management reporting to executive management and the Board, which also included market risk, liquidity risk, interest rate risk, reputational risk and strategic risk.  She also met regularly with the OCC, FDIC and Federal Reserve and served as chair of the Risk Management Committee.  

Prior to joining Varo Bank, Ms. Girling served as the Chief Risk Officer/Chief Credit Officer at Investors Bank, the Business Chief Risk Officer at  Capital One Commercial Bank, the Global Head of Operational Risk at Morgan Stanley and the Global Co-Head of Operational Risk at Nomura Bank.   

Ms. Girling is a qualified risk expert, with 20 years of risk experience.  She is the author of two text books on operational risk and frequently teaches classes on operational risk and enterprise risk management at Wharton, Claremont, Columbia, NYU Stern and Baruch.  

Ms. Girling graduated with honors from the University of East Anglia with an LLB in Law.   She holds a post graduate diploma in International Business from London South Bank University and a PhD in Global Affairs from Rutgers University.   She is a member of the New York Bar and has a certificate in Financial Risk Management from the Global Association of Risk Professionals.  

Ms. Girling is an Executive Board Member (currently Vice Chair) of the Risk Management Association and an Advisory Board Member of CrossCountry Consulting. Past Board Memberships include the Montclair Film Festival, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Women’s Bond Club.

Ms. Girling and her husband reside in the San Francisco Bay area, Naples, FL and the UK.


Connect with Philippa:


Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood  07:07

Philippa, I am so thrilled to have you on the podcast


Philippa Girling  07:21

today. Thank you for inviting me. I’m looking forward to it. When we


Catherine A. Wood  07:25

chatted a little a couple of weeks ago, I got so excited to share your story that I’ve already been talking about it with people ever since. And if it works for you, I would, I would love to just jump in, we’ll come back and do all the backstory about who you are after that. But I would love for you to just jump in and share the story of when you’re at the Chateau with your family, doing this visit and realizing that you’re the trajectory of your career and your life is about to change in a big way.


Philippa Girling  08:06

Yes, I will be very happy to share that I was just recently looking at a photo from that day. And there’s a picture of me, with my children and their partners. And my granddaughter. And we’re standing in a line and the view of the valley behind us and the edge of the chateaus in the shot and a rainbow across the sky. It was just the most magical day for us. And the reason we were there is that I have always wanted to own something in France. It’s been a childhood dream of mine. And I have every Sunday, a little alert that was coming up on my phone of French And I would look at the French see what’s there, read my drink my coffee. And one day this Chateau popped up. And it seemed beyond something that any of us could ever do. Very beautiful chateau in a valley that I know very well in France. But you know, Fortune favors the bold. If you don’t try II can’t have it happens. So I said to my children. I know we’re in the middle of COVID. I know it’s in France. But how about we try and meet at the Chateau and just see how we feel about it. And then we work it out from there. So we went through massive COVID protocols, testing, vaccine proof all the things we had to do to get from three different countries to meet at this chateau in France. And the owner of the Chateau said if you’re possibly interested in buying it, you should stay for a few days. So we all decamped into this chateau. We had a massive Chateau bedroom each and it was very, very magical when we arrived. In fact, the moment that we drew up the driveway and just saw the Chateau we were all in Little in shock, because it’s as many pictures as you see, it is so impressive when you arrive and beautiful and all this. We arrived at the chateau. We stayed there for a few nights. And a couple of nights in the person who had been the property manager, let us know that the owner was there. And he wanted to say goodbye to the chateau. Because that Autumn he was going to mothball it. He’d been in it for 35 years. And he wanted to say goodbye. And he was going to invite his children, his friends, but nobody could make it because of COVID. So instead of having friends and family, he invited my family. Would we like to join him? And in one of the buildings on the grounds, there were a group of Oxford professors who had won a stay at the chateau in a raffle so they’re staying in the local building. So the evening of his farewell. These Oxford professors turn up in their tuxedos. And ballgowns, my children and I are in jeans and T shirts trying desperately to look smarter than we really were. They’re hiding our flip flops on the table. And they handed out champagne, we all had champagne. We all toasted the Chateau and toasted the governor, Roy Brown. And, and then we had that photo taken with the rainbow behind us. Then we all went in had a beautiful meal in this amazing grand Sal that is in there, which is like something from Harry Potter. Absolutely beautiful dining hall. Lovely, lovely meal. And then we all sat in the salon together. And he had musicians playing classical music, who had been playing at the Chateau for the last 20 years, to thank him for letting them play at the Chateau for 20 years. There’s my family, in this 12th century chateau, surrounded by history, yes, and emotion. And you know, there’s a deep connection between Roy in the building. And by the time the evening was over, I just looked at my children, they looked at me and said, we just have to find a way to make this part of our lives somehow. And the next morning, I said to Roy, you know, I’m not sure how, but we definitely want to do something with you with this chateau. But we also think that you’ve been here 35 years, you shouldn’t really leave. So what we’d like to do is to put together an offer for you, that includes you staying here for the rest of your life, because he has a little conciergerie in one of the adjoining buildings. And then we left. And then we spent the next few months working out how exactly we make.


