See It to Be It : Career Advancement Expert

On the twenty-first entry of our See It to Be It podcast series, Amy C. Waninger speaks with Francine Parham, a career expert and practitioner focused on female leadership and the advancement of women into positions of leadership and authority in the workplace. She is also the creator of the Sharpen Your Skills Professional™, a series of career development learning programs and a forthcoming online platform for women in the workplace. Francine shares her career journey with us, detailing the two-decade path she took through the corporate space, and she and Amy both promote the upcoming Professional Women’s Advancement Summit – it takes place October 15th. Purchase your digital pass today to receive over $3,500 worth of invaluable learning and experience for 15% of the price!

Struggling with your Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) work? Kanarys—a Black-founded company—has your back. Regardless of where you are on your DEI journey, we arm you with the insights you need now to take action now. From audits to assessments to data-informed strategy, we’d love to be the partner you have been looking for. Email or learn more at

Register for the Professional Women’s Advancement Summit! It takes place on October 15th. Receive over $3,500 worth of invaluable learning and experience for 15% of the price!

Connect with Francine on LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

Check out her personal website.

Donate to the Justice for Breonna Taylor GoFundMe by clicking here.

Find out how the CDC suggests you wash your hands by clicking here.

Help food banks respond to COVID-19. Learn more at


Amy: Welcome, everyone, to See It to Be It. I’m Amy C. Waninger, your host. With me today is Francine Parham, and Francine is somebody that–you know, I always talk about networking and strategically networking, and the two places I network most now, because we’re in a lockdown situation globally, are Twitter and LinkedIn, and I think Francine and I found each other on Twitter–and I always think of Twitter as, like, the crowded bar, right? So, like, if you’re on Twitter and there’s a whole lot of noise and it’s hard to get to know somebody really well, but you can kind of watch ’em for a while, and if you can get people to connect with you then on LinkedIn, that’s more like a coffee shop and you can have a conversation, and so that’s kind of how our relationship evolved. Then we’ve kind of developed it from there, but… we’re doing something a little bit different on See It to Be It today because usually I talk to people and I get really into their careers and all up in their business, but I invited Francine here not just to talk about her career and kind of how she became this amazing human that she is, but also she has some insider scoop about how you can learn some of the skills that took her to the top. So Francine, welcome.

Francine: Thank you. Thank you so much, Amy. I am so happy, and I’m so happy that I met you at the bar and you came to the coffee table. [both laugh] I love that analogy. That’s awesome.

Amy: Just mentally that’s kind of how I think of it. Like, Twitter is so crowded and loud.

Francine: It is, it’s crowded, but when you see someone–it’s like how you spot that person across the room in a bar and you’re like, “Ooh, okay. I gotta get to know her. Let me see what I can find out here.” Listen, that’s what I did. I was a wall watcher, so you know I watched you. You and I were talking about this, but I watched you for about a year, and then I raised my hand and I said, “Let me see, let me see.” So you kept coming to the bar, I kept coming to the bar, you know, and I eventually got up enough courage to ask you–

Amy: She finally bought me a drink. [both laugh] So Francine, first of all, I want you to share with the audience, like, you’ve got this amazing–like, you’ve had this amazing career trajectory, if I could get my words out of my mouth. I mean, you’ve sat at some pretty high-profile tables.

Francine: I’ve been in some good places, yeah, absolutely.

Amy: Yeah, so tell us about that. Tell us about your path in the corporate space, and then we’ll get into what you’re doing today.

Francine: Sure. So I started in corporate America. Like, I’m not even gonna tell anybody when, ’cause they’re like, “I wasn’t even born,” probably is what they’ll say, but anyway, I started in the corporate sector right out of graduate school, and the thing about it was that I didn’t even really know about a corporate job and what that actually meant, and my parents were both educators. We grew up very traditional family, and when I went off to college I majored in some broad liberal arts, like, discipline and never thought, you know, that I would–I didn’t think about graduating. I just thought about going to college and “It would be fun.” Anyway, with that said, when I got to the end it became, “Oh, my goodness. What do I do?” Right? And I had this liberal arts degree. It was in Communications and Psychology, and it was my last semester, and I said, “Oh, my goodness. I need to find a job. I can’t go back home. My mom and dad are expecting that I’ll have a job. They’ve, like, told me this since this birth.” So I needed to have a job, and I happened to be talking to a professor and he said, “Have you ever thought about a career in human resources?” Now, once again framing that I came from, again, a very traditional family, and human resources was not a profession to even think about, and the corporate sector was not even in my vernacular, and so I started looking into that and I found out that I needed a master’s degree. And I wrote a lot of companies and all that good stuff, and they replied back, “You’re not qualified. You need a master’s degree,” whatever the case may be, so I said, “Well, then I need to go get one,” so I got one from the University of Illinois in Labor and Employment Relations. So I remember telling my parents about this and particularly my mother, and she said, “So what are you gonna go do? Like, are you gonna do payroll or something?” And I said, “No, I’m going to do organizational dynamics and I’m going to do learning and development,” you know, all of the sophisticated words that I had learned about. So I said, “I’m gonna take a risk. I don’t have anything to lose, so I’m going to graduate school and they’re gonna pay for it.” Not my parents, the graduate program. So P.S., anyone that wants to go to graduate school, see if you can get the university to pay for you. So I did that, and I graduated with my master’s degree in Labor and [?] Relations, and I hit the corporate trail running, and I started out with a company called General Mills. So I know the secret of making a Cheerio if anyone ever wants to know that.

