What if data was our compass, not our critic? What if, instead of anxiety around insights, we found clarity? Joining me today is Dr. Amanda Bell to her journey from academia to transforming how entrepreneurs relate to data, time tracking, and success.
In this episode, we balance exploring unique concepts like data equity (ensuring information empowers marginalized groups) with raw talks on entrepreneurship and the personal growth required to thrive.
As a fellow business owner, Amanda also introduces her game-changing Conscious Calendar model that optimizes performance through understanding unique patterns and needs.
Let’s start by changing our relationship with three overlooked elements: compassion, data, and time.
If transforming how you achieve success sounds good, tune into this episode of the Invisible to Invincible Podcast.
Who is Dr. Amanda Bell?
Dr. Amanda Bell has a Ph.D. in education policy; what this means for her is that she knows a lot about data, how to collect it, and how to make it meaningful for organizations and individuals. Her company Context Matters is on a mission to spread the word that data can be a form of compassion. Amanda has been doing organizational effectiveness and development research for the past 15 years. She is a certified life coach because she knows that someone can have the best data, but not get to the point that they are using it. She works with individuals and organizations to reimagine their relationship to work.
Amanda and I discussed the importance of how we approach data can be a powerful catalyst for change, a tool to measure success, and a mirror to reflect on our deeply held beliefs. Imagine what it would feel like if you could use data like time tracking, with compassion, instead of black-and-white (and sometimes angsty) analysis.
So tune and subscribe to the Invisible to Invincible Podcast, where we champion unapologetically driven entrepreneurs, business owners, coaches, consultants, and executives (of a certain age who have gained a certain level of wisdom). We’re your guide to achieving personal branding and increased visibility so you’re the go-to authority in your niche.
Make your career work for you (not the other way around), and pursue success in business and life on your own terms. It’s never too late to take control and transform your professional path.
This podcast is sponsored by KendraLosee.com. Some links are affiliate links, which means if you buy something, we may receive a small commission.
🌟 Meet Guest: Dr. Amanda Bell
Website – http://contextmatters.work
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/amanda_contextmatters/
🌟Connect with Kendra
✨ Highlights ✨
00:00 – Introduction to Amanda’s Journey
01:15 – Amanda’s Entrepreneurial Venture
07:49 – Data Manipulation & Importance of Context
12:28 – Motivation Behind Starting a Business
18:30 – Downtime Significance for Entrepreneurs
22:13 – Contacting Amanda
27:50 – Closing Remarks
Subscribe on YouTube: https://kendralosee.link/youtube
Subscribe to Podcast: https://kendralosee.link/podcast
EP 002 – Transcript
Unlock Success: Compassion in Time Tracking 🕒 with Dr. Amanda Bell
[00:00:00] Hello friends. I’m Kendra Losee from KendraLosee.com and you’ve tuned in to the Invisible to Invincible Podcast where unapologetically driven business owners share their journey from hidden gems to industry leaders. Together, we’ll uncover the secrets, mental shifts, and business strategies that turn hidden gems into undeniable forces.
So hit that subscribe button and let’s dive in.
Our guest today is Dr. Amanda Bell. Amanda has a Ph. D. and Educational Policy. What this has meant for her is that she knows a lot about data, how to collect it, and how to make it meaningful for organizations and individuals. Her company, Context Matters, is on a mission to spread the word that data can be a form of compassion.
[00:01:00] Amanda has been doing organizational effectiveness and developmental research for the past 15 years. She is a certified life coach because she knows that someone can have the best data, But not get to the point that they’re using it. She works with individuals and organizations to reimagine their relationship to work.
Welcome, Amanda. It’s great to have you here. I am so glad to be here. I always love talking about all things business. Fantastic. So you have a business called Context Matters. And clearly, we’re talking today about practicing compassion with time tracking, and I am so fascinated by both of those topics.
So can you start by telling us a little bit about your business and when you started it?
Sure. I started my business in August of 2021. When I filled out the paperwork on the state’s website to get my LLC. And I, it would be really funny to sit next to that version of myself because she would be completely flabbergasted that, I’m doing now what I am doing.
And yes, so what was the motivation to start your own business?
Because it’s such a big leap, especially with your background and the places you’ve worked. So I have worked for about 15 years in academia around organizational development. And I like to say that my career has basically been around measuring things that are hard to measure. And I have loved it. If I had again, a version of me in my like early twenties would also be flabbergasted. So I have two degrees in humanities, and my plan, like my plan, was to get a PhD in art history. Like I used to study new media art and psychoanalysis. Art history, while it does have a lot of facts, is a little bit different than data and organizational development.
