Stephynie Malik – Founder & CEO of SMALIK Enterprises

Episode 200

What if you have an employee that has done something in your company that you are sure could reflect poorly on your company should anyone find out? Today’s guest, Stephynie Malik, is hired by many of the best leaders to help with just these types of situations. She shares how her constant curiosity and relentless grit drove her to become the successful crisis management expert that she is today. Finish your week off strong with this incredible Wednesday episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to just sort of make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked out knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara golden show. So join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go Let’s go. Hi, everyone, its Kara golden from the Kara golden show. And I’m so excited to have my next guest here we have Stephanie Malik here who is the founder and CEO of smalux Enterprises. But she is just this amazing, amazing CEO. And more than anything, just a wealth of information around crisis management. And so we’ve all been in situations so hopefully, not too bad, where we’re going to bring Stephanie in, but we can all be educated a lot for ourselves and and you know, for our business maybe that we’re working in or about what this means when we’re talking to a, somebody who needs some help. Maybe we can even send them in Stephanie’s direction. Hopefully not, but you never know. So Stephanie is one of the world’s most sought after crisis management experts. And she is the woman behind the headlines of many of the high profile celebrities, politicians and athletes that you may have heard without naming any names. And in addition to her crisis work, she is a high performance consultant to many fortune 500 executives So, so many accolades behind her, that it’s it’s almost too many to even name. But one of them was the 2016 CEO world awards, she won that which is so amazing. 2019 women, women world awards, too, and just incredible. So Stephanie, I’m so excited to have you here. Welcome.

Stephynie Malik 2:23
Thank you so much, Kara, for inviting me.

Kara Goldin 2:25
Absolutely. So tell us a little bit. I always like to start off my podcast by asking who was Steph as a kid.

Stephynie Malik 2:33
That’s it. You know, that’s interesting. I had a very tumultuous childhood, my father drowned when I was very small. My mother had a nervous breakdown, and she never recovered, didn’t have really much of a childhood because I was busy caring for my younger sibling. So much of the time. And when I was about 15 kara, I got emancipated and was fully 100%. Completely on my own at 15 and a half years

Kara Goldin 2:56
old. Wow. 15 years old. And where were you living Northern California,

Stephynie Malik 3:01
like an agricultural town in northern California. So that was interesting, too.

Kara Goldin 3:06
Amazing. So what did you do? I mean, you’re 15 and a half, you’re on your own? And so what? Like how did you survive?

Stephynie Malik 3:16
Yeah, so that’s okay, so so this is really funny. We we actually just were having this conversation a couple weeks ago. So I went before the judge and my aunt, my older aunt came with me, my mother’s older sister, and essentially validated everything that I was saying that my mom was just, you know, wasn’t recovering and she was, you know, significantly abusive and, and we needed to do something else. And so Kara that the the judge left for 15 minutes, and he came back and he granted immediate emancipation. And he said, in all of my years on the bench, which I think was 27 years at the time, he said, I’ve never ever done this without, without my team, you know, without my social workers or without people vetting this out. And he’s like, I believe in your story so much, he’s like, I’m not gonna make you go through anything else. He’s like, we’re granting it and I remember walking out I’ll never forget this Kara. I was walking out of the courtroom. And I was so excited. And and then it like it was walking and I got into my aunt’s car and and all of a sudden, I had this, this flood of complete nervousness, like, Oh my god, what am I going to do? Like, no, like, can you rent an apartment when you’re 15? Like, you know, can’t like I just, I almost passed out. It was so overwhelming to me, like, how will I ever get my driver’s license? How am I going to rent an apartment, I was already working, I was working two jobs. And I was going to school and independent study. So those were worked out, but just the actual like, oh, credit or bank or just like things like that. A lot of people took chances on me a lot of people after I went in and said, here’s my story. You know, I was monster month for the first two or three months until I proved that I could do it on time. I made a ton of mistakes, Kara. I didn’t know how to do like utility bills. They’re like, you know, there was no cell phones or anything at the time. I just didn’t know how to set a lot of things up. And quite frankly, cara, they didn’t know how to set up for an emancipated minor. So they weren’t really sure because it kept kicking out of the system when my birthday would be there. So it was a giant learning curve for everyone.

Kara Goldin 5:16
Wow. And it’s not like you had anybody around you that had been through the same situation that can say, here’s what you do, Stephanie. Wow.

