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”.
Yes…” 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