And so that’s where all of my compassion stuff and my different perspective on data comes in. Because it is, it’s like, one conversation that I need to have somewhere is about visual language and the information in that. But the reason why I ended up doing the work I’m doing is because I realized that I wanted to, like, make a difference.
I wanted to have an impact on how. Change happens, essentially, which is what has motivated me to help, motivated me to understand, what pieces come into play when it comes to organizational change, personal development, things like that. I promise the humanities and art history background really helps with that part.
I’m sure it does. It’s always fascinating. One of the things that I’ve always said that I love about marketing and business is that it’s the combination of you get the science side and the analytical plus the creative in order to like solve problems and communicate with people.
Well, the thing about data is that I had a mentor once. We probably didn’t even know she was a mentor, but she said so many things that I was just like, Oh my God. So in part of measuring things that are hard to measure is building rubrics. I don’t like to call them rubrics because they have a bad name because we’ve all had bad experiences with them. It’s basically trying to qualify what success looks like.
[00:05:00] And you know, it’s like if you think about like good, right, this, whatever, good, better, best, or something like that. That’s a bad example. But, and the, the story that she told was that when she was working in academic departments, she would go to like the chemistry faculty and in a rubric, you can write words in the boxes.
You can say good, or it can be like a scale of one. And so she’d go to the chemistry department and they’re like, We don’t care if it’s good. Just give us the number. Like we want to know if they’re a one or a five. And then she’d go to like the art faculty and they would be like, we don’t want these numbers.
We just want the words like we want to know if they’re good or excellent. And there’s a huge difference between good and excellent. And so that’s the thing about data. And that’s where I think thinking about it in different frames comes into place is that there are Like there has been a bit of a tyranny is a bit of a strong word, but I’m going to use it tyranny around what data is, who gets to interpret it, how to do it, but really it’s just a bunch of rules that are less exact than one might think, think. And so when you look at them more holistically, rigorously, of course, right? I’m not doing anything unethical. It really starts to broaden the picture of what data can, and I say it like this, feel like in your body. Because most people experience it of like something that’s very separate from them.
For a while, I was doing a lot of research around a concept called mathematical self-efficacy, which is basically the idea of how good we think we are at math. And that how good we think we are at math actually predicts how good we are at math. It’s like not a chicken or egg. It’s like that. Belief in ourselves.
So that then kind of really starts to narrow down who can and can’t, can, let’s see, can and can’t do math.
Isn’t that part of the like? First, I love that quote by Henry Ford that’s whether you think you can or you think you can’t, it’s you’re right.
[00:07:00] And then the second thing is that isn’t that part of like the problem why they had to recall that one, Barbie, like a million years ago that was like math is hard, right?
Yes. I mean, but what’s so funny about that generation of girls who are playing with that Barbie to think that math is hard so we can’t do math and recalling the Barbie didn’t help. No, of course not. Of course not. I mean, the Barbie was not actually the problem there.
And that is why context matters, right? We think the Barbie is the problem, but it’s actually the, you know, like. As an art historian, you know, looking at the ways in which photographs were taken, for example, like there’s so much more to the picture. Mm-Hmm. of a phenomenon than we really are able to give it credit.
It’s so interesting ’cause whenever, and I know I wanna talk about you and your story and your personal brand and all that too. Still, first, I wanna talk about data here for a second because it all goes into the mindset and the beliefs that people have about themselves. Because when you start to look at Data.
Like, for example, I was doing some research for my program to teach women how to, women business owners specifically, how to use live video. And one of the stats I came across was like video is 60 times, 60, 000 times more effective and you can build deeper learnings and connections with people than text.
So I started chasing down that fact through the rabbit hole of the internet, as one does, and ended up in like, entrepreneur India, and then that had, you know, and it ended up nowhere, right? Like that fact and chasing that fact just basically took a couple hours out of my life, but didn’t take me anywhere other than I’m not going to use that fact because there wasn’t any basis behind it.
So it’s really easy for us to find those facts online and say, okay, this is happening. So this is what we see. So this is what we perceive.
[00:09:00] So there’s a woman who has started a company named, her name is Heather Krause and her company is called We All Count. And she has a data equity framework that points to what you’re talking about, which is.
