Picking Your Hot Topics (Prep Guide)

After the Mandatory Kick Off, you’ll have a good sense of how many women are engaged with your Squad. If anyone misses the Kick Off and doesn’t follow up within 24 hours, they can be removed from the Squad. 

The Squad Mod will then finalize your curriculum by replacing the Hot Seats of any missing members with Hot Topics.

Though the Squad Mod is the one to select Hot Topics for your initial curriculum, over the course of the twelve weeks, you may want to swap in different Hot Topics from the list below.

Hot Topics for Any Squad:


Personal Branding 101 

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6309
Discuss: Few women are excited about “personal branding” - but thinking about what others are saying about you when you’re not in the room is important. The first step to defining your brand is knowing your values and strengths - then sharing those stories.

Build Your Personal Board of Directors 

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6316
Discuss: A “Board of Directors” is really just about knowing who you go to for advice in times of uncertainty. Who in your life do you go to with big questions? Did you pick those people strategically? Who do you wish you had on that list? What might you do to get the right mix of perspectives?

The Secret to the Secret of Success (Resilience)

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6311
Discuss: How have you stumbled in your career - and how did you get back up? Everyone has a moment or two that has helped them build resilience. Did you look inwards in those moments, or turn to a trusted friend - or community?

Managing Unconscious Bias

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/8998-embracing-the-power-of-diversity-with-lauren-leader-chivee
Discuss: How important is it to you to have an inclusive, diverse workplace? What are some of the ways you practice ethical & inclusive behaviors at work? It's one thing to talk to the team, and another to think about your own perspective. Have you ever caught yourself practicing unconscious bias? Did it surprise you?

Work-Life Balance

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/9084-flex-work-life-and-motherhood-with-manon-defelice
Discuss: Different people want different things out of their lives, so balance means different things to different people. When you think of Work/Life balance, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? When asked if perks like egg freezing and nannies on planes are a positive change for working women, nearly 50% of Ellevate members said they aren’t because they perpetuate the “all-access-all-the-time” culture and a quarter said these perks are a positive change. What do you think? Does your company have any similar policies? If you’re a business owner or senior leader, should you institute a culture that balances work/life balance in your company? How would you do this?

Strategies for Confidence

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/9065-own-it-the-power-of-women-at-work-with-sallie-krawcheck
Discuss: Sometimes women are not the loudest voices in meetings and we tend to downplay our contributions. How can you make sure you are heard, confidently, and that your contributions are acknowledged? How do you handle workplace critics - without letting their feedback stir up self-doubt? Thinking about the most courageous point in your career - whether it was asking for a raise or promotion, starting your own business, or disagreeing at a meeting - what led you to take the plunge into that conversation? How did you conjure up that confidence? Would you do it again? How do you encourage confidence in the junior women in your office? And how do you develop a team culture that ensures women can develop their confidence?

Hot Topics for Achiever Squads:


6 Steps to Finding Your Professional Mission 

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6253
Discuss: Do you have a “professional mission”? If so - how did you “find” it? Has it changed over time? Has it helped frame your career decisions? If not - why is it so darn hard to figure this out?

Insider Secrets to Make You Stand Out to Your Boss 

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6322 
Discuss: What do you do to push yourself into the limelight? Are you comfortable taking risks, when you feel you might not be ready? How do you pump yourself up and build the confidence to put yourself out there? How do you open yourself up for feedback?

Strategic Career Planning

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/9054-getting-out-of-a-career-rut-with-nancy-halpern
Discuss: How do you prioritize your career goals? How do you integrate them with other goals in your life (like, for example, starting a family or achieving more balance)? How far in advance do you plan your career? (1 year, 5 years, etc.) How do you keep yourself accountable, and stay on track? How often do you review your career goals? Have you ever had to pivot and change long-term goals?

Knowing Your Worth

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/9053-disrupt-yourself-with-whitney-johnson
Discuss: When it comes to knowing our worth, we have to know our strengths. When it's time for you to think about what your skills are worth, which do you focus on and why? When considering someone for promotion, or pitching your own abilities, do you focus more on potential, or on performance? How do you assign monetary value to those skills and metrics? Have you ever used wage comparison resources like the website PayScale to assess your pay?

Hot Topics for Innovator Squads:


How to Raise Money for a New Venture

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6326
Discuss: Have you tried to raise capital? How did you choose to raise money, bootstrap your business, or launch a crowdfunding campaign? Have you faced gender discrimination in the process - and how did you respond? 

How to Reinvent Yourself

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6320
Discuss: In five years, do you want to be doing the same thing you’re doing today? When was the last time you reflected on what you love about your work and what you want to have accomplished by the end of your career? If you have a career pivot on the horizon - have you explored any of the steps Sallie mentions in this podcast?

Non Profit Board Participation

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/8996-investing-in-girls-with-barbara-murphy-warrington
Discuss: Why do you want to serve on a nonprofit board? If you are already a board member, why did you start? Are you interested in working for a local organization, or a national nonprofit? How should you find your board? Have you investigated sites like http://www.idealist.org, https://www.councilofnonprofits.org, or http://www.bridgespan.org? How would you determine whether a board is right for you? Would it depend on the mission? What about the time commitment, the roles available, the other board members? Which factors are most important?

Being a Female Role Model

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/9085-new-leaders-and-role-models-with-janet-balis
Discuss: As you entered the workforce, who was your role model? How did she impact your career? As you have progressed, have you had the opportunity to serve as a role model or mentor yourself? What did you take away from that experience? What is the most difficult part about mentoring the women around you who are new to the workforce?

Hot Topics for Executive Squads:


The Secret to Building Insanely Great Teams (Spoiler: It’s Diversity)

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6324
Discuss: Obviously a great team is an asset, and diverse teams outperform the average. What has helped you build diverse teams? How have you convinced other stakeholders to think about diversity?

How to Increase Employee Engagement

Listen: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/6325
Discuss: What has driven you to be engaged or disengaged at work? Have you found that money is a motivating factor - or has it been meaning and purpose? Where have you seen meaning and purpose successfully integrated into the workplace? 

Honing your Mentorship Skills

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/8928-military-veterans-and-career-transitions-with-amanda-veinott
Discuss: How many of you have mentored before? Was it a formal relationship, or more along the lines of casual advice? If you have a formal relationship, share a piece of advice for checking in with your mentee. How do you keep up with her? What is the difference between mentorship and sponsorship? Where do you draw the line? 

Managing Change

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/8975-changing-a-company-s-culture-with-nellie-borrero
Discuss: When considering an organizational change - whether it's a new fitness program, or a major shift in staffing - how does your company culture factor in? Do you communicate plans for change early, or wait until the plan takes shape before making a broader announcement? If you communicate plans early, how do you decide whom to include in development?As you plan for organizational change, how do you plan to support employee morale?

Leadership Through Adversity

Listen or Read: https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/articles/9097-advancing-women-s-leadership-with-miriam-grobman
Discuss: When you make an executive decision and face backlash, how do you respond? Do you feel like your leadership decisions are judged differently than those men make? Does this factor into how you lead? How do you maintain a focus on diversity when the going gets tough?