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Use your strengths to build a stronger voice at the table

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Nearly 85% of Canadian women indicated they were interested in starting their own business. That’s a lot of women. On a global scale, Canadian women ranked 1st in terms of their involvement with newer businesses, ahead of the U.S., Britain, and other innovation-based economies. With such a high number of risk-seeking women who are ready to launch their own businesses, I urge them to think of being fearless, having the confidence to trust your instincts, and capitalizing on the special traits inherent to powerful women.

The table stakes for running a business (new or established) are common. Companies need to hire the right people, be customer-driven, and develop the right culture necessary for growth. Another large part of building a successful business is having the right leader, and there are special traits I can recognize in women that should be fostered as they take on leadership roles.

Listening is an absolute to master the art of selling

A great leader is a great listener. Neuroscience research between the University of California, Irvine and the University of New Mexico shows men and women process language differently. Men tend to focus on information required to solve a problem or complete a task while women connect to non-auditory functions such as emotion when listening. In an age of digital transformation, emotional intelligence is an underrated soft skill. Our ability for empathetic listening can be highly effective in a business environment. I’ve been in many meetings where the focus on selling dominates the conversation and much of the talking is not done by the customer, but by the vendor.

This is where our ability to listen and listen well comes in. Seek to understand, and you will know your customer needs on a deeper level. Take that skill set into the boardrooms, and place empathy at the heart of your conversations with customers. They will not only welcome but appreciate that approach. As Malcolm Forbes once said, “The art of conversation lies in listening”, and it requires emotional intelligence to truly connect with customers and solve their problems.

Be honest, even if it means you have to brag

How many times have we been reminded to downplay our achievements instead of bragging about them? There is nothing stronger than a woman who can step up to the podium and let the world know her wins – and her failures. We work hard every day, behind the scenes, to build our business and there is blood, sweat and tears involved. When you win and when you have the opportunity, shout it from the rooftops.

For those who have been programmed to be humble or be bashful about their accomplishments, I urge you to challenge your inner voice and let people know how hard you have worked to get to where you are. This will inspire others to learn from your lessons and hopefully inspire them to overcome their own personal challenges.

Having the confidence to speak of your accomplishments is only one side of the coin. Be comfortable to speak to both wins and losses, as it marks a leader’s character to admit shortcoming and take learnings from it.  

With over 25 years of industry experience in B2B marketing, Phoebe Yong has built an award-winning boutique marketing agency based in Vancouver that services high-tech, fintech, financial and manufacturing clients. Phoebe has led partner marketing campaigns with some of the biggest brands in the world – Dell, HP, Microsoft, Vodafone and China Mobile. At Magnolia, she has led a successful team to build a full service marketing agency focused on PR, content marketing and marketing automation. For more information, visit www.magnoliamc.com.

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