To kind of ask questions of information that we’re collecting so that we can get a better sense of where it’s coming from in terms of who’s saying it, how it’s funded, how they came up with the information, because what you’re talking about. In, in terms of the long term for me, my, my own personal, you know, want to say brand or mission is to empower more folks to understand that there are frameworks like that, that they can use to empower themselves to be a data user.
Because the fact is people who are data people just have sometimes the guts to like stand up for something because they think they have a rationale that’s going to support them. So like, As soon as you have a [00:10:00] rationale and like you have at least like two layers of of like support you’re just as much of a smart data person as like the economists that I’ve worked with.
That’s so interesting because it’s always interesting that When you can look at data and one of the things that I always talk to business owners about is because there’s a lot of when you look online and when you look on YouTube and when you look on TikTok and the social media platforms, right?
There’s a lot of younger faces that are business owners and they’re promoting their business and awesome. I love that. It’s great for them. But when you look at the data, most business owners are over the age of 40. And so there’s a yes. Yes. Also, also male. So when you start to look at like the top voices and the top people, it’s, you’re seeing male faces and you’re seeing older male faces and younger, you know, and then the women are typically seeing younger female faces because they’re, they’re not afraid of technology.
[00:11:00] And then it creates that perception of. This is all I see. This is who that’s for, and that is an incorrect perception. And so when you start to look at that data or, you know, those like internal studies that people do, how do you, how do you help people? Unwind that because it’s not necessarily data point.
It’s one that collected in their head. So one of the things that I do most in my work, either with organizations or individuals, is mapping mindset. Let’s see. Mindset and underlying beliefs. Two practices. So that we take what you call those like internal data points and we put them up against something else.
Like in the qualitative research world, it’s called triangulation. And so it’s this idea that, okay, so let’s first verbalize. This is true. You know, let’s say there are only younger women who are starting businesses. So then it’s like, okay, all right, let’s be nice to myself. Let’s either be, let’s, let’s be nice to myself.
Let’s go see where there are a couple places. And then to kind of think about where are these places coming up with their information? So that you can create a more holistic picture of what is true. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s really interesting. Now, I have a question for you about starting your own business.
Given all of this, and given your propensity for planning and organization and leaving academia, which is, I’ve been in academia as well, it can be very stable and people that go there can stay there for a lifetime basically. What made you decide, what was your motivation to start your own business and to be able to practice all of this?
[00:13:00] Honestly, my motive, lots of different motivations, actually get my boss to fire me so that I could get severance and it didn’t work. But one thing is that I knew I was meant to do bigger and greater things and that it was very clear where I was working given my, the way I look as well as my approach was not as welcome as I needed it to be to continue.
So I like owed it to myself to believe in myself essentially and in my experience the best way to to Learn how to believe in myself is to do things that show me that I believe in myself. That’s really powerful because I think that one of the things that I run into a lot is people who believe in themselves. They have this feeling that they were meant for more, but they either don’t act on it.
They don’t, you know, and then the reasons why they don’t act on it are varied, [00:14:00] right? Time, money, beliefs that they can’t. All of those things, the risk is too great. That kind of approach. So the fact that you did, especially being the planner coming from a very stable type of place into this unknown. Did you know how unknown business ownership would be?
I mean, literally, I didn’t want to leave my job until I had like at least gotten a couple clients and like made a plan of like what my financial picture would look like six months down the road, what my client structure would look like and, you know, within an hour that like went out the window.
I mean, it wasn’t an hour because I probably would have freaked out and like put the brakes on. But the version of my business now, I mean, I even I Anyways, the version of my business now is categorically different than what it was in August of 2021. And how do you feel about that? Oh, I have lots of feelings about that.
[00:15:00] You know, what I keep coming back to is that I choose, I still choose this every day. And that, I am glad I didn’t know then what I know now. Because it’s. It was, it would have been too much. It would have been too overwhelming. And I am a person that for better or worse, I have to learn things on my own.
Like no one can tell me, Oh, this will be this way. I’ll be like, sure. Great. Thanks. But I have to do it. Right.
And one of the things that I have had to kind of settle into in terms of Where I am now versus where I was then. And this goes to time tracking actually is so one of the first times I tracked my time, I felt like shit because I looked at my time and I was spending so much time like talk, like meeting with other entrepreneurial women or in coaching or on walks by myself.
And then after sort of the shame spiral went away, what I have come to realize is that being the person that I am, building my business is as much about building me as it is about building my business. And so I had left a marriage or I got divorced a number of years ago. And when I left my marriage, I didn’t really have a network of folks.
