How to Build Gen-Z Leaders | Tammy Dowley-Blackman

We're using tools to help people understand their leadership style and their entire team's style. It's important because it helps and hinders your decision-making for the organization." Tammy Dowley-Blackman, Episode 118

How can you help Gen-Z and Millennials become the leaders of tomorrow?

Tammy Dowley-Blackman founded the Looking Forward Lab to do just that.

In this episode, she’ll share how she helps young adults prepare for the future.

She’ll also share what leaders need to know about the young generation entering the workforce, including:

  • How to communicate across a generational divide 

  • Generational differences in technology & education

  • Effectively training employees for leadership & management roles

  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Tammy Dowley-Blackman: We’re using some other tools to help people really begin to understand their own style so they can better understand their entire team style because it both helps and hinders how you make decisions for the work, for the organization, for your external stakeholders.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Welcome everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer and they call me the vibrant coach. And I am here with the lovely and the talented Tammy Dowley-Blackman. She is the CEO of Tammy Dowley-Blackman group, which is comprised of a suite of brands including the TDB Group Strategic Advisory, a management consulting firm, the Looking Forward Lab, which I totally want to hear about that. 

She’s helping all these young people do great things. A media content company focused on Gen Z and Cooper+Lowe, a marketplace for women entrepreneurs and thought leaders. Tammy formerly served as the president of the TSNE Board of Directors and is a current advisory board member for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Proteus Fund. Please welcome to the show, Tammy. I’m so glad you’re here.

Tammy: Aww, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Nicole: Yeah, so we were just chit-chatting before this thing began. And she’s up in one of my old stomping grounds up there in Baltimore, Maryland. How are things up in Baltimore, Maryland?

Tammy: Oh, we’ve had a warm winter. It’s a little rainy today. But things are good. It’s still, very much I love that you call it vibrant culture. And it’s still very much a vibrant culture here in Baltimore. It’s grown tremendously.

Nicole: Oh, that’s fantastic. I was sharing with Tammy, I got engaged to the David Greer up there in Baltimore. So I have such good memories. All right. All right. I digress, I digress. All right, so Tammy, I’ve got a question for you. I’m collecting definitions of leadership. And you have got a ton of experience with this. So what is your definition of leadership?

Tammy: I think it’s that it really is about inviting everyone in to be a leader is the way I think about this. In my company, we believe that everyone has the ability to be a leader. And they have the existing qualities to be a leader. That shows up differently for some people, it’s going to be in community, some people it’s going to be in assisting others through work. For some people, it’s going to be sharing their talent, but it is the idea that everyone has leadership is the way I think about that. And we’re just excited to be able to see it come to life in all forms.

Nicole: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I just think people have some, I think they have major untapped potential. And really, leaders pull that potential out of folks in and I love what you said about you know, they have a talent here, they have a talent there. That’s really a true skill of a leader is to look for that talent, and then get it out of them and put it to work to do amazing things in the world. 

Yeah, so you are doing some pretty cool things in the world. I went over to your website and everybody you can find her website, it is www.Tammyd as in dog B as in, and find out what she’s up to. And one of the things I’m so excited to hear about is what we mentioned in your bio, is that you have this thing called the Looking Forward Lab. So first of all, isn’t that a cool name? Who came up with that?

Tammy: It’s so funny, you asked about that, because it actually precedes the company by many years. I worked in college admissions, so it’s ironic that it was about students and it was about young adults. But I was working in college admissions. And something came across my desk one day, and it just was something a headline or something that said, looking forward. And I’ve had only a few words that have landed with me and forever stayed with me. 

And somehow that just stayed with me. And I said, that’s an important thing. I’m going to remember that hold on to that. It’s so it’s what I use in my signature. And it was, it just felt like just so appropriate for the name of this company. And for young people and thinking about they’re trying to do that. Look forward, design their lives. And so that’s how the name, but the name was in existence in my head, you know, 15 years before this company was born.

Nicole: Yeah, so that’s what I call a vision or some kind of prophetic thing going on or something. I love it. Okay, so will you share a little bit that if you go to her website, she’s got a fantastic video about it. So you can go watch her over there, see her beautiful face, but tell us a little bit about what you’re doing in the Looking Forward Lab.

