Part one of our three-part series from women in traditionally male-dominated industries focused on the need to be authentically you. As a woman business leader, this can often mean being upfront about the fact that you are not a single entity, but often hold multiple roles as a wife, partner, mother, sister, friend and more. Once that solid foundation of truth is built, jumping in head first comes next.
These tips came from an incredible lineup of women business leaders who spoke at the 2020 Industrious Women’s Summit (IWS), created by Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest.
Take the leap of faith
The incredible energy of IWS 2020 keynote speaker Tania Katan, CEO of Creative Trespassing was infectious. In true woman business leader fashion, she challenged us to look at our world when we are confronted with obstacles. Rather than seeing a roadblock, see a creative opportunity. “Our job isn’t to sit with what we are comfortable with, but take on necessary challenges,” Tania proclaimed. “When you work in a field that isn’t uniquely creative, it’s your job to bring that creativity. To use your imagination to solve problems.” Katan voiced that, “When we dare to challenge the status quo, we will get pushback. But that’s how you know when you’re on the right path.
“Constraints are a gift. Constraints are the rocket fuel for creativity. Use that to leverage wonderful new ideas.” Push fear to the side and take a leap of faith.
Make yourself stand out
Amp up your social media platforms. “Entrepreneurs still believe LinkedIn is going to drop opportunities out of the sky. Not true,” stated Brenda M. Cunningham, Career Manager & CEO of PUSH Career Management, LLC. “Does your page truly represent you? Are you keeping your skills up-to-date? Are you using plain language? For example, most people will not search for a marketing ninja or an online business manager.
Sometimes we get too creative or use terminology only familiar to us and our industry. Remember, most people search using generic terms like web designer, bookkeeper, or virtual assistant. Keep these things in mind when creating your page. Keep it simple and be real.”
Escape from Zoom doom
The increased “connection” we’ve been able to achieve in a world only separated by a zoom call has actually proved advantages in many ways. But how do we escape the Zoom doom trap of unengaged, blank stares, and virtual meetings? Abby Wilkymacky, Founder & Facilitator of Mindflower Studio, walked through her session about creatively engaging in a remote world using beautiful visuals through a program called ProCreate. It interactively moved, allowed her to draw, write, and mold the conversation into a live graphic recording.
One of her top tips was to make a meeting visual whenever possible. Wilkymacky suggested numerous ways to encourage interaction, from using the chat feature, umuting with smaller groups, having icebreakers, questions to music, or warm-up activities.
She also cautioned us to go into the meeting knowing its purpose by having an agenda, inviting only those who need to be in attendance, and shooting for outcomes. “Are we brainstorming or collaborating? Getting information, feedback, or are we here for open dialogue?” Wilkymacky asked us. “What do you want to walk away with?” Know your plan, know your goals and knock it out of the park. No one ever wants to be thinking at the end of a meeting…could have this have been an email?
Turn your differences into strengths
Entrepreneurs may find themselves chasing the elusive idea of who they must be and all the things they should do. The idealization, sometimes out of necessity or egotism, can lead one to be “Good at everything, but great at nothing.” This is a trap that business owners don’t want to fall into. Kim Watson, PhD, PMP and President of Corporate Alliance, encouraged attendees to look for their superpower — what they can be great at. “If you only focus on being organized, you may stifle creativity. If you are always being an initiator, you exhaust others with your nervous, unfocused energy.
“Visionaries who only look forward, devalue learned lessons in the past. Creating strategies but never implementation will result in paralysis by analysis. Innovation at all costs will cause a business to suffer from the effects of change for change’s sake,” explained Watson. “However, understanding how each individual is wired is the first step. Recognize where strength can become a weakness and where a glaring weakness might actually be a strength, in a different culture or context.”