Stephynie Malik 5:23
Yeah. No, you know, no, Facebook, no, no, like, no internet, like, there’s no place to go look for for resources. And you know, quite frankly, care. I think that even if there would have been, I don’t necessarily think I would have done that, because I was so embarrassed and ashamed.

Kara Goldin 5:37
Wow, this is amazing. What were your jobs? What that you were working at? You mentioned to

Stephynie Malik 5:42
care already for this, you You and me are probably going to be the only ones that know this. So I was working at contempo casuals. Okay. And, and I was working at Foster Farms, chicken. And I was promoted in four weeks at Foster Farms chicken, because my manager passed away.

Kara Goldin 6:00
Oh, my gosh. And wow, that’s, that’s amazing. So you’re in high school? And you’re and did you continue in high school? How did you work these jobs? Yeah. So

Stephynie Malik 6:11
I had an amazing, amazing, amazing soul. His name was Chuck Vidal. And he was later became the superintendent of the schools, but at the time, he was my principal, you know, care, I was doing everything wrong. Where was I going, like, nobody had gone to college. In my family, I was first generation here, like what would like, if I could just make it out of high school without getting pregnant, which all my friends were doing, like, I was really gonna make it. And I remember I purposely answered a test wrong. And I heard over the speaker, my name come over the speaker, and it was him. And he called me into his office. And he said, so what’s your plan? And I said, no plan, what do you mean, I just want to get out of here. And he’s like, yeah, that’s not going to happen. And I think about it now, Kara, and he put me in his car. I mean, imagine that, imagine somebody putting your kid in the car and driving them. He put me in his car. And he took me to the independent study place, where apparently you do. And I didn’t know anything about this. You do all of your work by packet once a week. So you get everything. You have a teacher that you can call, remember, no video, you have a teacher, you can call if you have questions. And then you drop your packet off next Friday, pick up that packet. And then the following weekend is just kind of the cyclical thing that happens. What I was able to do is I was able to finish three years of high school in a year and a half finishing by the time I was 16 and a half years old.

Kara Goldin 7:27
Wow. That’s, that’s amazing. And what did you do like right after that, that you were just working at this point, and trying to pay your rent, and yeah, I

Stephynie Malik 7:37
was working and my rent was $236 a month, and my utilities were, you know, another 50. And a bus pass was like, $85. And, you know, I didn’t really have time for friends. And, and again, I say didn’t have time for friends. I was embarrassed. I wasn’t trying to hang out with anybody who came from a strong family unit. I was just really hanging out by myself with really nobody around checking in on my brother as often as possible. I was like, somebody talked me into college, and I was like, oh, gosh, there’s no way I would be able to do that. And I ended up applying, they showed me how to apply and I applied. And I chose the school that was the furthest California School away, which was Long Beach State. And I took a I had $196 in my bank account, and I took a Greyhound bus. And I got a pennysaver if you remember what those things are? Yeah, and I rented a room from a elderly woman who had no, this is this is absolutely 1,000% true that I had nine bloodhounds that lived in the house. And a waterbed

Kara Goldin 8:45
underwater button that’s underwater. But wait, so did you get it? I mean, I would think that you would get financial aid from schools for housing are no

Stephynie Malik 8:56
yeah, you know what? That’s so that’s such a great, your questions are amazing. And you know, what I love is I haven’t been asked these questions. So I love the detail because you would think that I would be able to get real. Okay, but if you remember because I know you have kids. You remember the FAFSA, right? Yeah. So your your oldest daughter you could not possibly be supporting, but they still ask her what your parents are making. They still ask you those types of things. And Eve even though I’m emancipated, and my father’s gone, my the way that it worked. My mom had a full time job. My grandparents were land developers. So I got absolutely nothing and I didn’t know about like the grant like the Pell grants or anything else like that. At that time. Nobody was going Oh, why don’t you apply for this over here? They were just like, No, you get no financial aid.

Kara Goldin 9:42
Yeah, that’s crazy. And you should have been completely qualified for that. So that is crazy. So you instead went with the bloodhound Lady and the water and amazing super, super fun so you get so you go through I would imagine And working through while you’re going to school and and you get through and then what happens after soul.

