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Breaking Norms to Achieve Success with Victoria Pelletier, CEO of Unstoppable You

Victoria Pelletier

Running large departments for Fortune 100 companies at home and abroad, Victoria Pelletier, a CEO by age 41, breaks norms and molds to achieve desired outcomes … while explaining why she is not conforming. At her large and complex companies, she motivates her teams by asking what challenge they are solving and what success looks like for each person …. In essence, reshaping the way companies deliver services for clients and empowering team members to have full ownership of their part of the organization. Some of this shift is from personal relationships to Procurement departments and influenced by corporate and national cultures. On a personal level, Victoria advises young women and others to determine what skills they need for today and tomorrow, to brand themselves with their values and interests, and to determine what they want to be known for.

Highlights:

Victoria’s journey

Examples of turning a company around

Issues that arise in corporate culture when North Americans are working in other parts of the world.

The rules of hierarchy

The story of the easiest turnaround Victoria made.

The most difficult turnaround

Trust and Rapport in leadership.

Advice to young women starting out in the professional world.

Victoria Pelletier bio:

Victoria Pelletier is a 20+ year Corporate Executive and Board Director. Nicknamed the “Turn Around Queen” by former colleagues and employers, Victoria inspires and empowers her team and clients to change mindsets and drive growth in business, leadership, and culture.

As someone who does not subscribe to the status quo, she is always ready for new challenges, becoming one of the youngest Chief Operating Officers at the age of 24, a president by 35, and a CEO by age 41.

Victoria was recognized as one of the 2023 Women of Influence by South Florida Business Journal, a semi-finalist in the 2023 50/50 Women on Boards Women to Watch, 2022 Top 30 Most Influential Business Leaders in Tech by CIOLook, 2022 Most Influential Entrepreneur of the Year by World Magazine, 2021’s Top 50 Business Leader in Technology by Insight Magazine and a Mentor of the Year by Women in Communications & Technology in 2020. HSBC Bank awarded her the Diversity & Inclusion in Innovation award in 2019 and she was IBM’s #1 Global Social Seller ranked by LinkedIn in 2019 and 2020.

As a prolific motivational and inspirational speaker, Victoria has delivered keynotes discussing the importance of personal branding and its impact on professional growth, being an empathetic leader in empowering employees, the power of DEI on corporate cultures and building a life of resilience.

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Full Transcript

Hello everyone. Since today’s guest has done extensive work in Europe, I thought it would be appropriate to have a blooper from Europe, although not necessarily one from a country in which she has worked.

So, this blooper is a sign in a hotel elevator in Belgrade, which was probably then in Yugoslavia and is now in Serbia. And the hotel elevator sign said very clearly in English, “To move the cabin push the button for the wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.” It’s delightful to know that that’s the way Belgrade elevators operate, or at least the one in this building.

Today’s guest is Victoria Pelletier. Victoria is the CEO of Unstoppable You, and a former senior executive of Accenture, IBM, and Amex. As a 20-plus-year corporate executive and board director and nicknamed the Turnaround Queen by a former colleague and employers, Victoria inspires and empowers her team and clients to change mindsets and grow in business, leadership, and culture. She has served additional global Fortune 500 firms, such as Nike, Brookfield and Aon.

As someone who does not subscribe to the status quo, she became one of the youngest chief operating officers at age 24, a president at age 35, and a corporate CEO by age 41. She has lived in both Canada and the US and has led teams in Europe, Latin America, India, and elsewhere in Asia. 

Victoria has participated in over 18 mergers and acquisitions requiring restructuring, new processes and technology innovation, and has driven growth, profitability improvements, and increased employee retention and engagement. 

Congratulations Victoria, that’s quite an amazing background.

Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be here. 

So let’s start by your sharing with us how you came to be a COO by age 24, a president by age 25, and CEO by age 41.

I subscribed to this life philosophy or mantra about being unstoppable. And living a life of no excuses, and funnily enough, I signed most of my social media posts off with those two hashtags.

