All of the Business Journals around the company held a “speed-mentorship” program on Monday April 7. I was in attendance (and now front in center on the Orlando Business Journal’s article about it, yikes! Picture below and article/picture here.)
I decided to take a strategic approach to whom I was going to visit with. We only had between 5 and 7 chances to sit with extraordinary women and I didn’t want a moment to be wasted. I reviewed all of the bios of the women and made a hot list of ten. This way, if someone’s table was full one round, I could quickly move onto the next.
I also wanted to make sure I had a question that I could use to help better myself (and also make a good blog post), so I decided to ask each woman, “You are now a business leader. What books did you read or tools did you use to help you become a better manager of people and your business?”
And I got some GREAT answers!
She’s had her company for 25 years, but in the beginning she relied on people she admired in the community and looked to women leaders already established in order to find good mentors. She also said to rely on your core competency and look to other to help where you are not strong (she was referencing using social media for PR purposes). And, she said, as a business owner or freelancer, you have to remember that not all business is good business. There are some clients that are too much of time sucks that prevent you from doing your best for your other clients.
Mrs. Decker is the head of new business development for IDEAS so her answers were based on how she maintains leadership in gathering new clients. She said that she loved Seth Godin’s “Linchpin,” Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point,” and that she used to read Forbes and target companies’ annual reports to gain insight. Now she surfs the web for the same kind of information. She also mentioned that her biggest lesson learned was that when you pitch anything to a client, you have to remember to focus the pitch on the client, not yourself. If all you do is talk about yourself, the client will get the feeling that you don’t understand their needs, or at least be able to not make the connection that you do.
She really leaned on the learnings of Steven Covey (a personal favorite of mine) and Anthony Robbins. They helped lay the groundwork for how she managed her business. She mentioned that balance is very important to being a leader, because if you’re not in balance, your leadership will be poorly executed. She also says to always live authentically. Sometimes you have to walk away from business when your light isn’t shining through (I know the feeling on that one).
I already downloaded from Audible her first recommendation – “The Art of War.” Mrs. Brady is a PR professional who specializes in crisis and reputation management and said that the teachings of Sun Tzu are applicable to every aspect of her work. She also recommended Everyday Greatness and to sign up for Totally Unique Thoughts for a mood pepper-upper (I’ve been a subscriber since 2006!).
Mrs. Canning is the Executive Director of the convention center. Busy, busy lady. She said to use your time up front to get the degrees and credentials you need to back up your resume and to attend networking programs like this one in order to find those mentors, because you’ll find more practical knowledge from them than you will in a book.
I then ran out of time to meet anyone else! However, I was able to lock down a few moments after the event with one last lady on my list.
Mrs. Cisneros is the so-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, a company that specializes in website design, SEO, social media marketing and content marketing. She admitted to me that in order to find time to read, she gets up super early in the morning and goes straight to her Feedly account. She focuses on relevant articles from the day from magazines like Fast Company, Inc, and Entrepreneurship. So as soon as I got back to my office I started an account and subscribed to those feeds. Gold mine! I found an article from each of them that same day that were highly applicable, motivating, and thought provoking.
That was the most valuable two hours of my week last week. I’ll be able to take all of the information given to me and chew on it for months. Yum….
Laughing it up at the start of the event…