Own Your Power - S1E17

Own Your Power - S1E17 is now on your favorite podcast app!

Want to be a guest on Overhauled? - https://www.diesellaptops.com/pages/podcast-guests

In this podcast your host Melissa Petersmann (The Diesel Queen) discusses hot button issues like gender treatment, having confidence, dealing with co-workers, and many more interesting topics in a style that only she can bring - raw and unfiltered. 

Melissa welcomes Louise Azzopardi, Life Coach, Tradeswomen, and Keynote Speaker 

As always, thank you for watching and listening!

Connect with Louise Azzopardi

Facebook -  https://www.facebook.com/groups/tw.owning.their.power/
Website –  https://www.louiseazzopardi.com

Transcript for Own Your Power - S1E17

Melissa Petersmann:

Hey guys. Welcome to another episode of Overhauled with The Diesel Queen. I am here today with Louise. I have known her on social media for a very long time. She turned wrenches for about eight years and now she spends all of her time on social media, life coaching and helping out other women that are wanting to get in the trades, that are in the trades. She's a badass. Louise, why don't you introduce yourself and kind of explain a little bit more in depth what you do and where you started from and things like that.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, we've been connected for quite a while, back and forward on the Gram, so it's finally good to be in person and talking to you. So I started my apprenticeship and started working as a mechanic when I was 15, straight out of high school. I was like, school is not for me. I want to work with my hands, and that's it. I was like, nah, this sitting at a desk thing is just not fun at all, even though that's what I do now, but it's a full circle kind of thing.

Melissa Petersmann:

I feel that. I feel that.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, so I was, at the time ... 'cause I grew up on a farm and I was always working with my hands, helping my mom and dad on the farm and I was like, cool, I need to decide what I want to do if I want to leave school. So I decided I'd go on the path of a mechanic. And I did work experience while I was at school, so just free work trials in my school holidays. I did a few of those.

So one of the ones that I did that was really memorable was I did two days work experience and they offered me a job working on the weekends. So I was there and they were like, oh Louise, just let us check all your bolts if they're tight after you do anything 'cause we don't know if you're strong enough to make sure everything's tight. And I was like, this is not going to be an ongoing thing. So I put all my effort into tightening these bolts and we were working on lawn mowers and whipper snippers, so small engines, so the bolts aren't that big anyway compared to what we do now. And I started snapping bolts because I was like, I'm not doing it tight enough and the boys were like, "okay Louise, calm down, you're strong enough now." So I was like, "okay, thank you."

Melissa Petersmann:

I feel that.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. But then I was like, yeah, I didn't really want to work on lawn mowers and whipper snippers and stuff, so I was still looking for an apprenticeship to get into either motorbikes or anything else. So I was at a careers expo and I met Sarah. So Sarah at the time was the same height as me. She was the same build as me and she was doing her first year of her heavy vehicle apprenticeship. So she encouraged me to do work experience at her work. I did, I loved it. I loved being like, oh my god, this big truck and I know how it works. I know how to fix it. So that was the original feeling of all that I could fix these big trucks. So I was like, yep, this is what I want to do. I applied for a job there and I got the apprenticeship there.

I started there when I was 15, so I was still a very young person and a young female in the industry. I did my apprenticeship there so four years. Qualified when I was 19. And in that time I went through the usual harassment, sexual harassment, isolation, being a teenager trying to work out who the hell you are, and then adding the confusion of being a girl in a male dominated trade while I was doing that. So I got straight off the path, got myself in trouble trying to fit in and worked out that that was not exactly what I wanted to be like. Well, I almost got sacked actually for just getting caught up in all the bullshit that the boys do. And I was like, I want to be like the cool kids. And then I ended up almost getting sacked, so I pulled my head in and I'm so glad I got that almost second chance to go through, not get caught up in all the crap. So I did that. Then I competed in the WorldSkills Competition, so it's like the Olympics for tradies.

Melissa Petersmann:

That's cool.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. It's pretty cool. It's run in all countries. So USA, so America actually has a team, which is pretty cool. And I competed regionally, nationally and internationally. So nationally I was the first girl to compete in the heavy vehicle competition. Then I was the first girl to win and then I went on and competed internationally and I came fourth internationally out of 16 countries. So that was [inaudible 00:04:44]-

Melissa Petersmann:

That's freaking awesome.

Louise Azzopardi:

It was so cool.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, it's awesome.

Louise Azzopardi:

And I heard one of the guys, I think it was the German judge, so the German mentor judge, he was a trade teacher from Germany and he's like, I've never seen someone being photographed as much as you have, because the competition was open to the public and either someone was always recording me talking, looking at me, taking photos, and everyone was just like, what the hell?

Melissa Petersmann:

Did you get stared out in the shop a lot by customers?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

Because the guys get used to you. The guys you work with get used to you being there and they're like whatever. But I distinctly remember the first shop I worked in down in Denver. There would be people ... my boss put me, they called it in the fish tank because the office was in the middle of the shop and there's big windows in the front of the office and they put me in that bay right in front of the office because I was just starting. In the same boat you were, I was a little bit older, I was 19, hardly 19, and just started in it and I was trying to figure my shit out.

They put me in this fishbowl and the customers, the first time they saw me, they would walk to the window and they'd stick their face to the window and sit there and stare to the point where my bosses would have to come up and be like, dude, get the fuck out of my shop. You're not here for this. If you want to talk about your piece of equipment, that's fine. If you want to look at price, that's fine. You want to go over your quote ... don't fucking stare at my technician. So I was just curious because it's not even ... everybody thinks it's the guys you work with that stare, it's not, it's the truck drivers, it's the customers, especially truck drivers. I mean, in your case, this is one and the same. In my case those were two different entities, but still.