What I’m going to say is my sort of origin story. My early beginnings of extreme trauma and adversity in my youth caused me to want to be better than the biology or the circumstances in which I was raised. And one place in which I felt I had a lot of control over how I showed up, how I performed, and how I delivered and received recognition for such was in the workplace.

So, I started working at age 11 in a hair salon, and by age 14, I had taken on my first leadership role. I was the assistant manager of the shoe store that I then worked at. And at 16, I graduated high school, went to university, and worked all throughout in a corporate environment. I worked for one of Canada’s largest banks at that point, and I was a voracious learner. Beyond being in university, I took lots of courses that the bank offered me, so I progressed pretty quickly within the organization. I was there for maybe six years when I got recruited out to that first executive role at 24 and a new mother, by the way.

So, I took a very bold risk by leaving what was a comfortable environment. Public company… great benefits…most would say secure. Although no job is secure, we certainly felt more so there than elsewhere. And I was recruited because it was a large BPL business process outsourcing organization, large-scale operations were predominantly contact centers, and I had been leading contact center operations within banking. And this company also had large financial services clients. 

I checked several of the boxes. I think I always appeared to be much more mature than my young years. Confidence is often perceived as competence, and although yes, I was successful in delivering, it did appear … I’m not a subscriber to fake it till you make it, except when it comes to confidence.

And so, I think I walked in boldly with that, and I did. I could also very quickly articulate how I was going to fill the gaps I didn’t have in that role. I was leading all functions except finance.

Wow, that’s amazing. Are you able to say the name of the company?

Yes, it’s now sold or defunct. It was called Omega Direct Response, and that was sort of my foray into some of the international operations that I was leading. We initially started in near-shore locations for lower costs and then started to go – this was 20 or so years ago – and so, in the early days of looking at India, the Philippines, and other places, we started with some places in the Caribbean. And then I moved from there to a company called Web Help, which was acquired. And that’s actually where I got a lot of my experience in India and abroad. And then the others – some of the other countries – came along.

And I actually say that I played that role, even though I took this incredible risk at such a young age and as a new mother. So, I was signing myself up for a very different work life that I needed to integrate then the challenge that came with that, but it taught me tremendously about how to lead in business. You know, people outsource to save money. You know your business better than anyone.

And so, the need to be incredibly diligent around managing the performance of the business given the tight margins really taught me a lot about success. And from then onwards I’ve always stayed in professional services. There’s a dynamic that comes with having even that many more stakeholders or constituents that I find a little bit more challenging to serve a corporate client and then their customer, their employees, or whomever you’re serving.

It makes a lot of sense. Let’s take two of your many companies as examples because you’ve talked about basically turning them around and resolving difficulties. Can you give us some… If you can name the companies, that’s fine, if not, you can tell what they do… but what specific methods or techniques did you use to turn them around and improve their growth? 

Well, there was… It’s hard to only come up with two, to be honest… A lot of times, through mergers and acquisitions, there’s a challenge. They’re not always distressed businesses. But then there are just significant challenges to overcome. One of the hurdles I can think of – and I will not name names – was one company I stepped into, leading the regional market for this large Fortune 500 company, and the two largest clients were probably 50 or 60% of our annual recurring revenue that came in. We were in the teens from a profitability perspective. You know I needed to dive in pretty quickly. It was a slightly newer slice into the professional services world that I’ve worked in before.

And so, for me, I need to understand deeply what the work is that we are doing and who on our team is delivering that work. As a result, I believe there were two things specifically. No, three. There were three that changed the way we base our profitability on those businesses. So first, understanding the work we were doing and the scope we were contracted to deliver was a significant part of what drove down our only profitability from operational costs because we were actually delivering things that were outside of scope. 

So, there was a ton of scope creep. So, it was just understanding our contract and what we were delivering, and some of that came because we’d acquired and rebadged people and just taken over work. So that was half the people that were doing the work.

So, I made sure I had the right people leading each of those portfolios and then those that led some of our key service lines or practice areas, supporting the client, coaching and developing them, and in some cases, making changes to those that directly face the clients because there were some challenging conversations to be had.

