WHAT THE FUNDRAISING
88: Rejection & Resilience: How to Move Forward from No with Estelle Giraud
“Anytime you try to literally create something from nothing and generate change and momentum from a place where it doesn’t exist, the mental process of going through that change yourself is relentless.”
– Estelle Giraud
In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…
Are you ready to get uncomfortable? Whether in the nonprofit sector or the entrepreneurial startup space, my guest on this episode of What the Fundraising is advocating for a growth mindset that says “okay!” to rejection, makes friends with Imposter Syndrome and just says no to self-critic noise. Estelle Giraud, CEO & Co-Founder of Trellis Health, demonstrates the power of honoring ourselves – even when important funding conversations go south. Pitching a comprehensive health data platform in the hyper-competitive world of venture capital is not for the faint of heart, which is why Estelle has very deliberately chosen to embrace setbacks as nothing more than an opportunity to learn and move on. In other words, it’s nothing personal! For many of us, this isn’t easy to do. But even if the answer is no, we have the right to take up space – without apology. Because remember, as Estelle says, If you’re not getting hit with lots of rejections, you’re probably not aiming high enough!
We explore important self-awareness and growing-edge tools, sharing with you some of the strategies we’ve seen work to create safety and somatic calming. And Estelle is also giving us the gift of vulnerability, sharing how she has weathered disheartening rejection by relying on simple, potent strategies to reconnect with her most grounded self. We talk about the mindset women need to take into the board room, whether on behalf of a nonprofit or a startup venture – one that recognizes the valuable skills and impact we’re offering in exchange for funding. We are not beholden! And we are also not without the resources to cultivate wellness in body, mind and spirit. It starts, says Estelle, with a willingness to be honest with – and present to – each other. “There’s benefit to sharing some of that (fundraising) journey and learnings, even if it’s not perfectly wrapped up in a little bow and successful,” she says. “There is benefit in sharing a raw process as it happens.”
- Does your nonprofit need some TLC? Check out Neon One, the holistic donor management system that supports small and midsized nonprofits with tools for fundraising, communications, events, volunteers and more. You can learn about Neon One’s entire suite of products and services here.
- If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
- If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point!
- These Previous What the Fundraising Episodes Focus on Mental Wellness Topics:
- 🎧 Harnessing Your Inner Voice with Dr. Ethan Kross
- 🎧 How Emotions Are Made with Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett
- 🎧 Nonprofit Healing Requires Community Healing with Rebekah Giacomantonio
- 🎧 The Truth About Self-Love, Healing, and the Path to Remembering Our Deepest Selves
- 🎧 How a Mindfulness Practice Builds Alignment with Libby DeLana
- 🎧 True Self Care:Tending to Community, Ancestry, and Our Nervous Systems with Gabriel Kram
TIPS AND TOOLS TO IMPLEMENT TODAY
Get to know Estelle:
Estelle is CEO and cofounder of Trellis Health, a company whose mission is to build smart, comprehensive health records, starting with pregnancy and new families. Long term the company is building the scaffold for a distributed, learning health data platform. Estelle, who is a scientist by training, previously held leadership positions at the biotech company Illumina.
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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
01:46 Mallory Erickson:
Welcome everyone. I am so thrilled to be here today with Estelle Giraud. Estelle, welcome to What the fundraising.
01:54 Estelle Giraud:
Thank you. I’m super excited to be here and have this conversation.
01:58 Mallory Erickson:
Me too. Why don’t we start with you just telling everyone a little bit about you and what brings you to our conversation today?
02:05 Estelle Giraud:
Sure. So, I’ll keep this brief, we can dig into anything. Basically, I am a scientist by training. I spent only part of my career really deep in academia. I love this notion of human health. How do we understand that? How do we understand our bodies? And I thought I was going to be in academia for most of my life, but throughout my career taken a bunch of these hard rights, hard lefts, I ended up in the industry for close to a decade, leading a hundred million dollar plus businesses. So, I was responsible for a $400 million plus business in the US for one of the largest biotech companies in medicine and was extremely fulfilled in that role. I’m mission-driven and had the opportunity to combine that with frontline commercial infrastructure and really pushing the boundaries of medicine. But then my life also took sharp turns again. And I saw problems in the industry, in Medicine in particular, in the way that we think about data in Medicine and health data. And it was an area that I just became really passionate about to the point where I couldn’t stop thinking about some of these problems. And I ended up leaving my corporate job. That coalesced with being pregnant, having my first child, going through a really raw and rough health experience through that. And founding a company at the same time to address some of these problems that I saw. And so, I am the CEO and co-founder of Trellis Health. We’re a small team, we’re a start-up venture backed with a really ambitious mission in healthcare to improve human health. And right now, at least where we’re starting with, is some of the user experience and the journey and the way that people own their health information and their health journey through pregnancy.