Catherine A. Wood  12:53

Ah, I love that story. It’s just as magical hearing the second time as it was when you shared it with me the first time, because it just feels like I mean, a fairy tale, but a fairy tale of perfect coincidences?


Philippa Girling  13:10

Yes. Yeah, I mean, I have been going to that valley, actually, for at least 15 years, because my family have a home there. And so I knew it. And when the Chateau came up on my feed, I recognized it. But I had never thought of having a chateau type building and doing something in the way that we’re doing it right now. And the other half of this is that I have been passionate about doing something for women. And being there at the Chateau and feeling the joy and the tranquility of being in that environment. I just wanted to find a way to share it with other women. And we didn’t know exactly how that was going to work. We just knew that we wanted to do it. And I think if sometimes you just have to put something out into the universe, and the universe just delivers. It’s really amazing. Because now here we are, over a year later, planning our first summer of Camp Chateau this summer, and we have 100 women coming this summer. And we went from this vision of there has to be something out there that would work to the reality of what we’re doing right now. And it’s just been the most fantastic journey.


Catherine A. Wood  14:23

Well, and I think that that begs the, the addendum to the story, which is how this how can you how this has came to be the kind of the precursor for wanting a chateau. Will you add that part?


Philippa Girling  14:38

Yeah, so I would say, you know, from being a teenager, I am going to France a lot because I look grew up in England. I’ve been here in America now for over 25 years. But I grew up in England. I’ve been going to France lot and I loved little rundown Hamlet’s and I would always look at them think hey, you know you could buy one of these do we go Turn it into a summer camp for kids. And that was my Teenage Dream, to have a summer camp for kids, kids could come somewhere beautiful, and enjoy France. And then of course, I had a career. So I career and many children. And so the next 30 years was me working in financial services, raising my children, being married, being divorced, being married, again, having two stepchildren, so I grew, my family grew my career. And along the way, I became more and more and more passionate about diversity and inclusion. And I could see the way that women, especially in more patriarchal kind of industries, like financial services, that a lot of the way that we’re asked to behave is to really just show up as a man. And then you can be successful. So here’s all the ways you can be more like, man, you know, don’t be so emotional. Stop apologizing, put your hands on your hips and Superman pose so that you look stronger. When someone else says, Your idea that you just said two minutes ago pointed out, these are all things that were here. And so I had started to think, how could I give women somewhere they could go rather than children, which is what I had thought as a teenager, where can I create something for women where they can be authentic, and just be themselves, they don’t have to be anything else, you don’t have to put on a mask, you don’t have to be less emotional than you are, you can just be you, you are already awesome. And so let’s create a place where you can go and be yourself and just relax. Nothing else, no expectation. And this shatter is so beautiful. And the grounds are so beautiful. It’s so tranquil, that those two things came together quite quickly. For me, as we were there. And as we were thinking about it afterwards, these two big important parts of my life, I start to think these could coexist in a way that could actually work as a business.


Catherine A. Wood  17:04

I have so many thoughts. I mean, first of all, I I appreciate the the the commitment, the stand for wanting to focus on women, and diversity and inclusion having a whole career of not that. Not the absence of that. And, and personally, I can resonate with that, because, you know, I, this podcast is relatively new, I just started the podcast last year, but I’ve been coaching for a decade, and I really wrestled with starting a podcast because I’m very soft spoken. I often close my eyes when I’m trying to put my thoughts together, I pause between thoughts. I’m gentle, and I love to listen more than I like to talk. So these are very kind of anti anti, you know, loud and loud personality qualities that I learned necessary to be a podcast host. And, you know, it’s truly just about having examples of others who are like you who are doing what you want to do, which is why I’m really thrilled to share your story. Because I think so many of us have pipe dreams in life, whether we’re just starting it out in our career, or whether we’ve finished an entire career and are ready to start a new one. And there’s a big difference between those of us who make that pipe dream or reality. And the ones that never do. And so the idea that this could have been a dream of yours from childhood, and then 30 years later, you’re coming back to it having not lost sight or hope, or connection with that vision, I think is just so compelling.