Stephynie Malik 10:07
So for some amazing reason I decided to marry an unemployed bodybuilder because that was a super, super great choice. And so I’m like, Yay, that’s what I’m gonna do. He loves me so much. And so I marry him. he quits his job two weeks after we’re married. We’re married for 11 and a half months long enough to have a beautiful beautiful little angel. He leaves and I say, you know, you can see her anytime you want, you know, will definitely want you to be around as much as you can. And the next day I get served with he wants full custody of her. We go through the whole custody battle Cara and I end up getting her full time, but I have to pay him alimony

Kara Goldin 10:50
oh my god at age 22 years

Stephynie Malik 10:54
22 Yes, yes. 20 and he’s 32 and I’m 22 and I’m paying him alimony.

Kara Goldin 10:58
Oh, God crazy crazy. So awesome. I mean, you have been through it for sure, sir. You’re you know, you get done and now what was what’s your first job then out of out of college?

Stephynie Malik 11:10
So my first job was in college actually. And I started off this is actually this is hysterical. I start off is do you know Bobby McGee’s is, uh huh. Yeah. Okay, so I started off as a character, Cinderella person at Bobby McGee’s while I was in college, I quickly realized I didn’t have that amazingly outgoing personality was a restaurant, by the way. Yes, a character restaurant. So you would go there and you’d get served by these funny little characters and most of them with very amazing outgoing personalities, not like me. Yeah. So I moved into a bookkeeping position. And I became a bookkeeper. The bookkeeper that was there was getting ready to go out on maternity leave. And we had a great relationship. And she said, hey, look, stuff, this is going to really serve you a lot later. So I ended up being a bookkeeper at Bobby McGee’s Cara for almost, I think, a year and a half or so. I also worked as a full time server at a coffee shop, there was a 24 hour coffee shop that was right next to the main strip of bars, and I took the late shift, so I could really pretty much live off tips, you know. And I did that. And then I took as many odd jobs at the time, the way that it worked in college was you. It wasn’t like a, it wasn’t like a studio, I’m sorry, a student portfolio at school, it was more like they would just take a unit or two off if you worked a certain amount of time, or if you corrected papers or things like that. So those were kind of my first three jobs whenever I was down there.

Kara Goldin 12:39
That’s why now How did you get into crisis management? How did you go from, you know, being a single mom, a young single mom and and working even as a bookkeeper? And like, how, where did the bridge come into working in crisis management eventually?

Stephynie Malik 12:58
Yeah, so so I don’t know if you know this or not care. But I worked in Silicon Valley, and I was, I held many directorships and many vice presidencies, through out night, you know, I was a part of 11 Global startups. I was on the deal team of six of those did tons of mergers and acquisitions dealt with VCs a ton. Some of them worked, some of them didn’t, some of them got absorbed, some of them went public. And in 2002, I started my own consulting firm in San Francisco. And Tom Siebel was my first client. And in that quarter, we did professional services for like Honeywell, and Boeing. And we basically were a another arm for Tom to be able to use professional services at a little bit of a, an easier price platform for his clients. So we did that we quickly grew to a multi multi million dollar firm, we grew to 28 Global locations settled on about 22 Global locations had, you know, upwards of six to 900 employees had giant clients like Nike, Motorola, American Express, you know, American Airlines, and I did it for 16 years, I did it, you know, I had my oldest and then adopted two more and then had my youngest, and I was on an aeroplane and and you know, care. It’s amazing, like my little one has been to 22 countries, and my oldest one has been to 40. So it’s such an amazing opportunity. It’s incredible. But I was so exhausted and so burned out on tech. I was so burned out on we’re not going to be the low, the low price leader or we’re not going to we’re just we’re just I don’t want to what it takes to compete right now in this area. It’s just not I’m all about service. I’m all about relationships. I’m not about pushing the number

Kara Goldin 14:38
but inside of these companies even before you mentioned Silicon Valley, what was your role there that got you what was the bridge that got you into crisis management? Because obviously like I mean, what was kind of that first role where you knew you were good at it? Like