03:53 Mallory Erickson:
Wow, a topic that is also super near and dear to my heart. And I know, being a start-up founder and a non-profit founder, are not the same, but they share a lot of commonalities and a lot of challenges. And so, I’d love to just hear a little bit more about your journey. What has been the biggest surprise for you in making this shift? And maybe it’s related to the fundraising rounds or just your leadership in this space. I’d love to hear a little bit more about it.
04:18 Estelle Giraud:
Yeah, there’s a lot that we can dig into here. The mental process of becoming a founder, and I think this is relevant to non-profit or entrepreneurial start-ups, you know, whatever it is. Anytime you try and literally create something from nothing and generate change in momentum from a place where that doesn’t exist, that mental process of going through that change yourself is relentless. It tests you and encourages growth in ways that I think is almost impossible, I think to really comprehend that until you’re in those situations. There are definitely parallels there around resilience, around frameworks, and how you think about fundraising. It goes deeper than that. It goes into like cultural and gender-related biases that are just prevalent throughout all stacks of the way that money systems work regardless of what industry you’re in. So, I think there’s a lot of unpacking that needs to happen in that sense. And then the other parallel that I will say that I think is relevant for the work that we’re doing with Trellis Health in combination with, or like thinking about the non-profit sector. And that’s this idea of being extremely mission-driven. So, I get asked occasionally, like, are you trying to start a movement here? And maybe I’ll back up for a second and just say, we’re trying to break down some of the barriers and the walls that exist between people and their health data. So, your health data is probably spread all over the place in a dozen different logins, in different doctor’s offices, and on different apps and wearables. It’s literally spread all over the place, and this is some of the most valuable data that you have, and it’s being bought and sold by the industry. Like if you think about like a data arms race and data being extremely valuable, this is super personal, valuable information, but you as a person don’t get to benefit from that. It’s not really helping your health journey; it’s not giving you a sense of ownership over your own body. It’s not really allowing your care teams or your doctors to be really predictive and personalized in how they think about your healthcare. And so, we’re building software to try and change that and unlock that and give people back the ownership and the rights of their own health information. And I’ll say, this is not a new idea in medicine. This is like a holy grail of medicine. But when you’re so mission-driven, and a lot of start-ups are, it’s this idea of like in your customer base and your investors and everybody that touches you as a company, are you trying to start a movement, or are you trying to give them a financial gain? From an investor standpoint, if you flip that on the people giving you money, whether that is an LP or a VC or an investor for a nonprofit organization, there are two elements to that. It’s, do they want to have an impact in the world and be part of a mission, be part of a movement, and feel the satisfaction that comes with that at a really human level? Or do they want financial returns? And I don’t think you necessarily have to separate those all the time. I think there’s real power in operating right at the intersection of those, like, yes, you can have financial gains. Yes, you can get a return on your investment. Yes, this how big this market opportunity is and now is the right time to really capitalize on that. At the same time, let’s improve humanity. Let’s do something good. I’m obviously not the expert in the nonprofit space. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, but I think in the non-profit space, there’s so much focus on like, this is the good that you can do in the world, and really leaning into that. And maybe downplaying the element of, this is the opportunity, now is the right time, this is where impact happens. This can be the return on investment. This is how we can shift some of the economic models that exist in our society and having that conversation as well. And on the flip side, in start-up, whatever those investor structures look like, not just being, this is the market opportunity and this is the return on investment and the exit strategy, but here’s the opportunity to do something good in the world as well. Like, let’s weave these conversations together.
