Hi everybody, welcome to podcast Episode #3 of Season 2 of the Mobile Alabama Business Podcast. My name is Marcus Neto and I’m your host. This is a podcast about the people behind the business community here in the Mobile area. I’d like to thank you for spending time with us today.
In this episode we had a chance to sit down with Elyse Goonan. Elyse is the Executive Director of One Mobile. She describes the projects One Mobile is working to bring to life and the impact she believes those will have on the city. She also talks to us about her love of Rugby and how she is part of a core group of people that is working to bring Rugby to Mobile. And we also talk about her desire to bring a TEDx conference to Mobile, which I am super excited about.
So let’s dive right in with Elyse Goonan.
Marcus Neto: Welcome to the podcast, Elyse.
Elyse Goonan: Thanks for having me. This is a great opportunity.
Marcus Neto: Yeah. Well, to get started, tell us a little bit about yourself. Specifically, answer questions like: Where did you grow up, where'd you go to college and when did you first lay eyes on rugby and fall in love?
Elyse Goonan: I'm originally from southern Indiana, right on the Mason-Dixon Line, actually and we have a farm in Kentucky, so truly on the Mason-Dixon Line. I went to undergrad-
Marcus Neto: Hold on just a second, on the southern side of the Mason-Dixon Line?
Elyse Goonan: That's where the farm is. I feel like I have to say that. When first moved to Mobile, I felt the need to sort of fit in more and kind of qualify that. Be like, "Don't give me that full Yankee moniker straight away."
Marcus Neto: That's funny, so I'm sorry, I interrupted you. You said you grew up on the Mason-Dixon Line. I think you were transitioning to where you went to college.
Elyse Goonan: That's right, so I was at Wheaton College in Chicago. After college, actually one of my professors was one of the original Teach for America corps members and encouraged me to move forward with that. Right after college, I actually waited a year, I went home and wrote for magazines for a year and waited for the next round of Teach for America, because I was very confident that I wanted to apply, and that that was the path for me. Straight from there, I went to St. Louis, and I taught with Teach for America for four years rather than the usual two-year commitment. I got my Masters in Early Childhood Education. My undergrad degree was in Philosophy with a minor in Ancient Greek and Anthropology, very useful stuff.
Marcus Neto: I was going to say, completely useful.
Elyse Goonan: I think it actually comes into play. Philosophy, especially.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, so tell us, what is Teach for America? What is that organization?
Elyse Goonan: Sure, so Teach for America is a national service corps devoted to making opportunities for kids who are from low-income backgrounds. I was teaching in a very rough, very urban setting and my kids were in all kinds of challenging situations. The concept of homework sort of goes out the window if they don't really have a home where they can go home and do that homework. You know, some of my kids are homeless, and some of them just are moving around quite a bit, that sort of thing. They're still ready to learn, amazing kids, and so thankful and so eager to have somebody put a lot of energy into their lives.
That was an amazing experience, and I would probably still be teaching, I taught kindergarten and first grade, and I would probably still be teaching right now, if I hadn't married my husband who is a coach and his job requires that we move around quite a bit. I can't really be plugged into one specific community and I don't want to hop in and out of different schools all the time. I have found when One Mobile has an incredible opportunity and a way for me to do something else that still has a lot of meaning and purpose.
Marcus Neto: Very cool. I kind of alluded to an interest that you have, and we'll get into some of the more business-y things here in just a minute. I asked you the question of when did you first lay eyes on rugby and when did you fall in love.
I always ask people that are involved in the business community, or business owners, entrepreneurs and when they come in, what do they like to do in their free time and if they have any hobbies. Now, I happen to know that you are just gaga in love with rugby, and you're involved in the local rugby association and stuff like that. Go ahead and tell me like, what's the back story there? When did you first see, you know, your first game, or is it a match?
Elyse Goonan: A match. Yeah, a match of rugby. I had no idea what rugby was. It was not one of the basic sports that we had available in southern Indiana when I was growing up. I was very much, sort of on the gymnast and cheerleader and ballerina track, but I did love college football.
