I recently had the privilege of interviewing Monica Enand, Founder and CEO of start-up Zapproved - a software-as-a-service provider based in Portland, Oregon. Their flagship product, Legal Hold Pro, is the first cloud-based litigation hold management software.
Monica is a petite, 4'11" powerful force of nature and possesses the qualities and characteristics of true feminine leadership. She went from being a big corporate engineer at IBM and Intel to launch her own company in the economy downturn of 2008. By definition, her bold move is courage! She believed in herself and held steadfast commitment to follow her passion. There is no room to play small for this mighty trailblazer!
What I learned about Monica continues to validate the things women need to elevate, adopt, and focus on in order to play bigger in their lives and careers. She stands as a testament and inspiration for other women to find the courage to follow their passion and intuition. What are her keys traits that have contributed to her success?
1. Overcome self-doubt by not allowing yourself to get overwhelmed by looking too far ahead. Monica now asks herself, "What is my highest priority?" before taking action. She then breaks it down in small focused steps.
This is something many of us struggle with - we get too caught up in becoming taskmasters and taking care of everyone else's needs instead of tuning into our own vision and priorities. Women often feel they must have a perfect plan to start and will over analyze, instead of taking action. I call this analysis paralysis and it stifles creativity and the ability to move forward towards our calling. Bottom line, DON'T OVER THINK IT and be willing to be uncomfortable.
2. Become a strategic thinker, instead of just checking boxes. Monica says "You have to surround yourself with people that think strategically and focus on macro-economic trends." Her strategic focus is always on making impact or what's the effect on her customers.
I couldn't agree more, we are the sum of the 7 people we spend the most time with - the law of proximity. If the people in your life aren't supporting you to follow your dreams and passion, and if they are an energy drain in your life, then maybe it's time to do some spring-cleaning with your relationships. Check out this short quiz to see if the people in your life are holding you back. Monica's advice: learn to brush off the people that don't support you.
One great example Monica shared with me goes back to when she was seeking investors. She knew on paper she had the right pedigree, but would sometimes meet with men who clearly weren't willing to see her credibility because of their gender bias and judgment towards her height. She learned quickly to walk away and not waste any time or energy trying to win them over, she simply moved on. This is hugely valuable insight for us all - DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY and move on to where you will be valued!
3. Focus on the upside of the risks you want to take. If you fail, learn how to recover quickly. Check your ego at the door, be willing to admit when you fail, and move on quickly. It doesn't matter whether we are talking about a start-up or a large corporations, Monica says, "Taking too long to recover from a mistake is what kills a company."
This is brilliant thinking from Monica and counter intuitive to most, but advice worth seizing. We tend to resist anything that takes us into the possibility of failing or not looking good. Yet, it is truly the only way to learn, grow, and expand. It is the path to confidence. Decisiveness and resiliency are what ultimately allow us to achieve our goals. Be willing try something, suck at it, learn from it and move on to something better. Ego is the biggest enemy here: not wanting to be wrong and hanging on too long to something that isn't working or not acknowledging the market is moving on without you. Again, it is about willing to stay uncomfortable, not fearing discomfort.
Monica's favorite quote:
"If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don't ask what seat. You just get on." -Eric Schmidt, former Google's CEO
It doesn't matter if you have an idea for a start-up company, a book, a new and better way of doing something, or a desire to try something new - if it brings up FEAR and RESISTANCE, it is your best emotional GPS to tell you what direction to pursue. Develop courage as your foundation, passion as your fuel, and use decisiveness to develop the confidence to keep pushing forward.
I love Jeff Bezos', founder of Amazon.com, personal philosophy. Before taking any risk, he asks himself, when I am 80 years old looking back on my life, succeed or fail, will I regret not trying? If the answer is "yes", he goes for it!
There is nothing more encouraging to me than meeting a mentor and colleague like Monica Enand. She is a trail-blazing woman, living life as a pioneer of the future. These are the traits that women are being called to bring as leaders, so that we may feminize the world to create impact for the greater good and evolve the human species to the next level.