08:26 Mallory Erickson:
Yeah. You know, it’s really interesting what you’re talking about because I agree that, I think in non-profit, the focus on the donor identity as opposed to the impact, when we see that happening, to be a good person, give back all of those things, as opposed to really be a part of change and helping to move the needle forward. I think one of the things that nonprofits struggle with in that space is that there isn’t as much predictive analysis around benchmarks of success earlier on. So, when you have a for-profit company, you’re foreshadowing the value and the economics in shorter timeframes. Then if you’re trying to end homelessness, how do you position that? And I’m not saying nobody does those things. There are organizations that model out. What it looks like, if we take this action today if we do these things today, what’s that going to mean for the future? How is that going to turn around? But I would say, there’s also something in the non-profit sector around real fear of failure and fear of risk. And so, when I tell people that the precede funding stage, people are investing with a 3% chance of success, you know? And in the nonprofit sector, this is a very surprising metric because in the non-profit sector, something very different happens. In the start-up world, you have a raise round and you either raise it or you don’t raise it. You don’t raise a quarter of it and still try to do the thing you said you were going to do if you had raised the full round. But in non-profit we often see that. We set a goal, but if we don’t hit the goal, we still try to do all the things we said we were going to do at that higher level with a much smaller amount of money. And that leads to this really complicated dynamic.
10:15 Estelle Giraud:
That’s so interesting. I’m amazed, right? Like, it’s impossible to execute the same plan that you know is going to cost millions of dollars, 500K, whatever it is. And we talk about this a lot in start-up space. This idea of like a bootstrapped business or a lifestyle business, a VC funded business, and what makes a company fit one path or another, and really knowing like which path you’re on. And they require different strategies. They require different decision, like whole framework for how you make decisions as a leader of those two different companies is drastically different. And so, knowing which channel you fall into and what you are doing, like waterfalls down all your decisions.
10:58 Mallory Erickson:
That’s really interesting. And maybe there’s something there for us to explore too. Because I think non-profits don’t really understand necessarily that decision point. I’m not saying that internally they are executing the same plan that they were promising if they raised that amount of money, but there isn’t necessarily this feedback loop with donors that say, what we were raising around for that campaign was to do X, Y, and Z. We ended up raising this much money, so here’s what’s happening now. There isn’t necessarily that sort of communication loop, and then I think sometimes there’s a challenge where folks aren’t sure how to continually engage folks if they presented a story or a narrative that involved a certain amount of impact with a previous donation. So, I think there’s been this. Tendency to fundraise, saying things like, with this amount of money you can do blank. But like, how many times can you say that sentence to the same donors without really explaining the full journey that you’re on? Right. And then I think fundraisers feel uncomfortable going back to those donors because they’re like, well, we just told them if they did this, then this would happen. And definitely we want to be keeping donors engaged and inviting them to give and have an impact in multiple ways. And there are ways to do that. But I think some of the old school ways we’ve been taught to fundraise with that sort of urgency or maybe more click bait, short win strategies then leave fundraisers feeling like, I can’t go back to that same group, give the same pitch again. And so, when I hear people say for fundraisers who are listening to this, I hear a lot from board members too. You know, I don’t want to go back to my friends every year, for example. And what’s happening there, when that happens is, they feel like the message is the same and it’s not a part of a journey. And so maybe this is something you could speak to. Like you fundraise a pre-seed round, then a seed round, then a series A, then a series B…
12:54 Estelle Giraud:
In a perfect world.
12:55 Mallory Erickson:
Ok. In a perfect world. But my guess is, even just think about the framework that the communication around each of those rounds is different. It’s not like, because you raised pre-seed money, you shouldn’t need seed money, or because you raised seed money, you shouldn’t need series A money, right? So how does that work in the start-up world?
