the full report
Libby Olson (00:00):
Well, hi everybody! Welcome to GROWL CONNEX “lady boss” edition. I’m Libby Olson, co founder, and principal of GROWL Agency, and I’m joined by GROWL’s Account Manager and Marketing diva, Renaya Demarest. Before we get kicked off, if you have any questions during our conversation today, please feel free to put those in the chat window and we’ll jump right on them. We are super excited today to have one of our favorite lady bosses chatting with us today: Jessica Sidener. Jessica is the founder and CEO of the Night Out with “The Girls.” Welcome, Jessica!
Jessica Sidener (00:32):
Hello! So glad to be here with all of you.
Libby Olson (00:35):
We are thrilled to have you! Why don’t you take a quick moment and talk a little bit, introduce yourself, and share with us a little bit more about Night Out with “The Girls.”?
Jessica Sidener (00:44):
Yeah, absolutely! Hello, I’m Jessica, founder and CEO of Night Out with “The Girls”, and one important thing to note is that the girls refer to the girls breasts as well as girlfriends, and really, you know, I’m a breast cancer survivor. I found out that I had cancer about three years ago, and I found it by myself. I noticed a lump, and I’ll be honest with you. I like to always confess that I was never breast health aware. I didn’t know what a lump felt like. I didn’t have family history of breast cancer and at the age of 37, I thought I was way too young to get breast cancer. And then I found this long and I took action. I went to the doctors and found out that I had breast cancer and I detected it early. So my prognosis was fantastic, but as I kind of went through that journey, I’ve realized that there were so many people in my life who also had questions about early breast cancer detection: what did the lump feel like? How do you know when it’s time to get a mammogram? Just lots of questions, concerns, and fears. So I thought, “gosh, there’s gotta be a way where we can educate women in a fun way about the value of early breast cancer detection.” So that’s how Night Out with “The Girls” came to be. Again, the girls refer to girlfriends or women or people getting together to learn about early breast cancer detection. So we do that by bringing on a healthcare provider as well as breast cancer survivors. So women can also get their questions answered in a very, very comfortable experience. And, you know, I always say as much as I, and I mean, I have the best health healthcare providers ever, but there’s something about that paper down when you’re wearing it. It doesn’t scream, “let’s have a chitchat about early breast cancer detection” but when we’re in an environment and an event, and we’ve created an experience that’s actually kind of based on conversation, connection, and actually having fun to talk about this kind of scary, hard topic to tackle.
Libby Olson (02:50):
Yeah, absolutely. You know, you have such a great story and I love hearing it every single time. You know, there’s a lot of breast cancer awareness organizations out there, but you really taken a different approach with Night Out with “The Girls” to breasts, not just awareness of breast cancer, but really the early detection, and the conversations, and the connection. Can you talk a little bit more about just how Night Out with “The Girls” is so different from some of the other organizations that are out there?
Jessica Sidener (03:20):
Absolutely! Well, I kind of touched on this first just a few minutes ago, but I do believe that you can have fun and learn about early breast cancer detection, and, in fact, I think that it’s truly necessary. I do think that every breast cancer organization definitely plays an important role, whether it’s walks and research and awareness, but what we really do is focus on action. So when people come into our events, they’re often scared, fearful, they have questions, they have concerns, and they feel alone. And then when they leave our events, they’re actually excited, empowered, informed, and have the tools to take action, right when they get home and do self breast exams and pay attention to their bodies. And, you know, one thing that’s very interesting is breast cancer, yes, you know, it impacts everyone. So, yes, women get breast cancer, but men get breast cancer too. And, you know, when a woman gets diagnosed with breast cancer, that is going to impact her work life, her family life, her relationships. So this is a big problem that we all have to come together and solve. And, you know, really, again, the three things that we focus on, and all of our Night Out with “The Girls” events, whether virtual or in person, is: comfort, connection, and conversation. So I believe that when people are comfortable, when they’re talking about a hard topic and the experience is designed to be comfortable, they’re going to be more open to have conversation; dialogue about those things that sometimes they’re afraid to talk about. And they think they’re the only one, you know. We have so many women have questions and they’re like, “I thought I was the only one who felt this.” And then another woman says, “no, me too.” And then all of a sudden there’s connection, and that increase in connection, decreases the isolation that people feer and feel that I think prevent them from taking action. And so, again, we want people to take action. We want them to leave our events, and when they notice something is not right with their breasts or really any part of their body, we want them to take action and contact their healthcare provider. And we have fun in the process!