Philippa Girling  18:52

I think there’s some things that you know, you would love to do, and you talk about them a lot. So, you know, as my children were growing up, when they were younger, 1011 1213 and we’d be on holiday in France. We as a family used to chat about how fun it would be to have a camp for kids. You know, and they would be saying like, Oh, I’d really like that to be rock climbing or I really like the to be hiking. And we’d have these dream, total fantasy conversations because there was absolutely no way that we could make that a reality at that time. Like they were going to school in America, their fathers in America, I needed to be earning money. They are totally a fantasy. But we really enjoyed the conversation. It was like one of our sort of family games is to play this game of wow. And then we could do this and we could do that. And this is what the rooms could be like. And we really enjoyed that. Playing with the dream and it kept it alive for me. So then, you know, years later when my children are all grown, they’re all adults. And when I went back Someone said, you know that camp thing? All of them were just like, yes. What are you thinking? Maybe we could think about it again. And so sometimes enrolling people in your dream is a really good way to keep it alive.


Catherine A. Wood  20:16

Absolutely. I mean, not just to keep it alive, but also to make it a reality. And it sounds like enrolling people in your dream has been a huge part of your journey.


Philippa Girling  20:26

It has has. And then the other thing I’d say is that my co founders, my eldest daughter, and my best friend, and the three of us have had conversations like this as it’s run as a thread through our lives for over 25 years. And so then, when it came to trying to vision, what this could actually look like, I think the three of us were able to throw ideas onto the table until it really coalesced into something that could actually work. Because we needed something not just that met our dreams, but that was financially viable. It needed to you need to buy a $2 million, your a 2 million euro chateau in France, hire old staff, make it work, you know, how are we going to do that. And so having other people who had slightly different versions of the dream in their head, was also really good to refine what it was we were building, had a lot of open brainstorming that we did that I think really got us to where we are


Catherine A. Wood  21:28

now, so let me just think about this. So 30 years in banking, how many of those last 30 years have you been holding on to this vision to buy a summer camp for adult women or for kids?


Philippa Girling  21:43

I would say that, for the last 15 years, I have been holding on to a vision that I want to do something for women. That has been the thing that has been growing and growing in me. And every thing that I’ve done, each job change I’ve made, the decisions that I’ve made have been quite focused on that. And it really came to the fore for me when my youngest child left to go to college. And it was at that moment where I realized, first of all, one of the things I realized was that I how privileged I was, I mean, I knew I was privileged, but it really came home because some of their my children’s closest friends could not make the choices my children were making, that my kids are now in Berlin, they’re in Vienna, they’re in New Orleans. And they’re my stepchildren are in New York and New Jersey. And they’re all exploring amazing creative paths that they’ve taken. I know that some of their closest friends absolutely could not take those paths, because they didn’t have the same privilege that my children had. And I stopped being comfortable with that. I think while I was raising my children and paying for college and paying for them to have a roof over their head, it was easy to feel like well, I’m doing what needs to be done for my own family, quite selfish, inward view. As soon as they were set free in the world. I thought, Oh, that’s not okay. I now have to do something that is beyond my own benefit and my family’s benefits. And it became more and more trying to lean into how can I support the LGBTQ community? How can I support people of color? How can I support other women in ways that are proactive, and that became my burning passion? The Chateau sort of came at me from left field. When that opportunity came in and sort of collided with this view that I had, I realized, oh, I can journey all the way back on these neural pathways to for their for camp, pick that up again and bring it in. And then you know, let’s bring these two things together. So actually, what we have formed is a holding company that will be focused on providing inclusive spaces for all underrepresented groups. And the first project that we’re doing camp Chateau is for women. So we’ll build that out and try and get it right. And then we’ll continue to try and push ourselves further and further into other inclusive spaces. So it’s not that I just dreamt of a chateau and a camp for 30 years is that I had a dream and I had a passion. And I kept these two things until they came back together again, when I was