When I first met my husband, he had been playing rugby in South Africa and Australia, and at the time, he was in Boston. I was embarrassed, I didn't even know, I held up the stick sort of like, "Lacrosse?" And he was like, "No, no, not at all."
I made it past that first date and got to see him playing, and I appreciated the intensity of it even though I didn't know the rules. I got stuck on the video camera quite a bit and in order to stop and start the video at the right times, and if someone's kicking the ball, I need to know if they're kicking it for points or kicking it out for distance, that sort of thing.
In order to know how to set up the shots, I sort of had to figure out the sequence of play. I'm running waters out and things like that when they were more casual matches and eventually, I got kind of tired of being on the sideline and wanted to give it a shot.
I started playing two-hand touch in Boston and then when we moved to London, I was able to find a lower-level team where I could kind of jump on and, without too much pressure, figure out how to play. I think one of the reasons I'm such a big rugby evangelist right now is that I tried many other sports when I was little, and nothing was a fit for me. I was never accused of being athletic, in any way. Coordinated, dance-y, yes, athletic, not especially.
Rugby happens to be something where I have sort of found a niche and feel like I'm able to really contribute to my team. I would say my sense of urgency about it is, too, because right now, there's a lot going on globally with rugby. It's about to be in the Olympics for the first time in 90-something years.
Also, there's a lot going on here in Mobile, with rugby. We've just started a women's team here, we've just started a youth program, and we're starting school programs, and the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation, which is sort of the umbrella organization over the non-college rugby in town. They're also working on building a dedicated rugby facility out at Brookley, in partnership with Brookley and the Mobile Airport Authority, I guess is the right thing to say. It's great that we're going to have a home pitch.
We're going to have a destination in Mobile, and start to bring in lots of teams and lots of tourism. This is a great meeting point for two other rugby hotbeds, which New Orleans and some of the teams in Florida. This is a great meeting point for them.
Marcus Neto: Right now, all the matches are taking place at Battleship?
Elyse Goonan: At the Battleship right now.
Marcus Neto: When are those, typically?
Elyse Goonan: Rugby is always on Saturdays. We have two major tournaments every year. One is Memorial Day weekend, and one is early in November. Other Saturdays, you'll find us playing just at our regular matrix, our pool matches.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, because this podcast won't come out until after the Memorial Day tournament.
Elyse Goonan: Mm-hmm (affirmative), I stopped myself there.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, no, so that's interesting. We'll have to link up to the Mobile organization so if people want to get involved or if they just want to check out a game or if they want to learn a little bit more about it, that they can go there and kind of check it out. I've always been kind of fascinated by the game. I did play the other one, the one with the stick-
Elyse Goonan: Right.
Marcus Neto: -called lacrosse, which is also not terribly popular, but there is a lower-Alabama lacrosse league, and I'll occasionally see things pop up on Twitter or on social media about games that they're having for the youth, and stuff like that.
Elyse Goonan: We're excited to see other groups getting some traction, and just happy to have more options.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, it's just cool to see these sports that are so big around the world, and also, football was never rough enough for me, so that's why I played lacrosse. Rugby wasn't even an option growing up in northern Virginia, and so I just think it's cool for those kids that might be so inclined. Do you have any other hobbies?
Elyse Goonan: I think because my husband and I are both such big health nerds, I spend a lot of time cooking. I really enjoy that, even though doing it sort of day in and day out and cleaning up afterwards, and trying to wrap the kitchen up, you know and go to bed at a reasonable hour, that's a challenge, but I do actually love the cooking part of it. I do enjoy the challenge of trying to make things really healthy.
Marcus Neto: Very cool. I enjoy that very much, as well. Tad and I, we share, you know, cookbooks and stuff like that. I know that's kind of a nerdy thing to do, but anyway.
Elyse Goonan: No, put me in the loop. I want to know what the hot cookbooks are in Mobile, because I'm just making stuff up, I'm just, "More kale in everything."