Amy: I need to know the secret for getting the Cheerios out of the carpet. Did they tell you that when you worked for General Mills?

Francine: No, no. I can get you connected to someone that may be able to tell you that that’s still at General Mills, but with that said, I just worked there for a good about four years, and I wanted to actually go to California at the time because they had a manufacturing facility there–and I’m from the East Coast, so I thought to myself it’d be cool to go to California. I ended up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and so… I didn’t even know where Cedar Rapids, Iowa really was.

Amy: That’s not even close, Francine.

Francine: No, no… but you know what? I went there–another story for another time, but I went there because I met some amazing, amazing people, and they were just excited about having me there, so I said, “You know what? I’m gonna give Cedar Rapids, Iowa a swing. I’m gonna try it.” So I went there. I was in manufacturing, and that was a lot of fun. Got transferred a couple of times to some other places – Toledo, Ohio was my second stop with General Mills, but then I got a call to come to interview with a company called General Electric. And at the time I said, “Sure, I’ll come, but I really like working for General Mills. I get to have free breakfast, right?” Every morning I go to work, I get my bowl of Cheerios, lunch time I get my Fruit Roll Ups and, you know, my snack before I go home is usually a brownie, so I’m happy. I’m totally happy, so why would I want to leave? But more than that I felt a strong commitment, and just the company itself really did a lot for me and helped me to really feel good about being in these remote locations that I had been to, and I was able to do a really good job, and I had great bosses. So that was really the story and the reason I stayed, but I listened, right? I was open as you always should be, and I went to interview for this company called General Electric. And I had interviewed with them on campus back in the day when I was coming out of graduate school, but I wasn’t too keen on them. I just didn’t like–I didn’t have a connection, right? I didn’t feel like I had a connection with the person interviewing, so I went. You know, they told me “Never turn down the opportunity to talk to someone, so go and interview,” and I interviewed with them and I came back and I was just mesmerized. I was mesmerized at the time, and even though the company has gone through many changes as probably your listeners know today, I was in a company which really cared a lot about development of individuals, and more importantly I remember having a very key discussion with one of the leaders I was having lunch with at the time. So I left General Mills obviously and went to General Electric, but I was having a conversation with one of the leaders and he said, “Francine, what do you want to be?” And I said, “Well, I’m Francine Parham. What else could I be?” And he said, “No, I really mean… what do you stand for? Like, what do you want to stand for and what do you want to do and how do you want to leave your mark on this company?” So that was the caliber of individuals that worked at the company. They were always pushing you to think about you, think about yourself, think about how you could contribute to the organization. And, you know, I didn’t have an answer for him at the time, but I said, “I’ll get back to you,” and I went back to my cube at the time, my cubicle, and I thought really deeply about it and said, “You know, General Electric brought me here because they said they wanted to invest me. They saw me as a good talent, and what I can do is I should be investing in others, and I need to think about this whole thing about talent and talent management.” So that’s what I ended up doing. I really crafted my expertise in talent and talent development very early on in my career and from General Electric got another call. So I never left a job or a position because I was unhappy. I’ve always had somebody knocking at my door, and I’ve had an amazing career. I’ve traveled. I’ve lived outside of the United States. I’ve lived in remote places. You name it I’ve done it, and I’ve always built my career on wanting to do something different and letting people know, but the anchor of it all was I wanted to develop people. It was what we call today your brand, right? I didn’t know that. I was like, “This is what I do,” and I’d tell everyone this is what I do and that’s what I am gonna do, and so that was attractive enough for a company called Johnson & Johnson, and I talked to them for about 2 years for a matter of fact. The gentleman that called me at the time said, you know, “We just want to get to know you,” and I said, “That’s great. I’m excited about the fact that you’re interested in me, but let me tell you, I’m really rooted in General Electric, and I love what they do. I love how they help me as an individual. And, you know, as a sidenote, Amy, you know that that’s really important. It’s really important not only that you’re able to do a job really well, but you also have to have a company that’s willing to invest in you as an individual and invest in your development, and that’s what those companies did for me. So when I left, you know, General Electric, I left with a very heavy heart. I had become an executive in that company, and I knew what it took, and I knew the people, I loved the people, but you know what? J&J called me, and they called me because they said, “We know what you have done. We’ve watched you, and we think that you can add a lot to the organization,” and so I left GE as I stated and headed to J&J, and once again just–you know, I had different assignments, and I asked, I probed. I was always talking about my career. I was always helping other individuals with their careers. So when I left the corporate sector–it was two decades I spent, ultimately rising to the level of an executive. When I left I said to myself, “What do I want to do?” And when I thought about it there was a myriad of things that I could’ve done, but I said, “You know what, Francine? You need to do what you do well, and what you do well is help people excel, and how you help t hem excel is by helping them, you know, tell them “Hey, look here, do this, do that.” Many of the things that are not written down, right? Many of the skills, many of the rules and things like that that are not written down, I had the opportunity to have access to and exposure to and to know how it actually worked, and so I said to myself, “I think this is pretty universal, and so what I need to do is I need to get out here and I need to figure this out and help other people. I can’t let this stop. I think that it’s important. I specifically think it’s important to women and women of color in the workplace.” So that’s how I got to the business that I am today. I’m in essence. You know, I’m on the outside but still working the inside, because I’m all about, you know, development of people and helping people get to the next level in their professional careers. So that’s a little bit about Francine.