Tammy: Yeah sure. This was really comes down to personal experiences, I’m sure for many people that are listening. They’re things they’re doing or they’re interested in. For me it was thinking about when I was a young adult, what the kinds of tools I wish I had available to me. I really had to piece it together on my own. And though I had a lot of generous mentors, it’s still was a piecing it together and trying to figure it out. And some of that’s perfectly natural, we have to do that. 

But there they felt like it was harder than it should have been. And some of that was just, you know, personal experiences or things I didn’t have. And I thought, if I can just make this easier for others that that would be great. But it also was born out of being a Gen Z mom. So when my daughter was about five, I just became fascinated at this generation and really thinking about how they were going to lead very differently. And just watching her. Watching the confidence, watching the questions they asked, watching that they had so many more tools available to them, even as 5, 6, 7-year-olds, and I thought this generation is going to be very different. 

So I was watching them beginning at age five, and then build out this company a few years later. There was a precursor to it a little bit around thinking about younger kids. And then I thought no, the sweet spot here is really going to be as they’re advancing to adulthood. And really thinking about what that looks like for them. So that’s, that’s how, what we focus on how we came to be.

Nicole: Yeah, so you’re helping people figure out what they want to be when they grow up. Is that accurate?

Tammy: Yeah. So what they want to be when they grow up, but also how to get there. It was the part that was hard for me when I was doing this thinking about being a young adult. It was okay, yes, I can go right, I can go left. But what do I actually ask myself? What are the tools? How do I make the decisions? And not everybody has parents or grandparents or aunts and uncles or, or other family members or friends who have got lots of information to share it with them. And even if they do, a lot of those people I found feel really uncomfortable, particularly parents. Their generation, and their information is so different than this generation’s. 

They feel ill-equipped, though they’re there, they’re caring, they’re excited for their kiddos, but they are really worried about what this means for you know, yes, they still think of them as their kiddos, but they’re young adults. Our colleges are amazing and what they’re doing, but our colleges are not always thinking forward thinking about this and are not innovating at the same level. So they’re using some of the same things you and I had in college, to help think through what’s the next step. So it was really trying to help them think through what comes next.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. And, and I think this is such a timely thing that you’re doing. I don’t know what your experience is. But I bet you it’s not far off from my experience. I go in, and I work with all sorts of organizations and companies. And there’s there’s a generational thing going on, right? So this fact that you’re focusing in, you know, so a lot of the young people look at the people who are older inside the organization and think, what are they doing. 

And then I think at the same time I hear a lot of complaints from the older generation is like this new generation is different. And what I tell them is like, of course it’s different. Every generation has always been different. There’s nothing new under the sun. But you know, the fact that you’re helping this group of people very intentionally, because to your point, nobody helped me very intentionally. 

I had well-meaning people around me, but I was out there just figuring it out one day at a time. I could have really accelerated my trajectory, right? So do you have a story? Sometimes stories illustrate, you know, kind of the work that people do. Do you have a story about a young man or young woman or a group of them or something that you’ve helped, and they’ve navigated a path and having great success.

Tammy: There are a couple, but one in particular I think I’ll come at it the other way, is actually it was when I really knew this company was going to be of use and we would grow is I got a call from a CEO that said, I’m feeling like things are just not going as well. And I’m really concerned, I’ve always had a great relationship with all of my team members, we work really hard. I’m building something here that I know many are really wanting to be a part of. But there’s something here that’s not working very well for us anymore. 

So we go in and initially the CEO thought, you know, is this about the work isn’t interesting anymore? Is this about diversity, equity inclusion, accessibility, belonging. What might this be? And it is in some way, yes, it does fit under diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging. But what I came back to the CEO and said is that this is really just what you mentioned a minute ago, Nicole. It was really about a generational divide. And it was showing up in the leadership style. And it was showing up in communication. 

And it was showing up in assumptions. It was showing up then in work performance, but there was nothing wrong with mission. There was nothing wrong with the CEO, there was nothing wrong with these team members. They just were really in a lot of ways now speaking a very different language and, and thinking that they were holding the same assumptions. It was helping them to see that they had grown tremendously. So anytime a company grows, there’s going to be implications there. That the age difference was now there was a bigger gap in the age difference and experience. 