Marcus Neto: Yeah, more kale in everything, that's funny. You are the director of One Mobile.
Elyse Goonan: That's correct.
Marcus Neto: Why don't you tell us a little bit about that organization, and then we'll kind of get into what you all are doing.
Elyse Goonan: Sure. You know, I never, never thought that I would run a non-profit. All of my experiences with non-profits early on were that they were very inefficient, and just maybe not business savvy in overlooking opportunities to make themselves more sustainable, things like that. Those stereotypes from my early experience had been true, for the most part.
That was something that when this opportunity popped up, I kind of pumped the brakes a little bit, but then, as I learned more about One Mobile, I was very intrigued. One Mobile is definitely a non-traditional non-profit. I don't do any development right now. Fortunately, we have owners who have sort of earmarked funds for this. I am able to just go out and help move projects along. Any community-focused project is in-scope for us.
All of One Mobile's efforts are anchored by a web application, onemobile.org that is a bespoke product that we've developed. A place where people can post their ideas and find local followers and local help for their ideas that's maybe beyond their own personal social network. It's also, by having people post the ideas on the site, it gives me the opportunity to see what's going on, and maybe I can jump in and actually help make some introductions. If we've got three different bike lane projects going, those folks need to meet each other, and maybe together they can get further, faster.
Marcus Neto: Very cool. It sounds like almost a facilitator/project manager-type role, not belittling because I know you are the director of that, but the facilitating and project management of that, versus coming up with ideas. For instance, we've had Casey Callaway on and some others where it's like they're extremely focused on one thing, right? "We're going to make the water in Mobile Bay much, much better." Yours, it seems like, "Well, we've got all these ideas, and we're just going to help this person over here kind of get this idea to the next level, and this other idea over here to the next level," and so on and so forth.
Elyse Goonan: Exactly. You know, one of the things I enjoy most about the job is that I, personally get to be very omnivorous. Just like in teaching kindergarten, we're doing one thing for fifteen minutes and then that's the end of the attention span, and we're doing another thing for five minutes and moving on.
In a given day, I'm working on a public safety project, and then the next, I'm working on a youth project, and then the next, I'm working on a health project, and getting to add value in a lot of different disciplines as opposed to having a really narrow mission and only working on, say, promoting women's rugby, or something very super-specific. I really appreciate being able to dabble in a little of everything. I also love that the job is not especially glamorous. I'm rolling up my sleeves and I'm writing math problems out in chalk in the park for a particular event, and I'm hauling tents and that sort of thing. That really fits my personality and that sort of thing, too.
Marcus Neto: Yeah.
Elyse Goonan: Can't be stuck behind a laptop all day.
Marcus Neto: Being downtown, we've heard of a couple of the events that you all have been responsible for. Outside of, like, well I'd even include those. What are one or two things that you all are working on right now that people need to know about or that they probably do know about and just don't know that you all are the ones behind it?
Elyse Goonan: Sure. One that I'm really excited about right now is a new mural initiative. We haven't really touched anything in the arts here, yet. I should clarify: In this first year of me taking over at One Mobile, I am leading a lot of my own projects simply to create sort of a better portfolio of examples of what One Mobile might handle. Sort of what's in-scope, what's on the menu. We have people submit ideas sometimes that don't work for us. Things that it's maybe not something we can tackle because there's not enough demand. For instance, if someone is frustrated that their neighbor hasn't mowed their lawn and they want to create a lawn alliance project. I'm fabricating this.
Marcus Neto: Sure.
Elyse Goonan: Really, the solution there is probably that you, maybe talk to your neighbor about mowing their lawn and that kind of how that affects you and that sort of thing, that you really just be humble, be approachable and work it out, as opposed to creating a massive program across the city to fix a problem that might not be quite that scale of a problem.
Marcus Neto: Right.
Elyse Goonan: We get all sort of ideas, and I'm working on some changes to the site, but we need to do a better job of explaining that it's not the same as like a 311. It's not where you tell us, "Here's an idea," and then we just go and execute it.
Marcus Neto: Right.
