Women Crushing It Wednesday | Dawn Shaw, M.S.

It’s time for Women Crushing It Wednesday, where we sit down with a woman in our community and celebrate how she is crushing it! This month we’re talking with Founder & CEO of Charlie Box Leadership, Dawn Shaw.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you, what do you do, and what motivates you?

I’m Dawn Shaw, the Founder & CEO of Charlie Box Leadership, a platform to help develop the millennial leader.. I am motivated by showing up as more myself in every situation.  I believe who we are is our best contribution, so I endeavor to walk the walk!


You talked about the necessity of resilience during your job search webinar that you hosted with us in February, with an emphasis on the concept of “bouncing back better.” Tell our audience more about this.

Resilience is not just about bouncing back to where you were before a setback. It is learning from the experience and bouncing back with more wisdom, more experience, and strengthening what is more important to you. That is what I mean by “bouncing back better.”  All failures have a seed of infinite value. It’s a better learning tool than anything I’ve ever seen, and while I do not wish failure on any of us, I do know that how we deal with failure builds character, pushes us towards change, and allows us to re-evaluate what is truly important. In essence, it builds resilience. And our ability to face these quicker and with more trust that you will get to the other side is a great skill in today’s market.


I love helping people through times of trouble and stress.  It’s difficult, for everyone, and I don’t believe we need to do it alone. In order to get to the other side of learning, we need to be listened to, questioned in what it brings up in our lives, and sometimes we need to lean on another’s encouragement until we find our own again. That is why I love coaching so much!


How can we take a negative interview experience and reframe it into a positive lesson for professional growth?

Two things here:

1 – Interviews stink. I don’t know any other way to put it. Many times, it is an inefficient way to assess the candidate’s potential and fit within the current culture. I believe this is largely due to unseen political structures, among several other issues. It’s kind of like going on one date and deciding to get married. There are so many things that you just don’t know yet – on both sides. Plus, everyone is on their best behavior so it’s really difficult to get to the real issues of culture and motivation. Most people I coach interpret a negative interview as their fault.; and many times I see candidates prepare, put their best foot forward and it doesn’t work out. All you, as a candidate, are responsible for is your own preparation.


2 – You can learn from a negative experience on what you could do better in the future. Here are a few questions to help reframe:

  • Did you really want the job?Be honest. If there was any slight hesitation, only apply to jobs you are genuinely interested in.
  • Did you like your interviewer? Was a natural connection or was it forced? What was happening in your body during the interview? Were you relaxed or anxious — did the interviewer pull out the best of what you could contribute? If the answer to these questions is no, then it was not a good cultural fit for you to do your best work.Trust your instincts.
  • Did you prepare? If you didn’t have time, were out of practice, or in any other way unprepared, this could be an indication that you could might benefit from some coaching on interview prep.
  • If you prepared, were truly interested, and showed up as your authentic self – then you did your part! Try to avoid the negative self-spin and move on as quickly as possible.There are more fish in the sea!


What tips do you have for women interviewing for the “next step” in their career? (i.e. going from a Manager to Director or Director to CEO)

When you are growing into upper management, I think the most essential aspect is to change your own mind about your potential, your contributions, and your self-limiting beliefs. There is a great book that I recommend called, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. The mindset that made you successful as an individual contributor, your technical expertise, is not the same skillset as a good leader – especially as a manager of managers. It is essential to do a deep dive into what you really believe about yourself and others in order to take the leap into a senior position. So critical in fact, that it could make/break the company culture. My suggestion is the Why, What, How approach.


Why do you want to move up? Explore the reasons you want to move up. Try to avoid the “should” game. Meaning, do you have a desire to lead people or is it a matter of “keeping up with the Joneses.” People leadership is an important job, and it is not for everyone. Be honest with yourself as to the real reasons for this path. The answers to these questions are the beginning of crafting your next elevator pitch and re-branding strategy.


What do you believe about yourself and others? What makes you qualified for this leap? Write down what you believe about people. Being a good manager, director, or leader is about setting the right tone and having a high degree of psychological safety. In fact, take a look at this quote from a great read on The Four Stages of Psychological Safety:

“In organizations, it’s an uncontested finding that high psychological safety drives performance and innovation, while low psychological safety incurs the disabling costs of low productivity and high attrition. Google’s Project Aristotle proved that IQ points and money don’t necessarily produce results. After studying 180 of its teams, Google found that smarts and resources can’t compensate for what a team may lack in psychological safety. In fact, the company landed on psychological safety as the single most important factor in explaining high performance.”

It is essential to provide inclusivity, to combat unconscious bias, admit when you are wrong, and to not micromanage. If you are not there yet, I don’t believe you are ready for the leap. It can do much more damage when these aspects of leadership are unexamined.


How will you get there? Examine the relationships you need to create influence. If it’s trying to go up the ladder internally, this requires a very high degree of social and political capital. Start campaigning for yourself. If you can’t get the leverage you need internally, it is time to start building social capital outside of your organization.


What resiliency strategies can entrepreneurs utilize if/when they find themselves being rejected by potential clients?

To all my fellow women entrepreneurs, I say: KEEP AT IT! As an entrepreneur myself, the battle is more with yourself than with any other obstacle. What you believe about yourself and your product/service is constantly challenged. I think it takes oodles of tenacity and stubbornness to start your own business. Don’t give up, find another way, stay glued to the people who believe in you, and trust trust trust yourself. There isn’t an easy way here and I wish I could say follow these steps and you’ll be fine. But the reality isn’t that simple and I’m a big believer in saying how it really is rather than faking it. So ask for help, because you don’t need to do it alone. Remember that it’s okay to take breaks, it’s okay to get it wrong, and it’s okay to not know how to move forward. In those moments, talk to others, let down your guard, and try again.


What resources (websites, podcasts, books, etc.) would you suggest for job searchers who want to re-evaluate their values and ensure that the companies they are applying to are aligned with those values?

Here are a few of my favorite reads on entrepreneurship:


Here are a few of my favorite reads on career growth and job searching:

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