Amy: I love this. So I wanted to ask you, when you were at GE, was that the Jack Welch years?

Francine: Oh, yes. Yeah, it was.

Amy: Yeah, so you’re talking a huge investment in people at that point, ’cause his whole thing was, you know, people development. I mean, there was no escaping that. That was everywhere. I had nothing to do with GE, but I remember where I was at the time when Jack Welch was running GE, and it was like everything you picked up had his name on it or his endorsement or, you know, he was quoted everywhere, so you certainly I know had good tutelage there, but I think it’s important for people to understand, like, as an HR executive in some of these blue chip companies, right, you were in the rooms where it happens. You heard the conversations that people were having about, you know, “Is this person promotable? Is this person executive material?” You know, you were there for all of that, so you really got that behind-the-scenes insight into “Yeah, they’ve got the degree and yeah, they’ve got the skills and yeah, they’re doing a great job, but there’s -just- something about them…” that would keep them out of the running, right? And I love that you called those “the unwritten rules.” So this is the thing I get so, like–you can see me getting passionate. I’m digging in and ready to go. I had somebody tell me, “I just want my work to stand for itself. I want to do a good job, and I just want that to be enough,” and I looked at this guy and–you know, he was a young man. I believe he was Hispanic, you know, and I said, “Okay, but you’re a first-generation professional, right?” And he said, “Yeah.” So I said, “So if it’s your hard work and your good results against your colleague’s hard work and good results and strong personal brand and relationship with the nephew of the CEO and their dads went to college together and all his social capital and everything that he’s doing on the side and the relationships that he’s making… if it’s all your hard work versus all his hard work and all of that, who do you think is gonna get the opportunity?

Francine: Yes, absolutely. Well said.

Amy: So I get it, right? You just want to do a good job, and I think what women and people of color do, especially those of us who are first-generation in professional settings, is we think, “Well, I’ll give 110% 40 hours a week, and if that’s not enough I’ll work 45, and if that’s not enough I’ll work 50,” and we work ourselves to death, and then we see people, right, who are playing the game, moving up, and we’re like, “I did all that guy’s work!” So I know that you’re putting together this summit, this “Sharpen Your Skills: Professional Advancement for Women” summit, and you’re gonna crack this open, crack this nut open for us, and tell everybody, right, here’s the secret sauce.