Elyse Goonan: In order to sort of round out the portfolio of things that One Mobile has tackled so that people can generalize an understanding of what One Mobile is, I'm doing a lot of leading my own projects this particular year.
One of those is creating this mural initiative, where we are going to pay working artists to mentor young people who have maybe gotten in trouble for doing graffiti, or maybe who are just at-risk but also artistically inclined. The new murals that we'll be facilitating, we'll be giving those sort of for free to different non-profits and small businesses and areas of town that maybe just could use a boost. Ultimately, I would love to be painting murals on highway underpasses and barriers and things like that that are sort of boring and blah and gray right now.
Marcus Neto: Yeah.
Elyse Goonan: That's one really exciting project.
Marcus Neto: That is exciting. I mean, I know there's a number of places downtown where there are murals. I don't know how they're sponsored, or how those get started, but I think it brings to what might be just a dilapidated building, it brings some color, it brings some experience, it brings some joy. Literally, across the street from our offices, there's a man who's been painting rock stars and I believe, if I understand correctly, they're all people that have passed away. When Prince died a month or so ago, it wasn't like a day or two, and I came to work and there was a mural of Prince across the street, which I thought was just phenomenal. I don't know, there was just something really cool about seeing that and experiencing that.
Elyse Goonan: That's Diplomat, he's with the Red Cup Revolt group that is putting that particular mural together. It's one of the people that I have stalked and reached out to and said, "Hey, do you want to be part of this new mural project?" The mural project, I think is really attractive to me because it scratches a lot of different itches.
I think that we'll be, in addition to helping the apprentices in the program, and giving them the opportunity to say, "Hey, you are an artist. Let's show you a way where you can, in the future, make money from this instead of getting in trouble for this." In addition to contributing these works of art and maybe giving a boost, one of the first ones that we're looking at doing is on the side of Penelope's Closet. They have a motto, "Peace on earth begins at home." Right there at Old Shell and Florida, there's two stories of a place where we can build this mural and attract people to say, "Oh, hey, what is that?" Hopefully, more people will be donating, more people will understand their mission and more people will sort of notice it and stop by.
In addition to that, how great would it be for us to have, then maybe, when people are visiting our hotels, have a little map of all the different murals that are peppered around, and get a walking tour going, and that sort of thing. I just love the idea, you know, it's pretty simple, it's actually pretty affordable. We are also able to take public donations of paint and repurpose that. If you have extra cans of house paint sitting around, there's a way for those to be used and not go to waste-
Marcus Neto: That's cool.
Elyse Goonan: -from an ecological standpoint, but also just the cost savings standpoint.
Marcus Neto: Wow, that's pretty neat.
Elyse Goonan: I've thought about that one on a number of levels, so that's just one example. We also have Startup Weekend is an entrepreneurial event that we're going to be hosting in partnership with, I have great partners on this one, University of South Alabama, Michael Chambers is helping, the Chamber of Commerce Small Business Team, and then also the new Innovation PortAL and Hayley Van Antwerp. Really excited about that, it's going to be August 26-28.
Marcus Neto: You're talking about Startup Weekend, and I'm familiar with that, because I've got a buddy who actually organized one in Michigan. Why don't you tell us just a little bit about what that is?
Elyse Goonan: Sure. Startup Weekend is a global initiative. There are Startup Weekend events in 150 different countries. It's a very large organization. Techstars is currently the owner of the organization, and it's powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. It is a 54-hour, sort of like the intensity of what you would think of from a hack-a-thon, that sort of thing, but building a business in a weekend. It starts Friday and about 5:00 in the evening.
Every person who attends the event pitches. They have 60 seconds to pitch, and you don't have a PowerPoint deck or anything like that. You come with an idea, you explain why it's important, you explain what you need and you're done. Everyone pitches their ideas and maybe the top 10 of those ideas move forward, and then everyone else whose ideas weren't selected will join up with those selected ideas and form small teams to support them. Everyone still moves forward and everyone still gets a lot of learning experience out of the weekend.
