Inspirational Women In Technology Part Two
In my last post, I shared the stories of Julie Simpson, Gavriella Schuster and Sarah Gray, 3 of 5 women who were spotlighted at the Women In Technology luncheon I attended in July. Their insights provided me so much perspective on ambition and success that I felt compelled to share my discoveries.
The last two inspiring women that spoke at the WIT luncheon are:
Here are my notes from the final two speakers:
Jo Burston – Founder and Managing Director, Job Capital and Rare Birds
Jo Burston is fierce. I mean that in the best possible way. One look at this woman you just know, absolutely nothing will stand in her way.
Jo talked about what she called the 2 faces of ambition, The Hungry Ghost and Fuelled by Passion.
When we are driven by the Hungry Ghost face of ambition, we are always chasing – the next accomplishment, the next level, the next success, the next whatever. You are never satisfied and whatever you achieve, it is never enough.
Jo talked about how she achieved significant success, quite quickly, when she was driven by the Hungry Ghost. She said she walked over and through a lot of people to achieve that success and implied that at some point, it took a toll on her.
The other face of ambition is the Fuelled by Passion face. When we’re being led by this face of ambition, it pulls us. It fuels us and guides us. It takes us to where we are meant to be. Jo’s passion woke up, came into focus and fuelled her as she began to realise she was almost always the only female entrepreneur on the stage accepting awards (she has been hugely successful and had lots of awards).
This got her wondering why. She went back to her old school (elementary and high school, she didn’t go to university) and asked girls between 8 and 18 about entrepreneurship and their futures. When she asked them directly what an entrepreneur was, they said, “A man.”
Jo decided to change that conception and founded Rare Birds with the goal of inspiring 1,000,000 female entrepreneurs by 2020.
Jo is deeply passionate, driven and focused. I have no doubt whatsoever she will accomplish that ambition and find several more along the way. Watching and listening to Jo spoke to a part of me that hasn’t fully woken up. I haven’t fully owned my ambition and drive to succeed. I feel that is changing and it’s very exciting.
Leasa Mayer – Owner, CGR Events
The last speaker was Leasa Mayer. Her focus was moving through fear. It is absolutely impossible to achieve our ambitions if we’re not able to move through our fear. Growth and fear go hand-in-hand.
Leasa asked to think about a fear that has held us back. She brought the house lights down and gave us 2 minutes to sit quietly in the dark to really engage with a fear that was holding us, and then consider what would be different if we hadn’t let that fear have that power over us. She then asked us to share that awareness with a stranger (which of course enabled many of us to feel some fear because we had to be vulnerable.)
Leasa then gave us a 6 month challenge:
Between now and the end of this calendar, redefine fear from a thing we need to control and get rid of to a clarion call to action. When we feel fear, reframe it as the guide that is telling us that is exactly where we need to go and what we need to do to get to achieve what we want to achieve.
What came to mind immediately is my fear of sales. I spent 13 years as the co-founder and partner of my business doing anything and everything I could to avoid having to really own business development.
At the same time, I have this driving ambition to grow a global company to prove that there is a more whole and sustainable way to practice business that delivers sustained profit and growth.
That ambition and fear are really not compatible! Even more revealing to me is that I use Leasa’s approach, and have used that approach (using fear as the indicator that I’m on the right path and of what I need to do) for almost 30 years!!!! Just not around business development.
What would be different if I had done that? We would have had the resources and reach to do the kind of work that would enable us to influence on a much larger scale. I would feel much more successful. There are many times I feel like a failure because we still, almost 16 years later, have a sales issue. We’re almost through and I believe we’ve resolved that issue. We need 1 quarter to test that belief.
So I have taken Leasa up on her challenge and will be using Fear as my Clarion Call when it comes to sales, in particular. I have already put that into action by asking for a sale into a huge global company.
Perhaps it’s due to my own personal biases, those I’m aware of and the unconscious biases that drive me but here is the message I took away from the extraordinary luncheon; In the end, ambition is the driving force impelling us to live our purpose. Success is driven by our stance, the beliefs, values and mindset that informs how we “be” in the world. That drives what we do. When we start from the inside out, we are unstoppable. We are able to see possibilities before they exist and find ways to turn possibilities into reality.
It doesn’t matter if we’re entrepreneurs, frontline employees or executives, whether we work in small businesses or global giants. It just matters that we listen, show up, follow our fear and do it.