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Founder story

I will never forget the day that my Grandmother learned to ride a bike at 65 years old.  It was a hot and humid summer evening with sunshine illuminating the longer day.  My Grandmother was still wearing her apron over her dress as she was coaxed away from the dishes by my Grandfather who had removed the training wheels from her back tire.  I stood with the rest of my family forming a semi-circle around her in the road as we told her how much we believed in her.  She turned around and said to my Grandfather – “Don’t let go” as he held onto the back of her bike seat to help steady her ride.  We clapped and cheered as she took those first unsteady strides, unsure if she could do it.  Grandfather running alongside of her holding onto the seat.  Then, something clicked and her pedaling got more deliberate, steady.  When Grandfather let go, we cheered loudly.  I could distinctively hear Grandmother say, “Now don’t you let go!”  She was completely unaware that he had let go moments ago.  She was flying solo, mastering a skill that most children learn around the age 5.  My Grandmother modeled so beautifully to lean into your dreams and goals, even if it scares you a little.  She demonstrated that we can all learn skills at any age.  She also modeled that we do not have to get there alone. 


Like my Grandmother, I leaned into my own dreams and goals.  When I was told that I was not smart enough to learn Japanese, I not only learned it, but started my career in Japan.  When I was told by the Dean of my college that I would not find the job I was looking for, I doubled down on networking and landed my dream job.  When I was told that it might be a little early in my career to make partner, others championed me, and I risked everything and became one of the few female partners at that time.  This made me wonder what other women were being told in their careers.  It is one thing to lean into your dreams and goals, it is another to have support in getting there. Why are there not more women in leadership positions in the world?  This question drove me to do something about it. 


After a 26 year career in global management consulting in the financial services industry, 18 as a partner, it was time to take a bold step in closing the leadership gap.  I created the Inner Rock Group to inspire and empower women and girls to step into their leadership.  To reach further and be the biggest expression of herself.  To bring more balance and diversity of thought into the board rooms, the C-Suite, the critical positions, global discussions, and government decisions.  Women need to be at the table and in the important conversations.  Even if they were told otherwise.  Even if it scares us a little.  We just need to find our stride.  We just need to know that others have our back.  We do not need to get there alone.   


Joni swedlund

Inner rock founder

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