As a marketer, writer, and a speaker, I am always amazed at how my universe collides with others. With channels such as Instagram, SnapChat and Twitter, I am accustomed to meeting amazing people at conferences & events, but when I met Adrienne Garland, I knew instantly I wanted to be a part of her mission.
Adrienne is the founder of SheLeads Media, a conglomerate which brings together experts from a variety of disciplines to provide actionable advice to women looking for entrepreneurial and leadership advice. Needless to say, we hit it off and I want to share my insights from conversations with her and others, leading into SheLeads 2016. I hope you learn from these women what I have learned from spending time with someone I am thrilled to share the stage with in October at SheLeads 2016.
For a better understanding of Adrienne’s mission and the conference, I will be writing a weekly series leading up to this event. To begin, I felt it best to start with a Q & A with Adrienne as to what drove her to make the decision to start the conference. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I interview speakers and sponsors leading up to the event.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what prompted you to start your business - was there a life event or other pivotal moment that drove you toward entrepreneurship?
Isn’t there always? In 2010, I had been working for a global management consulting firm for almost two years, and there were circumstances, both personally and professionally that left me feeling extremely disenchanted with corporate America. I realized that I was making choices that led me down a path of self-sabotage. When I recognized what I was doing, I knew that it was time to make a dramatic change in the way I approached both work and my life. Since I have always held a deep belief in myself and my abilities, I reasoned that if I was able to rise through the ranks as a marketing leader in corporate America, I could likewise create success within my own business. Therefore, in May of 2010, I set out to create a marketing consulting firm with a focus on helping women-owned businesses to grow and thrive. I wanted to help other women like me create success on their own terms, with their own vision. Since that time, many things have shifted and my business, She Leads Media looks quite different today than it did in 2010.
What is the best part of being an entrepreneur and what’s the worst? Let’s hear it, in tandem.
Truthfully, the best AND, yes a BIG AND the worst part is making all of your own decisions. We all struggle for control but when you have it, it can actually get lonely, you have to be able to trust those around you, it isn’t an easy process. Which is why I wanted a platform where women could be women, so to speak.
What was your original vision for your business, and do you still have the same vision today, or if not, how has it changed?
My original vision for my business is very much the same, and that is to help women understand that they are the leaders of their own lives and can make career and business choices that work for them, at any stage of their lives. The thing that has changed about my business is the way in which I help women to achieve their objectives. Originally, my client work was very focused on individual businesses and working with founders one on one. Today, I am reaching more women using the She Leads Media platform, for which I am very proud of, because I want women to believe in themselves and who they can empower.
How do you differentiate yourself from other companies/firms/individuals that are in the same field as you?
I am very focused on providing value through actionable advice that gets results. All the content that I curate is filtered through this lens. I am also highly selective about the language I use and the products, services and thought leaders I promote, as I don’t want to waste anyone’s precious time. Starting a business, growing a business and leading a life is difficult enough, and I don’t want to be anything other than helpful and a trusted resource for women.
How has your business evolved over the years? Has digital or social media impacted you in a significant way?
My business has gone through many changes over the years, and I am still in the process of changing, growing and refining everything that I do and how I do it. My goal is to impact as many women as I can through my content curation and facilitation of conferences and events that lead to action. My business relies heavily on digital communication and so social media has played a significant role in how I communicate and with whom I communicate. Remember that is how we met, social turned into an #IRL meeting. It can certainly become overwhelming to be on every social network and leverage that network to its full advantage. One of the things that I have found to work for me is to manage the social media myself. I believe that it is better, more effective and more genuine to communicate directly with those you are attempting to reach.
How has your industry evolved over the last several years?
My space is very crowded, especially here in NYC. There are many wonderful women’s organizations, conference and individual women who are working toward the same goal as I am. I’d like to see all of these groups, including She Leads, find an efficient and effective way to work in collaboration so that everyone would financially benefit and make the greatest impact. I do see many conferences that are focused on millennials, and I think that is wonderful! That said, there is a void in the marketplace for women who are in the second chapter of their careers – which is the sweet spot where I see She Leads living.
In general, what unique talents, skills or advantages do you believe women have as leaders? As entrepreneurs?
The ability to achieve and accomplish so much. We are natural nurturers and builders of things. We build lives, we build families, we build societies. And we care, deeply, passionately, about the things that are near and dear to our hearts, our souls. I also believe women are intuitive, which helps them to know things that may not be able to be articulated.
We must, as a society, do more to highlight and showcase success and leadership models that are achieved by tapping into these ‘feminine’ skill-sets.
What was the best advice you ever received?
Run your own race. We can get so distracted trying to compete with someone else who is on a completely different journey for a completely different reason than you. This can pull you so far off course that it’s extremely difficult to realize why you started running in the first place. Always keep your personal goals and objectives at the top of your mind, in everything that you do.
What advice would you give to women who are looking to start their own business? Who are looking to step up as leaders?
Yesterday I heard a very profound piece of advice for women that is informed by statistics…The advice is to create a business model that allows your business to scale. Women tend to build lifestyle businesses that don’t achieve the same level of financial success as businesses that are started by men. So, while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with a lifestyle business, the less women build scalable businesses, the smaller piece of the financial pot we will get. Consequently, these businesses and the women who start them will be perceived as less credible and able to build a financially successful business. This is where women have a great chance to really step up as leaders!
There’s always a million things to tackle when you’re running your own business - what is your top way to stay focused and productive?
This is a very difficult one for me. I always have so many ideas, I’m fascinated by people and their stories and I want to be everything from a designer to a professor to a world traveler to a talk show host, author and a bi-lingual yogi and more on a daily basis! Deadlines and pressure keep me very focused. They’re not the most positive ways, but that’s what works for me. I also need to have a very neat and organized work environment so that I can focus on tasks at hand.
Tell us all about She Leads 2016
I’m so excited for this year’s conference! It will take place on Thursday, October 6, 2016 at Wells Fargo 150 East 42nd Street, from 8:30 am - 7:00 pm.
Attendees can expect to hear about leadership and entrepreneurship, as well as get actionable tips, tools and information that will help them to not only lead their own company, but also their life. The conference is a great way to meet with inspirational women leaders and business owners who’ve experienced similar challenges in business and in life. There will be numerous stories about how different women moved through business and life challenges, as we all have, to achieve their own brand of success. I hope that women can take away practical lessons that they are able to apply to their own business or professional situation so they experience less frustration and fear. We will also be giving audience members the chance to speak and get valuable, live feedback in our Pitch The Media and Now What? sessions –which have been so popular year after year.
We have created a unique and intimate setting where others can learn, network and feel comfortable doing business with strong women leaders. She Leads is creating a thriving community of women leaders and experts who are focused on doing what’s necessary to encourage women to start, launch and grow successful businesses and become leaders in their community. She Leads 2016 and the She Leads community seeks to impact the economy and society overall by offering women the platform, tools and support they need to become leaders - which directly influences and benefits the world. We have over 30 speakers and an agenda packed full of keynotes, fireside chats, interactive panels, networking and more!
How can people connect with you?
They can go to www.sheleadsmedia.com
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