How to Build Yourself+ with Your Own Group

I recently heard good news from a woman who I ran a short coaching session with.

I wanted to follow up on our call together last month. Since then I kicked off the women’s empowerment/leadership program at my office and it was fantastic. Twenty-four women attended (all but 1!) and the response was wonderful…..The best response came from one of the less outspoken women on our team, who didn’t say anything during the meeting, but sent me the following message afterwards. Wanted to say THANKS for this. I don’t think I realized I needed something like this until I sat in that room today and listened to you talk and identified with practically everything. 
I’m SO pumped.

As you know, I am a huge fan of women empowering other women–and I absolutely love hearing about those who get inspired and pass that fire on and forward.I wrote a few months ago about Brittney Prest, a workshop participant whose experience in the workshop launched her into an early promotion. After finishing the workshop, Brittney and a few coworkers from the workshop launched their own Build Yourself+ group at work.I recently chatted with Brittney about how she did it and wrapped her insight in together with mine on how to kick off a group of your own.

Kick it Off: Invite people to join your group. The group (or small groupings within your meeting) should be small enough that everyone in the group can get a chance to talk each time you meet.

Model Vulnerability: These kinds of groups are most powerful when people can work through tough issues, and talk about themselves rather than talk about issues in the abstract. Establish safe space and privacy rules, and model courage by sharing a personal experience with vulnerability. Small group discussions with questions focused on personal experience (eg. tell us about a moment you’ve experienced or seen disempowerment in your career) can help people open up and feel less intimidated by any hierarchies in the room.

Get an Information Diet: The group should have something to respond to or learn from each time you meet. Whether that’s an article you’ve all read or a short presentation by a member on a specific topic, it’s helpful to have something to feed into the conversation. Perhaps you read a chapter of a book every week (my resources section is a good place to find my favorites) or a website that has a good series (I turned Brittney on the The Muse, which I think has a great negotiation section.) This can be as intensive or relaxed as your group wants it to be–if people have time to read, great, if not, have a rotating member of the group bring something in each time you meet.

Take on Personal Challenges: In each meeting, make the time for each member to take on a personal challenge to push forward something they are working on. The group should check in on their challenges at the next meeting. I’ve written about the art of a good personal challenge.

Keep It Consistent but Flexible and Fun: Try for a core group of people and establish a consistent schedule. Brittney says that not everyone comes absolutely every time, but they try to stick with it. Making it fun–a place to retreat to in which you can reflect, react and envision together, and of course to laugh and celebrate–helps.

Whether it’s a big crew at work, or a small group of friends, we go farther when we go there together…..and it’s more fun.


I wrote this post originally for the Build Yourself+ workshop, a challenge-based empowerment workshop for women I founded and teach. For more on the workshop visit


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