[00:17:00] And so in order to have this, the, the supports and the. I don’t like the word resilience, but in order to have what I needed for this business, that was something I had to build. And I had to have compassion for myself that it didn’t look how I thought it was supposed to, right? Like I wasn’t churning out content five hours at least every day, but that I was spending at least two hours, you know, five to 10 hours a week with colleagues, mentors, those sorts of things.
And that, that was what. I needed in my business at the time, isn’t it amazing how we get to the same place I’ve been talking about. I did several lives earlier this year and I was talking about how what we think is going to, it needs to be this perception, right? Like all those videos about the perfect morning routine for business of successful people or whatever those perceptions are of what we think we need.
We still get back to what we actually need. And one of the things that I really was focusing on earlier was, I was really successful in my corporate career, you know, academia and corporate, however you want to describe it. When I started my own business, I had no idea the mindset work that I had not done.
That needed to be done. And that is absolutely a journey that’s changed everything in terms of what I do, how I approach stuff. And I think it was always there, like these ideas that I have, but they were just so buried down. Because it’s easy to bury stuff down when you keep yourself busy 60 plus hours a week.
Well, there’s a difference between thinking something and actually doing it. Like we can convince ourselves that we think something and we think something is going to work, but it’s a whole other thing when we actually embody it. Absolutely. So back to time tracking here for a second.
One of the things that I was talking to Amanda about before we went live is that, you know, it was really interesting because I was working so much when I first started and I was so exhausted because I had these beliefs where I went from being like a VP at a university and their marketing department and then, you know, running agency departments.
And when I started my own business, I had this belief that I didn’t know Like I needed to get my hands dirty again to truly understand how to best help clients. And so I was constantly listening to podcasts, trying to update my brain, trying to learn everything I could and work with clients. And I just, I was exhausted all the time.
And it wasn’t until I pulled out and just did a couple days of time tracking because my ADHD doesn’t love many days of time tracking. But I found that I wasn’t taking breaks. I thought I was taking like half hour, 45 minute breaks and just like squirreling away time, but it was really like five or 10 minutes.
And then the amount of time I thought that I was like relaxing, walking my dog, I was actually listening to podcasts and things that would help me for my business. And so my actual down and creative time that actually, and that we all need to recharge was down to like some, it was something stupidly embarrassing.
[00:20:00] So we’re not going to talk about it, but just understanding the importance of looking at and tracking time. Where we’re spending our time looking at how we treat ourselves once we find that. Can you talk a little bit about some of your insights and working with clients around that area? So one of the things that I do for everything is I adopt.
I’ve adopted what I call a values-neutral lens. So from a data perspective, it’s that there’s no bad. There’s nothing there, no wrong or broken things. There’s only places that we can ask more questions. And so. Because one of the things that I get often, so I’ve started calling it the Conscious Calendar.
So it’s the idea of being a conscious business owner and building our calendar around that is that, most folks are like, I really just don’t, I don’t, like, I don’t want to see it. Like, if I don’t look at it, then maybe it won’t feel so shitty. And the thing about it is, is that, it’s also an experience to be in a place where you get to be accepted and compassionate about.
Everything you do. Like, of course you didn’t get to work until 10 o’clock because your child didn’t sleep the night before. Or like, of course, like, you only worked for three hours that day, but like, in that three hour, like, just one day this week. I could not seem to sit down and work. I, like, was in my feelings, and had some tears around some things, and called a friend, and took a nap, and probably did something else. You don’t know until you actually start time tracking.
I was feeling really shitty about myself, but then I happened to sit down at my desk before going out into the woods because I love being in the woods and picked up the phone and called this person who’s like been in the back of my head. I haven’t talked to you in like five years. But I was like, I, I heard something was going on in her organization and You know, just on a whim, I called, called her.
[00:22:00] I’m not a fan of calling people. It’s not my favorite. And I’ve never done something like this before in my life. Picked up the phone. She answered. I have a meeting with her in three weeks. So it was like, so this is one picture of like, Yeah, I probably did 30 minutes of work that day, but the 30 minutes of work that I did in terms of entrepreneurial work is going to be like a potential really great lead generation for me.
But I think it’s an opportunity to really reframe this idea of like, what our calendars should look like. So it’s like to take off that lens of like, okay, one, I’m going to see that I’m bad. Two, I’m going to see that I didn’t work enough to kind of scale that back.