Louise Azzopardi:

In the shop where I did my apprenticeship, it was just a whole length of bays. I think there was 14 bays in a row. So the first two bays, the customers could see pretty clearly, and the supervisors worked out pretty quick that it was ... the customers would stare at us so much that it would make the boys uncomfortable. So the supervisors would never put us in those first two bays because it was just like [inaudible 00:07:17]-

Melissa Petersmann:

It's horrible. Right?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

You don't want to get stared at while you're working. And like you said, I mean some customers do it to the guys too 'cause they want to see what you're doing and it's like, no, please don't.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

Some customers are cool. Some customers you walk up and be like, yeah, this is what's wrong with your tractor. And they want to know about it and they're looking at it and then there's the creepy ones that just sit there and stare and don't say anything, they just stare. It's like, dude, get going.

Louise Azzopardi:

That's it. And I remember going to technical college, so we call it TAFE over here. So trade school. And I remember the first time I walked into a classroom, all the boys were chatting and laughing and I just step in and it just went dead silent-

Melissa Petersmann:

Dead silent.

Louise Azzopardi:

I could hear a pin drop. And everyone's just looking at me and I'm like ... the way that they look at you, it's very animalistic kind of thing. And you're like, don't look at me. Stop it.

Melissa Petersmann:

So my experiences, it happened in school a little bit, but every new shop I worked at, everybody was scared to death of me for at least two weeks, at least because they're like, I don't want to say anything wrong. I don't want to look at her wrong. They would literally force themselves to not look at me, even if it would've been just the natural direction they're looking to look around the shop, check out what other people are doing. They forced themselves not to because they didn't want to get sent to HR. So they're super careful and overly like, don't say anything, don't look at her, don't touch her, pretend she doesn't exist. And then they realized that my mouth is worse than theirs and it's pretty hard to offend me. And then we're fine and then we're fine. But the first week and a half at least, is like everybody's like, like you said, is so silent, you can hear a pin drop and everybody's scared to say anything 'cause they don't want to offend you. At least that's my experience.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. And I think that isolation sometimes it's really ... it's not fun being isolated like that sometimes, especially if you're like, oh, nervous of being in a new area. And especially the girls that I talk to because now I mentor and I life coach trades women predominantly, but trades people as well. And as a young girl coming into industry as an apprentice so you're learning on the job, that isolation, it affects you more than just socially because as an apprentice you got to learn off other technicians and if they're scared of you, it really puts a barrier in your learning opportunities as well.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Oh yeah, I agree. I agree. I kind of like the first couple shops I worked in, I was a little offended by it, right? I'm like, man, this sucks. And this is shitty. Like you said, it is, it's an isolation because a shop is like a big daycare is how I like to explain it. It's a bunch of kids playing with toys and machinery and tools and we all have to get along like a daycare. And if you're not kind of in that, we can have fun and joke around and be friends kind of thing with that group of boys or that group of whoever. Honestly, I've only ever worked with one other female mechanic in my time. So usually the group of guys, it's kind of sucky.

And then I finally after ... because I didn't really have an apprenticeship, I went to trade school. They do it a little bit differently here. I wish they did it like that, like you. I wish they did that, but they don't do that here really. I went to trade school so I immediately skipped over the apprenticeship thing and I started as a level one. And so in the first two shops I worked in, that happened. And then the last couple that I worked in, it still happened, but I kind of walked in there with the confidence thing because at that point I'd been ... at the time I had transferred, I didn't quit, I just transferred to a different shop for the third shop so I could work on ag and construction. It wasn't like I hated my job or whatever. It was just I wanted to work on other pieces of equipment and I thought it would be skyrocketing for my career.

So I start in this shop and at this point I have finally reached my level in the career where I'm pretty confident. I'm pretty confident in my abilities, I'm confident in what I can do, I'm confident that I can get along with people. And it took them two days to warm up to me. And what I realized pretty shortly is, not only does it have a lot to do with the group of guys that you're with because everyone is different, but it also has a lot to do with the energy that you give off. And guys don't necessarily have to worry about this because they're guys, but with girls you kind of have to approach it in a confidence level and it doesn't actually fucking matter how experienced you are or how good you are. If you approach into a shop and you're shy and you're timid and you don't have your confidence and you're not making jokes immediately and getting into this shit, then like exactly what you said, they're going to kind of alienate you for a little bit and they're going to be scared to talk to you and scared to look at you. But it took me four years to figure that out. So it was-

Louise Azzopardi:

[inaudible 00:12:57] was the same as me. I did that. I was like, oh, I'm shy and nervous. And when you come in and you're nervous, then when they're a little bit nervous then it's just more nervousness. But when you come in with that confidence, then it's like their nervous is calmed down kind of thing because it's brought you in. But I had become a trade teacher so I was teaching at a technical college actually for WesTrac, which is our Caterpillar dealer in our state. I was teaching for them. And you would have a group of guys for one or two days, so you didn't have that two day warmup period. You needed to do it in the first five minutes, otherwise you wouldn't be able to teach them. And I learned pretty quickly that if I started swearing straight off the bat, then that brought them down straight away. Swearing and a bit of technical and a bit of like, oh yeah, what are you guys been doing on site? Oh yeah, that sounds cool. I did this job once blah blah blah. Yeah, just a bit of that brought those walls down straight away.

Melissa Petersmann:

The F bomb is a great wall breaker.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, that's it. You can almost see them physically relax.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Well, and that's obviously, I know that there is negative sexism in the industry. I know that there is. I've not necessarily experienced that personally, but I know it's there. But what a lot of young women are scared of is walking into a shop and being looked down upon and being like, you're not good enough to be here because you're a woman and blah, blah blah, blah. And the reality is, at least from my experience, the reality is most of the time these men want you to be there. They're supportive, they want you to be there, they want to teach you, they want to see you succeed, your bosses want to see you succeed, but they are scared.