You have great instruction and coaches all along the way. It is a competition, and you're competing for non-cash prize packages that involve everything from hours with an intellectual property lawyer to help get the patent process started to co-working space to anything that a new business might need. We try to build the prize package with that in mind.
It's a great opportunity. I will say it's not meant to create tons of new businesses that run the full life cycle of a business. Some of the businesses will move forward and become real businesses.
You know, if you were starting a business, you probably wouldn't just rock up and find a business partner. Finding a business partner is like marrying someone. It's a serious endeavor.
Marcus Neto: My understanding is that it's an opportunity for you to see whether an idea will fly.
Elyse Goonan: Exactly.
Marcus Neto: Also, to make some connections with people, and also just it's amazing how, in such a short period of time span, that you can get an idea hammered out. If there's not something that is quite right about the idea, then you have outside perspectives. I also think it's important to note that everybody can pitch, but it's not a requirement that you do pitch.
Elyse Goonan: Correct, you technically don't have to pitch, but I would say-
Marcus Neto: I wouldn't want someone to be fearful of, "Well, I don't have an idea, so how do I get involved because-"
Elyse Goonan: Correct, and I think a lot of the ideas are just sort of thought up on a whim. You start to hear everybody else pitch, and it's funny, people who never were in the pitch line at the very beginning of the event will start to say, "Oh, hey, these ideas aren't so great, I can get up there and add one."
Marcus Neto: Yeah, and then the other thing that I wanted to add, too. Kudos to you for bringing it to Mobile, because I wanted to bring it, but I couldn't get their attention, the parent organization. I think they were just too busy at the time.
Elyse Goonan: That's one of the benefits of my role, because I have full-time flexibility. Instead of asking a local resident of Mobile to take this on as this huge volunteer initiative, I can come alongside them, or if there are meeting times or certain calls where they would have a conflict, I'm able to jump in and take care of that. I'm able to shoulder more of the load than someone would be able to if they had a regular full-time job.
Marcus Neto: Sure, yeah.
Elyse Goonan: I'm in a good position to bring a few bigger brand-name things in and get some momentum going. I've strategically chosen a few initiatives for this year that I hope will make a difference. Once they're up and running, it'll be easier long-term, in terms of succession planning. The first year is really teaching the market what it is, and getting it off the ground, that's really the hard part. In future years, I think that we'll be able to pass the torch, and pass this on to somebody who is excited about taking it forward.
Marcus Neto: That's cool. You and I have spoken on this next topic a couple of times and I'm kind of stoked to have you here to talk about it in a little bit of depth. I know we haven't had a real meeting or anything about this, but you've been responsible for bringing TEDx to Mobile. While the events here have just been kind of a viewing event, I know that we've spoken about the idea of bringing a full-fledged event with speakers from the local market and so on and so forth. How would you describe TEDx, and do you have a vision that you could cast for its entry here into Mobile?
Elyse Goonan: Sure. TEDx is actually, when I first arrived in Mobile, my husband had gotten a job coaching at Spring Hill College, and that brought us here. Reaching out to TED was one of the first things that I did in order to sort of find my tribe. I thought, "Oh, well I'll volunteer at the local TEDx Mobile, and then I'll meet a lot of other people who are excited about new ideas and open-minded about changing things, and that hopefully will be a good opportunity for me to make friends and find colleagues," and that sort of thing.
I reached out to TED because I couldn't find a TEDx Mobile on the website, and I was really surprised and I thought, you know, "There must be something wrong," and they actually said, "No. Nobody here has applied for a license yet. No one's doing this." I thought, "Well, I guess that's how I know I'm supposed to do it."
I got the URL TEDx Mobile, and I got an initial license. You have to apply, and then the initial license is just to host events that are no more than 100 people. The next one that was coming up was the annual TED conference. I just said, "Well, one of the first ways that we can start finding people who care about TED in town is just to host a live stream and invite everyone to come and watch it together, just sort of a viewing party." Really simple.