And the third piece of that was actually creating a stronger shared service model within the organization for some of the common client deliverable areas that we had. And so that we could gain economy, size of scale, and efficiency by bringing them together, some of that was increased offshoring, but a lot of that needed to sit in local markets, so again, creating the shared services team.

So that would be one.

The other thing that I could think of was that I had been asked. It’s funny. I was recruited for this one company to do a very different role than the one I first landed in. I was sort of at the very tail end of the interview process, and by the way, I had 23 interviews for this one particular company.

Twenty three interviews to get the job?

Yes, it was ridiculous, in part because I have a very diverse background. So, like, maybe you go here, maybe you go here, and so they just kept asking me to talk to some different people, and one of the last people I spoke to realized that I had a very strong financial services background and they had a very desperate need for a very troubled financial services portfolio.

And so, I agreed to take that on versus what they’d originally recruited me for. In that case, it was a result of, I don’t know, a project that went wrong, and I’m not sure that the company I worked for should have fairly owned the full responsibility or the reputational damage as a result of that. As I learned more, I thought there was some shared ownership, but perception becomes reality. 

So, a big part of that for me was to reset the tone with the client having many conversations for me to go and say, hey, I’m the executive sponsor, I’m the accountable party here now, and let’s figure out how do we move forward, how do we rebuild trust in our relationship? And it was like, we’re deep, you know, connected and mesh with one another. So even though they weren’t happy with it, it wasn’t pulling away from us or certain other parts of the business, we delivered for them.

And so, for me, it was having that really open dialogue and transparency. I’m known for being quite radically candid and transparent. There’s no meeting after the meeting. We put our cards on the table. We agree to disagree sometimes, and within my own business, there’s a hierarchy that someone can overrule. But certainly, when it comes to clients, I want to be completely transparent to build that trust. And the other thing I did was reshape the way in which we delivered for that client. 

The company I worked for was extremely large and complex. And so, we did different service lines or areas of expertise, and we would have a person going from one over here to another, and I’m like, but that’s not the way this financial services client was organized.

So, I kind of broke the model a little bit, which was sometimes challenging to manage internally within that organization. But I aligned the team that paired off with their counterpart of that client to have full ownership. 

So I might have had a person who was like a call center expert or one who was like the data analytics person. And I said, “you have this part of this organization. You own it end to end.” If there’s an opportunity to work with them in the area, you’ve got a specialty. Great! You actually get to deliver as well. Otherwise, you find the team that made a world of difference and for the client to build those trusted relationships, and certainly we had the great SMEs Subject Matter Experts and I had said to that company that I expected it would take 18 to 24 months to turn that client around and return to growth. And we did it in 15 months.

And I attribute that to being really comfortable and throwing out the way we’ve always done things to just find a way to match much more closely with this client.

That’s pretty remarkable. It’s fascinating. 

When you’ve been working internationally are the techniques the same? I’m sure there are issues that arise in corporate culture or national culture in terms of North America versus other parts of the world. Could you elaborate on those points?

So, I have very much needed to learn, both in terms of how to run the business and the operations differently because of the way, and a lot of that comes down to culture, and I’ll speak on that in a sec. So, I’ve needed to learn that, and then I’ve also needed to adjust the way in which I interact in terms of how I’m leading people and how I communicate with people. 

So on to the first part. As I said, most of my career has now been in professional services. And you know, we’re off, and I’ve worked for mostly global organizations, in which case we are supporting clients that have multinational or global operations. 

And although the procurement teams want to see, you know, RFP… a Request for Proposal for pricing, and often, I’ve seen more and more lately they want to go to single financial transactional models or outcome-based models. But it’s very different in different markets.

So great example, if I’m going to go back to my early days with things like contact centers and outsourcing, productivity in North America is significantly higher than, let’s say, in Europe. And a lot of that has to do with the work week, the number of hours in a work week, and the fact that Europeans typically start with six weeks of vacation, whereas it’s only two in North America. The hustle is a hard environment in North America, which I mean, we’ve seen change a little bit since COVID, and you know, people are going through this great rethink of what things mean to us. But that’s been there for a very, very long time, so we need to learn to build very different productivity models to address the culture of the countries that we might be delivering service in, that was just kind of part one. 