That didn’t mean that they couldn’t figure out how to work together, but that the CEO really needed to understand. There were other things at play here. And so that was just one of those moments where it just crystallized, what had been theoretical was now the practical. And we were going to only see more of this, as many more particularly Gen Z-ers, were entering the workforce. And that was important. And that just really defined a lot of the work. It helped develop some of the tools we began to use. And it just became even more profound over time. That was young millennials. And then as we saw Gen Z entering the workforce.

Nicole: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Yeah. You know, and I, my response to them as often is like, you know, you we have to just sit down, we have to communicate, we have to create that bond between these two groups and find the common thread, which I think is so, so important. All right. So if somebody is in your program, and they’re a Gen Z person, what kind of experience do they have? What tools do you give them, that help them figure out where they want to go? I know, there’s other I mean, both you and I are mamas. I’m sure there’s other ladies and gentlemen listening to this. They’re like, oh, I would love to help my son or daughter get on the right path. How do you do that? Can you tell us about your tools and your strategies?

Tammy: Yeah, sure. So first off, it’s it’s about thinking about, again, these differences in the experience. It’s not going to just automatically translate what we may have done. It is even in thinking about the language and the way in which students are describing their experience, or young adults are describing their experience or what they’re most interested in. There are a couple of things are really I always try to use this to ground particularly when I’m talking to managers or I’m talking to parents. 

But even when I’m talking to the young adults themselves, and they’re trying to figure out why does this feels so different, is to remind that this is the first generation to come to the workforce in five decades to have less experience than prior generations coming to the workforce. And that’s something you pointed to the video that would be there on the website is something I go into more detail about. But it is fascinating. So where you and I may have had a babysitting job or summer job, or we may have worked at the local bodega or the local department store, this generation of students particularly again, 

Gen Z-ers they’ve come into the workforce, where it’s been much more micromanaged around their time. Much more having to work to the tests. Much more around there academics, which is wonderful, they’re brilliant. But this is also hindered them in not having that professional experience. Then you add on technology, which again is made them brilliant, and it’s something we didn’t have access to. Even Millennials depending upon where Millennials fall in their older millennials didn’t have the level of access to technology. So this is the most technologically advanced generation, Gen Z. 

But then we also have the Gen Z has great spending power. And we also have the Gen Z as the most diverse generation that we’ve ever had. All of those things combined to bring people to the workforce who are talented, who are interested, who are savvy, who are passionate, but also could use some help around looking at what it means to enter the workforce and a different level of professionalism than simply being online. A different level of understanding nuance that you can’t get by simply 140 characters that you really need to be in place in space and get to know people and have conversations. 

Those things are just are different experiences. And then of course, you add COVID, which took that away from everyone. So it used to be you could be in the kitchen, and you could make a tea, see someone talking about something and observe and discern things, or you might go to lunch with them or be in the conference room. Those things are harder to do on Zoom. So the kinds of tools we’re helping them to build are tools that are helping them to understand everything from what it means to be able to speak well in these spaces. What does it mean to translate college writing, into professional writing? What does it mean to be able to have the confidence to ask questions, and to advance a project?

Gen Z-ers are much more used to working collaboratively, but some things need them to move them singularly faster along. And so what does it mean to want both collaborative work but also have to own your work and push it along. The other thing where we’ve given them a lot of work is around performance review. There are a lot of people who don’t understand how important performance, the performance review process is, and really don’t have any kind of prior experience with it. 

And again, COVID has made that more complicated. So helping them to build out a portfolio helping them to figure out the right sets of questions to ask. Trying to figure out how they present themselves, present their material, but also how they can build out projects, be a really solid project leader, if even if they’re used to doing it one way which was much more collaborative, and now they need to do be singular in their leadership around it. So those are just some of the tools that we work to help develop.

Nicole: I know there are lots of leaders listening right now going we need Tammy because, you know they, I think that they’re witnessing this as people are getting prepared to come in. And like you said, I’ve got two Millennials and my Millennials are at the opposite ends, and they’re different. So it’s a fantastic thing. So you know, if you’ve never done your homework on the generations, I would suggest you to go out and do a little Googling around on that. 

I think leaders who are informed about that are much more savvy. And of course, I think Tammy Dowley-Blackman can help you get that figured out. All right, so she’s helping us to get this next generation ready to enter the workforce and be dynamic and helpful. And so as we can say, we can put their genius to work, because they got this highly educated technical crowd coming in. I think that’s fantastic. All right. 