Stephynie Malik 14:53
so? Yeah, that I mean, so it wasn’t it wasn’t really that it was all relationships. So my jobs were like, you know director, Business Development Director lead gen director of strategic alliances high tech partnerships, Director of white a white labeling, VP of Sales VP of global sales, you know, so it wasn’t that so much that it was the actual inner workings of after I started my consulting firm, it was seeing how the other companies worked. So it was understanding now kind of understanding budget, understanding where the budget gets pulled from it was understanding how people send out RFPs how they get RFPs. What makes an executive freeze, like how do they know that they can spend 510 $15 million. So what started happening is how this happened was completely accidentally, I, which is never what you want for a business model. I was working, I was in Australia. And I started noticing we were doing work there. We were doing an SAP integration there. And I started noticing kind of the best way I can say it is kind of a little bit of caddy executives back and forth within the company. And I was watching their their body language, I was watching how they were interacting with each other. And I remember I walked over to the woman and I said, I really loved her a lot. She was great. And I said, Hey, can I can I grab you really quick? And can I just make one suggestion? And she was like, yeah, so we walked outside and I kind of coached her for 10 or 15 minutes. She called me back on the following week and said, Oh my god, it completely worked, you wouldn’t believe. And so she started telling me these different things. So she started just within the company referring me to a bunch of people. Finally, I was ready to actually take a step back from my consulting industry and start a real performance coaching company. Real not come sit on my my chair and let me tell you how wonderful you are. But like real like, what’s your measurement of success? Let’s go okay. In doing so I got a few clients. And I ended up uncovering a massive scandal. Massive, so misappropriated jet hours, misappropriated expense accounts, sometimes 234, or five lunches in one day, all on different credit cards. And so I was like, gosh, surely I have this wrong. And after I did about two or three weeks of research, I went to my, my contact who had brought me in to coach who was actually a member of the board. And I said, I don’t even know how to tell you this. I don’t I don’t have any idea. I just I just don’t even know what to say. But right now, you know, we’re looking at $3.6 million. And he looked at me, Kara with the most dead serious space, and he said, fix it. Click. Then I was like, Wait, what? Wait, wait,

Kara Goldin 17:36
yeah, what, what just happened?

Stephynie Malik 17:38
What is it? What? How would one go about fixing that? Like, what are you talking about? So I was like, fix it. So I remember calling a couple friends of mine who were attorneys. And all they did was laugh, like, they were just like, hysterical. They’re like, Oh my God, you’re so funny. And I was like, No, no, he was really serious when he said it. So I called him back and I just said, Hey, what is fixing it look like? And he said, there’s nobody in this country that I know who’s better connected than you. I really, really need your help. And so I said, but you understand something like one thing I do know for sure. And working in consulting for a long time is if I can see three, if I see 3 million. It’s 30 million. Yeah. Like, it’s not three. And he was like, Don’t exaggerate. And he’s like, just go do what you need to do. And he gave me a credit card. So I could hire a few forensic people, a few experts. It was $36.2 million.

Kara Goldin 18:33
Yeah, that’s wild. Wow. It’s crazy. So what ended up happening in the end without so

Stephynie Malik 18:41
I ended up unwinding it in 126 days. And what that means by unwinding it is the person who had misappropriated most of the stuff Kara had had holdings in three, three different countries. And so I hired a Amazing, amazing team, the first thing I did was get buy in from the gentleman who actually did it. I had a long conversation with him. I had another conversation with the gentleman who brought me in and I said, Look, I have two requirements. The first one is you can’t fire him, and I’ll explain that to you later. The second one is we have to get him in his family resource help. After a lot of convincing he actually did give me what I needed. We ended up getting the entire amount paid back in 126 days plus 13% restitution. Wow, that’s me quietly, quietly, no media, no kind of anything at all the attorneys jumped in. We had we had asset liquidators, we had asset protectors, we had family therapists, we had a lot of resources. And I got back and I felt so good about what I had done for this family and for the company. And I just said, Hey, thank you so much for the opportunity. He goes, Oh, we’re not done. We’re not done. And I was like, What does that even mean? He’s like, Stephanie, do you know how many companies need this? I’m like, No, actually, I don’t I really, just don’t Don’t know how many people need this? And then that’s kind of how the crisis side started. So in five years, we’ve had 39 clients, you would know you Kara would probably know, 25 of them. We’ve only had one client ever get to media

Kara Goldin 20:14
ever. That’s amazing. Wow, super, super crazy. Do you find yourself in court with some of these people? Or do I mean, obviously, you’d like to not get to court. But do you ever find that you are

Stephynie Malik 20:27
I? So I wouldn’t say court, we do mandatory settlement conferences. And we do a lot with private judges. So I wouldn’t say court is in public. I would say that there are public transactions that happen along the way, like there is, you know, where you have to go in and you have to, you know, file a motion, there’s there are things that you have to do along the way we don’t we don’t negate any of the agencies like the CIA or the FBI or the SEC. We still you we everybody’s utilized, but it just isn’t a private manner and how we move them through the crisis journey.