They are not alienating you because they hate you. They are not alienating you because they don't like you. They do it because they're literally fucking scared to get sent to HR or offend you because they don't want to offend you. They don't want to hurt your feelings. They don't want to see you mad or see you hurt or whatever. So they try really, really, really hard to make it the best environment they can. Which in guys' brains is don't talk to her, don't look at her.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. And I think everyone's a bit different with that because then they have their way of being nice. And a lot of the times it does come off like, oh yeah, they're not talking, but they just really don't know what to do. And sometimes almost ...they really just don't-

Melissa Petersmann:

True. That's true.

Louise Azzopardi:

'Cause guys, it's almost like if we touch in that space of hypermasculinity or toxic masculinity, whatever you want to call it, a lot of guys are taught either, a woman is their mom or sister or someone that they're trying to get in with. And then they're like, how do I work with a woman? No one's ever taught me in my whole life how to work with a woman. So it's a whole new concept that they're learning that in their mind they're like, oh, it's a girl. She's not my mom, my sister, and I'm not trying to get with her. I don't have a program for this.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Yeah.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. So, they're learning too-

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, they don't want to be nasty. Most of the men in the industry don't want to be crude and nasty towards you. They might be crude and nasty to the dude next to them for sure, but they're probably not going to do it to you.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. I've had a few, I would say maybe 95% amazing experiences, 5% not so amazing. But the thing is, your body fixates on the negative experiences 'cause it's going to try and protect you from that. I had this old Russian guy come up to me, and look me dead in the eye and was like, "you don't belong here. I wouldn't let my wife do this. I wouldn't let my daughters do this." And it was really funny because that happened pretty early on in my career. I think I was like 17, I don't think I was 18 yet. And I went to this other workshop to do diffs and gearboxes because at our workshop we just did engines. So I went there for a few weeks and this guy that I was working with, he sent me to get some tools and I happened to walk past this Russian guy and then he pulled me up and he was lecturing me.

And the guy that I was working with was like, "is Louise okay? Did she get lost? Why isn't she back yet?" So he'd come over and this guy was lecturing me and I was kind of like ... it was before I'd had all the comebacks and the confidence so I'm just standing there. And then this guy comes up behind me, he's known me for two days and he's like, "dude, pull your head in. I've been working with her for two days and she's better than half the guys here. Lay off her." And it just was like, yeah, other guys in the industry have your back. There might be a few that aren't that great, but the majority of them really have your back.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. I had a, recently actually in the very last shop I worked at, I had a ... well, I've had two experiences. The first experience was in the very first shop. That very first shop I worked at where the customers would stare at me and shit like that. I had my lead tech at the time walk into the office and he is like six foot two, mechanic muscles dude, who actually ended up being my boss boss seven years down the road, five years down the road, which is kind of cool. But he walked into that office and he was like, you guys need to fucking stop staring at her or I'm going to fucking kick you out myself. I'm fucking over this. Get the fuck out. And he was a little protective of he didn't like it. He didn't appreciate that.

And the second experience ... well there's like a lot, but the second main experience was a truck driver. Like I said, it's almost never the guys in the shop that I've had an issue with, the truck driver came to pick ... he was dropping off a combine, I think it was a combine. And we had to do a whole bunch of redneck... You've always got to do redneck shit to get combines off of trailers because they're blocked up with the stupid wood blocks and they don't have tires on them. They don't ship them with tires. That's cool. So it's this whole experience where you have to pick up the combine one end at a time and put the tires on because obviously the truck doesn't raise it tall enough for that. So anyway, this guy's out there and he's looking at me and he's watching at me and he's looking at me and he tells me he is like, "you are a mechanic?"

And he was Russian, straight Russian actually. Straight up Russian dude. And he was really weirded out by it. But then he was also hitting on me at the same time and I'm like, shut that shit down immediately. And I guess he told one of the guys later on, he told one of the guys, he's like, "she shouldn't be doing this. She should be on a pole," is what they told him. And then he goes on to say, he's like, "I think I'm going to get her number." And the guy I guess looked straight at him and he is like, "yeah, good luck with that buddy. I'd love to see you fucking try because that is not a girl you want to fuck with." But that was the joke of the shop forever, because he said that. And two or three of the guys that heard it started busting out laughing like, "are you serious or is this a joke? 'Cause if you're serious, you might want to think again because she's going to beat you with a fucking hammer. Good luck with that buddy."

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, I think it's just like, the customers and the people who see you one off. We talked about the boys in the shop generally have that warmup period to you. But when you think about it, customers and all that kind of stuff, they see you and they're in that warmup period and they have the weirdest reactions. The guys are just like, oh, you're a mechanic. And some of them are like, oh that's so hot. And you're like, please stop. I'm doing my job.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh yeah, I've heard that before. Yeah. It's like, how is this hot?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

It's a job.

Louise Azzopardi:

When I had reached my confidence point and I was teaching, I had my regular apprentices come in and one of the guys that I had become friends with, he said to me, he is like, "does it feel uncomfortable when all the boys are staring at you?" I'm not too much in the chest, but I have a curvy butt and I know that it gets stared at a lot. Let's just go there.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. I've had my butt stared at a lot too, but it's kind of whatever. If you were an office lady in an office and you had a nice butt, guess what? The guys in the office are probably going to look at it, right? Girls look at it. We look at each other's ass, right?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yes. But my mate was like, "doesn't it feel weird having 14 or 15 guys just staring at you all day?" And I said to him, I said, "I've got more options to look at than you do. 'Cause I've just got me." And he was like, "what?" Having it reversed. He just freaked out. He's like, "what do you mean?" I'm like, "look at all my options."

Melissa Petersmann:

Right, right. Render the men speechless with your comebacks. And they're like, "fuck, I didn't think of that. Damn it."