So some of the other things that you do are leadership and development. And so I work in that same realm. And, you know, there are so many teams that need our help, there’s plenty of leaders to go around. What are some of the things that you’re doing that you’re seeing are working, or needs out there, that you’ve got some ideas about? What do we need to do to increase the prowess of our leadership?

Tammy: So one of the things that we’ve been asked to do a lot more of than I would have ever anticipated, is a lot more in the way around executive coaching, and we’re seeing it across the board. So it’s not just your established senior leaders or CEOs, we’re being asked to do it, for those who are mid-range in your career, mid-managers. But also back to those Gen Zers. We’ve been really pushing that the sooner you get those Gen Zers connected to that kind of experience, the better they will be at being leaders. 

On the other end with those CEOs, we’re helping them to think about what it looks like how their team is changing, and how they can rethink some of their own prior understanding, but also some of the tools they were using. What’s been also fascinating is to watch around, we’ve got a group of women CEOs, that are really, have taken a hit around some of the ways in which I’ve watched some people in the way they’ve treated women CEOs, they would have never done that to men CEOs. They would have never done that to older CEOs. 

And so we’ve been taking a lot of care and attention to being supportive of CEOs who are women who are people of color. And that comes up in all kinds of ways. We’ve got some work around the leadership development, called infrastructure building work. And so some of that is helping them to, they could be a brand new leader, helping them to really understand what it means to build the organization, build the team, build a relationship with the board of directors, and a great deal of that comes out of my prior experience of having been a CEO Executive Director and had to again learn to do that pieces together, and are now trying to provide those supports. 

And then one last thing I would say that we’re seeing more of around leadership development, is people really wanting to understand their style. So Myers Briggs was certainly something that people relied on before. And that’s great. But it’s not that. We’re using some other tools to help people really begin to understand their own style, so they can better understand their entire team style. So we just did this, for example, with a foundation in New York City. Ten or so team members, and really helping them to break down what their individual and collective leadership style is, because it both helps and hinders how you make decisions for the work, for the organization, for your external stakeholders. 

And so they were really enthusiastic about this is not just an individual activity, but we were doing it as an entire team. And then we also do this with management teams as well helping them to figure out how to better manage because many people get promoted, but they actually don’t know how to manage. They get promoted based on seniority. They’re great employees, they’re great team members, they’ve done great work, but knowing how to manage is something very different. So that’s some of what we’re seeing in the leadership development realm. Again, I’m sure so much is similar to what you’re seeing.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. And a couple of things. She nailed a couple of things I want to bring, you know, sometimes I slow everybody down on this thing Tammy because they’re also like cooking their dinner and on the treadmill or driving their car. So you know, here’s the thing she said is that, you know, you can do this personality work and she put the Myers Briggs out there. Sounds like you’re using a different tool. What tool are you using?

Tammy: We use the DiSC Profile tool a great deal. Some others too. But that’s what I like a lot. We’ve used Birkman before, you know, we use quite a few.

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. Okay, so I do the DiSC too. And so hello, me and Tammy are telling you, you got to do the DiSC. Alright. So she, what she said was so huge was a lot of times we’ll go in, they’ll do a personality assessment tool. But then she said this very important thing, that collectively, the team has like a little personality. Like if you have a whole bunch of one style, then the team kind of operates in that style. I think that’s a real handicap for teams, if they don’t know that. 

Like they have to be so intentional. Okay, let’s use the other styles to make decisions to carry out our activities, do our strategy. So that’s something that she said, I don’t want you to miss. And then the other thing that she said was this thing of promoting people when they haven’t been developed yet, and just leaving them to their own devices. And I see that everywhere, Tammy. We’re still promoting people who we haven’t like, put them right here under our wing and said, okay, here’s what you need to do. 

So oh, my gosh, and what will backfire on y’all. That’s how we talk and Charlotte. What will backfire on y’all is that what will happen is you’ll put this great employee like she said, who you promoted, and then they will fail. So what are some of the things that you know, when you train a brand new manager, what is what are some of the things that you’re helping them to understand? What might be some good advice for somebody who’s just gotten promoted or who’s about to be promoted? I think this would be good.

Tammy: We just had a real-life case study on that. And then someone just recently was in that role. And I would just put a second edge on that if you’re being promoted, and you are now going to oversee or provide support for people who were formerly your peers. That’s the another element to this. And that gets very complicated and it can be tough, where some of the teams we’ve worked with, some of the people have said, I feel like it’s an unfair now, power dynamic. 