Kara Goldin 21:00
That’s amazing. How do you tell if somebody is lying? Since you’ve probably dealt with, you know, some of the best that are out there? I mean, do you feel like you can actually, have you ever been tricked and fooled by people saying I didn’t do it? No way now.

Stephynie Malik 21:17
So the story goes like this. So you know, I’m working with a lot of very, very, very, very high hitting high powered, white collar attorneys. And you know, with being a white collar attorney, and being really good. There’s a massive ego, massively huge ego. So the first year was rough Kara, it was rough. I mean, they were just like, you know, who the hell do you think you are finished law school, if this is what you want to do? And I was like, No, I don’t want to finish law school, I don’t want to have to operate within the confines of the things that you have to do. I don’t want to do that. And so we were working on this one specific case, and it was probably maybe six months to a year in, and I was a little imposter syndrome. I was a little bit because I was in the only woman in the room. There was 11 attorneys, you know, eight of them you they walk outside, and there’s paparazzi waiting for them every single day. And this client, we were we were we were there I was brought in by another another one of the CO counsel. And the client was just lying, like just lying. And all the attorneys were taking notes and taking notes. And, and so I asked one, I said, Can we pause for a second, I took the lead attorney out and I said, I said can you do me a favor, I said, I think you’re an amazing attorney. Like I really, really do. But you’re not asking the right questions, because this guy is a CTO of a company. So when you ask him about his compensation, he’s thinking about, he’s thinking about his salary. And he’s thinking about his bonus. He’s not thinking about warrants on advisory boards. He’s not thinking about, you know, unrealized stock, he’s not thinking about like, all of these different things. Can you ask this question? And so he asked the question, and the guy had a completely different, you know, $20 million answer in this in this conversation. So the I remember, the attorney turned around, he looked at me, and he was like, oh, like, Oh, she actually knows something. And so then, like, 20 minutes later into the meeting, I asked the attorney, if we can just take a step outside really quick. And I say, I know you don’t care, because I know he’s paying you by the hour, but he’s lying to you about every single thing. Ask him these three questions. And so he’s like, Are you 100%? Sure. And I said, No, I’m like, 10,000%. Sure. And so he walked in, and he asked him the question, and the guy just started sweating, just sweating. And I’m like, Are you okay, mister? So and so can I get you some water? Like, is everything okay? And like, Oh, my God. He was and the and from then on Kara? Like, they would stop things and be like, Can you grab stuff? We need to know if he’s lying. Like, can you grab her? I just know. And, you know, we had Mark Bowden on not too long ago. And Mark and I were talking about body language. And we and I like to always check myself with the real true experts. You know, the credentialed experts. Stephanie

Kara Goldin 23:49
has a podcast, by the way she’s talking about so yeah, she started Yeah, talk a little bit more about that.

Stephynie Malik 23:57
Yeah. So So basically, Mark came on, and I said, I’m just so excited to have you. And we started asking, I said, Mark, this is purely for me, not even for my listeners. But can I walk you through two or three scenarios. And it was so refreshing Kara, T. T, I had done it properly. And I had done it correctly. And I had done it in a way of creating commonality and normality. And that’s what you get when you have you know, sociopathic behavior sometimes is letting them know that you there’s a different way to walk people through this. And so it was a great validator for me that I had actually done it properly. But I do it in every case, and thank goodness as of right now haven’t been members.

Kara Goldin 24:32
That is amazing. It’s It’s so you know, must be so interesting. What was your favorite story? I mean, you obviously, not only work with companies, but you also work with celebrities and athletes. I mean, without naming names, what, what is, what was probably one of your favorite ones.

Stephynie Malik 24:50
You know, I think my most favorite story is actually not a crisis story. This is actually a story where I came in for AIG. I came in as a crisis coach, mainly for my resources. And mainly because they believed I could handle this, this person. And this person’s career blew up so big and not in like five minutes. And he didn’t have time to adjust in the middle of this going through a divorce in the middle of this, figuring out a custody agreement, etc, etc. And I remember this happening, I was watching him very, very closely, Cara and I started noticing that he was having some significant issues around executive function. And I was watching him and watching him and watching him, and he had incredible EQ, but I but just normal tasks, like you know, you’re getting ready to go on stage and, and in, he’s losing it like just normal things. So he ended up asking his attorney, if we could mandate, a psychological evaluation for learning differences, and because then that way would be protected. And so we did, we got it a services agreement for for educational services for him, for him to be able to take this test for an executive. And his IQ came back so low. And he was working so hard, and he was so good at what he was doing. And he was trying so hard. This is a global company. This is a massive company. This is a multi billion dollar corporation. And I remember the day that I gave it to him, and I said, I’m giving this to you, but then pause, comma, okay, comma, and here’s how we’re going to handle it. And he burst into tears. He said, I don’t have to hide it anymore. How did you know since you notice everybody know, like, it was such a vulnerable and such an authentic moment? That probably right there. I mean, what the what his company has done and what he’s accomplished. And you know, he’s a multi bazillionaire now, and the text messages that I get from him and the way that he was like, how did you spot that, and being able to coach him and his global team through that and kind of bring them together and create connection and blow up sales? It would that was probably my favorite story.