Catherine A. Wood  24:38

and I appreciate the idea that all of your experience and the opportunities that you’ve had and the roles that you’ve play, play that they’ve all contributed to this dream. And they have ways


Philippa Girling  24:52

they really have and you know some of them it is very practical. I am a I was a chief risk officer until I left my job Help last summer to do camp Chateau full time. And risk management super helpful when you start super helpful, really is, you know, I could sit and do a risk assessment. And we’ve been through every detail of what could go wrong and made sure it’s well planned. I have project management early in my career. Absolutely using project management, I pivoted into more agile kinds of methods as I went through my career. And that has been so helpful in ways that we’re setting up Kanban boards for planning. And then I’m a lawyer. And so the red tape and the and my time as a chief risk officer, as well, all the bureaucracy in the Netherlands and in France that we’ve had to deal with, doesn’t really bother me, it’s just a task that has to be completed. It’s not intimidating. So I think all of those bits of my career, absolutely, who prepared me for what we’re doing today, this is just a lot of fun.


Catherine A. Wood  25:59

Right? I appreciate all those examples, because I think that so often, you know, where we, we kind of freeze and and decisiveness about a new opportunity to take or something to say yes to when we think oh, how will this contribute to our path or our journey. And in reality, we might not know, before we make the decision, but we will, we will find the fruit and gain the lessons after the fact


Philippa Girling  26:29

that it always feels to me like, we’re just adding things to our toolbox. It’s not that you are going to be this thing, like I’m a chief risk officer. That’s my thing. Instead, it’s oh, if I take this job, I can learn about fintech. If I take this job, I can learn about retail or ever take this job, I’m going to have a bigger team, I can learn leadership, and how to manage people. And you just keep filling up your toolbox with things that you can use. And I’ve always said to people, when they ask how do I make a decision about my career, I’ve always made a decision based on which thing scares me the most. So if I could do a or I could do B, which one scares me the most? That’s the one I have to do. Because that’s the one that’s going to stretch me outside my comfort zone and teach me new things. And take it this job was a little bit of one of those scary moments, shall I go and find another C suite role in financial services? Or shall I become CEO of a summer camp for women in southwestern France? Second one scares me the most, because I know it the least. But that’s the thing that I felt that it was the right decision to make.


Catherine A. Wood  27:46

Absolutely. I heard you mentioned earlier, the idea that you also got to be guided by pauses that you believed in, or groups that you wanted to support. It sounds like that also influenced your your choices, your trajectory.


Philippa Girling  28:04

It did. And it really influenced actually how we have structured camp chateau, because one of the things we very quickly decided is we do not want to make something that’s exclusive. And by exclusives, that usually means wealthier people can attend. And that’s not what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to do something that most people could come to. And so we came up with two things that are a bit different in the way that we’ve structured our business. So first of all, we are aiming to be 100%, within funded, which is I don’t know if anyone else has pulled this off, I’m really hoping that we pull this off. And the way that we did that is by saying, Okay, let’s set the investment in campeonato really low, so that lots of people could participate. And let’s give them something really valuable. So they really want to come. So the founding members that we have, they invest somewhere between 5500 or 6500 euros, and for that they get free camp, so they can come to camp every summer that they stay invested, and we give them 5% return on their money. And the idea there was let’s try and find a number where people may have that in their savings account. And they would rather use a savings account for their own benefit than have it just sitting there in the bank. So they move it to camp Shatto. Now they can come to camp for free. And they get a little return and at the end of three years, they can just ask for their principal back. Now, taking this approach, we hoped would lead to a more diverse founding membership. And I have to say I’m so happy with our founding membership at the moment we have over 60 founding members and we have real diversity. We have diversity of age diversity of race, diversity of seniority in business, diversity of location. We have people from multiple countries. It’s really led to this incredible group of women. And that I think is going to be the basis of our success, because we’re asking them to help us design camp as well. Tell us what you think works, tell us what you think doesn’t, and not putting faith in ourselves to know everything is going to be really important to making something that people just love to come to.


Catherine A. Wood  30:26

Oh, I love that I love hearing how the how you made it happen. That’s so inspiring. And I hear just how much it’s an example of inclusion, right? Just how accessible it is for all at multiple levels of the entity.


Philippa Girling  30:43

So that’s right. And it’ll I think it’ll rub off onto the mood at camp. Right? So people are going to go with a mindset that they know that this is an inclusive model. And so you come with an inclusive mindset.


