I met quite an inspiring CEO of an educational training organisation last week. She has at least 10 years ahead of me in mentoring experience and had 3 key stories she kindly shared with me over lunch. It was a women in business lunch and, folks, these power events can be scary.
So it was of course wonderful to be seated next to such an interesting person who was willing to share her story.
The first story was about her success in her first importing business and the simple yet clever way she secured distribution rights by making an impression with colour.
The second story was about a feasibility study she did as a consultant on behalf of two professionals (who read her report and decided NOT to go ahead and she went ahead with the idea herself).
The third story was about how she virtually stumbled into training for long term unemployed which got results others had never achieved (attracting enough attention for Current Affairs to do a story on her).
There are 2 key messages I took from these stories and my time with this inspiring entrepreneur.
1. Believe in yourself
At the core of her strength (she has a powerful and almost formidable presence) is her strong belief in herself. She knows who she is and is a firm believer in standing by her word and making things happen. This has been the key to her success.
We both shared an interesting and similar reaction to one of the guest speakers. My reaction to the speaker was still just a gut feeling which I was yet to give words to. So after the presentation had finished I asked my newly found advisor why she thought this particular speaker’s message had not resonated with each of us (a few knowing looks at each other during the presentation had confirmed we’d had a similar reaction).
Her response was insightful and eluded to the fact that the speaker had undersold her success. What did not resonate with both of us was that she had not projected a strong trust or belief in her herself, and that she almost told her story as if she was surprised the business has been so successful*.
2. Say YES
Especially in her 2nd and 3rd story this entrepreneur’s success in completely unrelated industries in which she had no previous expertise were as a result of her saying yes. She holds the simple belief that she happened to be ‘in the right place and the right time’ where these opportunities were presented to her and she said yes.
When the clients who had commissioned the feasibility study said no, she said yes. She went on to secure exclusivity for her product range with Kmart and then leveraged significant advertising as a result of this deal.
Her professional training journey, where she now finds herself the CEO of an educational training organisation, that has successfully trained 1000s of Certificates and Diploma courses, began with her simply saying yes. She said yes to the opportunity to observe training for the long-term unemployed and then said yes again when she was asked to step in and help a trainer out.
Saying yes to opportunities is something I always encourage people to do. You don’t know if you dont try it and the logisitcs will sort themselves out if you are willing to work hard and really want something to work.
So find someone that inspires you and ask them for their feedback about your hopes and dreams for your career or business. This inspiring entrepreneur said yes to my request for advice and gave me a thoughtful perspective that I have since explored.
If you are in need of a mentor and could do with some inspiration, just say yes and contact us today.
* The speaker did admit at the end of the presentation with her business partner that it took her a long time to jump ship from her day job and believe in the business and she wishes she had have made the leap of faith earlier. See this Think Bespoke blog for a wonderful illustration depicting taking a leap of faith.