13:14 Estelle Giraud:
Really good topic. I will also say that even within a round, it’s not necessarily like a linear process, one and done. I have a couple of thoughts on this. Firstly, the investors that you get at pre-seed or seed are not necessarily the same investors that you get at series A, B, C, and beyond. There are classes of investors and interest and a zone that all of these investors fit into. Now, some of them multi-stage investors will fit across all of those different levels, but not all of them. And some of the most successful company-investor relationships happen when you match the right investor for the right stage of what you’re trying to build and really know who those investors are. So, I think it’s on the founder of fundraisers, it’s their control, it’s their wheelhouse to define what does my ideal investor look like? Who are they? Let’s paint a picture of that. Let’s get a target list. Let’s be really, really targeted and controlled about who we’re having that conversation with. And then think about it like a journey, like you’re saying, here is my list for seed or even series A, and then here’s my dream list for series C. These are the investors I want to work with. And then how far in advance, how far in the pipeline do I need to start the conversation with my next wave of investors coming in, and work backward from there. So, think about it in terms of these like waves of relationships that are going to be superpowers for what you’re trying to do. And each of those investors has different strengths. It’s not just all about the money. Any organization can kind of give you money, but the smart money is always better. And so, by smart money, what I mean there is, what are the connections? What are the relationships? What’s the brand power? What’s the industry knowledge of these investors and are they a right fit for you at that stage of your journey? And be really tactical and have ownership over those relationships as well. It’s not just going out and asking for money for whoever will kind of give you that money. And then there is another phrase, mantra, whatever you want to call it in this space. And that is, [inaudible15:20] invest in lines, not dots. If you come out nowhere with a pitch and with a story, that’s great, but you’re a dot at that point. And so, you want to turn that dot into a line. People want to see the journey, they want to see the growth, they want to see what you’re doing. And so that just comes with regular touch points. Can you reach out to them? Can you share more of your story? I mean, we do investor updates, so even within a seed round, you might identify those investors, your kind of dream investors, months before you go ahead and do a really tight kind of fundraising process. But you’re reaching out to them. You’re building your reputation with them through mutual connections. They’re getting to know you. You can start to have these kinds of preliminary conversations with them about what you’re doing, what you’re building, ask for feedback, help them feel part of that journey, and then follow back up once a month. Like, this is what we did this month, this is what we built, this is how much we grew, this is what we used our money for. And they start to see that line forming. So then when you say, okay, we’re raising like, here’s our target, here’s our goals, here’s what we’re going to do. You’ve already got this really strong foundation of momentum moving into that. It’s not a cold start problem.
16:38 Mallory Erickson:
I love everything that you just said there. There’s so much. There’s so much, because we talk a lot on the show and in my work about what I call alignment fundraising, which is really rooted in this concept that not all money is created equal. You do not want to be taking money from everybody, and you really want to understand who you’re looking for, especially when you’re thinking about big funding that’s going to drive the direction or influence your work in outsized ways. And so, I love what you’re saying there, and there’s a power dynamic that we’re trying to untangle between funders and non-profits, where fundraisers are sitting at the table with a donor, and there feels this very uneven power dynamic because people are coming to the table with the person with the money, is the person with the power. And a lot of what I do in my work is helping non-profits own their power at the table and recognize the assets and the value that they’re bringing to not just the conversation, but to the work. That it’s not about, you have money, we don’t have money, can you just give us some of that money? But it’s like, hey, you’re really good at earning money. I’m really good at making this impact. What if we came together to achieve this shared goal. And in doing that, we start to see the power dynamic start to shift. But I’m curious for you, and your founder’s journey, how has that showed up for you and how have you been able to sort of stand in your power and in your leadership and maybe walk away from certain funding or not pursue certain funding because it’s felt like it’s been out of alignment for where you’re trying to go?
18:07 Estelle Giraud:
Wow, there’s so much here too. I was not expecting this level of parallel. But a 100%. And it’s the same in the for-profit VC world. There is a really, really strong power dynamic there that exists between investors and founders. And in my world, it’s around not just money but volume. So, these investors just get, maybe it’s 6,000 companies a year that they see. They might take second meetings with a couple of hundred of those, third meetings with maybe 20, and invest in 10. The volume is insane, and so they just get so used to saying no, it’s like default no until you’re a yes, and they’re giving money. So, the power dynamic and you as a founder kind of going into that, I’m being super transparent here and I’ll just pause and say like, I feel very strongly about talking about this and sharing this experience with other founders or anybody that’s curious. I believe there’s a lot of talk of building in public, like building products in public. I think we build leaders in public as well, and there’s benefit to sharing some of that journey and learning. So even if it’s not perfectly wrapped up in a little bow and successful yet, there is benefit in sharing a raw process as it happens. I will say that I’m still navigating this, right. And the level of rejection that I have experienced through this journey is profoundly challenging at its core, it like rocks you. I had a discussion the other day around the difference between male founders and female founders. And the comment was, men make better entrepreneurs than women because they’re just trained from a much earlier age to handle rejection from dating, these like cultural norms of men asking women out and women being the ones in a position of power and saying, no. And I don’t agree with this, but it made me think. And I was like, okay, so before our last fundraising round, I had never really experienced personal rejection, and it’s uncomfortable, and it’s not a powerful place to stand from. Having said that, that consistent amount of rejection and then being able to kind of pick yourself back up from that has been so powerful for me in this journey. So powerful. Because it strips away any of the fear. Like, I used to go into these conversations with a lot of fear, you know, will this be a, yes? Will they like me? Will they believe in me? Will I convince them? It’s all this pressure and fear baked into that conversation, and it forces the conversation to be not natural. It’s not just human to human. At the end of the day, all of these decisions, whether or not somebody will invest, it’s a human conversation. We’re making emotional decisions, and if you put all this fear and pressure on it, you’re not having an authentic conversation. You’re not allowing them to connect with you. And so, going through that amount of rejection, now when I approach these conversations, I don’t have that fear anymore. And it allows me to approach them with a different powerful mindset. And it’s not that I have the power and you don’t, or I’m artificially constructing some power. It’s just that I have my own power and purpose in what I’m building, and I’m not seeking approval from anybody else. And there is a lot of different places I can get money. They are not the only owners of money in this world. And so, every conversation is an opportunity for me to share myself and what I’m building and really be open about that. If they want to be a part of that, great. And if not, that’s okay. That is a position of power. It shifts the framework.