Catherine A. Wood  30:57

Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I want to go back to something you said, this is something I talk about in my work a lot. And and you use the exact same words that I use, which is that the idea of enrolling other people in our vision. So, in my work, people come to me because they have a vision. And they want support and help in making it a reality. And sometimes, you know, we let fear, distant or Unenroll us in our visions, or we let other people unenroll us in our visions or circumstances or money or conditions or or or or so my question is what supported you in enrolling others in your vision? And what supported you in enrolling yourself in this big of a vision?


Philippa Girling  31:54

s really good question. So, first of all, when we considered putting a bid on for the chateau, I went onto my Facebook page, and I don’t have that many friends. I’m not big Facebook. So maybe a couple of 100 At the most, maybe 200. And I went onto Facebook, and I posted a picture of the chateau. And I said, so have this idea. To have a summer camp for women, where we have multiple beds in a huge bunk room that’s in a chateau. And we do fun things all day. And we drink wine. And we look at the stars. What do you think? And I just put it out there to see. Am I crazy? Because all the people around me? Well, the people who had been to the chateau, were reflecting back to me, this is absolutely amazing. We have to make it happen. Like, yeah, this is a huge to do this. And so I wanted to put it out a bit wider. And I put it out on my Facebook and I had such a positive response. Such a positive response from all these women saying that is amazing. Sign me up. And that gave me a lot of confidence. And all of us as founders, a lot of confidence that okay, it’s not that there’s a small group of people who be interested, there’s a large group of people who would be interested. And then when I started to reach out to people on LinkedIn, and I would just find women on LinkedIn. Hi, I’m a woman, you’re a woman. They have this idea. What do you think? And see how people would respond? And they would respond? Mostly, really positively? I’d say 80% was positive 20% was negative, I probably would, it’s probably fair to say 40% were positive 40% was silent. Then there was a group 20% Who be negative. And what I found is that the people who are negative want my customers. So I would never share a bathroom with another person for the rest of my life will be the answer from some women. Like, I totally respect that. This is not for you. This is not a you know, Sedona spa retreats for 6000 euros. We are not offering that. Someone else who said to me, Well, unless I’m using it for networking and growing my leadership skills, I wouldn’t want to go so we are not for you. Because we are not going to do any kind of content. That’s to do with your professional development because you are already awesome. And you’re coming here to relax somewhere else for that. It’s a very valid thing to do. You just won’t be doing it here. So it was important to reach out to people and sort of refine there are people who believe in this vision and they’re people who don’t, who don’t and what you do is you just keep going to the people who do and people in my own circle friends and family like that’s crazy idea. Why would anyone wants to do that? And I learned that, you know, sometimes you have to say Well, thank you for your person. Active, I’m going to be working with the people who are excited about it. And focus on spending time with them on this topic.


Catherine A. Wood  35:14

It’s so simple what you’ve shared. And yet it’s so it’s so powerful the idea of allowing others to support our ideas to opening ourselves up to feedback to be, there’s something incredibly and inherently vulnerable, about sharing our dreams with people that we potentially know or, or don’t know, hardly at all.


Philippa Girling  35:38

Yes, well, I think you’ve really hit on something there. Because one of the things I love about women in leadership is that they allow themselves to be authentic, and they allow themselves to be vulnerable. And, and I think that can actually be the key to success because you allow people to share truth with you in a way that they won’t if you’re not authentic or not vulnerable. And then you can be building a wall around you where you are reflecting back on yourself what you think is the right thing to do, because you’re not listening. And I actually, you know, I’ve been working in financial services for so long, this is something I have to keep working out, because I’m used to working with executives who do not lead in that way, and are really uncomfortable when you lead in that way. And I sometimes have to tap into the people in my team who are better at that. So because I can see the way that they are comfortable authentically providing feedback to each other in a totally non confrontational, non egotistical way. It’s just like, Man, I really love that thing. Why do you love it? Instead of You’re wrong? I’m right, you need to listen to me. And so that vulnerable open feedback loop, I think is completely essential to our success here. And as we bring people into the team, we’re hiring people who were really good at that.


Catherine A. Wood  37:08

I have had multiple experiences like that I can absolutely relate with. With that, that with that story. And it makes me think of you know, when you first reached out to me, I think you pitched me for the podcast and wanting to talk about that. I’d love to talk about. So I’m curious how, how is that? How is that? What how is that more of what you’re about at Camp chateau? How do you see that affecting or influencing the experience or the vision?


