Owning Your Desires with Emily LaFave Olson
It’s not uncommon for girls who grow up in a patriarchal society to wonder if being a boy would be better; to see masculinity as more powerful than femininity. That was the case for Emily LaFave Olson, but a conversation with her mom led her to a realization that changed her life (and her perspective on the feminine).
Emily is a fierce entrepreneur whose choice to take back her maiden name and become co-CEOs with her husband sets her apart as a woman unafraid to ask for what she wants. We cover a lot of ground in this episode, like how to manage the voice inside our heads that tells us we’re not good enough or smart enough, why women often struggle to ask for what they want, and how to get in touch with the inner feminine in a hyper-masculine world.
Emily: When I realized I had this voice in my head [of not being smart enough], I decided I needed to talk to my parents, because they shape us in all the goods and bads of who we are so I knew there were answers there. I went home for Christmas and decided that I would bring this up with them separately. So I shared with my mom that I have this little voice telling me I’m not smart enough, and asking where she thought it came from. And she was like, “Oh my God you cannot think that. You are leading a company and speaking around the world and you’ve accomplished so much. That’s a crazy thing for you to think.” And then she said, “You know, as a woman, this world tries to take our power away from us, but they will never take away the fact that we can give life. That is what they’re so afraid of.” That hit me like, Woah! All my childhood I’d grown up really close to my dad, but in that moment I was so connected to my mom’s strength and her feminine power and this ability to give life that I was like, “Holy shit my mom is fuc*ing badass. She’s so right.” I’d never seen it that way. I’d always seen giving life as a burden that women had taken on, but in that moment she helped me see that no, it’s a superpower. So that was a great moment with my mom.
And then I brought it up with my dad and I realized I was expressing how much I compared myself to Rob, my husband and co-founder, constantly. How I really wanted to be him. It’s this whole thing with wanting to be a boy and to do anything a boy can do. My dad helped me see how we bring different strengths and to turn off that comparison. That was helpful to hear their two perspectives.
But later that week, I was watching my dad talk to my mom. I saw that my mom didn’t have the confidence to speak with him from her place of strength in the feminine. My dad is very rational, very direct, and was shutting down a lot of her ideas and I realized that that’s where I learned it. That’s where the voice came from. And there’s probably fault on both sides, one for not standing up to that, one for shutting down, but it’s a symptom and reflective of our greater culture of valuing the masculine more than the feminine. It was hard for me to witness, but at the same time I realized how important it was for me to foster a deeper connection with my mother at that point and the strength of the feminine.
Sometime after that I was in the bathroom with her having a conversation. I don’t even know what we were doing in the bathroom or where it started…
Majo: I love bathroom conversations. I feel like those are the best.
Emily: Yeah, somehow we ended up in the bathroom, and something just clicked. I said, “Mom, I have to change my name back and I have to become co-CEO.” And she said, “Well you can change the world with an idea like that.” And I remember feeling, for the first time in my life, this feeling of being wired into the universe.
- Emily’s childhood: Growing up close to her dad, a natural leader, and always believing she could do whatever a boy could do. [3:14]
- Teaching herself to cook from magazines and beginning to see the world through the lense of food. [9:30]
- College years, their first business, and feeling “not smart enough”. [13:12]
- Why she had to reach out to her parents to help reconcile her inner critic and her huge realization about the power and strength of the feminine. [20:40]
- Standing up to fear: When and how it clicked that she needed to change her name back and become co-CEOs with her husband. [25:57]
- How to get what you really want, plus the importance of her husband’s participation in her vision. [30:55]
- On internalized patriarchy, making Big Asks, and why women have a hard time demanding what we want. [33:52]
- How to get in touch with the inner-feminine while surrounded by hyper-masculinity at work. [39:54]
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Din — Recreate restaurant dishes at home (in about 20 minutes)