Fortunately, Spring Hill College was happy to let me do it there, because I explained that bringing local professionals onto campus is a great opportunity for your kids to network, and giving them something to talk about is a great icebreaker. Understanding the business components of making projects work is a big part of what I do and with TED, it's really helped. We've had a couple different live-stream events, one at Spring Hill College, one at South Alabama that's focused on youth. A lot of high school students coming and attending that special youth-focused presentation. We're starting to see who's really excited about this. For instance, you're somebody that is-
Marcus Neto: I'm extremely excited, because I love TEDx, yeah.
Elyse Goonan: No, but it's great, because by just getting the ball rolling with a little bit of activity, now I know that when I'm ready to build the full-on TED, I know who to ask about advice for space and speakers and who to ask about volunteering and that sort of thing. Right now, where we are with that is, I have applied, in order to get the next level of license, because I think that if we're going to build a live speaker event, that's a ton of work. I would like more payoff, sort of more bang for our buck on that than 100 people. I'd like to target maybe filling the Saenger or something like that.
Marcus Neto: Absolutely.
Elyse Goonan: I am attending the TED Women event in October, and I've just applied for a scholarship, because the ticket price is pretty outrageous. Going to that event will then qualify me to have a license to host a bigger event here. It only takes one person to sort of have that license approval. I've also attended TEDx Birmingham. The folks in TEDx Birmingham, they're really excited about Mobile having this opportunity. They are offering me great advice, great mentorship, that sort of thing. They really want to see us succeed. They're becoming a regional hub.
Actually, the TED prize-winner is based at UAB, and so that's another reason that TEDx Birmingham is a regional hub, and looking to share the love and give all of their good advice to us. I think it's a long-term project, but we have the pieces, and we're starting to pick up some momentum on that.
Marcus Neto: I think you'd be surprised. I mean, if we started rattling the cages a little bit, we'd probably find quite a bit of people that would be willing to, because I know the dollar amount for purchasing the license and then the rental for the space and all that other stuff is not insignificant. We've got a lot of people here locally that care enough about the business community and about seeing this area become something more than what it currently is. I think it would be quite easy to find those resources.
I just encourage, if anybody's listening right now, and first of all, if you're not familiar with TEDx, just go to YouTube and do a search, and I think you'll be quite surprised. They're basically 10-minute-ish talks given by everybody from the local college professor to foreign dignitaries and stuff like that and everybody, everywhere in between, but they're really on a singular topic meant to be very concise but on a specific topic.
Anyway, I think it'd be really powerful for the Mobile area, and if you have any interest, certainly reach out to Elyse. We'll link up to all of her information at the end of this, but also, if you have any interest and you just want to email me, I can also pass on all that information to her. I would love to see something like that come to Mobile.
Elyse Goonan: Yeah. I'm excited about the idea of Mobile not just consuming great content from other markets but that we would start to generate content-
Marcus Neto: Absolutely.
Elyse Goonan: -and sort of have our own flavor and our own voice. All of the talks that we have in a live speaker event will then be recorded and uploaded into the global library of TED talks. The theme is ideas worth spreading, and it's a great way for local ideas to touch parts of the world where we might never make it ourselves on foot.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, I know, it's awesome. One last question and then we'll kind of wrap up. What are the last two books that you've read, that you've found helpful?
Elyse Goonan: I am currently reading, "Contagious," which is all about how things spread and how ideas catch on. As I said, a lot of my work experience in the past, I've done everything from teaching kindergarten to currency management in international finance. We didn't really go through all that, but in moving around, I've had lots of different careers. It's given me great work experience, but I feel the need to make sure that I'm always educating myself more, especially on things that involve marketing and the finer points of business.
I mean, we need to look at the future of One Mobile is not simply to be a non-profit, but then to take this website that we've built, and take it out to other markets. Looking at how we can make One Mobile financially sustainable, that takes more than a philosophy degree. I'm very serious about educating myself, and, "Contagious," so far has been a great read. I just read, "Zero to One," just in the startup vein, and, "The Checklist Manifesto."
Marcus Neto: Awesome.