And then on the second, which is somewhat tangentially related to that, are cultures. You know, there are things that are just much more important to them.

So again, Europe generally has much more of that work-life balance and family balance. It is critical. So, working people, you know, extremely hard and setting these expectations that they don’t even want to achieve is something you know to learn. And so, I find, particularly Americans, and again, I’m a Canadian who lives in the US and lived and worked in many countries, but you know there are some of those nuances. 

And so, for me, interestingly, I remember the first time I got relocated to the US… I had a woman who’d come, you know, through a recent acquisition. So, I’d come in, and we did six acquisitions over the course of about 18 months. And there was one woman who was probably 20 to 30 years my senior, and she’d spent her entire life in that. It was actually a corporate travel business. So, I’ve been in the travel industry for a handful of years, and I was maybe 30 years old or something like that. And so, I mean, she just, you know, kind of looked at me, and she’s a tough New Yorker. And so, me coming down is a Canadian now…. At this point, I’d spent a lot of time with Americans, and I was actually told I was the least Canadian of the bunch. I didn’t know whether I should be insulted by that or not. But I just sent, and I think that was again my direct, transparent communication, but a little bit of balance with that, like self-deprecating Canadian, you know apologize for everything, but bringing that up and having a kind of relationship, even though, again, we’re often thought of as an additional state, Canada, that is, to the US, just bringing some of that in and also recognizing the style that I would need to, you know, engage with her.

Likewise, doing that for, you know, some of the European and very much the Indian teams that I’ve, you know, led in the past and understanding how hierarchy, caste, and therefore class and other systems work in terms of how I engage with people and communicate with them and lead them. I’ve learned a lot over the years on that front.

Can you talk a bit more about the hierarchy? Because it’s not just in India; it’s in other parts of Asia. It’s more in traditional societies, even in Europe, where, and I give the example when I make presentations, in North America, we first-name everyone because there’s an assumption of relative equality. 

Whereas in Europe, you know that when you’re translating into other languages, it’s always Monsieur, Madame, Señor, Señora, Herr, Frau, Doctor, Professor, and so on. So just in terms of how one addresses people, and separately, European offices generally have many doors, and the doors are closed. If you want to make an appointment, you have to book it with the assistant to the Secretary or something. You just don’t walk in or knock on the door.

 So, can you address some of these cultural issues that many of our listeners may be unaware of?

Well, what I would suggest is that you do your research and homework before you go into these countries to understand what the cultural norms are. Maybe it’s because I think you read in my bio that I’m not a status quo girl. I do feel like I sort of break things to put them back together again. So much as I’ve spent time learning those, there’s also a way in which I operate that really conveys who I am as a leader and how I want to operate to build trust. And so, although I will step in with those norms, I will actually change or do a few things differently. And so, for me, at one point I worked in, well, I’ve worked for a couple of UK-headquartered firms but there was one where I was there every other week.

And so, sitting there, my door is not closed unless I am on a series of conference calls, and I want to keep it on speakerphone. So, I didn’t have to have a headset attached to it, you know? I’m going to break that. I’m going to invite you to skip levels, which is not very common in certain cultures around the world, because that’s actually where I’m going to learn.

But then I need to be clear that I’m breaking that norm. But why am I doing it? And so again, just understanding that to walk in, even if it’s not your nature, where do you think doing something differently is going to help achieve a business outcome? You know, gain stronger employee engagement, trust, etcetera. Then I’ll do that. But again, I think it’s critically important to know, acknowledge, and then potentially explain why you’re not following that.

It’s very sage advice. Thank you. What was the easiest turnaround you’ve ever made?

Easiest turnaround. I don’t know that any of them are really easy. I just, although I feel like with experience having done it a lot of times, they become easier because I’ve got a lot in the toolkit, so to speak, to leverage and see what’s worked well and what hasn’t. 

