Dr. Amelia Reigstad of The Women Empowerment Series: “Be your authentic self”

Be your authentic self. This advice has become my anchor in all that I do. It sounds simple but being our authentic selves can be challenging. We start questioning our own opinions and actions which can lead us away from who we really are. We are constantly invited to be who we are so let’s […]

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Be your authentic self. This advice has become my anchor in all that I do. It sounds simple but being our authentic selves can be challenging. We start questioning our own opinions and actions which can lead us away from who we really are. We are constantly invited to be who we are so let’s do just that.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Amelia Reigstad, Ph.D.

Dr. Amelia Reigstad, Ph.D. is a passionate change agent, corporate trainer and coach with nearly two decades of industry experience. She has spoken on a global scale at many professional events and conferences and has taught a variety of PR and communications courses across the U.S., Canada, Europe and the U.K. With a passion for helping others, she consults and educates business professionals on the importance of understanding effective communication in the workplace, and how this leads to employee engagement, organizational improvements and increase of productivity. As the founder of The Women Empowerment Series, she inspires and encourages women to use their voice to initiate change.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I am originally from Vancouver, B.C. Canada, with a background and education in public relations and communications. Through working in corporate settings to running my own PR consultancy and educating up and coming professionals as a university professor, my passion lies with helping others find their communication purpose. Fast forward and I now call Minneapolis, Minnesota home where I am a sought-after expert in effective communication and work with organizations and individuals to increase communication in the workplace.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

As the founder of The Women Empowerment Series, I encourage and inspire women to disrupt the status quo and use their voice to initiate change. And, when I say use their voice, I literally mean our voices — through communication. Change can be big or small. For me it’s about using my voice to initiate change pertaining to gender equality in the workplace but to someone else, it could be navigating through a tough conversation with a male superior. The three-part series was developed in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in hopes of continuing her legacy in creating gender equality in the workplace. This is done through topics such linguistic and communication styles, conversation rituals, gender differences, women empowerment, confidence, authenticity and more! The purpose of the series is to build community and offer women a supportive place to discuss challenges they face both personally and professionally. Women who take part in the series are smashing right through glass ceilings and I am thrilled to be able to guide them in the process.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was interning at a top PR agency in Vancouver, B.C. way back in the day (early 2000s), I was tasked with compiling media kits for a large event. Everything was printed and compiled into folders with a notepad and pencil included in case the media wanted to take notes during the keynote address. I forgot to sharpen the pencils. Oops! I learned that even the most mundane tasks need 100% attention. A great life lesson!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Two of my greatest mentors were educators. Wade Peary was my high school leadership teacher and Terri Smolar was a colleague when I was teaching at a university in Canada. No wonder I spent 15 years as a university professor! They instilled in me a passion and love for knowledge and taught me to go after my dreams. They also demonstrated through their care and compassion, how to truly be a leader. I am eternally grateful for such impactful mentors in my life.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I believe the status quo is still the status quo and although we have made progress, it’s not enough. There is always room for disrupting. For example, gender equality in the workplace shouldn’t be part of our conversation anymore and until all genders are treated equal and earn equal salaries, disrupting an industry or in this case “society”, is necessary.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  • Be your authentic self — This advice has become my anchor in all that I do. It sounds simple but being our authentic selves can be challenging. We start questioning our own opinions and actions which can lead us away from who we really are. We are constantly invited to be who we are so let’s do just that.
  • You can accomplish whatever you put your mind to — My parents instilled in me the value of hard work and dedication and through their support, I knew I could accomplish anything. Whether it was attaining my doctorate degree, starting my business, becoming a first-time mom, I knew I could do it.
  • Be a champion for others — I was taught to cheer on those around me and be supportive of others’ initiatives. From an empowerment perspective, there are so many wonderful women’s groups, programs and events around the globe and we are all doing similar things. Banning together and being an ally for one another is important to my daily work, especially as I continue to build a community of empowered women through The Women Empowerment Series.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

In the fall, we will celebrate The Women Empowerment Series one-year anniversary and I can’t wait to share what’s next. Continuing to shake things up is important so my plan is to continue to evolve the series by adding new content, individual coaching sessions and more. I am also in the process of writing a book about the pressure women feel to be “perfect” and the unrealistic expectations society has placed on us. Instead of feeling pressure to be perfect, I want women to shift their perspective and feel confident and empowered with the decisions they make in their lives and know they have impact in the world.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I really wish we were at a point in time when we didn’t have to think about gender differences in a negative manner but instead simply consider men and women equal counterparts. Generally speaking, men aren’t considered ‘disruptors’ and unfortunately when women are, a shadow is sometimes cast, and it becomes weaponized against us. Being a disruptor can also have a negative connotation and it really shouldn’t. It’s time to create chaos. It’s time to be a disrupter.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

There are plenty of books and authors that have made an impact on me but the one that resonated the most not necessarily on my thinking but more so on my doing was Eat. Pray. Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert. After a divorce at the age of 28, I packed up and went on an 18-country, 31-day European adventure. I loved it so much that the following summer, I packed up for 2.5 months and traveled across Europe, visited the pyramids in Egypt and beautiful sites in Israel. Being on a personal journey myself at the time, I admire the process one takes to find their purpose in life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a firm believer in effective workplace communication, women empowerment and gender equality. The Women Empowerment Series combines all three of these elements together to inspire and encourage women to use their voice to initiate change. This is a movement I hope will continue to reach women around the globe.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Live your passion” or “O’la ko koni koni” in Hawaiian. Hawaii holds a special place in my heart, hence the Hawaiian translation. It’s tattooed in Hawaiian on the top of my left foot as a constant reminder to truly live and breath my passion. It is an incredibly important aspect of my life and if I am not living my passion, I need to change it up. If I can continue to inspire women to use their voice to initiate change and disrupt the status quo, I am certainly living my passion.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn or visit www.ameliareigstad.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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