Libby Olson (05:32):
I have lots of fun in the process. Absolutely. So, you know, you mentioned the word “isolation” and, you know, that’s a topic. That’s a pretty hot conversation right now, especially with everybody, you know, “Safer at Home”, or “Stay at Home”, or working from home. And, you know, in the start of your business, the start of Night Out with “The Girls” really was about those in-person events, and, you know, having those connections in real life. How has this, how has COVID and everything, and just kind of the change in how we communicate with each other, changed Night Out with “The Girls”?
Jessica Sidener (06:08):
Absolutely. Well, from a perspective with the pandemic and COVID, it’s been really interesting. I mean, first of all, I think we all have truly understood, unfortunately, what it really feels like to be isolated as a result of COVID, and that can take so many different forms. Obviously, it can take health forms, it can take emotional forms, mental forms, you know? We really have begun to understand the importance of connection in whatever way we can get it. And, you know, that has again been a pillar of Night Out with “The Girls” since I started this business and it’s even more important now. I am just, I have to tell you, I’m so incredibly thankful, not only, you know, when I am able to see people in person, but I’m so happy that Night Out with “The Girls” has not let COVID prevent us from serving the masses and educating the masses about the value of early breast cancer detection. What we’ve done is we’ve actually translated everything to virtual. So, whether we do events for corporations, I’ll talk about this in a few minutes are “Beyond the Bra” Program, truly, you know, it is offered in person or virtually. My job is to always be assessing whether or not there are barriers that are going to prevent people from learning about the value of early breast cancer detection. When I identify those barriers, I need to creatively problem solve, find solutions, and get rid of them. I do think COVID is horrible and it kind of health challenges horrible, but the reality is breast cancer is not going anywhere. It is still here. There are still people battling it, even in the midle of a pandemic. And it’s really important not to put breast health screenings and paying attention to your girls on the back burner. You know, waiting for the pandemic to end. You need to take action now, again, with any part of your body that doesn’t seem right. So I’m very grateful for technology. I am grateful for always looking for creative ways to connect, and I know that our virtual events are just as powerful as our in person events and still the result that we’re looking for is that women walk away more informed and ready to take action and then even excited to take action and take care of their girls.
Libby Olson (08:34):
Yeah, absolutely! You guys have done such an amazing job, just pivoting, and, you know this has always been part of your roadmap. And so it’s been kind of neat to see how things, and technology, and life in general accelerates business processes. Since we are in National Wellness M onth in June, and I know you have a big heart just with Night Out with “The Girls” for corporate wellness, and kind of the importance there, talk a little bit about kind of that corporate wellness side of things and how and why this is important to leaders in organizations of all sizes.
Jessica Sidener (09:07):
Yeah, absolutely! You know, the corporate wellness division, it is such an amazing part of Night Out with “The Girls” and we know anybody who has been a business leader or an executive team of an organization of any size, what we want to do as leaders is we want to demonstrate that we care about our employees because we know that research shows that if employees feel cared about and cared for, then their productivity and loyalty goes up and, you know, it just creates a really good organizational culture. The reality is too, when it comes to breast cancer, here in Colorado, one out of every seven women get diagnosed with breast cancer. Outside of Colorado, it’s one out of every eight. So when you think about that and the number of female employees and male employees, that numbers a little bit different with the guys, but still, again, men get breast cancer as well. But when you think about that, in terms of your employees, that can be a really jaw dropping statistic. So what we want to do, and what we do is we actually come into corporate organizations, any kind of organization, really, corporations, nonprofits, public sector organizations, and we bring our Night Out with “The Girls” team, which again includes a health care provider, and a breast cancer survivor, and a facilitator to educate those employees again on the importance of early breast cancer detection and taking action when something does not seem quite right. And, you know, it’s so important for those employees, because from a business perspective, you want your employees, God forbid, if they get diagnosed with breast cancer, you want them to detect it early. You know, the difference between detecting it early and the difference between detecting it late, there’s huge costs associated with that and both money and time. So for example, I detected my breast cancer early and literally I had a very couple of minor tests and biopsies and then a minor surgery, and then really I was back to work within a few weeks. If a woman detects it later, then sometimes she’ll have to have a double mastectomy, she’ll have to have extensive treatment, whether it be chemotherapy or radiation, and sometimes reconstruction and plastic surgery. So there’s a lot, there’s a lot tied into that, but I really, again, our job is to educate as many women as possible, and we’ve really enjoyed partnering with corporations. And it’s been really exciting because we want to give corporate and organization leaders, the tools to really demonstrate how much they truly care for their employees and an action oriented way versus something that maybe another wellness benefit, that’s still good, like I know I get reimbursed for my gym membership. That’s fantastic! And believe me, I appreciate that, but it’s different when leadership pays a conscious intentional decision to bring us in so their employees are well-equipped and informed to take care of their girls and take care of their breasts. And I will add this, you know I always like to really note this because our events, whether virtual or in person, are so much fun, and again we do virtual and in person for corporations. So we just want to educate, but they are fun, but I never want that to be confused with the fact that we’ve been incredibly intentional in how we deliver the information and the content that we deliver as well as the placement of activities. So we really have used, you know, research methodologies that support the best ways for adults to learn and retain information. So, again, it’s designed to be super fun, but there’s a lot of intentionality cause we want people to take action so they can go back to their lives as being significant others, family members, employees, friends, and have a good thriving life.