Francine: Right, yes. Well, that is my intention, and it’s not just me. I’m bringing, like, a troop of women and men as well that are committed to helping the nut be cracked, okay, and really helping women and women of color really get around what it is, ’cause here’s the deal. You hit the nail on the head, you know? If it were only based on your skill set and your ability to perform well, we would see more women. We would see more women of color. We would see more men of color in positions of leadership and authority in the workplace, full stop, and so when an organization says to me, “Well, Francine…” We’ve heard it, Amy. “We can’t seem to find… we can’t find enough–“

Amy: That happened just this week, right, at Wells Fargo, when the CEO said, “Well, there just isn’t enough Black talent.” Oh, what a load of malarkey. You just can’t see what’s not in front of your face. But anyway…

Francine: Here’s the deal – you choose not to see. You choose not to to see. And at the end of the day–that’s what is so important. It is so important that you look–and I tell leaders this, you know, and I tell–well, let me start with the leadership first and then I’ll get to the individual. I tell leaders that at the end of the day, there are individuals in your organization that you can groom, you can grow, you can develop. They’re in the midst. They’re early. Whatever the case may be, there are individuals in your organization, and it is your responsibility to set them up to succeed and to provide them with the infrastructure or support, whatever they need to–you know, you wrap yourselves around them collectively as an organization to ensure that you help them succeed in an accelerated fashion. That’s the name of the game. You’ve got to look at your raw talent–and oh, by the way, if you can’t find it within your organization, like, just call a few of us up, ’cause we know a lot of people, and we know a lot of search firms, recruiters, so that excuse falls on deaf ear. I don’t even listen to it anymore. As for the individual, I tell women and anyone that will listen–so let’s be broad about this–is that at the end of the day you need to get into the conversation, ’cause they’re having a conversation about you, and you need to get into that conversation, and getting into that conversation means asking, right? “What are people saying about me?” See, there’s a dialogue on everyone, right? There’s something. There’s a tape on everyone, especially if you work within an organization. We know this. They have a tape on Francine. They got a video on Amy.

Amy: They’ve got your whole dossier back there.

Francine: Yeah, and people are human. When they get to the point where they have to talk about you, it’s all in here, right? It can be on a sheet of paper, but I’m gonna tell you it’s all in here, because I’ve been in those rooms, and we look at the paperwork and we say, “Oh, wow. Francine, she’s done this, she did this training, but let me ask one fundamental question – how does she show up?” That’s code word, right? “How does she show up?” And they’re asking “How does the organization perceive you?” Right? So these are the things that are very important, because I tell people, you know, you get to a certain level in your career–as you said with the gentleman that you were talking about that said, “I want my work to stand for itself,” you get to a point, Amy, where that’s a given, and it doesn’t happen 10 years later on in your career. It’s usually after your first year. The company is expecting you to perform, and they’re expecting you to perform exceptionally well. That is your entry to the organization wanting to have conversation about you. Like, the conversation that they would have with you if you weren’t performing well would be like, “What do we need to do? Do we need a performance plan? Do we need to exit them out?” But that’s not the conversation that you want to have or the organization to say about you, so you’ve got to get into that conversation. The leader has to be thinking about it, but you as an individual also have to ensure you’re in that conversation and you have to know what the organization is saying about you, and if you don’t know, then you should ask, right? That is fundamental. So abdication of “I don’t know,” “They haven’t told me,” that’s not a good position necessarily to be in because what it just did for you, if you don’t know, is that it has taken your ability to choose away. So it’s taken your ability to choose, “Do I want to stay with this company or not? This company doesn’t value me.” Whatever it is you need to do, you’ve just relinquished your responsibility to this inanimate thing called “the institution,” right, or the company or the non-profit or the corporation. Whatever you work for. So my role and what I do with the Sharpen Your Skills Professional Women’s Advancement Summit is to have these conversations, right? And not only to have these conversations, because you and I have gone to tons of events and there are just a lot of people on the stage talking, you know? Like, “Talk-talk-talk,” and you’re supposed to walk away with some epiphany, and normally you don’t, right? You’re like, “That was nice,” and you start to focus on how the lunch was. That’s always a key… that’s always a key indicator that, you know, you went to something that didn’t add any value, because you start off talking about how good the lunch was.