And so, for me, an easier one was a number of years ago when I stepped into a new role leading a large American business, and part of that business had been underperforming pretty significantly, and I’ll say easy because my approach is to be a human-centered, heart-centered leader.

Incredibly, I talked about transparency and authenticity. By the way, I got it wrong in my 20s. I think because I became an executive at 24, the only woman in the room, the youngest by a couple of decades, I actually showed up with … I got a nickname: Iron Maiden at one point, it was all business all the time. 

And so, I had to pivot. I had to do it differently.

And so, my learnings from that I took into this new environment and in terms of the relationships that I immediately built with the team. And my team will now say I’ve got this incredible following of people who come with me to other companies when I don’t have an illicit interest in hiring them immediately who would describe me as tough but fair.

And so easy for me was to come in to meet with the entire direct-report team, building rapport quickly, and I’m one who says I don’t know what I don’t know. And I’m going to leverage the team and learn from the institutional knowledge that you have. And so, creating that. So doing that, not being afraid to have some of the really difficult conversations and doing performance management. 

Within my first year, fortunately, I had a large direct reporting team until I had, at one point, like 18 people, which at the executive level is generally the case. Really large, and so I need to do a bit of a reorganization, but of those people, there were several who were not performing, and there were six people, some of whom were direct reports, and some of my team, I recognize, were not comfortable doing performance management. So, I had to help with that. 

I let go of six leaders in the business, and I remember that HR leader who supported my business. And it came to thank me. And I said for what? For doing my job?

But the combination of you and others in the business seeing that I wasn’t afraid to let go of people who were toxic and who were not performing, and then also building a really engaged team and hiring some other quality leaders. We then became, within 18 months, the best-performing team of the particular large portfolio that I was part of.

That’s fascinating, and I’m sure the HR people were very happy because you were doing their job for them in a way; perhaps they wanted to let those employees go but couldn’t for whatever reason. That’s wonderful. 

What about the most difficult turnaround you’ve ever undertaken? Do you have an example?

Well, yes. However, I made the decision to exit in part because of the difficulty. So, I worked for a Fortune 100 company for whom I led a very large business unit, and I was successful at turning around that particular business unit. However, the culture of the organization holistically was quite toxic, and there were some leaders at the top who were part of that. 

And I remember… I’m not the type who’s just, as I said, unstoppable. No excuses. I live that way, you know. 

So, I went forward. The global head of strategy for that organic nation, who is a peer, probably ranks slightly higher than me in the organization. One of our most senior people in HR and my global leader said, “I happen to lead a business that works with other companies to help transform their businesses. Can I help with our own?” And I felt like I got a little bit of a pat on the head. “Well, Victoria, that would be great.” Yet none of them involved me or engaged me in the process, even though we were going through a reorganization. We were going through our own transformation.

And so, for a period of probably six months, as I worked diligently to bring forward ideas, I certainly led by example. And again, I’m very proud that we had one of the best-performing teams and also one of the most — I’m extremely committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and being the most diverse team had high employee engagement, and I continued to see that they weren’t prepared to do what they needed to do to move the needle forward and improve the toxicity and some of the unethical things that I saw within the organization, and so I made the decision to leave.

This is the senior executives, the owners, or the senior management who were not supporting you?

So, this is a publicly-traded company. And so, you know, these were some of the top executives who would have acknowledged some of what I brought to their attention. But many of them had been there forever.

And so, they were just kind of accustomed to this. But if you were to look at the glass door, the fishbowl, or the other employee reading, you would know about sites or employee engagement surveys more broadly, like the employees were speaking loudly. And I think it had a significant impact on the way the organizations teamed with one another, which in itself could have driven a significantly higher top- and bottom-line growth and profitability, and so not only was it bad for employees, but I also actually think it was hurting the business.

And so, I am in this instance. I couldn’t turn around the entire organization. I turned around the part I had accountability for, and I couldn’t get people on board to do what we needed to do more broadly, across the organization.