Kara Goldin 27:11
So you not only talk about crisis management and and handle crisis management situations, but you also coach teams, as as you mentioned. So what do you think as, as a leader, you know, you’ve maybe you’ve got CTOs and your company CMOS, and your company, this podcast. My podcast is all about founders and CEOs. I mean, what are the kind of the top tips that you would give to leaders about managing your team? And and sort of how do you protect yourself from dealing with one of these people? Right, that is got sort of other ideas about the way that the world

Stephynie Malik 27:51
then, right, I love how you said that.

Kara Goldin 27:55
You know, I think I think more than anything, you know, how do you protect yourself? Because it’s really, I think it’s really hard to tell, I think a lot of these people, and over the last 16 years, we’ve had a couple who are you know, true, sociopath, and you know, there’s, there’s a, there’s one in particular that is still out there all the time. And he basically he fully believes that he has built hint, and no runs around and and, uh, yeah, no, I mean, it’s, it’s, I mean, it’s amazing, and, you know, he has his own troubles out there and that I won’t get into, but it’s just, you know, it’s annoying to me, but I think more than anything, it’s just they continue to go on and on. And, you know, what, what can you do really about these people or even when they’re inside of your company, and you, you know, how do you? How do you protect yourself even before you know, you have one of these people? I think two part question.

Stephynie Malik 28:56
Yeah, so let me let’s go back for one second. The guy who’s wreaking havoc with him, was he ever an employee? Yeah. Okay. So that kind of takes me to where one of this this sounds the sound okay, bear with me. This sounds absolutely ludicrous. Having a therapist or a psychologist trained in forensics, with a company as your size. And I’m going to tell you, we’ve done this four times now and we’ve caught four different people four times. So here’s, here’s what it is. It’s an active tip line. And basically it’s anonymous. And if you know somebodies why was in the hospital? Yeah. Oh, no, was amazing. Somebody’s wife is in a hospital for poisoning. Or you go, oh, gosh, this wife just filed for divorce or this husband just lost custody of the kids. It’s big triggering moments in people’s lives that flip this switch. The other thing is there certain psychotic tendencies, and obviously I’m not a doctor, I don’t have any formal training around this at all. I’m just letting You know, my experience, there’s there’s tendencies that happen within people like, for example, like bipolar disorder, for men generally happens by the time they’re 28 years old. And it’s generally most often triggered by a significant life event. So it’s these type of things, or with women, there’s like all of these different trigger marks. So having the founder and the CEO know that while this person is trained in forensic psychology, or forensic methodologies, it’s kind of also a person who can create coordination, and who can create teams, and who can create all these different things. So it’s almost like a hidden jewel in your company. It’s not like, hey, there’s the forensic psychologist over there, and be 12. When you do that, and then there’s a tip line, or there’s a tip email where you can say, this is monitored every single day. And this is this is for suggestions. And this is for what are we doing really, really well? And what are we doing not well, and monthly, in a newsletter, or monthly, in a, some sort of a town hall or something, whatever the founder or CEO does, they say, we’ve made these changes and, and you’re not calling out who it is, because you don’t know. But you’re like, you’re letting everybody know, in the company that you’re looking at this mailbox, that this mailbox is being monitored. When that started happening, we caught three in three months. And I, you know, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but one of them would have been very, very, very dangerous. There was a plan. And, and, sadly, the founder was this was a woman. And sadly, he knew were all three of her children went to school. There was a lot of things that happen. Scary. It is it’s terrifying. And then and then you’re like, Okay, well, how do you how do you stand up those people around you to, to have some sort of protection. And so now I kind of mandated that with with people have very, very high visibility or people with very well known brands, when we come in and we do a high impact performance consulting gig, I say, what are you doing for protection? Where are your children? What is the tree? What’s the communication tree to your kids, we handle all of that we do cyber, we do personal and we do brand? Because I want everybody to know, it’s their choice what they do at the end of the day care, but sometimes they’re not even thinking about that, if that hasn’t happened yet.