[00:23:00]And one of the things I like to think about when you’re time tracking and building your calendar, is one, first, let’s talk about what are the things that are part of your capacity, like what are things that you have to have capacity for on a regular day, you know, and I love working with women entrepreneurs because oftentimes, you know, it’s like that list of things that we’re keeping track of with our kids all of the time, or like doing laundry or all of that sort of hidden labor that we talk about that we really don’t account for when we think about how we’re doing – not until we time track.
It’s like I have one client, you know, Who’s actually a coach and, you know, she did the whole process. She tracked her time. I also analyze a good Google calendar to get a more historical analysis so that time tracking part doesn’t have to be so painful. And then I also analyze an interview and like after the whole process, she was like, you know what?
I didn’t even write down where I was responding to my clients either over text or email. I was doing all of that other work and I didn’t put it in any of this, right? So yeah, I could talk about this forever because there’s just in terms of broadening out that picture of like context matters when we talk about time.
I mean, it’s like Salesforce. I think it’s the company that has everyone’s hourly rate in their calendar invites, which I think. you know, meetings, you know, we’ve all been in those meetings, but like, that is one way of looking at time, but there also needs to be another like, okay, like, what is the quality of my participation?
What is the quality of the container that we’re looking at? That is just a bigger picture in terms of what we track around time. That’s super interesting, especially with, like I said, I’ve had a lot of clients that are similar with me with ADHD where the idea of time tracking, like you actually have to do it.
And it’s like becomes this monolithic thing of like, okay, I’m only going to do it for these days. But then to your point, like one of the things that I took away from. from time blocking because I got tired of moving all the blocks around, but I kept the ones where I have to walk my dog and do my morning process in the morning.
And I have to walk my dog in the evenings. Like these are the non negotiable time blocks of time. And then everything else has to fit in there. Cause after that, I’m not, you know, unless I do yoga in the morning and then, you know, things shift around, but the dog walk time absolutely stays because that’s, it has to happen.
It’s nonnegotiable, and it’s something I enjoy doing. It’s just so fascinating. Yeah. And I think the, you know, I, have, I talk about time all of, all of the time, and I encounter a lot of people who either say, like, I cannot hear one more time management anything, or please don’t tell me to time block.
And the thing about this idea of having compassion and like the conscious calendar is that One of the things that we have not really been, that has not been normalized for us is really having the ability to create a baseline of what is real for us versus what we think we should be doing. That’s really interesting.
[00:26:00]And for people who want to know more about time tracking and creating a conscious calendar, how can they reach you, Amanda? So my website is contextmatters.work. Right now I’m in the process of changing the name. There’s a page it’s backslash time audit for what I’m now calling the conscious calendar because I think it makes sense. Does more justice to it.
Then I’m also on Instagram where I like to play around probably too much. @Amanda_contextmatters and the links will be below. And if you are listening to this, they’ll be in the show notes and you can find and reach out to Amanda because I know I am really curious about the conscious calendar because anything that can go with the flow of how I work versus me feeling like I have to like set these huge guardrails of shame.
Like if you go over it, Don’t go over it. I want to know what the guardrails of shame would look like. Like, would they be like giant chain fences? I pictured, yeah, I kind of pictured, so I’m located in San Diego, so I did picture a little bit of that Mexican-California border. Right? Like, that’s a really big guardrail.
I’m not talking about like little bumpers on the side of Yeah, like a bling. Yeah, like I’m talking about like giant guardrails of shame where if you like don’t go over this or if you don’t do this thing, all of a sudden that shame hits. And as a business owner, I think it’s really hard for us as a woman business owner, I think it’s hard for us to let go of those things that we’re supposed to do because the list of things we are supposed to do is so overwhelming that a lot of times we find ourselves adding more to it when it doesn’t need to be there.
Yes, 100%. There are lots of books that can help with that too.
Everything. Fantastic. Amanda, this has been so great having you here. I really appreciate you. Being a fantastic guest and those of you listening, absolutely tune in, follow Amanda, find her, learn more about the conscious calendar, because it sounds like it can just do a tremendous amount of help for all of us as business owners and, you know, corporate people too, because it’s just so powerful and no matter how you look at your time, how you look at data, how you look at the things that you’re perceiving.
That are working against you when actually you can work with it. There’s no against times thing. So thank you all for joining. Amanda, thank you, thank you, thank you for being here and being so patient. It’s been fantastic. And until next time, I’m Kendra Losee and thank you.
Check out the first episode of the all-new Invisible to Invincible Podcast here.
And if you want to get started on creating clarity, consistency and confidence around your message and your brand, be sure to learn more about the Invisible to Invincible Lab!