So after six months of multiple – well, and it’s longer than that –  I just remember putting my hand up six months before to say, gentlemen, let me help with this that I left. And you know, when I left, I remember saying to one of the seniors, you know, they desperately tried to save me. There’s that, as they attempted to, you know, throw money and offer new roles. I remember saying, there’s no amount of money or role that you could offer me that will solve the current culture and leadership crisis. 

And so that’s, you know, being quite bold. That might not answer the question exactly Philip but it’s also you know what I did and recognizing that you are attempting to move, and then, at some point, you have a choice to exit as well.

And you’re coming from integrity and your values and what I presume they hired you for, and if they’re not willing to adjust accordingly, then it’s time for you to make the move to leave. So, congratulations. It was wonderful. 

You spoke a bit about doing business internationally, breaking the mold, and just doing what’s necessary. And I admire that tremendously. One of the differences in say North American business versus most business overseas, is the need to establish trust and rapport with, of course, the staff, but also with clients, suppliers, and so forth. 

Of course, we need trust and rapport in North America as well, but we have what’s called an informal business culture where you can be in San Diego, pick up the phone, and send an e-mail to someone in Maine or Halifax, and for that matter, order something sight unseen without talking much. And just because you like their brochure, you like the product and the prices, you ordered it. 

However, without establishing a strong relationship, my sense is that in most parts of the world which operate more traditionally, trust and rapport take longer to establish and are more important in the business environment. Could you speak to that? Do you feel that’s accurate, or does it depend on the country or the situation or the company? 

I think the answer is, and this is typical consultant speak, that it depends, and it does very much depend on the business, the sales cycle and implementation cycle, and the culture. So, it does depend, and I’ve also seen a shift towards buying. There are two books I often recommend for people in business to read, The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer. One of them talks about the different personalities and businesses and the intrinsic individual motivation, motivation for others, and understanding around how to sell to those people, and the other one is understanding selling to a business. And so, CEB? The book and number of years ago, and they said five points above the average. Right now, it is 5.

CCPB? 

CEB.

CEB.

And this was published a number of years ago. So, I actually think the numbers increased, but they said there were an average of 5.4 decision-makers for each sale.

And so, going back to understanding, the people understand what motivates them and how you need to engage. And so, where I have seen this shift is there’s a desire; you know, obviously, we have sales targets each quarter or an annual target that we need to achieve. Yet it doesn’t always balance out the sales cycle. It takes some of these really, really large, complex deals and building relationships. 

And so sometimes I see this trade-off that occurs that I don’t love, and so I talk a lot about doing the right thing, and this is where, you know, building trust in building these relationships is important. But I’ve seen a lot of that, the decision-making power is shifting centrally to Procurement, which can help control a lot more of the costs of the organization. You know their drive has a lot to do with things. Like SLA and Price, whereas we know, let’s say someone’s outsourcing a corporate function, Finance or HR, and their concern around finance and HR accuracy, from an HR perspective, what’s the employee experience going to look like? And so those who need to manage the relationship are very different than the Procurement person. 

And so, I find that that’s standard or sort of somewhat around the world and more of a shift to Procurement, you know, driving those processes, which changes slightly again, the focus is on relationships. However, going back to those 5.4 decision-makers, who are ultimately winning to help support the Procurement folks and that’s where, you know, I’ve worked a lot with, an India-based company and a lot of my work offshoring there and in that case, is still definitely procurement-driven, but what you get is a bunch of people who all went to school together who are talking on the weekend, making some decisions, and coming back. And it’s because who went to whom?

And in that case, obviously, there is the caste system and other things as well that come into play culturally, but again, some of those decisions … We’re getting there, and so that’s where we talk again about researching and understanding cultural norms before you go somewhere. So, I talked to my client-facing and sales teams to make sure that they’d done their due diligence and understood not only those cultural norms. But for the individuals, what’s important to them?

So, for me, regardless of culture, I always want to understand how I can make you successful. How are you measured? So, you know. So yes, I want to understand the problem. You know, what’s the challenge you’re trying to solve for? What does success look like for you personally, and how do you start? That’s actually how I start to build, and that’s how I develop solutions. And when you know, you win people that way.

And so on, how you ask those questions and how long it takes to get to that in different cultures around the world varies dramatically.