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, no, I had this lady come to site and she was going to chat to me about doing some career opportunities for local schools or something. And we walk into the cafeteria because it was a pretty big site. There was seven or eight fully functioning independent workshops on this site and we had a cafeteria. So I walk in and she grabs my arm and I'm like, "what's wrong?" And she's like, "there are so many men." And I'm like, "yes."

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, yeah.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yep.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well yeah, obviously. Clearly.

Louise Azzopardi:

Clearly. Oh my god, just a little... I think we have the negative experiences, but there's so many things that now we can just laugh at or that are just ... they're just like, that happened. In winter, you're all rugged up with your big jumpers and your beanies and stuff. And I had this guy come up to me and he got right in my face. And he was like, "are you a girl?" And I was like, "yeah, last time I checked, yeah. Yep."

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, I'm pretty sure. I mean I think so.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, I'll just take a look.

Melissa Petersmann:

That's awesome.

Louise Azzopardi:

[inaudible 00:23:40].

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, it is, because sometimes the guys you meet, like you said, it's not usually the guys in the shop, but the other random guys you meet in the industry, they just blurt out the ... because men have no filter, so they just blurt out the first thing that comes to their mind and then they're like, fuck, should I have said that? And you're over there like, should I embarrass him and laugh out loud? Yes.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yes.

Melissa Petersmann:

Definitely.

Louise Azzopardi:

Oh God.

Melissa Petersmann:

I'm going to make his face turn red. And then he is probably going to maybe rethink about maybe using that filter that he's supposed to have before he opens his mouth with me.

Louise Azzopardi:

I had this another instance where the boys at this shop, they were starting to pants each other, grab each other's pants and pull each other's pants down. And I was working and I bent over-

Melissa Petersmann:

Fucking boys.

Louise Azzopardi:

I know. I'm like, how is this funny? But anyway, I was bent over this truck and I was leaning over the tire doing something. I don't know if I was doing fuel system fold or something. And all I hear is like, "stop! That's Louise!" Someone didn't realize it was me, but someone looking over from another truck and they must have went to pants me. And one of the guys, I just hear them, yell out, "stop! That's Louise!"

Melissa Petersmann:

They're panicked like, no!

Louise Azzopardi:

And they're just like, what? And I'm like, what? What are you doing? Oh, God. Just the things. And I think it's like, it comes ... yeah, go.

Melissa Petersmann:

Have you seen the TikTok on social media where it's this girl all bundled up and it's like the wiser, she uses the audio, do not sell marijuana to my husband. And then it's like, okay. And instead she puts in the text, she's like, do not flirt with my husband. She's like as trades women. And then the wives, do not flirt with my husband at work. And then she has it in this box it's like, when she says, okay. Okay, it has me after I've told her husband to pull his head out of his ass and get to fucking work for the 400th time today. It's like, that is so true because once you reach that confidence level, especially with the younger apprentice kids and shit, you're like, bro, get your fucking shit together. Pull your head out of your ass and get the fuck to work.

And it's so funny because people have this preconceived notion that women in the industry want to date all the guys they work with and whatever. And it's like, bro, I've just spent the whole day telling every single one of these motherfuckers to get their fucking head out of their ass and get their fucking shit done. I'm a bitch, kind of, sort of. It's funny and I throw jokes in there, but I have never even once considered dating a coworker.

The man I dated for a while, we did work in the same shop a couple of times, but we were dating prior to that. But yeah, I do not condone doing that. And it's never been in my interest, I've always viewed my coworkers as they're my coworkers. They're my teammates in the shop or ... they're on two sides. They're either, they're my teammates and we help each other out and we're friends or I fucking hate them and I don't want to talk to them. I'm going to make their life living fucking hell when I can I'm going to talk a lot of shit. There's two sides to that. So there is not a side for me that says date your coworker. Not a single side, but that's kind of preconceived notions people-

Louise Azzopardi:

People have different opinions. And I've previously ... well, I was working with this guy and then I left and worked at a different shop and then we started dating and then he came and worked at the same shop so we were working together for a bit. But then I've had little one-off like, oh, I could maybe go on a date with this guy. But I think so many girls ... well as an adult, where do you meet people? Generally at work. So there's that kind of layer to it as well. And I've had so many girls go in first date, second date, whatever. And then she's like, oh no, no, I don't want to date you. But they work together so he gets really butt hurt and then makes her life miserable at work.

Melissa Petersmann:

And I've always had a boyfriend though, the guy that I was with previously to the guy I'm with now, I was with him for eight years. So I started dating him before I even entered the industry. I was 16 when I started dating him. So I always had a boyfriend and it was always the serious relationship boyfriend. So I never had ... maybe if I was single, I would've had those experiences, but I personally have never had those. I also have a resting bitch face and people tell me I'm intimidating and unapproachable. So I don't know if that has something to do with it, but I don't-

Louise Azzopardi:

But I think something they're scared of confidence as well. Even just coming in confident, it puts them off.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well the guys that are going to be pussies about it and get mad because you turn them down, are not the guys that are going to go after the confident girl that's for sure.

Louise Azzopardi:

No, that's it. But everyone has different experiences, like you said. You haven't experienced that. I've experienced a version of that, but I've had girls straight up ... one of my girls that I'm working with right now that I'm mentoring, she did her week of work experience, so her free work trial. And one of the guys asked her out from the shop on that work trial and she said no. Then she started working a month or two later at the business. So she applied for the job, got the job there, and he made her life a living hell from day one. Just stupid things like, blocking her truck in so she couldn't take it to the wash bay, distracting the supervisor when she was trying to talk to him, all that kind of stuff. And that was her first entry even before she officially entered the industry. That was her experience. And I was like-

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, that's sad.