And though they do not look to exercise power over others, that’s what they’re feeling. And again, it can leave them and the team at a disadvantage, not able to do their best work, because they’re so in their head, and they’re so overwhelmed by these negative feelings of leadership, or how they worried about how they might show up. And so what I spend time is first just trying to get them comfortable, again, with this idea of what is your leadership style? How do you best like to work? What does that look like, feel like, when you are your happiest, you are your most vibrant, where you are really, you are producing and you’re bringing out the most another’s. 

So that’s your leadership, and you’re bringing out good leadership and others. And that’s a way of settling, getting people on, you know, really even-keeled. And they really appreciate that and gets them out of their head of the emotion or the worry so much. Then we talk a little bit about what do you want for this team, because what you want for the team means you have to actively participate in making that happen, you can’t just wish it. So we spend some time really developing that idea, almost a mission statement around for that team, that team dynamic, team productivity and so forth. 

And then we spend time saying what would you need to do for each of these team members to get them in a place to do what you’ve just described. And then that forces them to have to see each of those people individually, having to really assess what those skill sets are, we actually go through a process. So that really means, and I’ve done this, I’ve this framework I created called the TDB Group Truss Framework. And it’s not trust, but it’s truss, t r u s s, and really is like an architect. And they build truss in a roof to hold up a building, it’s the same kind of thing. 

That this framework, this truss framework holds it up. And there, we talk about assessment, we talk about mapping and benchmarking and how you’re going to then be able to create the pathway going forward. And in using that framework, we’re able to give them a quick way of being able to do that work, make some decisions, and for them to set themselves up not only for success, but the whole team to feel successful. 

And that doesn’t mean you don’t have bumps, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t days that are difficult, but they have something to go back to that’s more than just I wish. But an actual plan of action, a real understanding of step one, step two, step three, and so on. So that’s how we’ve done this with these managers, CEOs across the board. But it’s been particularly helpful to those who have just been recently promoted.

Nicole: Yeah. And so I think I love what you’re saying so much. So don’t miss that. Her Truss System, she can get it in place inside your organization. It’s getting the new manager comfortable, getting the new manager to cast a vision. And so that might sound weird to people. But like, you can have a vision for the company, XYZ company vision. But then this department, this area, this team, I mean, we can cast vision at any level of the organization. That’s what she just downloaded. I don’t want you to miss it. 

And then she said, then you step back and you say, what do I need Tammy to do? What do I need Nicole to do? What do I need Jack, that’s my dog on the floor over here. What do I need them to do to carry out this amazing vision that I’ve come up with? And I think that I mean, at some level this is visioning, but also like its strategic planning, and really being a human resource manager at some level.

Tammy: It really is. And that’s at the end when you get to the bottom of it. When you think about it. This is all about managing people, managing how we show up, how we feel effective, how we feel happy. This matters, not only personally, it matters professionally. How are we all getting a chance to do our best work and giving everyone an opportunity to show up in a way that shows the best of them? That’s ultimately what we’re trying to do. What you’re trying to do and what I’m trying to do when I’m asked to come in and help them think through and all those, it gets different titles at different times. There are different project names, but in the end, it’s what is it? How do we maximize this incredible group of human beings to be able to do their best work?

Nicole: Right, right. And I kind of had like a little epiphany right there. And if you had a brand new manager, over a team, a department, whatever, and they did this work, it would blow the ever-loving minds of the people on that team, because it will probably be the first time they’ve had a manager who was that strategic, right? And so as the brand new manager, whoa, so impressive. And you gain such significant credibility, which is what I think most new managers are worried about. 

Especially your scenario, about a manager that is now managing their peers. So I work a lot with police and fire, I don’t know if you do, you might. And that is a big problem for them. Because firefighters don’t leave. And so for maybe 12 years, you were peers and now, things that go on. And so I love what you’re saying that would help that in a way that’s really, really powerful and earn the respect, like almost immediately.

Tammy: And you’re right. Respect, credibility and trust. And it also earns you goodwill. Goodwill, when you allow people to experience something new. Goodwill, when you trust in them, to actually to take on a new experience, and to really explore it. I say all the time, particularly around the executive coaching, that most people never get that opportunity. And so I have colleagues that I’ve worked with, and teams I’ve worked with, and then they say to me, this has been such a gift. That’s the words they use. 