Kara Goldin 32:15
Know exactly. Wild. So how do you as a leader, then, part two of the question, how do you as a leader, beyond, you know, setting this up, but are there certain things that you can do to sort of, you know, look at, like, if somebody is Miss appropriating funds, or I mean, is there anything beyond like, pay attention to, to things like that? I mean, obviously, like you said, people are busy. And when you went to that CEO way back when and and said, hey, it’s 3 million, you know, it’s like, I think more than anything, you start to look at what, what the heck is going on here? Why didn’t I see such a thing?

Stephynie Malik 32:57
Everybody’s so busy, I know. And you build relationships and you build trust. I mean, people miss the smallest things, Kara, I, you know, I tell people. I just had lunch a few weeks ago with a CEO locally, and I didn’t like the way that the CIO was was communicating in the meeting. He wouldn’t look at me, he wouldn’t answer any questions. He was looking down the whole entire time. And I know this guy, and I was like, there’s something going on. And it turned out there was something going on. When you see people every single day, I mean, you know, carry, you know, raising kids. You see your kids every single day, but then you don’t see somebody for three months, and they look over they’re like, Oh my gosh, they’ve gotten so much bigger, or Oh, wow, did you lose weight? Because it’s the first time they’re seeing him for a long time. be highly aware. Ask really hard questions. I am my hrs worst nightmare. Like literally, I am their worst nightmare. But don’t work for the company. If you don’t want to hear, you can ask me the same questions. Feel free to ask. I’m an open hard

Kara Goldin 33:54
question and a name named Marco.

Stephynie Malik 33:57
I just had one last week, I said, What is going on for you? Here? Let me tell you why I’m asking that question. Because last year, you are managing my calendar. you’re managing six crisis clients in three countries. you’re managing all the bookings, and all the financials, and all of the reservations for myself and every single expert, and nothing got missed. And now we are on three clients, all local, all within the same state. No experts and you’re missing everything. What is going on? My mom has cancer. My husband has a brain tumor.

Kara Goldin 34:32
So interesting. Yeah. There’s always, always like something else behind. And it’s true that it’s like if you don’t ask these questions, a lot of times people won’t actually disclose it. But if you just ask Yeah, and you know,

Stephynie Malik 34:45
and I think that I think the other thing too, is the way you ask as well, like, you know, not not recently but but maybe three or four years ago, we had another founder who had like $53,000 taken out of her personal her personal Money that her executive assistant had access to. And she did this out of kindness because this this, this founder was traveling a ton. And there was a book tour and everything else. So she took care of bills, and you know, you know, horse feed and like just all the different things for the animals and stuff like that. And there was $53,000 out and she was she was hot. I mean, she, I mean, because of course, this person’s been your assistant for many years. And I begged her, I sat down with her, and I said, Please, I’m gonna ask you to handle it this way. And I know that was asking a ton, she was hurt, she was angry, she was sad, she was exposed, there was all of these things. But at the end of the day, Kara, she’s the leader, she is the leader, she missed it. So I said, take a step back. And I want you to ask these questions. And I said, What would you need $53,000 for that you didn’t feel like you can come and ask me. And it killed her to do but, but she did. And it was absolutely unacceptable, but she did it. And we were able to get enough proof and enough evidence to be able to take to authorities to have the proper action taken.

Kara Goldin 36:02
Amazing. So so interesting, all your stories, I could just sit here and talk to you all afternoon about this, you have a brand new executive presence, elevated course, that at your company. So talk to me a little bit about this, like why would somebody take this course? What what are they dealing with now where they think I need some consulting I need I need to know how, what are the steps in order to do this, but tell us a little bit about that.