Philippa Girling  37:45

Well, some things we can do quite practically, I’d say. So our camp director who’s just started, they are reaching out to each of our founders, and having a really open conversation with them. About what are you hoping you’re going to experience a camp? What are you hoping you’re not going to experience that camp? What are the absolute essentials? What are the nice to haves and having that conversation now? And every week we meet and we debrief on those and say this is what they’re hearing? They’re hearing? Absolutely, every activity has to be optional. Do not make me do anything. We heard that from multiple people go. Okay, good to know. So we build that into our schedule. And then the first two weeks of camp for us the inaugural two weeks will be founding members only. And those founding members know that we’re going to ask them everything in those two weeks. Is your bed comfortable? Are the counselors fun? Is the food delicious? Are you bored? You over stimulated, you call the pot? Are you hungry? Is there enough wine? There are all those questions, we’ll be asking our founding members very open to whatever feedback they give. So you know, the, the important part here is, don’t just ask, but also listen. And so we want to make sure we’re sponges, for all of that feedback, have no pride of ownership in any element of what we’re building. We think that what we have got here is an amazing experience. But tell us if we’re wrong. And then we can make changes that we need to make because we’re not going to get it 100% Right. For some of that we do it. Let’s make sure we’re listening and learning the whole time. And that is going to lead to an environment where we have a lot of feedback, and a lot of conversations very collated in the first two weeks. And then we’re going to look for ways to gather that from our campers when we’ve got regular campers there for the rest of the season as well.


Catherine A. Wood  39:46

Hearing you say that makes me think of a recent episode I recorded with her name is Amy Wilson. She’s an expert on empathy and she talks about these paradigms of leadership and kind of an old, old old model of power and leadership and this new, more empathic model of leadership. And I hear a lot of that in your speaking, I hear, not a not a top down approach, really a bottom up collaborative approach, I hear a welcoming of feedback and opinions. And I hear kind of just a very collaborative, organic, many hands make light work model?


Philippa Girling  40:29

Yes, that’s exactly right. And I will say that, I think probably, I’m stretching the most into that. Because although that’s my preferred way to lead, as I said, I’ve been in a traditional banking for so long, it’s really easy to pick up bad habits, it’s really easy. And so I try very much to listen to the younger members of the team, who I really think are actually better at that. And I think over the last six months or so I’ve really learned to resist the knee jerk reaction to hold on to something, that’s your idea. And instead, listen very carefully for why somebody is saying that they don’t think that’s the best idea. And that’s where the growth is. And that’s where the learning is. And staying, as I get older, trying to hold on to a growth mindset and lean into growth, growth mindset, every day, you have to resist some of the well, you know, with age comes wisdom, in the back of your mind, thinking can’t do I have been around longer than you and then I think he had, do I know better? Or do I just know what I know? Yeah.


Catherine A. Wood  41:41

I mean, such a reminder, you know, as, as we age, sure. But also, as we just develop or affirm an opinion or grow in a fixed way of being that we can either become more open and maintain a growth mindset. Or we can become more closed and more have a more fixed mindset. And it’s very, yep, no, you can be you can, you can either be willing to be impacted or not.


Philippa Girling  42:11

One thing that helps me, I think with that is that the way I describe growth mindset, and fixed mindset to other people, helps motivate me to want to have a growth mindset. Because what I say to people is, you know, someone with a fixed mindset gets their personal self esteem from what they already know, and what they can already do. Where somebody with a growth mindset gets their self esteem and their self worth, from how much they can learn, and how much they can grow themselves. And that’s actually where their joy comes from. So I try and challenge myself with like, my just leaning into, I know how to do this already, leave me alone, or am I listening for, there might be a better way to do this. Or there might be a perspective, you don’t know Philipa? Because you’ve never experienced it. So listen.


Catherine A. Wood  42:57

My I love that example. I think I’m reminded of the quote that, you know, the more those of us who are committed to learning, the more we learn, the more we realize how much we don’t know, right? I think embracing that unknown, versus, you know, I think from fear, we often judge ourselves for not knowing or think others know better, or, you know, defer our think we don’t know enough, or we’re an imposter. But when in reality, there’s something to celebrate, and to celebrate about the unknown, and just all that all that there is for us to, to collaborate and to grow and to evolve from others.