And it’s true, because most of us in our career, you’re in it, you’re doing the work, but most people will say they never really got an opportunity to spend time learning or to be able to explore, reflect. They’re just in the, they’ve just got to be in the weeds all the time. And so teams really appreciate this opportunity to come out a little bit, take a step back, do some things together. And when you come in, and you say I want us to have that time, it does build credibility, it does build respect, and it does build trust.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. All right. So you’ve mentioned coaching twice, and gosh, Nicole Greerl loves coaching more than anything. So, well, first of all, I here’s what I want to say about coaching is what she says things about, you need to be able to step back and reflect. Coaching gives people an opportunity to do that. To like put the brakes on the 27 emails that will come in this hour, they’ll still be there when you get done with your coaching session. But to sit and reflect, you know, one of the things that I have read over and over in different places is, reflection can be one of the best skills a leader can have. 

And if you have a partner, a coach to help you do that, it can really help you see things. Because really what coaches do, and I’m gonna let you answer the question, but I’ll say this, coaches are great listeners. And they’re great at asking what I call powerful questions, which helps you, you know, clear the clutter and open your mind. What do you, what are your thoughts? What do you think coaching does for anybody really. But an executive or a leader inside an organization. What does it help them do?

Tammy: Just sum up what you said. It really is giving people that opportunity to clear the clutter, it’s making space. But I think it also, and I’m always fascinated that some of the responses I get is whether someone is fairly new in their work their role in the workforce itself, or whether they’re a seasoned leader, that sometimes you get the same response is that one I mentioned, which is this is such a gift. Another response I get is, I just never thought of it that way. I just, it never occurred to me to think of it that way. 

Because again, now you’ve got some time, as you said to reflect, and it just opens up a different way of thinking about it. And another thing I end up hearing a lot from people again, regardless of whether they’re fairly new in their, in their career, or those who are very seasoned in their career is I just didn’t realize I could do this a different way. That’s the other thing. And not only did I not realize I could think about it a different way, but then I could also do this a different way. 

And that do it a different way sometimes mean, again, how I show up, or the way in which I interface with people. It could mean the way in which I lead, the way in which I ask questions, a whole host of things. But the idea of wow, I can make some choices here. I can make choices and I can make informed choices. Because now I’ve had a chance to really think it through. I think those are just incredible. And when I hear people, their brains clicking in on that, it feels wonderful to watch it too. And then to see it play out. Wahoo, you know.

Nicole: I know. I know. And, you know sometimes, you know in coaching, if you think about you know the world in history and how long we’ve all been on the planet or whatever, you know, coaching is relatively a new thing. I mean, Thomas Leonard coined this thing coaching and, you know, the International Coaching Federation popped up and people still look at me and you know, I’m all five foot tall, Tammy and they look at me, you coach. What do you coach? You know, like, they’re all confused. 

And I’m like, I coach, you know, executives and people in their career, and they’re like, oh. You know, and the thing about it is, is, gosh, we need, you said earlier, we didn’t have parents or whatever, not all of us were lucky enough to get a parent who mentored. But sometimes the coach is in there, they’re actually taking off their coaching hat and putting on a mentoring hat. That coaching session can also be where you get somebody who’s been in the business you’ve been in, and they, you know, can download, you know, some information that can really help you catapult your career forward. 

So very powerful, very powerful. Okay. Last thing I want to talk about is this thing of you helping the ladies. So you were talking about helping your female CEOs. And let’s be clear, you know, I think men are fantastic. I think they’re awesome. I’m married to one, I think they’re great. But I do love to hear that you have like a little, you know, group of ladies that you are helping. And so I know I have some seriously awesome women listening to this podcast. 

And so I wonder if you have maybe some strategies, systems, smarts, a little something that you might download. I bet you the fellows could use it, too. But yeah, so what advice would you give for a female that is entering into a leadership spot, maybe being the CEO? What would you tell her?

Tammy: So there’s there’s two ways in which I’m coming at this. And again, each company I’ve developed has come out of a need. So when I when I started, you know, they all live under, as you said Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group. But when I started TDB Group Strategic Advisory it was because I was coming out of being a CEO, where again, I had to figure out all of these things on my own. And I thought, wouldn’t it be great to be able to provide the services that I can just know, can do, and can understand. 