21:52 Mallory Erickson:
I love everything you’re saying and I’m just writing some notes down. I’m curious, when you first started getting sent through the gauntlet of rejection, can you just talk to me a little bit about what that experience was like? And I think that something that people don’t really understand is that non-profit fundraisers, this is their whole job, unless they’re the executive director of the organization, in which case they’re doing sometimes founder work or just sometimes other organizational leadership work. If they’re a development director, they’re not getting all no’s, but they are getting no every day, they should be getting no, they should be facing rejection every day if they’re really pushing the envelope forward. To live in that place, to have your nervous system live in that place, I think people don’t quite understand what that means. And so, I’m curious if you have any tools or strategies or things you learn, even to just get back up an hour or later or the next day, especially ones maybe that burned a little bit more.
22:59 Estelle Giraud:
Firstly, I sympathize with that physiological state. I don’t have all the answers, but I have a couple of thoughts and they come from a lot of different places, all the way back to when I was a scientist in academia and I was publishing papers. And so, you submit a paper to a journal and you get rejected or accepted. And my professor at the time was, if you’re not getting rejected half the time, you’re not aiming high enough. If you’re expecting a conversion and you figure out like, whatever that conversion rate is, that is the normal state of the universe, and I think this is something that women handicap themselves in all the time because we’re uncomfortable with rejection. And so, we want to play it safer. But if you are not getting rejected half the time, or 90% of the time, or like understand what that conversion is, if you’re not getting that rejection, you’re not aiming high enough. So, that’s one thing I would say. These are kind of my mantras and things that roll around in me through this process. Resilience is not getting knocked down. There’s this notion of this like strength, trailblazer. And again, it’s very masculine in the way that it’s embodied. But resilience, you get knocked down and you get back up again. And if you keep getting knocked down and you keep getting back up again, you’re not stoppable. Like, what can happen to you if you just keep getting back up again. You know, if you try and like hold too tight to this notion of, I can’t get knocked down. When you get knocked down, then it’s a harder fall. Whereas, if you embrace the idea that resilience is not the absence of getting knocked down, it’s the notion that you will be able to get back up, and you will be able to do it again. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be uncomfortable. It’s okay to be in these situations. And then the last thought that I will say on this is, managing your own energy. And like, some of these learnings I’ve processed in hindsight, after going through this process. In my world, fundraising happens in a really tight process, so it’s full steam ahead for a month or so. You want to make that as tight and as short a window as possible. It can get very challenging to incorporate learnings as you go. You obviously try to do that. But there’s definitely been a time of reflection and really kind of digging into that afterwards where I’ve come away with some of these kinds of deeper learnings. But you need a pressure valve, especially if this is like long term, this is what you do. I don’t believe in managing time because I think it artificially puts constraints on what you think you should be doing at any one stage. Like, I should work 9 to 5, or I should work until 8:00 PM, or I should work on weekends, or I should spend time with my family, it’s full of shoulds. It’s much more empowering to be like, I am in control of my energy and my release valve. So, what gives me energy? What renews my cup? What refills me at this point in time, and that’s what I’m going to do. So, if that means taking an afternoon off and not having calls and going for a long nature walk or a hike, or spending time with your family, like that’s what you should do. Your job is to manage your energy. And if you’ve got all the energy to burn and you want to work until early hours of the morning and wake up excited about building, there shouldn’t be guilt around that, especially in these kind of challenging testing times full of rejection and full of all of these personal hard situations. It’s critically important to manage your energy and check in with that on a regular basis. And there were times when I had to step away and regroup for my own energy. Like, some of this was extremely painful at the time. I remember one call in particular. It was an obvious rejection. And the look on this investor’s face, and it was just a look of pity on me.