Libby Olson (13:16):
Yeah, absolutely! And I think, you know, you’re talking about just the importance of showing, of leadership, showing how much they care about their employees. And, you know, I came up through the corporate world and have been part of various wellness programs, some great, and some that, you knew, were a “checking the box” so that they could have, you know, it would benefit their bottom line. But, you know, what I’ve noticed with Night Out with “The Girls and you talk a lot about that connection and that’s so important. And I know from our own experience, you know, with the GROWL “gals” coming to one of the Night Out with “The Girls” events, it’s really also a team bonding opportunity. It’s really team building to have those connections in those conversations that are very, very intentional. And yes we’re having a great time and we’re laughing and, you know, I’m having some silly time, but it’s really those intentional conversations that really unite each other as a team. Talk a little bit about, cause I know you’ve done some where organizations have been very intentional, not only about including their women, but also including men on some capacity. How do you work through that?
Jessica Sidener (14:21):
Yeah, absolutely! Again, I kind of say this. I like if you have breast tissue we’re into you, so right? The men are just as important or anybody who has breast tissue and cares about their health. And it’s very important for us to be inclusive of everyone in an organization or corporation who wants to learn how to best take care of their bodies and their breast health. And, you know, one of the things that we love to do is, again, kind of give information, not only do the, which are kind of woman focused right now, but we love to provide every employee, including the man with information that, again, is action focused. So when we talk about corporate wellness, it is the entire corporation and men need to understand again for their own bodies and their own health, but also to support their partners, their wives, their daughters, their mothers, their sisters, the women in their lives. Because you know that if a man who works for an organization, if his wife gets diagnosed with breast cancer, that is going to impact him and his productivity and his ability to be in the office a hundred percent. So we always, our goal is to educate as many people as possible. I want to educate every woman across the entire country, as well as whoever those women are connected to because let’s just be real, we all get busy and accountability is really important, accountability between girlfriends, between partners, between husbands and wives. And so it’s always good for the men to be up to speed as well. So, you know, when we go into corporations, we make sure to provide the guys with good, good support materials and information about breast health awareness and how to take action and also how to support the women in their lives and the loved ones and ensuring that they’re doing what they need to do to be breast health aware and take action. Because, you know, and I mean, I’m the founder of this company. Sometimes it’s hard for me to hold myself accountable, right? You know, you get busy. You’re like, “well, I’ll do my breasts off and cause like am tomorrow or next week” And that accountability is very important to make sure, you know, we call them “booby buddies” at our Night Out with “The Girls” events. It’s just really important, not only to have a booby buddy who is kind of holding you accountable to taking care of the health of your girls. But most importantly, that booby buddy, you know, if I tell somebody who I’m, who’s holding me accountable, I found a lump. I also want that person to encourage me to take action. And that can be the scariest part, right? Calling your doctor or calling your healthcare provider, picking up the phone, that by far. It’s one if you find something, but if you find something, you don’t do anything about it, we’ve got a bigger problem. So that’s true for males and females. So, really an important part of Night Out with “The Girls”, that’s the accountability, but also letting go of shame, guilt, embarrassment, you know, we are all doing the best that we can. And so, you know, I think the tone of all of our events, whether no matter what organization or corporate events we’re doing is give yourself a little bit of grace. Today’s a really good day because you’re here, you chosen to be here and you recognize the importance and we’re going to start today.