Very interesting. It’s fascinating. 

What advice would you like to share with young professional women, either in North America or abroad, that would empower them to achieve some of your achievements?

I look back at my career and attribute success to a few things. So one is that drive that I mentioned early on—my sort of origin story that, as you know, wants me to do better than biology or circumstance. So that’s now kind of in my DNA. 

But beyond that, I attribute, and this is where I do a lot of coaching and mentoring, and I say there have been four things beyond the first is around performing, and I know that sounds like somewhat of a no-brainer, but that goes back to one of the things I just mentioned. Understand how success is measured in that organization.

So, sales revenue profitability is not always that; it can be other very different measures, depending on whether you’re an individual contributor or understand that one and the next. But connected to that are the skills needed to be successful today, as well as making sure you stay relevant for tomorrow. 

So, connect the strategy of the business with the skills that you will need to be in demand in the organization, and don’t think that the company is going to do that or that your leader is going to do that for you.

So, you need to take charge of what that is and make sure that not only do you perform, but you’re also maintaining and growing your skills for the future. So that’s the next thing: personal branding. And making sure people know you. And this is where I think, particularly for younger women or individuals, my older son is 23 years old, and I am telling him how important it is now to build his brand. Get on LinkedIn. First of all, he’s like, Oh, mom, that’s boring. I’m like, well, That’s where the business world is, buddy

So, build your brand, and it’s not more than your subject matter expertise, what you went to school for, or the industry or functional expertise you have. Who are you as a human? What do you value? What are you passionate about? What are your interests? So that you can build trust and rapport with the people you’re either going to hire or buy from? You know? And then the next thing is what? What makes you different from others? There are lots of people who do what you do. So what makes you different, and not only the common interests that you have and your passions and values but also what makes you different?

So, for me, that’s something like that radical candor; that transparency is a big part of mine. And the last is: what do you want to be known for? And that, I think, evolves and changes over time.

So you know, for the 20-something-year-old, it’s very different than for the 40-something-year-old, but those are the fundamental elements of branding, and the other two are just around the creation of boundaries. And we’re going to talk about women specifically. You know, what do you do if you choose to be partnered in life? If you choose to have children, and if you have a multitude of other passions for which you want to have a side hustle or business, how do you create boundaries for yourself?

And so, for me, I’ve gone into it with the view that if it doesn’t bring me personal or professional joy or value, I do one of three things: I say no, I delegate, or I outsource. 

And that comes with a little bit of confidence in your skills; it’s harder when you’re earlier in your career or in your partnership at home and sharing some of those family duties. I will tell you that I wouldn’t be where I am if not for my two marriages, my first and second. 

My spouses have been incredibly supportive, and they’ve shouldered a significant part of the household. You know, Nanny, when the kids were younger, there was a cleaning lady to help clean the house—those sorts of things. But that’s how I’ve been able to do it, and the last is just an incredible level of resilience because you’re giving yourself permission to fail. Being really self-reflective those are the four things.

It’s marvelous, and I guess that leads to the final question. Is there anything else you’d like to share before we close?

I like to tell people that I know them. You’re the CEO of the brand of You. So not only think about that when we talk about personal branding but also like you’re in charge.

And so, this is where a little bit of No Excuses comes in. You do not let anyone tell you how far and wide you might go or potentially limit you. You get to determine that, and then you also get to do that. No excuses. We will face significant challenges, obstacles, and adversity in our lives. The healthy way of being resilient through that and even in the workplace is to give yourself permission to deal with the emotion or the situation immediately, but then make a choice of how you’re going to move forward.

So, an anchor on the goal or objective that you’ve set for yourself. Recognize that you don’t need to get there overnight. Put one foot in front of the other. So, I think everyone can achieve their own version of what unstoppable means to them personally.

That is fascinating, fabulous, wonderful, and, again, extremely sage advice, of course for young women, but really for everyone. And thank you so much. It’s been a superb pleasure to have you as a guest. And of course, I wish you even greater success than you’ve already had.

Thank you. 

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