It’s not even that you’re just rejecting somebody, you feel sorry for them at the same time. And it stung. There was a lot of things around that call that I would do very differently, and I think they would as well. But at the same time, I remember driving home and pulling over in my car and just like letting it out. And then just taking the next 24 hours and being like, you know what? No. Like, I am in control of my own energy and my own space, and my own mission, and my own purpose. I need to get re-grounded with that. And that’s okay. And so that’s what I’m going to do.
27:31 Mallory Erickson:
I really appreciate how open you’re being, and I just want to double click on a few of the things you said because you actually highlighted a few really important tools for people to recognize. So, I’m a certified executive coach, and actually I’m certified in something called Energy Leadership Coaching. And so, I talk a lot about, it’s not about time management, it’s about energy management. So, there’s a lot of alignment in everything that you just said. And there are three particular strategies that you shared there at the end that are wonderful takeaways for folks. Number one, finding choice where you have choice. When we feel trapped in a situation or we feel like something is only available to us and it’s outside of our control and somebody else determines that, anything we can do to figure out where and how we have choice and to exercise that, even if it’s taking the next 24 hours off, is an incredibly powerful way to raise our energy. The second one is crying. Because crying releases actual toxins from our body. It releases toxic hormones. And to think that we are taught so many ways to shove those back into our body, that toxic chemical back into our body instead of letting it out, is just so misguided. And so, I think for people to actually move through traumatic experiences, and I don’t mean like life altering trauma, but when somebody rejects you, the reason we freak out in our bodies is because we lose our sense of belonging, our identity is not validated. We feel like we put our whole selves out there on display and that person did not see us. And so, we lose this sense of identity, we lose this sense of belonging, and that’s a core human need. And so, our body goes wild. And if we don’t let ourselves actually process that experience by crying, by screaming into a pillow, by dancing it out, by moving our body in some way to move that energy, it can actually really damage us long term. So, I also just wanted to double click on that one.
29:28 Estelle Giraud:
While you are thinking of that third one, I want to double click on that as well because this is a profound problem with founders, with early-stage founders, just having health problems, mental health, physical health. It comes out in ways in our bodies. And I think in part it’s because it’s such an emotional journey and you’re putting so much of yourself in these early stages for these companies. Your whole identity, everything about who you’re as a person is wrapped up in the company as well. So not letting that flow through you and release through you, will impact your health. It will impact your sleep, it will impact your metabolism, it will impact your blood sugar, it will impact your mental health, all of it, if I couldn’t figure out a way to let it flow and it’s, I’m a work in progress in this, it’s so important.
30:17 Mallory Erickson:
Me too. And I think that’s another piece that you’re really highlighting that I appreciate, which is that these are continual growth edges. The tools that I share on this podcast are in my work and other ways are tools I use on myself every single day. I think the work is growing, our toolkit is increasing our awareness and consciousness of when something like that is happening. I often hear from folks that I do executive coaching with. Well, if I was a good leader, I wouldn’t blank. If I was a good leader, I would’ve known what to do in that situation. If I was a good leader, I wouldn’t have second guessed myself there. If I was a good leader, I wouldn’t have spiraled out around that. And so, I think to your point that like talking out loud about our leadership challenges, about our self-doubt or imposter syndrome, or moments where we felt like we were banging our head against the wall and not being seen, those are really critical because there’s this facade of good leadership. And I’ll tell you, I work with amazing leaders, and they all have those stories, and they all have those moments. What many of them have learned to master through coaching work is to spend less time there. You’re talking about it too, maybe to spend less time in the spiral length to show up to that table embodied and, in your power, and working through those things so that they don’t run the show anymore. But they’re never completely gone. Rejection hurts our feelings and I don’t know why we’re so afraid to just say that.
