Today, we bring you part two of a Q&A with an inspiring leader in the logistics space, and founder of the Let’s Talk Supply Chain podcast series, Sarah Barnes (see part one here). Sarah talks about how your life experiences shape you, why facing your fears head-on is the most rewarding way to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and why it’s sometimes worth it to risk it all.

SCN: How has your life experience made you who you are today?

Life experience is everything. My journey has made me resilient, stronger, self-aware and persistent in my goals and dreams.

In school as many have been, I was bullied. In my adult life, I have had a lot of positive and negative things happen to me, and believe it or not, more bullying. You have to not wallow in the bad, but learn from it.

I am comfortable being uncomfortable because of my life experiences. As an example of that, I am also getting over a lifelong fear of public speaking as that has shaped me too.

SCN: Let’s talk about the fear of public speaking – how are you getting over that?

In Grade 5, I spoke in speech competitions. One day, my whole class threw paper balls at me! Ever since then, I wouldn’t voluntarily sign up for Toastmasters as it scared me though I knew I needed to face my fears. Instead, I signed up with a talent agent. I have done commercials, live tv – which terrified me by the way, and I’ve done it three times! – and I went on auditions and would completely flub them. But you know what? It was fine because it got me into uncomfortable situations. That was start of that journey, and then I recently got involved with a local college speaking every few months to their business students. And funny enough, just last week, I spoke at two conferences.

It is about baby steps, be uncomfortable in baby steps, and keep taking bigger leaps.

SCN: What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?

Believe in yourself. That’s where it starts. If you don’t have that figured out, how will you believe in anything else?

SCN: What advice do you have for young women seeking a career in technology?

Learn as much as you can. And keep learning. Take risks. I am a big believer in everything happens for a reason. And, if it is taking a lot more time than you want it to, you need to follow the signs that the universe provides, because there are little signs everywhere telling you if you are on the right path.

SCN: What female leaders do you admire and why?

I have leaders I admired in three categories – personal, business and supply chain:

  • Personal: Brene Brown. Her work is all about being vulnerable and authentic. She brings so much wisdom to those pieces. These are so important these days.
  • Business: Sheryl Sandberg. What she has done with Facebook has been incredible, and I also really loved her book, Lean in
  • Supply chain: Ellen Voie, the president of Women in Trucking. She is doing a lot of things for women in trucking. She has a Sirius XM Radio channel- I inspire to have that! She created a doll for girls to look at trucking as a career path. She also is making changes at government level for truck stops to be safe for women drivers.

SCN: What is your proudest achievement?

I again have three!

  • First is my CITP designation with FITT. I failed two of the courses and had to retake them over and it took me three years to achieve this designation.
  • My podcast, of course! Because I stuck with it, and it is starting to make a difference.
  • And finally, progress with SHIPZ – which is an online platform I am working on. I have made some amazing connections. I just know that it is going to happen, and it will help a lot of people.

SCN: What do you think is the most significant barrier to women in leadership? Any that you have faced personally?

Again, I group this into three buckets:

  • Traditional thinking: It is still out there that supply chain is a ‘man’s industry.” It is changing but not changing as fast as we want it to. I have been told that ‘once I had babies I wouldn’t want a career.” That is ‘advice’ you have to be prepared for. But you have to be able to take that as a challenge, point it out in a nice way, and then try to make a change.
  • Self-doubt: This goes back to my fear of public speaking. I avoided it for a long time, even though the universe put many opportunities in front of me and I said no. Self-doubt is a big one for a lot of women.
  • Judgement: We are hard on each other as women and let emotions get in the way. That needs to stop. It is a barrier, but we are able to overcome it. We all need to be more self-aware and get past it, and support women better.

SCN: What is one of the biggest risks you’ve taken and was it worth it?

I spent a ton of money. A lot of the risk have been very expensive learning experiences but worth every penny and I wouldn’t change it. I guess I am also a serial risktaker, in addition to entrepreneur!

SCN: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

For me, it is more about quotes I’ve loved, than advice.These are my two favorites:

“Life is lived forward and understood backwards.” – Soren Kierkegaard. hold on to that one dearly. It stands true to everything. It is all about perspective.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou. Stop making excuses for people.

SCN: What are three key words you would use to describe yourself?

Persistence. Passionate. Strong.

SCN: What book(s) are you reading right now?

I love a good detective book!

One ‘book’ I recommend for everyone is a gratitude journal. It forces you to think about your day, and what you are grateful for. I do it before I go to bed. I incorporate things that brought me joy and what the positives are for the next day.

Sarah can be reached on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and you can follow her podcast on LinkedIn here!