Libby Olson (17:40):
Yeah. That’s all really great. I know even from myself too, you know, you also give the mirror clings out. And so I have mine in my, in our bathroom and, and you do, you know, you almost have to move it around because it’s so easy to, like you said, get busy yourself and forget. And so having those extra reminders and those friends come alongside you and new friends, you know, after attending the event, come alongside you and really encourage you and be there. If there is a problem, it’s such a big thing.
Jessica Sidener (18:12):
Yeah, it is a team building opportunity for sure, with organizations, because, again, at the end of the day, this type of program, which, you know, is unique, nothing like it exists in the entire country, really allows for the connection and reminds people that we’re all human and we’re all trying to do the best that we can. And that’s important even in a corporate culture.
Libby Olson (18:33):
Absolutely. Now you snuck in a big hairy ass goal in that last one that you want to talk to all of the women across the entire world. And obviously, you know, you have a small team and even talking to corporations who, you know, allow you to reach more people that’s, that’s tough to do, but you have a new program out that allows you to kind of, to truly reach the masses and to expand and help communicate this conversation and connection further. Can you talk a little bit about “Beyond the Bra”?
Jessica Sidener (19:04):
Yeah, absolutely! I know, I’m kind of known for having tiny goals. I just want to educate every single woman in the entire country about early breast cancer detection. I think that’s fabulous, in theory. Right? But we had to figure out a way, like you said, I have a small team and I haven’t figured out how to clone anyone just yet. And so I was so excited to develop Beyond the Bra, just within the last few months. And again, I had mentioned, you know, my job is to look for the barriers, right? The barriers that are going to prevent that knowledge and that information and the education from getting out there. And obviously in this case, the barrier, the barrier was me. I mean, you know, it was the fact that I only have so many people on my team and, you know, we were getting a lot of requests for, you know, can you bring Night Out With “The Girls” to this state? And can you bring it to my boutique gym? And can we partner with this skincare line, you know, whatever it would be. And we didn’t have an answer for that. And now we do. So that’s very excited. It’s exciting. It’s called “Beyond the Bra Facilitator Program”,and what we have done is just created this program and our content and in an ability where we, others can deliver it for us and they can deliver it to their own communities and their own clients and members and, you know, again with the heart of serving, right? So for example, like a small business owner who, you know, is always looking for ways to give back to his or her current clients or potential clients that Beyond the Bra program is perfect because it gives those business owners, the ability just to facilitate truly what is a conversation about early breast cancer detection. And we made it super simple. Again, we don’t want anything complicated to be barrier for getting this information out. And again, it can be done in person or virtually. And what’s really exciting is that we’ve actually created a portal on our website. It’s kind of like your one stop shop as a facilitator. So you’ve got all of your facilitator information, your facilitator guide, but then what’s really awesome is, you know, instead of obviously bringing the healthcare providers and the breast cancer survivors alive to events, you get to stream previously recorded videos of them educating and sharing their experiences: “A” with breast cancer and “B” just tips and tricks on how to be breast health aware. And again, it’s really just about creating conversation and serving communities in a really rich way. You know, how we always say, “our Beyond the Bra facilitators ‘you be you'”, you know? whether you want to, you know, use the program to educate friends, family, maybe you’re just super passionate about breast cancer awareness, or you’re looking for a creative way. Again, it’s one thing to say that you care about your clients, your members, your customers. It’s another thing to actually demonstrate that by providing them a service where they can be, inspired, encouraged, and informed to take action. So it’s been really exciting.I’m thrilled about Beyond the Bra. You know, another, just small piece of it, which I think is it makes it even richer is that it can be an income generator for facilitators. So they are welcome to charge their participants to attend the events, again, virtually or in person, or maybe they don’t want to charge. Maybe they want to charge $20. Maybe they want to charge $10. Maybe they want to charge $30. There’s a lot of autonomy, a lot of flexibility. Again, my heart is not to micromanage facilitators, but just to get the information out in a unique way. And it’s just super exciting. We’re really excited to be able to serve as many people as possible through, Beyond the Bra.
Renaya Demarest (22:58):
Yeah, that’s awesome! And just kind of transitioning with that, Jessica, going virtual, adapting with everything going on in the world, and COVID, we’ve seen a lot on social media and digital marketing about like COVID being a wellness wake up call. How can that like tie into what you said earlier about like the shame that women feel for not taking action and starting now?