Louise Azzopardi:

This is shit. They get so butt hurt in their ego.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, like I said, I've always told women, don't date people in the shop you're working because the last thing you want is for anybody to take away from your success and be like, it's because you're dating so-and-so, or it's because you're sleeping with so-and-so, or it's because of this or that. And I took my career ... and like I said, my opinion might be a little biased because I had a boyfriend all the way through my entire career. But to me, I was super worried and anal about I want to be taken seriously. I want to be the top of the shop. I want to earn my shit. I don't want to be handed anything because I'm a girl. I don't want to be handed anything. I want to earn my shit. I want to earn it just the same as the guys earn it.

And that mentality kind of evolved into my theory of if I were single, I would still not date a coworker because I mean I don't condone that in any industry, but that's something I always tell girls is, I know you're around a bunch of guys and if you're single or whatever, it can be hard to not have feelings for one of them. I could see that. I could see why you feel that way, but don't date your coworker. That's my personal opinion. I do think it's different if you leave a shop and then date someone from your previous shop and then they come and work with you. I think that's different. That's completely different than ... the last thing you want is ...because guys suck. A girl sleeps with one guy and she's a whore but a guy can sleep with eight girls and he's a champion.

When I went to WyoTech I pretended I was married to the guy I was with, which was the same dude I was with for eight years. So I pretended I was married, I wore a ring and everything. And I actually got called a Mormon because I didn't sleep with anybody in school. It's like, guys, I'm in a fucking long-term relationship. I'm pretending I'm married. Why would I fucking sleep with anybody here? But they just thought it was so weird and they called me Mormon. It's like, what? So I'd be a whore if I did sleep with one of you, but now I'm Mormon. And I'm not even religious so whatever. But that's guys for you. But you know what, you can always tell the aura of a shop. There's some shops that have a lot more mature personalities in it. And that's what I prefer is the mature personalities. The men that are not 17 years old, 18 years old, ugh. I cannot handle guys in their early twenties or younger.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. They're kind of going through that phase where it's just like, let's try every option out there. Let's attempt to try every option out there. But it's like, it's that double standards as well. And then like you're saying, you can't win. You do or you don't, they're going to say something.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, that's why I just push to earn my respect through my work and through showing up and being a good employee and I just leave it at that. I'm pretty good at letting shit roll off my shoulders. I've been pretty good at that. I had a rough high school where people hated me and shit like that. So I learned pretty early on how to not give a fuck what people think except for the people that actually mattered, which is the person signing your paycheck.

Louise Azzopardi:

That's it. [inaudible 00:33:26]-

Melissa Petersmann:

And even then, if you don't respect me, I don't care if you sign my paycheck, you're going to fucking hear about it.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. Then it comes into legally, things like that. And I think from the distance, because we've been connected on social media for so long, it's good to hear that you've had a really good experience on the tools because I know people say a lot of shit in your comments on your posts, because I read them and I'm like, people are awful. What the hell?

Melissa Petersmann:

That's keyboard warriors. These people would never have the balls to say anything to my fucking face? And that's something that you said you wanted to cover. So let's kind of dive into the social media side of it. So yeah, let's dive head first into that.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, that's it. So a lot of my content on social media is tips and tricks for trades women in the industry, overcoming all the things that we've talked about, navigating these situations, building confidence, all that kind of stuff. So I don't really put too much on of me working, but it gives me so much anxiety to record me working on a machine and then putting it up because people ... you think like, oh, someone's going to attack me for not having my safety glasses on. Someone's going to attack me-

Melissa Petersmann:

The safety glass Nazis. Oh my god, those drive me crazy.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. And then it's just like, oh, you're wearing gloves or you're a pussy. Oh, you should have gloves on or you've got your ring on, you've got a jewelry, you've got your hair out.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Your hair is too long.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. I'm like, my thing because ... Are you connected with Mini Truck Mommy?

Melissa Petersmann:

Maybe. I don't know.

Louise Azzopardi:

Maybe. Yeah, she has the full extensions and everything and she has her own garage shop and she gets a lot of shit-

Melissa Petersmann:

That girl with the pink hair?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, pink or purple hair.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, she's actually in Indiana I think. Right?

Louise Azzopardi:

Oh nice, yeah. [inaudible 00:35:19] all over in America and I'm just like, I have no concept of where anything is over there.

Melissa Petersmann:

I think she lives very close to me, I think, but she does not follow me so I can't connect with her but-

Louise Azzopardi:

[inaudible 00:35:36].

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, I've seen a lot of her shit and a lot of people talk shit 'cause she wears eyeliner and ... I had extensions, the hair extensions and nails. I personally, even if I don't work in the industry, I can't do shit with nails. My nails break. I just can't maintain nails. I've never been able to. But I had hair extensions, I had blonde hair extensions down to my ass for years and it didn't affect my work. I've worn makeup every single day pretty much to work, almost every single day. And the days I did not wear makeup were the days I had eyelash extensions.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. And I think it's just like that ... it doesn't affect in anyway. Because if I wear eyeliner-

Melissa Petersmann:

No, doesn't affect my IQ.

Louise Azzopardi:

I know. If I wear eyeliner and work and I sweat, my eyes swell up. So I don't wear eyeliner because of that. But we actually did a thing for some schools and getting women into trade and one of the questions that girls asked is, can I wear makeup? And it's like, it's not a rule. It's a comfort thing. You can wear makeup if you want to. You can have your nails done like me, I've got my nails done pretty much, they're long because I moved house and I couldn't find my nail clippers, let's be honest, but I have my nails short. But I know girls that have the acrylic nails on and they use them like a flat blade screwdriver. Everyone's different. And as long as you can do your job, it doesn't matter if you've got makeup on, nails on. For me it's like are you safe? Okay, you have hair extensions, but are they at risk at getting ripped out? If not, then do whatever you want.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Can you do your job efficiently, in a timely manner and do it well? And like you said, safety. And that's like people would always get on me because my hair and what people didn't see is when I actually work on stuff, all they see, like you said, all they see is a social media post, but there's certain things, if I'm on a creeper, my hair was long enough, I twisted it and tucked it underneath my bra strap. That's a safest fucking place for it. All my hair is in my shirt or it's in a bun. Obviously I spent $5,000 on my freaking hair, I'm not going to fucking burn it off. I'm not getting stuck in a creeper. We're not stupid. And yeah, for me, makeup's always been a confidence thing. I feel confident when I wear makeup, I feel more confident, therefore I work better and more power to the girls that don't care and don't want to wear makeup, go for it. It doesn't fucking bother me any, just don't come at me for wearing makeup.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. And I think now that we're in the confidence side and we've gone through all of our discovery phase, for all the girls that are in their discovery phase, literally if a guy is commenting on whether you do or don't wear makeup, in my mind now, what I tell girls as well is they literally have nothing better to talk about other than if you are not wearing makeup or if you are wearing makeup, how shallow is that?

Melissa Petersmann:

And just keyboard warriors too. I've never once had anybody ... my hair is a fucking disaster. I've never once had anybody actually in the industry that I worked with comment on what I looked like or I'm wearing makeup or anything like that. It's always the freaking keyboard warriors and it's like, whatever.

And honestly, I've gotten more hate from women about the makeup thing than guys. Women are freaking brutal. And most of the time it's not even women that are in the industry. So they're like, you're just sexualizing it and you're just wearing makeup for attention and you just get dolled up to work on stuff for attention and for views. I had somebody with the audacity tell me that I wear makeup and get dressed up to work on things for views. It's like you realize that ten second video took up five minutes of my day in 10 hours and you think I did it for the views. Okay, whatever. At that point you just be like, whatever. But she's a woman that worked in the industry. I think she failed out somehow. I don't know.

But what I learned is that people that are good mechanics that are confident in themselves and confident in their work, man or woman, don't fucking judge you for what you do. It's the people that suck at their jobs or have problems or are not confident in their work that have to tear other people down. It's the same thing with the fitness industry. You're never going to get shit on by somebody that's in shape or somebody that works out really hard. You're never going to get shit on by those people. You're only going to get shit on by the people that are jealous of your progress. And social media's toxic as shit, but unfortunately it's a necessity for most people.

Louise Azzopardi:

That's it. And it's really opened up the community of trades women for me, like you said, on site, you're usually the only girl there. So when you start exploring social media, you can connect with other women that are in trades and mechanics and that kind of thing. So I really try and focus on the good side and I really ... I worked with a coach for ... well, I still am working for a coach, but I got a bit butt hurt by a few things that girls have said. Girls have said things like, oh why would you be mentoring women with that opinion? You shouldn't be doing that. And I'm like, rightio. And that really cut deep at that time and my coach was like, just block her and delete her. You don't have to ... just block and delete. You can do that. As much as [inaudible 00:41:36]-

Melissa Petersmann:

If you have people doing that to you, you're doing something right.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, that's it. And putting it out there, it's your choice to put things on social media so you can get the backlash. But really, like you said, the cable bar is the people who say shit to you, they either don't matter, they're sad, pathetic, they're upset with their own lives, they want to bring you down. The people who give you shit, usually their opinions don't actually matter in your career if you ... because I know a lot of girls are like, oh, if this person doesn't like me, then is it going to affect my progress in the shop? And it's like, no. Are they your supervisor, manager or do you actually respect them technically at all? If none of those things, they don't actually matter.

Melissa Petersmann:

I worked with a couple guys that hated me. I worked with an older gentleman that ... well, I don't want to call him a gentleman because he was one of the most gross men I've ever met. I don't like to judge people physically but this man was disgusting. But it was unprofessional, right? There's a level to where you need to be professional and sort of a clean person, like showering, not like not getting dirty at work, take a shower at least once a week would be nice kind of thing.

But this guy was not very good at his job. And that was the problem with this man, because I came in and this was the second shop I worked in and it was an ag only shop, but they had construction equipment that came in too every now and then because there was no John Deere construction presence in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the time. And I got along great with my boss. I got along great with the store manager, got along great with a lot of the technicians. I actually helped train a couple of the other technicians that wanted to move from the lawn mower side to the heavy equipment side.

But this particular person was always shitty at me. And he was shitty because I had experience in construction two years at that point, almost three. And the boss started giving me all the construction work, all of it, and not the other guy. And then he got pissed off at me and he was constantly being shitty at me. He would do things like he wouldn't put the boom lock up, so the boom would drift down and crush on the cab. He did that one time on a skid steer. He screwed up a backhoe transmission, majorly screwed it up. So he was like ... everybody fucks up but this guy was fucking up everything he touched and he was misdiagnosing everything and he was just not a great mechanic and he hated me. I also had another mechanic in a couple of other shops that have disliked me. But like you said, if ... this is going to sound really bad, but if they're not feeding you, fucking you or financing you, their opinion does not fucking matter. And even then, those people are kind of borderline if their opinion matters or not.

Louise Azzopardi:

Even though their opinion matters, you can choose who those people are. You can change workshops, you can change workplaces, you can dump partners. All those things are interchangeable as well. But yeah, it's your choice. I had a manager tell me once, he's like, do you ... a manager above him gave me some feedback and I was not happy with it. And my manager was like, "do you respect him? Do you want to be like him?" And I'm like, "no." And he's like, "don't take that feedback on board." If he doesn't have anything you want, then just ride that feedback off totally and don't even listen to it.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep.

Louise Azzopardi:

That's it.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, I feel that. Well, and that's what people ... like you said, you can change shops. And that's what I always tell girls is like, don't fucking worry about sexism or about getting treated shitty because in this industry, in this point in time, right now, you can have a job at another shop yesterday. There is no reason you have to stay anywhere because every shop is going to invest in training. Every shop is going to invest in teaching you. Every shop is going to give you hours because they are so desperate for mechanics. So it doesn't even matter what you did at the previous job or what other people have done to you. Somebody's going to hire you and give you a chance. So it's not worth putting up with bullshit. It is not.