Philippa Girling  43:42

You know, as you say that I just had a thought around how maybe this impacts imposter syndrome for us. Because impostor syndrome comes from the fact that you’re really worried that you’re not good enough. We don’t know enough for the job that you’re in or the task that you’ve been asked to do. But isn’t that really the right place to be? Because if you thought you didn’t know enough, and you weren’t good enough, you’d be overconfidence. And you would have no room for growth. And so perhaps part of impostor syndrome comes from being open to having a growth mindset, because it does leave you a little short all the time. Like, I know, I’m not the best I can be because there’s more I can do. And that can, you know, overconfidence I think is probably the most dangerous thing in business gets us into the most trouble.


Catherine A. Wood  44:30

absolutely the most relationship breakdowns as well.


Philippa Girling  44:34

Yes, absolutely.


Catherine A. Wood  44:38

I, I wanted to leave time for my Last question, because you told me you had a long answer, and I imagine we’re going to have a big conversation about it. So, you know, when I started my podcast, I started the podcast because I wanted to be a voice for empathic women to thrive, to know that At there was a way a path and a model of entrepreneurship that could be values aligned empathically led conscious a conscious model, while also thriving, prospering, amassing wealth really having, having all in a way that felt good in their nervous systems. And I don’t know if we have that many models and voices that talk about that. So I, my question is what has supported you and becoming a prosperous empath?


Philippa Girling  45:33

So you want me you can ask me this question. And I want you have a bit of a long arts. So what I will tell you is that, you know, empathy can be debilitating at times, right? Because if you’re very empathetic, for example, there are things I can’t watch on television. Because I can’t bear the agony that the person is experiencing, gets too much. So it can be a bit debilitating. But I think for me, there was a bit of a turning point. Because as I told you earlier, when my last child left home, I had this moment of thinking, I really need to take stock of this, I’m entering the Third Age of my life. Now, what am I going to do with that third age, and we’re just going to get old, I’m just going to do what I’m doing doing that whole life get older, retire. And that’s it. I don’t feel like I’m done growing at all. So I need to really think about it. So I decided, my husband was going off on a golf trip. And a group of my girlfriends said to me, we were going to Vegas, we should go to Vegas. And I realized, as they said that to me that the last thing I wanted in the world was to go to Vegas. And it wasn’t that I didn’t you know, Vegas isn’t fun. It’s just that work was so intense. I was working very, very hard and leading a very large team. And it was a lot on my plate. And this is pre COVID. But I think I was on the edge of burnout. And I thought I really, really need to quiet. So I searched XP searched America actually for where can I find a silent retreat, where somebody won’t actually come and ask me to be religious, because I don’t, I’m not looking for a spiritual retreat and looking for fit of an emotional growth retreat for myself. And I finally found this little retreat up in Northern New York State, got on a plane, flew to Rochester, had a car and drove the hour and a quarter that it was to get to this monastery, there was in the middle of nowhere in Northern New York, and they had a rooms attached separate to the monastery itself, where you could stay in a little tiny room. And no one would talk to you for two days, which at the moment, felt like bliss to me. Nobody talked to me. So I told my husband and I told my admin assistant, the phone number of the monastery, should there be an emergency. And I got to this little house that I was going to stay in, made sure I knew where my room was, got back in my car, looked up the nearest liquor store, drove to the nearest town and bought a really fine bottle of red wine, a really, really good bottle of red wine, and some chips. And then I drove back into the house and turned off my phone and put it away. And then I decide I’m just gonna spend the next few days just being alone and thinking through what I want next. And I woke up the next morning and thought, I can’t know what I want next, until I really know who I am now. And so I think I’m going to go for a walk. And I’m going to just walk back in time and remind myself who I am. Because I have a first husband and a second husband. I have children. I have parents, I have siblings who all have a view of who I am, and who have molded who I am. But I need to be really sure I understand who I am. So that I know what I want. So that then I can help the league go forward. So I set off on this walk, I found a walk that was going to take two hours, one hour out one hour back, and I started walking. And first of all, I crossed over a little bridge which felt very metaphorical to me. Sounds like I’m crossing a bridge. Something in my brain went okay, we’re beginning something new. And I started with where was I two years ago. And just in my mind is thinking Where was I two years ago? What was I doing? So look back like okay, that’s what I was doing. That’s the job I had. That’s what was going on. I kept walking And then I thought, Okay, where was I two years before that, and thought about that kept walking. And then where was i Two years before that, and I just walked myself back as far as I could. And as I was walking, I would look down and I’d see, you know, a broken branch. I’m like, It’s 1996 in my journey, and I’m next to this branch. And then I keep walking, it’s 1982, in my journey, and his big rock on the hillside. And as I went back, I re wrote the story of my life, so that I could remember moments of trauma, moments of joy. You know, I went back through all of the births that I had had through my first marriage through my parents or my siblings, until I got back to the earliest memory that I had. And it was a me reaching up and holding my mother’s hand, and I must have been about three. And I knew that was the earliest I could get to, and I stood there, and it was one hour into my walk. And I thought, okay, and I turned around, and then I walked back two years of time. So I was back at 1968, and then 1970, in the 1972, and then 1986, and there’s that big rock, and then 1996. And here I am, by the stream, and going all the way back forward to today. By the time I got to the end of that journey, I felt like I really understood where I had made choices, where choices had been made for me, what mattered to me and what had mattered to other people. And I got back to the little house that I was staying in. And I, my first instinct was to write it down. It’s like, oh, it’s amazing. To write all that down. I started for about 10 minutes. And I thought, no, actually, I don’t need to write it down. I just needed to do it. And I was very clear, then, whatever I do next, it’s going to change things for women. That’s what matters to me today. And that, to me, really gave me an opportunity to lean into, this is who I am, it’s okay for me to be empathetic. It’s okay for me to be vulnerable. It’s okay for me to have emotions. I am a woman, being a woman is amazing. It’s okay to lean into it. And it changed. Every decision I made from that moment on was really driven by that walk of just self understanding and discovery.