Jessica Sidener (23:22):
Absolutely. Well, you know, COVID being a pandemic is obviously getting a lot of attention and, you know, it’s causing a collective wake up call when it comes to wellness, but so many of us have miniature many wake up calls or private wake up calls that happen in our lives on a day to day basis. Right? I mean, whether it’s a friend who’s gotten diagnosed with something or somebody who has passed away, that always serve as wake up calls and be like, “Hmm, am I doing what I need to do for my health and wellness”? And so, you know, in the time of COVID and the time that we’re in right now, where breast cancer still exists, what we want to do is can, you know, with COVID, it’s all about mitigating and taking proactive steps. We want to make sure that women and men understand that you can mitigate and take proactive steps when it comes to your breast health as well. And it doesn’t have to be a scary thing, and it is okay if you have never done a breast self exam, it’s okay. If you were five years late going to your wellness appointment, it’s okay. If you get too busy and you just don’t feel like it, or it’s also okay, if you find something and, you know, you found a lump and you’re scared, you haven’t taken action because you afraid. And so when we talk about wellness, you know, although Night Out with “The Girls” is truly focused on breast health awareness, wellness touches on our emotional wellbeing, our mental wellbeing, along with our physical wellbeing. So when you have an experience like Night Out with “The Girls”, we’re truly, it’s a guilt free shame, free zone, and it’s designed to get people to share and kind of out, “yeah, I haven’t been doing what I should be doing”. “I don’t know what to do”. So women and people can see that they’re not the only ones, right? So it comes back to connection, conversation and, comfort, right? Those all work together with the ultimate result of going, “I’m okay, I’ve done the best that I could. Maybe not perfectly, but I can start today on my entire wellness journey and then take action”. You know, and again, taking action is the most important part. And one of the things that I say is, you know, it’s scary. It is scary when you find something and you’re like, “Ooh, this isn’t good. I need to call the doctor. Maybe I should put off calling the doctor. No, should I call the doctor”? You know, we all go through that. It’s a horrible feeling, but I will tell you as somebody who has lived through that now multiple times, on the surface, it’s scary, but at the end of the day, it’s liberating and there’s freedom and getting information, answers, data. So you know how to take the best next steps forward for yourself, your family, your friends. So don’t let that fear prevent the action, work through it, with your booby buddy and really remember that there is a lot of peace in knowing what you’re dealing with. And I do believe there are ways for women. I know this to detect breast cancer early, and they just need to know that and they need to know they’re not the only ones, men and women. That actually, it’s kind of scary, but I believe everybody watching here again, guys and girls are strong and active to go through with it.
Libby Olson (27:02):
Yep, absolutely. Well, we’re closing in on our time. I want to first thank you so much for joining us today. I always learn so much when I chat with you and it’s always fun. I want to give you just kind of a last couple of minutes, if there’s any other tips or anything you want to just leave everybody with, you know, what’s kind of your key takeaways and how people should get involved and can get involved.
Jessica Sidener (27:24):
Yes, yes. So I will say, you know, what, if you’re tuning into this now or later, don’t discount the reason that you are. So, you know, I always love opportunities like this, just to remind everyone again, whether you’re a guy or a girl, you know, if you have noticed anything that does not seem quite right with your breast health, and a lot of times, your gut will tell you, it’s not quite right. Please use this as a sign. Maybe that it’s time to take action and you’re not alone. And I know that you were strong enough to do it, but don’t ignore it because early detection is very possible. And, you know, we’re excited to come alongside people on their journeys and whether it’s doing events or just being virtual booby buddies, we’re here for you. So that would be my last message, but of course you can follow us on Facebook at Night Out with “The Girls”, as well as Instagram and we do have a website: nightoutwiththegirls.com. It is where you can get information about all the goodness, the corporate wellness division, as well as the, Beyond the Braw. And we’re just excited to, again, spread the word about the value of early breast cancer detection and partner with so many people to really create a movement that gets people thinking differently about the health of their girls.
Libby Olson (28:48):
Well, thank you again, Jessica. I really appreciate the time. I know I am inspired not only as a woman, but as a lady boss and corporate leader. Just to, you know, continue to think of new ways and great ways to create those connections with my team and, and wellness and making sure everybody, both men and women, are, you know, just putting their health at the forefront. So thank you very much again for your time. Love chatting with you. And we look forward to talking to you again soon.
Jessica Sidener (29:15):
Thank you both so much! It was really fun!