Louise Azzopardi:

And each shop is so different. I know a lot of girls who do one or two shops and they have a bad run and they're like, oh, the industry. I'm like, no, no, no. You just haven't found your shop yet. And that is totally fine. That's what happens to the boys as well. Some people you just don't mesh with some people. Some workshops, like you said before, you can go in and you can feel the vibe. And sometimes places just feel awful. Get out of there straight away if that happens. But it's fine, you'll walk into the shop that feels amazing and you'll feel great every day that you come there and you'll be respected. You'll find that shop.

Melissa Petersmann:

I agree. I agree completely.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yes. We've been [inaudible 00:46:51]-

Melissa Petersmann:

So what's kind of been-

Louise Azzopardi:

For almost an hour.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yes.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yes.

Melissa Petersmann:

So you do life coaching for women in the trades?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yes.

Melissa Petersmann:

So what exactly ... do they pay you or do you take them in one-on-one? Like how does that work?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, so I do one-on-one mentoring coaching with trades women. So the girls can either purchase it directly off me, businesses can purchase it for their girls. So if a business is taking on their first trades woman into the industry and they want to support her. And then I do a scholarship as well where businesses that want to support trades women in an industry in total, they can do a scholarship program and the girls can get the coaching from me for free. So pretty much what I do in the coaching is all these lessons and the confidence that we built up over seven, eight years in the industry, it's almost like a fast track to that confidence kind of thing. I want to get them that confidence and those skills pretty much straight off the bat so they don't have to go through all the crap that we went through.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. You've given them the mental tools to succeed faster than we did.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, that's it.

Melissa Petersmann:

I like that. That's cool. That's really cool. I wish I would've thought of that. That's awesome.

Louise Azzopardi:

You still can. There's so many people out there that need help. I think in the industry of supporting others, there's always going to be work for that.

Melissa Petersmann:

I never thought about making it as a means of making money though, which is very interesting because I see it all the time. I have over a million followers between all of my platforms, and I get messages from young women all the time that either go into message requests and I never see them. Or if I do see them, it's like four weeks old or I just don't have time to respond to all of them. But you've managed to make a way to where it's like, this is what I do. I seek these women out or they seek me out. I can help them. And it's a means of making a living from it. And that's a pretty smart way to do that because there are a lot of women that are looking for a mentor or help or advice or somebody that has been in their situation to listen to them, right?

Because they can't just go to the guys and be like, this is horrible. Well, I mean, some guys you can because some guys get it, but for the most part, they want to go to a woman and be like, Hey ... now I've got a young girl that's 17 that was on my first episode, on the second episode on this, and she actually came to see me in person when I worked in Wyoming to talk to me about being in the industry and talk to me about wanting to be a mechanic. And it's awesome because she's a little mini me. She's like a 17-year-old Melissa, only she's got more of the confidence attitude than I had. And I told her, use that. Keep that.

And she's like, I'm worried about fucking up and I'm worried about not being good enough and I'm worried about blah, blah, blah. I'm like, dude, for the first two years you're going to feel like a fucking failure. You're going to fuck up everything you touch. You're going to misdiagnose shit. You're not going to know shit. You're going to feel like you're asking for way too much help all the time. Don't fucking worry about it. Use everything and look at everything as a learning opportunity and way to be better and you'll be fine.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, that's it. I like to say the first year at least, is like being dunked by a wave at the beach. You're just getting hit from all the angles, but then you start to find your feet. And nothing has gone wrong if that's happening.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. And if you're not doing that and you're not fucking shit up and you're not having a hard time, you're either not pushing yourself to try hard enough and challenge yourself or you're lying.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

Right? Because everybody knows the mechanic that's like, well, I never have fucked anything up. It's like, bro, we just caught you fuck something up yesterday. But you won't admit it. Okay. Come on. But if you have that mentality where you're like, I'm just too good and I don't fuck anything up, and I'm just like ... you're never going to learn anything.

Louise Azzopardi:

That's it. You're too busy pretending that you know, to then learn. That's something that I teach all my girls as well. It's like, it's okay not to know, because if you admit that you don't know, then you can learn it.

Melissa Petersmann:

Exactly. I agree completely. I agree completely. There is something to, what I was taught when I first entered this industry is use the resources you have to the best of your ability before you go and ask for help. But don't be scared of asking for help. If you've been sitting there going through the manual and you don't understand, and you're looking at this machine and you've been trying your ideas on how to fix it or get it apart or diagnose it, and you've been sitting there and you're trying, but you are just at a mental fucking roadblock. 'Cause it happens, especially with diagnostics, it happens, right? You dive yourself so far down into this rabbit hole that you are so fucking far away from where you need to be. All it takes sometimes is a second pair of eyes or a second mind to be like, Hey, did you try this? And you're like, fuck, I didn't even think of that.

Louise Azzopardi:

If you go into a void, and then it's like you need someone to pull you out of the troubleshooting void and be like, come on, look at it from a different angle.

Melissa Petersmann:

But you need that. People are there to work as a team. Just don't be the person that doesn't even try to do it themself. Doesn't even try and then walks around the shop... I had a kid, I've said this a couple of times on this podcast. I worked with a kid that ... I call him kid, but he was literally the same age as me. Walk around the shop, he would have a problem and he would not even look at it. And he would walk around the shop and ask everybody the same question. And the person that gave him the answer that was easiest to do or is the most easily given to him is the one he rolled with. Don't be that person. At least try to figure it out and try to do your shit. Use your resources, use your manuals, use that shit. But people in the shop are also a resource.

