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March 1, 2016

Guest Post from Jeanne Sullivan, Co-Founder of StarVest Partners and Panelist, Speak Up for Financing Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

 

Three important places where your VOICE really counts:

 

  • In the Workplace:

This past year I was invited to deliver a TEDx for Barnard College. I am a Barnard Entrepreneur Fellow and this platform was one of the privileges. My theme was exactly the title of this post today. Here is why this title is so important to me – Women need to learn to find their voice and use it. How appropriate that this gathering is the Speak Up Women Conference.

In my TEDx talk, I used this theme related to dealing with Bullies, Bozos and Buffoons in the workplace. As anyone knows or has worked for more than month for a company an organization or firm, these people are everywhere (unfortunately). The approach that works best is to find one’s voice with these hard-to-deal-with people. Bosses, colleagues, customers, vendors and more. I believe the more effective approach is to use humor which often works to disarm the offender. I know one thing that does NOT work – and that is remaining silent and boiling over with anger and resentment.

 

  • When selling your idea, product or service:

 

Hone your ability to “sell” your idea, product or service.

I am a long-time venture capital investor and now Angel investor and advisor.  I am amazed that CEOs often cannot package their “story”.

Sullivan, Jeanne HeadshotYes…” story” is the operative word – I want you to tell me the genesis of your company – how you will execute and your plans and vision to build it big. How will you scale your business? Tell me about the “Business of the Business”. Don’t just fall in love with your product or tell me about the features and functions. Tell me about the channels where you plan sell this product or service. Lay out your marketing plan. Describe yourself as CEO and your team and track record. Lay out the financials around the business – how much capital you will require over time and your milestones.

Of course, investors want to hear about your product or service. But entrepreneurs need to remember that the primary goal of an investor is to make money – and they want to hear how you plan to make that money from their investment. And speaking of financials – Know your financials an I mean cold!”

 

Ladies – most of us are BAD at this but “You can learn this stuff”.

 

Get a finance professional at your side who can teach you. Let others show you how to understand the numbers and bring them to the meeting. When the snarky angel or VC says ‘What are the gross margins?’ And you have a blank look on your face, guess what? You got the first meeting, but you won’t get the second.”

 

“Investors want you to be stewards of their money.”

 

In an organization, these lessons are equally important. Imagine that you have a new idea or product for your line of business or company. Again, when packaging your idea – think about how to be most effective in presenting this innovation, new process or product. These are the stepping stones toward success for yourself and for the business.

 

  • Your Patter:

 

A talented PR person helped me along the way with this one.   Someone asks you to introduce yourself at a meeting, a party, a job interview. Package yourself with a few short phrases that …tells your story. Just start listening to others and you will quickly see the difference between doing this well or not.

 

Finding One’s Voice –

And…this discussion is part of the journey of life! It takes time and continuous practice in many settings to learn to be articulate – find one’s voice – to be packaged! I am always amazed and in awe of the young, articulate people who do this well. We can learn from each other – I am still learning every day.

 

I look forward to meeting you at the Speak Up Women Conference on March 5th at the United Nations and hearing about your experience!

 

Link with me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeannemsullivan

Connect with me: @Gianna212

 


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March 1, 2016

Guest Post from Cherie Corso, Founder of G2 Organics and Panelist, Speak Up in Business Panel at the Speak Up Women Conference

Chasing the dream of life balance is exhausting. We, as women, spend more time giving to everyone else, leaving ourselves bankrupt. As the nurturers of the world, we are born with an innate gift to give; however, when we decide to give to ourselves, it is looked at as selfish. Some of us hate telling people no in fear of disappointing them at the cost of oCherie Corso - Panelist, Speak Up in Business Panelur sanity. That mentality has stopped many successful women reach their full potential in life and in business.

I am compelled to write to you to give you the confidence boost you need to come out of the shadows and speak up, demanding the life you deserve. You have a voice and hopefully these 5 steps will help you find it and ignite the inner strength you need to finally SPEAK UP!

 

Step One – Realize everyone is NOT going to like you.

The first thing I think every woman entrepreneur should understand is that your gifts and talents are not for everyone and that’s okay. As you understand your purpose, you will attract all those kindred spirits that you were sent for. Have you noticed that many entrepreneurs will name their audience?

Names like tribes, societies, newbies, armies, etc. are given to give them a sense of inclusion and letting your audience know you were sent for them and them alone. You’re either in the tribe or you’re not. The more you focus on the people that don’t like you, the less time you will be able to focus on the audience that’s waiting for someone just like you to speak directly to them.

Step Two – Believe you have a lot to offer.

You’ve probably said one hundred times, “Why would anyone want to listen to me?” Or, “that’s been done already, so why bother?”

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When I got the idea to start G2 Organics, I didn’t look at all the other product lines out there. I knew that my beliefs and ideas were worth all the money and work to get it in the hands of customers around the world.

I believed so much in my voice that I couldn’t keep silent about it. Regardless of how many people have done it before you, no one will be able to transform that idea using your feminine energy and knowledge. Every trial, failure, and victory has led you to this moment. Seize it!

Step Three – Understand the role of competition.

We are bombarded by society to be in constant competition with each other. If you’ve seen two celebrities wear the same outfit on the red carpet, the headline the next day will read, ‘Who wore it better?’ For the single ladies at weddings, they fight to the death for the bride’s bouquet. There’s no need to be defensive and even snippy with other women. Realize that we are greater in numbers and the community that you’re able to build will elevate your thinking and status in so many ways.

I challenge you to find at least two like-minded women that can give you the much needed motivation to keep going. They will feed the woman that you are and the entrepreneur that you’re striving to be. These women will hold you accountable to your goals and a little friendly competition never hurt.

 

Step Four – Prepare for success.

I love to hear people say, “She came out of nowhere!” In reality, no she didn’t. There were years of planning and preparation before anyone knew her name. It takes a lot of work to be spontaneous. If you have an important meeting scheduled, show up early and have a pre-meeting, breaking the ice with conversation. When you’re in a relaxed state, your feminine energy shines and your mind is clear to communicate your ideas effectively.

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The more you prepare that speech, presentation, or meeting, you are giving yourself room to adjust to last minute changes. You are able to simply acknowledge life’s hiccups and make the immediate adjustments. Luck is your preparation that meets the opportunities.

Step Five – Take the physical and emotional risks as an entrepreneur.

As an entrepreneur your greatest successes will come out of your greatest failures. You’re going to have to take the leap out of your comfort zone to take the risks necessary to get results. Some of our favorite inventions like the microwave, chocolate chip cookies, and even the potato chip were all products of the inventor’s mistake. Having your own business is exciting and exhilarating, but never lose  your ability to throw your ideas to the walls and see what sticks.

As a wife, mother, and businesswoman, I wear many hats and sometimes I amaze myself when I get it all done. It takes work, but it’s not as hard as you think. Every no is one step closer to a yes! Will you be ready?

I look forward to meeting you at the Speak Up Women Conference on March 5th at the United Nations and hearing about your experience!