Amy: Or not, which is even worse. [both laugh]

Francine: Let me get back onto target here. But at the end of the day, you know, this summit is for not only us having that discussion like you and I just had, but it’s also for you learning as well. So we do a couple things at the summit, and my commitment is always to do this, and I call it a summit, but it’s actually a professional development program. It’s a day-long professional public development program. So you don’t have to be selected to go in your organization, you just have to pay, you know? And if that’s a challenge we figure that out too. I’ve never turned away someone that has said, “Hey, can I get the development or the help I really need? Can you help me out, Francine?” We figure that out, but with that said, you know, we focus on workshops, and so we have our workshops. We have the panel discussions where we’re having the talks, but the workshops, back to those, those are really to help you build a skill, right? Really to focus on a set of skills that you do need but you may not know that you need, that you need to think about, or maybe you already know about it but you want to master it. So we work on the workshops. We have those. We have the panel discussions. We also have what we call the deep dives, and so what I’m doing right now is that we’ve been doing pre-summit webinars, and basically what those are are 60-minute discussions by which we have been able to bring on the coaches–some of them–that are actually going to be at the summit, ’cause we want people to be as prepared as they possibly can be. So we’ve been running these every other week, pre-summit webinars, and then the summit will be on October 15th. Well, those coaches are going to be at the summit, and they’re going to be doing what we call deep dives. So they’re gonna go into their topics a little bit more. So we have topics that are focused on, you know, showing up virtually, you know? Having your leadership presence online and offline, because the world has changed. The workplace has changed. So we have some amazing coaches that will be there to share a continuation of what they talked about in the pre-summit. We also have what I call coaching sessions as well. So we have some group coaching. We’re gonna do some breakouts. We’re gonna do a lot of different things. We’re gonna do some facilitated networking, because this is a livestream event, so we don’t want people just to go into a room and they’re all, like, virtually hanging out and–they can’t see each other, by the way. Back to the earlier comment about you and I meeting on Twitter, we can’t even see each other for some of the time in the various events, and this opportunity, this networking opportunity we’re going to have, will allow individuals to actually have a connection and will actually have it facilitated. So it’s a lot going on that day. I tell individuals that this is not a women’s empowerment–you know, I’ve been called that. They’re like, “Oh, so you’re gonna have an empowerment meeting?” I’m like, “Listen, let me tell you. The women that come and the men that show up and support us, we are already empowered. We don’t need the “Go” signal.” And this is not, like, “Walk away and feel good,” this is about feeling good when you walk in and feeling even better when you walk out because you have been equipped with a set of skills or a connection or a piece of information that is going to help you navigate, and the topics we talk about are around the things that aren’t written on the competency plan that you have or on your professional development plan, because those are the things that I know–back to the point of sitting in the room, I know that they are important, and that’s what you get measured on in addition to your performance. So that’s what I’m gonna be doing. I’m heads down trying to make it happen, and I’m hopeful that many people will come.

Amy: Yeah, so this takes place on October 15th. So if you’re listening to this before October 15th, 2020, I’m gonna make this real easy for you. There’s a link. Go to and it will take you right into the summit web page. You can see all the great stuff that’s happening, and you can register right there, but Francine, on October 15th and leading up to–so anybody who registers for the summit, I heard you say they’re getting pre-conference sessions, so workshops in advance. They’re getting workshops, deep dives, panels the day of, group and one-on-one coaching, facilitated networking, and they’re going to be–I mean, they’re gonna get exposure to some real powerhouses, right? Tell me who’s speaking.

Francine: Here’s the thing, Amy. When I call, I say, “Hey, here’s the work I’m doing,” and women and men say, “Sign me up. What can I do?” So for example, I have–I know everybody’s gonna know this woman–I have Minda Harts.

Amy: Minda Harts, friend of Living Corporate. She is amazing.

Francine: Amazing with a capital A, and Minda is going to be joining. I consider her to be an amazing person and a great colleague. We talk about some of the same things. We’ve been supporting each other for a little bit of time.

Amy: Minda has been out in the woods with a machete clearing a path for all the women to come behind her, and I’m so knocked out by her. Go ahead, I’m sorry. Who else you got?