Catherine A. Wood  52:45

It sounds like that walk really allowed you to ground yourself in self acceptance.


Philippa Girling  52:52

It did. It really did. I think at the end of that, I felt like it’s okay. But sometimes you did things that were stupid. And it’s okay that sometimes you made decisions that were wrong. And it’s okay that sometimes you nailed it. And you know, you were great that year, you know, and all of that really helped me to settle on. This is who I am. This is enough. But there’s things that I still want to do. And I became out of that really aware there’s definitely still things I want to do. I am not done with creating new things. And so let’s focus now on that.


Catherine A. Wood  53:28

Well, cheers to that, because you absolutely are. It has been such a delight having you on the podcast, Philippa. And I think I want to just ask one final question, which I know all of our listeners will be asking, which is one. Is there still time to invest? And secondly, are there still see camp spots open?


Philippa Girling  54:03

Did I lose you? Him by going too high. I froze for a moment there. I


Catherine A. Wood  54:15

think we’re back. We’ll edit this out.


Philippa Girling  54:18

Okay, so I’ll do that again. yes to both of those, because we actually have just this last week arranged for a structure so we can keep taking founding members. So we’re going to have founding members available probably for the rest of this year. And yes, you can come to camp. So if you just want to be a camper, you don’t necessarily want to invest in a women run business, but you do want to go to camp, you can just go to www dot camp And then you can sign up for camp. It’s only 1980 euros for six days and five nights of wonderfulness. And you can also find about more about being a founder and more reach out to me Philipa cap


Catherine A. Wood  55:04

We will include all those links in your email in the show notes it’s been an absolute delight


Philippa Girling  55:10

it was lovely talking to you thank you so much for letting me come on sir


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Making Google Your Best Friend with Kelsey Flannery

If you want your website to rank high on Google but have always been intimidated by the concept of SEO, this episode of the Prosperous Empath® is for you! I’m sitting down with Kelsey Flannery, a Google Certified Expert and CEO of KaeRae Marketing, and UNBOUNDED Mastermind member, to talk about the basics of search engine optimization and how to approach it in a way that aligns with your values as an empath. Kelsey quit her job at a big marketing agency to develop an innovative Google marketing framework that allows you to authentically share who you are while strategically using SEO to your advantage. We’re digging deep into how Google really works, breaking down common SEO terms that may have overwhelmed you in the past, and sharing easy steps you can take right after listening to this episode to improve your rankings and visibility. While Google may appear like the cool kid that’ll never talk to you, it actually wants to be your best friend. In this conversation, Kelsey and I will equip you with the understanding and tools you need to start making Google your best friend as an empath.. 

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