Many of those in the legal marketing industry already know of Susan Freeman because of her strong online presence and ability to gather and support other women. Susan is the epitome of what is means to be a woman who supports other women. She’s been kind and helpful to me through the years, and she is a role model for all of us in terms of using her platform for the greater good.
I asked Susan to be part of the Women Who Wow series, which is running not only during March, Women’s History Month, but throughout the year, because she selflessly promotes so many others, and I thought it was time to shine a spotlight on her. Thank you Susan for all you do for our industry and for women. Learn more about her.
Why did you choose your profession?
I have a great passion for equity and fairness — and using my voice to fight the good fight called to me. I have a lot of “fight” in me and I use my skills, talents, resources, and passions to get closer to my goal of helping women in business communicate effectively with the world — and men communicate effectively with women in business! My training draws on my experiences as a sales executive in the financial services industry, my marketing communication, business development, and leadership training in the legal industry, and my graduate-level studies in the unique discipline of Communication.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Women’s History Month is a time — like every month for me considering my business — to ponder the accomplishments and setbacks we’ve had as women. I have studied a great deal of feminist theory and apply lessons learned daily to fight the good fight for equity in the workplace. It is a time to reflect on the work that has been done and to plan for the work that still needs to be done. It’s actually an ongoing assessment of how we got to where we are and what we need to do to get where we should be — and not just one month out of each year.
What do you love most about what you do?
My passion for helping women succeed is long-standing. I co-founded “Women’s Business Connection” in Massachusetts and “Girl Power” with over 6,000 followers. I have also taught “Girls in Politics,” a program created to introduce girls to politics, policy, and the branches of government. The thing I love most about what I do is the transformation I see in the women I work with to lift each other and others as we ourselves rise. I do it and I do it well because 1) women need this boost and 2) no one did it for me.
Tell us about a woman you look up to and why.
I look up to every woman who has had the grit and grace to own their story and tell their truths, especially on stage at my events and even on the podcasts I host. It takes a commitment to courage to recognize that our vulnerabilities are actually strengths. And in telling our stories, we shine, giving permission to others to shine as well.
Do you have a mentor?
No, I used to…my father. He passed away when I was 30, but he gave me the encouragement and resources to do whatever I put my mind to – and the belief that I could. in essence, he gave me the wings to soar.
Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
Be secure in yourself. Never act out of fear – always act out of love. Become your highest and best self and do not let other people’s opinions impact your flight plan. Other people’s opinions are none of your business, as you cannot control others – only yourself. In other words – own your story and when you do, you can write your own ending.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
- Yes, yes you can — and guess what…you will.
- Ask powerful questions. Listen so that you can learn. Talking eliminates the opportunity for you to learn.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Move people with emotion but compel them with data.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
There really is no such thing. I prefer to think of my managing my life as more of a work/life integration and I believe in the digital age, where more and more people can and do work remotely, that we should simply bring our whole selves to wherever we are — work or home. We are fluid humans and like fluid, we cannot carve ourselves up.
How are you breaking barriers faced by women in your field?
I give women a voice so that they are heard — and respected. Through storytelling and podcasting, I facilitate transformative change. This change allows us to see the world in a different way. The stories these women tell are an entry point to understanding a different experience of the world. They pave the path for more people to listen with empathy and not judgment — something this world needs much more of. This aspect of storytelling – presenting a different perspective of the world – is important when it comes to connecting with each other. It gives us an opportunity to learn from another person’s experience and it can shape, strengthen or challenge our opinions and values.
When a story catches our attention and engages us, we are more likely to absorb the message and meaning within it than if the same message was presented simply in facts and figures. When someone tells us their own personal story, we catch a glimpse of a view of the world that may be slightly or radically different from our own. When we see the world as they see it, or walk in their shoes, the experience can inspire empathy within them.
Which woman most inspires you and why?
My inspiration comes from within – and from the kaleidoscope of women in my network, including those whom I have yet to meet.
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
There is no role like mine. My role is simply being me. I often advise that “you be you.” It’s not a persona or a role. It is simply being. All too often in this life, we are human doings when really we simply need to be…human beings.
What advice would you give to women in your field?
My field is not constrained by any particular industry. Communication is a broad spectrum that serves various industries. It is a discipline that focuses on how people use messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels and media. The discipline promotes the effective and ethical practice of human communication. I love everything about the study of communication – especially communication theory. Communication is a diverse discipline, which includes inquiry by social scientists, humanists, and critical and cultural studies scholars. It is a body of scholarship and theory, about all forms of human communication. That said, I would advise women interested in the discipline to study the various areas of emphasis which differ from one institution to another and to decide which ignites their passion most.