Stephynie Malik 36:34
Sure. So So Kara, the course came about at the beginning of the pandemic, because I was talking to my peer group, I was talking to presidents and CEOs about how what their talent look like. And a lot of them were coming back saying flat. The Millennials are coming in and asking for promotions, and they’re not ready. They say that they want a VP job. But when I asked them, What do they think that looks like they weren’t sure. I don’t meaning the people that this was created for. I don’t find them to be thought leaders. They drop balls a lot. I find that they’re very fidgety and don’t ask great questions. They think that they’re an influencer. But they’re not really an influencer, that, you know, the all of these questions were coming up for executives. And when I was talking to the mid level managers, so think senior level managers to kind of associate VP, they were ticked because they had been passed over for a promotion, or somebody from the outside had gotten a new promotion within the company. They were frustrated, because they didn’t seem as though they added value. They felt like all the projects they were getting were grunt work. So it was like, how do I marry these two? and create something very valuable? What does this look like? And so then I just started asking a lot of questions. We interviewed about 500. Anywhere from senior vice president globally to a lot of founders and said, What are you finding yourself in your talent? What would be the one or two problems I could solve for you, within your organization for around talent? And it all came back to executive presence? It all came back to why are you getting promoted? All came back to your questions aren’t very good. Like, I wouldn’t trust you with x, y, z. And so how do we get them to that level? And so one of the things that we did was when we were when we were doing this is we sat down and we role played with them. We sat down with senior directors, and I took them through an interview and I would rate them and I was tough. I mean, I was I was tough. I was like, what type of VP role are you applying for? I mean, hopefully, it’s online. Because if you don’t know what a p&l is, or you aren’t sure how to how to talk about, you know, an ROI, or you don’t know about a methodology, or if you’re wasting your boss’s time, or you’re putting so much into your boss to where you’re not getting your things off your agenda. How is this helpful to anybody so true. And we created this around this and then what I did Kara is I basically met with five of my female, previous clients or friends, because they have a lot more emotion around the area about what’s working in their organization and what’s not. So things that were gentlemen are a lot more fast paced and a lot more like numbers oriented, women are a lot more whole picture. What is the whole picture look like? We did that integrated a bunch of soft skills, self awareness, EQ, where do you sit in a board meeting? How do you interact? What are the first question is what are the second questions? How do you send out an agenda after the meeting on on minute notes and who’s taking what? And then how do you say no effectively and respectfully and kindly but also get the Ask taken care of, and we created that and put this into this course and I gave it to them as corporate training. And we just got like 55 star reviews in like two and a half weeks and it just really it worked really well.

Kara Goldin 40:01
That’s awesome. So this is really for manager level director level. I mean, is that kind of the sweet spot? Not necessarily CEOs? I mean, maybe CEOs would recommend it for their team, but it’s it’s for, you know, the mid level managers is that correct that

Stephynie Malik 40:17
are 100%. I don’t do any group coaching care with with CEOs, CEOs, as you know, that’s a whole person that’s holistic, they don’t want to share what’s going on. If you coach in performance, if you coach a CEO, you can’t do that in a group setting and have it be authentic. There’s too many trust things that they don’t want to necessarily share with other people or what’s going on in their family or what’s going on for them personally, we don’t coach anybody over a VP in any group setting. This is senior manager, director, senior director all the way to like an associate VP or a brand new VP.

Kara Goldin 40:53
So where do people find out about that course? Just if they’re interested in it?

Stephynie Malik 40:58
Absolutely. So that course is Stephanie Malik COMM And my name is spelled with a Y so it’s st e p h y n i e, Malik m a l i and then forward slash elevated

Kara Goldin 41:11
that’s awesome and you’re so active on on social platforms too. I love reading your stuff on on LinkedIn and and so many stories I mean, you just I just love hearing them all. And there’s so many learnings I have so many questions about all of them. So I’m holding back right now but really, really interesting. Hopefully you’ll have a book coming out at some point and you’ll be able to share even more of that. I think that’s definitely in your horizon for sure. So your your podcast is called spin it as well.

Stephynie Malik 41:44
Yes, spin it with Stephanie Malik.

Kara Goldin 41:46
So look for that. And thank you for coming on. It’s been a lot of fun and thanks everybody for listening. We’re here every Monday and Wednesday at the Kara golden show. I bring incredible guests on who share not only their own journey, but also their failures along the way there are challenges along the way and I think more than anything, I find that just by hearing people’s stories we hear that it’s not it’s not perfection. It’s not a silver spoon that was handed to them along the way it’s not it the core thing is curiosity and getting back up again and and just going out and doing it and that is clearly what Stephanie has done. So thank you so much and thanks again everyone. If you haven’t picked up a copy of my book yet the undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters I I hope that you will do that and come back and listen to our podcast and hopefully you’ll also pick up a case a hint if you haven’t tried that either. So thanks, everyone. before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara golden and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara golden golden thanks for listening