Elyse Goonan: My 18-year-old brother saw me reading, "The Checklist Manifesto," and said, "You're reading a book about checklists?"
Marcus Neto: Yeah.
Elyse Goonan: I was instantly not the cool sister anymore.
Marcus Neto: That's too funny.
Elyse Goonan: It actually is a outstanding book. Very fast read. You can read it in one plane flight across the country.
Marcus Neto: I've seen that pop up in my Amazon suggestions, but I haven't, I've got a list of like 12 other books-
Elyse Goonan: I bet.
Marcus Neto: -I'm going to ban myself from purchasing any other books because they have a tendency to just sit around. Actually, I do have one other question. In my world, in the tech world, there's a real push for diversity on teams. We don't see, but we're starting to see a real push for female representation and you don't see a lot of female founders or entrepreneurs. I know you're currently at One Mobile, but I know you've started and led a lot of organizations. What would you say to that woman out there that's listening to this on her commute, she may hate her job, she may love her job, but she's got an idea and she's unsure of herself. What would you say to that female that's out there that might push her in the right direction?
Elyse Goonan: Sure. Well, having worked in a number of different industries, I would say really, if you look for some sort of bias, if you look for a prejudice out there, you're going to find it.
Marcus Neto: Sure.
Elyse Goonan: In my experience, right now, when I encounter men in business, they're usually saying, "You're really organized. I know that if I give, you've got this." That sort of thing. I think especially, actually, in dealing with the rugby community. There was not a women's rugby team here until I came to Mobile and wanted to play, and so started poking and pushing and helping make that happen. I would say that, in working with the local rugby foundation, they've been very open in saying, like, "We're so glad that women's rugby is coming on board, because we know that you guys are so organized, and when you say you're going to do it, you do it. You show up, you're on time," that sort of thing.
I felt very welcome to go ahead and start with the women's rugby team, and do that sort of thing. I would say, when I was in finance, that's when it was really difficult to be a woman. That's when there was plenty of bias. Especially, I think, coming into an international trading floor as a kindergarten teacher.
Marcus Neto: Yeah, it might just be a stretch. Just saying.
Elyse Goonan: That was a big jump, right. They, I think, appreciated the soft skills of being able to be very diplomatic in client relations, and diffuse difficult situations, those sorts of things. I don't know if that was being a woman or if that was just my particular skill set, but I would say it was a much harder hill to climb in the finance world than it is right now.
After a meeting, if I get a, "No," on a particular project that I'm pitching, I could sit and say, "Well, if I had been a man, that would have been different," but I'm really on to the next already. I feel strongly that there are people whose default setting is yes, and people whose default setting is no. A no is a no, regardless of why it was a no. Unless I'm fighting for justice or something more significant, if I'm just needing a partner, then I need a partner who's going to be a, "yes," person anyway, so I'm just happy to move on.
I would tell that woman listening to just go ahead and go for it. If you look for the stereotypes, if you sit on in and focus on it, you're going to find evidence of them.
Marcus Neto: You're going to find it, yeah.
Elyse Goonan: I would just be too busy, just picking it up, putting it down, making it happen, go for it.
Marcus Neto: Just go for it.
Elyse Goonan: Just rock out. Yeah.
Marcus Neto: That's awesome. Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. Any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?
Elyse Goonan: I would just like to thank you. I appreciate when someone sees a need or a void and steps up and fills it. I think that's what you're doing with the podcast. I love people who have ideas, and I love people even more who execute those ideas and don't just let them sit. That's really what One Mobile is all about.
Marcus Neto: Yeah.
Elyse Goonan: It's nice to be here, but it's even nicer that you've made the opportunity for people to come and just that you're kind of stirring the pot in Mobile, I love that.
Marcus Neto: Awesome. I appreciate that.
Elyse Goonan: Yeah.
Marcus Neto: Elyse, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a, well, you've been a business-owner and entrepreneur, so I'm going to say it, but also as your role in helping Mobile find its voice. It was great talking with you.
Elyse Goonan: Thank you.