Louise Azzopardi:

I teach it in three stages. First up, you're straight up asking questions because you have no idea, but then there's a second stage where you can be like, know, but not know. So going to a technician and being like, Hey, I think I should do A, B, and C, and then they're just confirming or denying kind of thing. And then there's the point where you know, know. So it's kind of levels that you can go up, rather than going up to the trady and being like, or the technician being like, oh, this machine's doing this. What do I do? You could go, Hey, this machine's doing this and I think I should do this, this, and this, but I'm not a hundred percent sure. Can you just confirm or deny if I'm on the right path?

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Or point me in the right direction or something.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Because it takes time to learn how to navigate the manuals. It takes time to learn, but also people think like, oh, you have all these resources and manuals and everything right at your fingertips. It's like, dude, it takes forever to get comfortable with where everything is and how ... even in John Deere, agriculture manuals versus the construction manuals, it's like they're two different fucking companies. They're organized differently. It takes time. It fucking takes time to learn how to do all that shit. But I always tell girls, I'm like, don't be fucking scared of asking for help. Because if it's something like pins and bushing, I use this example all the time. You're lining up the pins and the bushings and stuff for, let's say you're installing a coupler on an arm, or you're installing a bucket that doesn't have a coupler, so you're pinning it directly to the arm and the bucket cylinder H-link, you could do that by yourself. It's going to take you the fuck forever.

Or you can spend five minutes on it and ask somebody else in the shop to get in the machine and run it for you. So you can watch and line up the pins and it'll take you five minutes. Because you also got to think it's not just your pride, right? Somebody is paying $130 an hour for you to fucking do this shit. So why would it make sense if for your pride that you sat there and did it yourself and it took you two hours or you had somebody run the machine? They're not doing it for you. Right? They're not doing it for you. All they're doing is helping you running the machine. That makes sense. Do that.

Louise Azzopardi:

But that's it. It's a two-way street. The person that you get to run the machine for you while you're doing it, will probably come the next day and get you to run a machine for them. And I like to-

Melissa Petersmann:

40 year mechanics will ask somebody to run the machine for them while they're running it.

Louise Azzopardi:

A two person job is a two person job, no matter how much experience you have.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Louise Azzopardi:

And another example, a lot of the times the girls are like, we're told that you're not strong enough, blah, blah, blah, blah. I like to use the example that when I first started my apprenticeship and my trade, there was a whole heap of bodybuilders that worked there, and they looked like clouds. They were big guys. And they would ask me for help as much as I would ask them. We would job swap. They were like-

Melissa Petersmann:

You're small.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah, you're small can you please get into this space? And I'm like, awesome. I've got this thing that I need to lift in that's going to squish me. Can you lift it? And I'll go in that small space. It works both ways.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. Well, being small has a lot of advantages too. Like you said. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to stick my arm through somewhere to try and get an electrical connector off, or I've been shoved out the fucking auger tubes of a fucking combine 'cause I can fit there and hold the motor up. But like you said, then when you need to break something loose, the dude that can squat 700 pounds and bench like 400 can come over and break it loose for you. Sometimes you're like, fuck, I have my whole body weight on that and you just broke it loose in five seconds, but it's whatever you'll ask me for help or something else later. Or impacts, cranes, impacts, be smarter. I've done a lot of jobs with a pry bar and ratchet straps that a guy could probably just do. One of the strong guys could probably just do but-

Louise Azzopardi:

But you can do it.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, you just got to be resourceful.

Louise Azzopardi:

I had a job, I was holding a breaker bar on a diff nut, on a pinion nut once, and my boss was outside and he was stepping on the breaker bar. And when sometimes something's super tight, it breaks loose and it makes a big cracking noise. So we were doing this and then there was this big cracking noise and my boss was like, "oh, did the nut break loose?" And the head of the breaker bar, it was a three-quarter breaker bar, just snapped. And I was like, "no, that was not the nut, it was the breaker bar." And he's like, "okay, I think we need to take this to someone and we can't do it ourselves." And I'm like, "yeah, Someone who has a bigger rattle gun than we do."

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, and you got like shit even at the dealerships that I've worked at, I worked at a dealership that was also a Grove crane dealership. And how they got those piston nuts off on those long crane cylinders was a fucking monkey wrench and a mini excavator. They would literally use a fucking machine. But it's all about being resourceful. You use the tools you have, right? You're a girl. You're not going to be able to ... it's actually stupid even for guys sometimes to sit there and if you're beating something with a hammer and it's not moving, stop beating it with a hammer. Right? Figure out something to make this easier.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah. When you're one hour into a one-minute job, then something's gone wrong.

Melissa Petersmann:

It happens though, right?

Louise Azzopardi:

It happens. It happens on the weekend. There's this nut that seized on my dad's tractor and my dad was like, "what's taking you so long?" I'm like, "this should have been off ages ago."

Melissa Petersmann:

Right, right?

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

Or it's like exhaust work.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

Like EGR coolers, EGR tubes, fucking the manifolds, turbos. Every single bolt you touch, you pray to the mechanic gods as you're loosening it, that it actually just loosens and it doesn't just break.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yeah.

Melissa Petersmann:

Because that happens a lot.

Louise Azzopardi:

Yes.

Melissa Petersmann:

So if people want to ... since we're wrapping this up, if people want to get ahold of you or connect with you, what are your social medias that people can find you at?

Louise Azzopardi:

So I've got my Instagram, which is Louise Azzopardi coaching. So my full name and coaching. You can just friend me on Facebook, Louise Azzopardi. I'm on LinkedIn as well. It's just my name. And I've actually got a Facebook community for trades women and supporters of trades women as well. And it's called Tradeswomen Owning Their Power! And you can post anonymously in there. There's like heaps of tips and tricks in there. And it's a really supportive community as well.

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