And that’s what the work we do there. And that’s also some of the work I do as well, having been a board president and help boards. Then the Looking Forward Lab was really about remembering being a young adult, trying to figure out my career trajectory and thinking about, gosh, how do I do this? What do I do first? How do I put these pieces together? And particularly when you don’t have a lot of resources and trying to do those things, and don’t have a lot of room for error. So that’s where Looking Forward Lab came. 

The same with Cooper+Lowe was this same idea here was I have put together a successful company. This does not take the place of things like Hello, Alice, which is amazing, Walker Legacy, or our local centers for women and enterprise, which you know, are backed by the Small Business Administration. Or just things you can get off the great web, that does not take the place of it. But what I was, what I was responding to, is that weekly, I was getting requests from women who were saying two things. One is they said, I’m not quite sure how to do A or B or C, and you’ve already done it, could you please tell me how I do this. And then I can run them through right quickly. Oh, go do this. But don’t do this. Try this. But don’t do that. 

This kind of thing, based on experience. But then I was also starting to get another set of questions of women CEOs, who were saying, I loved being a CEO, I loved being an executive director, I love being a senior leader. But I really at this point am done with that. And I’m trying to figure out how to transition. Some of those people are really clear, they’re ripe to start a new company of their own. And others are saying I don’t want to start a company, I just want to be able to do amazing work. And I’m trying to figure out what that looks like. And then you have some who say I just want to become a thought leader in some way. 

So they might be deciding whether they go off in academia, are they going to be writing. So I was trying to create space for them to be able to figure out what it is. And so at Cooper+Lowe it is now I get to just answer those questions for a lot more women versus it just being piecemeal, by offering a course. So we’re actually almost finished with designing a new course, it’s going to be ready in just a bit, which is the orange box. And it is just that. 

Being able to now almost entrepreneurship in a box. And here’s what you need to do first, second, third, and so on. The difference here though, is that again, there are resources, and I tell people all the time, you can go get those resources. But what they routinely say to me is, but we want it from someone who’s already built it, who already knows the pitfalls, who’s already had to deal with that pit in your stomach when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re trying to figure all these things out. 

And so this was just creating space, creating space for all those different women at all those different stages of life, to be able to consider what their next options will be. They’re all leaders in all kinds of ways all their company ideas are different. And they all wanted to come at this in different ways. And we just wanted to create space for them to be able to do it. So each of these have been born out of experience or what I wish I had. And this is no different.

Nicole: Yeah. And you’re just paying it forward. I love it. Okay, very good. Very good. All right. Well, I this we’re at the top of the hour and everybody’s going, wait, I know Tammy has one more nugget for me. She’s gonna download one more goodie. So just leave us with a thought, a quote, a tip. Something that we could go and we could put to work to help us build a vibrant culture. What thought would you leave us with Tammy?

Tammy: I will leave you with my favorite, it’s part of my favorite quote. One of my favorite quotes, and it comes from Gwendolyn Brooks. And the quote is we are each other’s bond. And that’s what I think of and it’s how I’ve tried to show up in all of my work and it’s what at the work, I’ve tried to develop. I am always thinking about how we can be of greatest support to others and help others to be the greatest support of someone else. We are each other’s magnitude we are each other’s bond. That’s part of the Gwendolyn Brooks quote. So that’s what I’ll leave you with.

Nicole: Oh love it. And I feel like you and I are like tight bond now. We’ve had this Vibrant Culture podcast. All right. So we’re practicing what we’re preaching here. People were all bonded up. We hope you’ve connected with us. I tell you what, I bet you enjoyed this episode, because you listened all the way to the end to get the nugget. So go down and like and subscribe. And would you please go over to Tammy’s website. Tammy, if they want to find you, should they go to the LinkedIn? Should they go to the website? What do you want them to do to come find you?

Tammy: They can go to either will put them in. I’d say LinkedIn probably is the easiest for most folks, and it’ll put you in the website. But if they choose the website, that’s fun, too. And they can contact us.

Nicole: Okay, very good. All right. We’ll put all that in the show notes. Thank you, Tammy. Have a great rest of your week up in my old stomping grounds. Baltimore. Thank you, everybody, for listening.

Tammy: Oh, thank you, Nicole. Take care.

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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