31:43 Estelle Giraud:
Yeah, and recognize that it’s like, we all want to feel safe, but there’s this like external physical, like, is a lion chasing me, safety. And there is this safety that kind of can come from within. And when you’re dealing with a lot of rejection, you’re getting pummeled by rejection, it doesn’t feel safe. It feels like an assault on your identity and who you are as a person, and your self-worth. You can create that safety net, and work on creating that safety and that grounding place within yourself so that you’re less blown around by the rejections and you’re more rooted in your purpose and your mission, and it feels safer.
32:25 Mallory Erickson:
Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, I think we have a lot of resources, and I’ll link them in the show notes to this episode with how to create inner safety and ways that you can sort of process that out, which I agree is so important because it’s so much harder for someone to rock your identity. Number one, I think if you’re searching for alignment. If you’re like, this is who I am and I know what I’m looking for, and I understand that what that person’s looking for is who they’re aligned with. And we might not be aligned, and it doesn’t mean I’m doing something wrong, or I’m a bad person, or this is important, it just might mean that we’re looking for different things. I think that is a totally okay thing to be like, I hope you find what you’re looking for. It’s not this, it just can really shift that piece as opposed to when we don’t know who we are and what we’re looking for. I feel like it’s so much easier to take that rejection to be like, I’m doing something wrong. I’m doing something bad.
33:21 Estelle Giraud:
I need to be better; I should be doing this; I should be doing that. Yeah, totally. This is something that I have had to unlearn from my corporate commercial days into being a start-up founder. And that is, I was in sales technical, $100 million dollar contract plus sales. And in that situation, you’re like, everybody is a lead and you want to try and win and convince everybody. It’s less about that and more about just like, qualifying, is this a fit or not? If it’s not a fit, that’s fine. You know, we can go in separate ways, but it’s not like I have to win every single person over. I have to find the right people that are the right fit for what I’m building and doing.
34:01 Mallory Erickson:
Yes. I love that. Are there any parting words that you’d really like to leave with our audience? And then I’ll make sure that the show notes include all the links to connect with you and learn more about your work. Anything you want to make sure you really get to leave folks with today?
34:17 Estelle Giraud:
I’ll just say that I really enjoyed this conversation. I wish in the early days of me being a founder, there were resources and conversations out there, and especially women kind of spoke more around this and what the challenges in this process looks like. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to have this kind of a conversation. It’s not a destination, it’s a journey and it’s constant. And I’m still working on this. I guess I’ll just leave with one mantra that I have. It’s this notion of getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. That’s what a growth mindset is, and that’s what I want to embody as a leader and as a person, and in all of my various identities, is this, leaning into being uncomfortable and growing in the uncomfortable situations, getting really comfortable with those. And then when you stretch and you get into this uncomfortable place and you get comfortable there, and then you stretch again and you get uncomfortable, and then you get comfortable in that space again, and you stretch again, and that’s just growth.
35:18 Mallory Erickson:
I love it. Thank you so much for this amazing conversation today. I’m so grateful.
35:23 Estelle Giraud:
Yeah. Thank you.
35:30 Mallory Erickson:
All right. Wow. This conversation was different than I imagined in the best of ways. I love the openness and vulnerability that Estelle demonstrated in this conversation. Here are a few of my other key take aways. Number one, turn those dots, those touch points into a line. When it comes to fundraising. The narrative arc among various points is what engages donors or investors with the journey. Share those stories.
Number two. When you come to the table with donors, remember, you bring valuable skills, the ability to make an impact. You are a change agent, and that’s a superpower.
Number three. Give yourself permission not to take things so personally but know that it’s normal that you do. This is a mindset shift we all need to practice, though, to show up, make our case, and recognize that no one person or organization can make or break you or the work that you’re doing.
Number four. Remember, if you’re not getting a lot of rejections, you’re not aiming high enough.
Number five. Ways to avoid the spiral. It’s okay to lovingly detach if a funder doesn’t see the right fit and not make it mean anything about you, your mission, or your organization. And we have a number of additional resources and episodes to help you with that in the show notes.
And number six. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s located right at your growing edge and gets easier with practice. Okay, there are so many more takeaways and tips inside this episode, so head on over to malloryerickson.com/podcast to grab the full show notes and resources now. You’ll also find more information there about Estelle and Trellis Health. Thank you for spending this time with us today. If you enjoyed this episode, we would love it if you would give it a rating and review it and share it with a friend. I am so grateful for all of my listeners and the good, hard work you’re doing to make our world a better place. And if you miss me between episodes, stop by and say hello on Instagram under What the fundraising underscore. Have a great day and I’ll see you next week.