Francine: No, I’m excited to have someone like Minda, ’cause she’s in the same camp that all of us are in around this work. We also have Karen Jaw-Madson. For any of you that know her, she does a lot of work with companies on their culture. So she’s–you know, she’s not right out there in front of the employee, but she’s back there helping the leadership get their act together around the culture. A woman who’s named Cynthia Pong, P-O-N-G. Cynthia’s got an amazing following. If you don’t know her, she is an activist. She’s a women’s feminist, she calls herself to be, and she is in LinkedIn. She’s got a following of about 200,000+ people. Yeah, so we have some executives. We have executives from PayPal coming. Any of you know a woman named Vonda Page? Vonda Page is gonna be joining us from PayPal. So I just have some amazing, amazing people that are coming to the summit, and I don’t bring people on because of their star power. You know, “Are they known? How many people follow them?” Even though I mentioned Cynthia Pong. She’s got a solid following, but it’s because individuals like Cynthia, like Minda, like Karen, they are willing to roll up their sleeves and they’re willing to get busy and work. That’s my main criteria. I’m not concerned about, you know, the big stuff. I’m concerned about “Do you have a commitment and do you care? And do you want to do what I do? Are you aligned to the work that I do?” So all of the individuals, go out there, check them out at Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute. And Amy, okay? Amy’s gonna be there, all right? And here’s what Amy’s gonna be talking about. So listen. The audience, they know that I met you, like, in the bar, right? I love this. We had coffee, and now I’ve invited you to my home, okay? And my home is about–and see, not many people get to come to Francine’s home. For anybody that knows me, they’re like, “You gotta be special to make it into the house,” and yes, to make it into the house you gotta bring something to the table. Like, you gotta bring at least a dish, right? (Amy: I’ma bring a lovely casserole. [laughs]) She’s bringing an awesome casserole, ’cause here’s what Amy’s gonna be talking to us about, which is really important. So I do a segment–we have a panel discussion that actually talks about your network and building your network, so you’ll see that, but it talks a lot about “what.” So the people on the panel will talk about what you need to do, what you need to do, and so I asked Amy to take that up a notch, to take it up to the next level. What she’s going to be is focusing on -how-, okay? How do you build that network for your competitive advantage? Make so mistake – we’re out here and we’re playing for something. I even have a great woman named Deborah Owens. So I don’t know if many of you know her, but you should. Look up Deborah Owens, because the foundation of all the stuff I talk about is based also on the economics of your advancement. So she’ll be bringing her program, it’s called What’s In Your Purse, and I love it. So I met Deborah a while back, and she’s going to be coming to talk about this, and really we want to talk about more than your 401k. So this is really about your wealth, ’cause we know the higher you go up the more money you make, and hey, you gotta figure out how you need to spend it, right, and how you need to invest, and so that’s an anchor as a part of the Sharpen Your Skills summit. So these are the things that aren’t talked about, right? These are the things that are talked about in the corporate sector or in the non-profit organization you belong in, the governmental sector that you’re in or the government role that you play. Those are not the discussions. I feel that it is my obligation, it’s my responsibility, to do that and to bring people like Amy, to bring people like Minda, to bring people like Cynthia Pong, et cetera, to the table, to the room, to my house, to have those conversations. So I can’t wait. October 15th, 10 to 6 Eastern Standard Time. I know we’ve got some California people, some Midwesterners, but you know what? Sleep well and just get up, because we are–listen, we are gonna make it work, and I’m so excited about it. Amidst everything that’s happening in the world today, Amy, and you and I have talked about this, this is something that we need to do. We have got to continue to focus on our career, our career advancement. Some of us may be unemployed. Some of us may be working from home. Wherever we are, we cannot give up that tenet, because we’ve worked too hard for it. So I’m not giving up. I can’t.

Amy: Well, let’s face it. We need some new leadership, right? Let’s look at corporations, right, in a broad context, the old leadership has gotten us where we are, and there was a time for that maybe, but now is a new time, and we need new leaders, and we need leaders who have struggled and who know what it means to be left out and who know what it means to be invited in, because if we don’t have that leadership we are not gonna be prepared for tomorrow. So I think what you’re doing is amazing. Now, let’s talk about the price point of this summit. So with the coaching and the pre-sessions, I mean, I did the math on this. This thing’s worth probably $3,500, $4,000, $5,000. If you were to add up all of the sessions–you’re running concurrent sessions, but you’re recording the whole thing so people can access it on demand later, right–and all the pre-conference stuff that’s happened and is gonna happen is all recorded for later. So you’re talking, like, basically the equivalent of, like, five masterclasses in this session, but it’s not $3,500 or $4,500 or $5,500. How much is this?

Francine: It’s 497. $497.

Amy: $497. You can’t even get an hour of coaching for that in a lot of places, with a lot of people, right?

Francine: No, my fees are a little bit more. [laughs]

Amy: A lot of these coaches you couldn’t get for an hour for $497, so this is an incredible value. Again, you can go to and get your ticket and start watching your pre-conference sessions and get yourself ready to sharpen your skills with Francine Parham and the rest of this amazing crew.

Francine: And you. You’re in the crew too.

Amy: And me! I’m gonna be there too, yeah. And I’m gonna tell you, I love anybody that uses my name and Minda Harts’s name in the same sentence, so… [both laugh] There are, like, a handful of people that if somebody says our names in the same sentence I’m like, “Ooh, I made it.”

