I sat in Karen Blackett’s room, not really sure how much I was going to get out of a mere hour. Why was I there? Well, to go back a step – this year, the Futures Network, set up for Wacl Future Leaders Award winners, teamed up with Wacl to launch a mentorship programme. The initiative is designed to support and guide women within the network who are of a mid-management level.
I was lucky enough to spend an hour with Karen. With only an hour, I was working out the best way to make full use of the time. Should I speak really fast so she gets to know who I am in 10 minutes flat or lay out my objectives and go through those one by one? Never being a person who sticks to structure, I decided to go with the former and tell her who I really am.
And I’m pleased I did. Quite quickly, Karen knew who I really was and exactly what to say to guide me, and I bounced out of her office like a new woman, when I had walked in so unsure of myself.
I rushed back to my office and grabbed a fellow female colleague and blurted out what I learned. I didn’t stop there; I told a number of other women within the Futures Network and even shared with senior women at an industry event. It occured to me that I wanted to just pass on the insight to help other women learn. We gain so much from a one-to-one level; although much of our chat is private and confidential, there are parts that can be for the many.
So here are my three things to pass on to you all.
1 Understand your brand
I used to think this was a typical fluffy thing that gets said a lot at events, but I’ve now converted my way of thinking. Knowing your brand is knowing your value. When you work in a bigger company, it’s quite hard to define what you stand for. Transparency of what you do is also sometimes unclear to people beyond your own core remit. So knowing and shaping your brand is the key component to blowing away the mist that surrounds you. Are you a collaborator? Are you good at bringing people together? Are you a creative thinker?
2 Know what you are good at
It’s quite easy to think about the various things you are good at, but have you ever really pinpointed exactly what they are? Your super-strengths, that is. You can’t be great at everything and, as much as we would like to think we are brilliant, ultimately you have two or three absolute mega-strengths. Figure out what those are. Embrace them, understand how you can leverage them and use them.
3 Understand how people see you
This is a sensitive one, because it makes you really question who you are and how you behave. I’m a creative and highly expressive person, all about big ideas and big ambitions. Now, to someone who is more analytical, I’m likely to come across as a bit "out there". That’s not to say I should stop being me. What it does mean is that I need to understand my audience and learn to adapt, so that I am speaking in a similar language. We are all human and we are all different. So communicate with different people in different ways, depending on the type of person they are.
Now you know… so please pass it on.
Visha Naul is co-founder of the Futures Network and marketing lead, industry partnerships, at Google