Francine: But here’s the thing. The people that I called, like, are very humble people and want to help. Amy, when I called you and we had this conversation, you were like, “What can I do?” When I called Minda, she was like “Tell me where I need to go.” I called Vonda Page at PayPal, she said, “What’s going on, Francine?” That’s her favorite term, and when she talks about what’s going on, she’s not talking about, like, “What’s happening with Francine?” She’s like, “What do we need to do?” These are the women that are coming to this summit. We are like, “What’s going on? What do we need to do?”

Amy: And how do we get in each other’s corner?

Francine: How do we amplify? This is all about amplification. How do we position, how do we amplify, and how do we provide access, right? This is the game, okay? And I tell people that you gotta get in the room to play in the room, so this is what we can do to help people in their organizations figure out how to get in the room. And here’s what’s always unique about it – people that attended the summits that I had last year, we’re still in contact with one another. We are still working on this, because this is the work. It’s not easy. We know it’s not easy. But when you’ve got a group of people behind you–and for $497, right? Come on! And the fact that–

Amy: You can’t even get a hotel room at a conference for $497. I mean… [both laugh]

Francine: And, you know, the actual webinars, we’re going to have those up until December 30th, so you’ll be able to look at them until December 30th. I’m working on figuring out ensuring that there’s access to people, because this is a virtual event, so it will be password-protected. So it’s not just anyone can show up, obviously, so everyone will have their own password, but we’re trying to make sure that we help you to continue, right? We want to help anyone that comes to the summit continue to be successful and to work on their success, but understanding what is actually out there is not always told to you, and that’s the work that we’re gonna do from 10am to 6pm on the 15th.

Amy: And I want to say something about the things that people don’t tell you. So we’re heading into the fourth quarter of the year, and if you’re sitting there going, “$497? Sounds like a good deal, but I don’t know if I’ve got that in my budget personally.” I want to tell you a secret. Your manager was allotted a training budget for you this year, and you’ve been sitting at home for 6.5 months not doing anything or going anywhere. So now would be a great time to go talk to your manager and say, “Hey, I’ve got this great opportunity to accelerate how I show up in the workplace, and not only is it gonna make me look good it’s gonna make you look good, because people are going to see this amazing transformation in me over the next few weeks as I implement what I’m learning here. Do you have $500 left in your budget this year?” Because this is what the managers don’t tell you. If they don’t use that budget, it’s gone, right? So if they have a $10,000 training budget for the year and they’re still sitting on $1,000 of it, if they don’t use it by the end of the year it just goes back in the general fund, right? They don’t get to spend it later. It doesn’t carry over. So ask. It’s okay to ask.

Francine: Right, absolutely. If you don’t ask–here’s the thing, what are people saying about you? Ask for the dollars. The worst thing that’s going to happen is they’re going to say, “No, we can’t do this at this time,” right? And you have to think about Plan B. But if you never ask you never know, you’re never gonna get it, and then you don’t have–let’s say your manager says, “No, the budget is tapped out this year. I wish this summit was in 2021.” By the way, tell them it will be, but in the meantime here’s the deal – you get to have a conversation about “Well, what are we gonna do to develop me? What can we think about?” You have opened the door. And here’s the other thing – you have signaled to the organization and to your manager that you’re serious about your development. See, no one knocks on your door to say, “Hey, would you like this?” I did not get to the level I got to as an executive by waiting on someone to ask me to go to the next level. I set the expectation. Every year I sat down with my manager and said, “Let’s talk about where I am and what’s gonna be next for me,” you know? When the job came to me, then they said, “Oh, here’s the job, Francine. We want to promote you,” my question was always, “Oh, that’s amazing, but let me ask – what is this job really preparing me for?” Okay? I didn’t say, “Oh, my God. I’m so excited.” Always thinking about what’s next, and then you become known as a person that wants to know about what’s next and that you care about your career, but no one will come to you and say, “Gee,” anything that’s worth anything, they’re never gonna come to you and say, “Oh, wait a minute. I think you should do this or you should go to this training or development or you need this mentor or coach.” That never happens. Never.

Amy: And let me just say – every single person that I’ve had on See It to Be It, or almost every person, when I say “Where do you go for community? How did you learn about the work that you do? Where do you go for opportunity?” They all say “Associations and conferences.” And I was WAY late, WAY late – 17 years into my career – before I ever went to a conference because even though I was high potential, nobody tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, do you want to go to a conference?” And I didn’t even know–like, I’m embarrassed to say this now, but I didn’t really know that they existed. I had no idea why I would want to go to something like this or what it could mean for me. So if you’re thinking, “Gosh, I’ve never even been to a conference,” this is a great place to start because you’re gonna be around people who know exactly what that feels like, to walk into that virtual room or that conference room for the first time–first of all, we’ve all been there, right? Almost every single person, you know, has been there, but you’re gonna see people that look like you in this room, on these virtual stages. You’re gonna see people like Francine who know what it takes to get to where you want to go, and they’re just gonna peel back the layers and show you, and I just think this is such an amazing thing, and it’s such a great way to level up your network and level up your skills and just level up your exposure to what’s possible. So I would like to invite everybody who’s listening to this to come to, sign up for the summit. Talk to your boss and say, “Hey, I want to do this. I think it’d be great for my career and the team and you, and let’s talk about what I’m gonna learn,” and you can print out all the stuff that’s on the website about everything that’s gonna be covered. You can see how many 29 amazing presenters, panelists, workshop facilitators…

Francine: Yeah, I lost count. It’s a lot. I think it’s 30. There are 30 people that are going to be there, so yeah.

Amy: And they’re there just to help you, right? They’re not there for their own gain. They are there because they want to see you succeed and they want to help you, and Francine, first of all I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to a part of this. This is such a huge thing for me to have this opportunity, but I also want to thank you for sharing. I mean, you’ve dropped so much insight in this conversation. A whole day of this would–like, you’re not gonna walk out just with a good feeling. You’re gonna walk out with notes, right?

Francine: Oh, you’ll walk out tired. Tired with notes, right? Oh, here’s another thing I forgot to tell everyone. At the end of your 8 hours, what we’ll do is that we will provide to you a certificate of completion. So if you want to go back to your organization and say, “Here’s what I did for my professional development,” because, you know, they always–at the end of the year you gotta tally up the things that you did. We’re just gonna provide you with something that is going to give you that document. You know, we’ll send it electronically or we’ll figure out what we’re gonna do on the backend, because we had to pivot to the virtual piece because we wanted to give actual physical certificates out, but we’re going to actually provide that to every individual that participates so you’ll be able to have something to at least show that you were there and you paid attention. And once again, this is a great summit–not that I’m being a little biased, but I am for a moment–that is going to allow you to start to have the right conversations with your leaders and your managers, and let your organization know that you are serious about this. Even the title, “The Professional Women’s Advancement Summit,” like, if you don’t get that. Like, “I went to this advancement summit,” you just told your leadership team that you’re ready to advance, okay? We are serious about this. We don’t call this empowerment. We don’t call this “get up and go.” This is all about your advancement. That is all I care about. I care about a lot of other things, but I really do care about you advancing in your workplace.

Amy: I love it. I could talk to you all day. So what you need to do, in case this isn’t totally clear, you are going to get all of the unwritten rules and all of the unspoken skills that you need to get ahead, right? I sound like the infomercial people now, but I’m so excited about this. Coaching, deep dives, workshops, pre-conference sessions, some of which are already recorded and you can already start learning, right? So as soon as you register you’re gonna have access to all this knowledge. Facilitated networking panels. You’re gonna get all of this stuff on demand through the end of the year, and you’re gonna get to meet some really amazing people and start building the strategic network that I’m gonna tell you how to build when we get there. So hint, start here by registering, and I’m so excited about this. I can’t wait to be a part of this. Francine, thank you so much, and I would love to have you back on the show after the summit so we can talk about the big takeaways and kind of what’s next for you.

Francine: Oh, absolutely. Count me in. I’m here. I’m gonna sit right here and wait. [both laugh]

Amy: It’s only fair. You invited me into your house, and I’m inviting you into mine.

Francine: I’m coming. I’m bringing, like, wine, casserole. Tell me what you want. I’m there. Thank you.

Amy: All right, thank you.

Francine: Any day. Thank you.

Support Our Mission of Amplifying Underrepresented Voices...

Living Corporate’s mission is singular in purpose, but diversified in approach. From our podcasting, to live events around the US, to our giveaways. 

Through Our Podcasts

Our podcast garners over 10K downloads a week and reaches black and brown executives, millennials, college students, creatives and influencers. 

Through Our Visual Media

We host a variety live, interactive web series for Black and brown early, mid, and late careerists that have a global reach. 

Through Our Resources

We connect our audience with valuable resources from resume services, certification prep materials, conference,  attendance sponsorship, and Living Corporate merchandise. Join our newsletter to learn more.


Select Payment Method
Personal Info


Donation Total: $10.00 One Time


Join Our Community

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Living Corporate will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.