I had the pleasure of attending MidWest Dreamin' and and WITness Success last week. And both conferences were highly educational and the networking was excellent.
Coastal Cloud is a huge proponent for women in tech (WiT), after all, we are a woman-owned and lead company with a team that is comprised of 38% women. So, naturally, we found it important to support and attend the only Salesforce WiT conference in the world - WITness Success.
I was fortunate enough to attend this conference and came home to be inspired and shocked at the culture that I just witnessed. The speakers and attendees (both men and women) were very approachable, open, vulnerable, and passionate. The welcome hugs from virtual friendships were abundant and the connections I made within the ecosystem is exciting and encouraging.
Through all of the speakers and panels over the past day and a half, three messages stood out to me: lead like a woman, not a man, diversity in the workplace leads to a more successful company and market yourself like a business.
Lead like a woman, not a man
The discussion of how to lead throughout the conference boiled down to this: just be your female-self. There is a misconception that good leadership takes the form of masculine traits. According to a recent global study, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Empathy, credit distribution, inquiry, networked thinking and others are traits that are vital for an innovative and problem-solving environment. These traits aren’t inclusive for a female, but they do come naturally.
Another leadership subject was imposter syndrome. As females, this is typically a stronger occurrence than in men and is simply a subconscious issue. The human brain is a pattern recognition machine. We unconsciously map the environment around us and whatever we are accustomed to seeing becomes what our brain recognizes as normal. For the leadership role, we constantly see white males sitting at a board room table. Overcoming this mindset is and will be a constant struggle (at least in the foreseeable future). There is no magic fix. It simply comes to hard work to overcome it.
Diversity in the workplace leads to a more successful company
Time and time again, studies were referenced to the success of a company if they have diversity within the workplace. One such example was a study by McKinsey & Company that showed of 366 public companies analyzed, those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians.
To gain top diverse talent, companies must approach it as any other business problem. If your company was looking to expand within a new vertical, you’d hire a professional that specializes in that. This problem is no different.
Companies must also put focus on their culture. Peter Coffee gave this nugget of wisdom: “Intelligence is knowing that something you’ve done for a long time, and well, may no longer be true.” Combine that with recent study findings that the average working mom clocks in 98 hours a week, and it now be comes clear the traditional work-model is may not be the best option. Coastal Cloud has dissolved this model. It has put as much of a focus on its culture as it does it’s financial growth and is going against the grain to maintain employee happiness. (Check out the video below to hear more.)
Market yourself like a business
The concept is easy, the implementation is a different story. Nonetheless, visualizing yourself as a business is an important practice that was shared.
To start, answer these questions:
- Do you have branding?
- What’s your mission statement?
- Are your goals written down (and publically shared for accountability)?
- Do you do quarterly and yearly check-ins?
Ayori Selassie, Product Marketing Manager for Salesforce also discussed her Life Model Design methodology. In essence, it’s designing what you want your life to look like, discovering your personal reality, deciding on a plan to confront toxic stress and developing new routines and habit changes.
If a business is to succeed, they need to know what sets them apart from their competition, where their values lie and what their future goals are. You should be no different.
In conclusion, the WITness Success conference is an event that I encourage everyone to attend. It was full of encouragement, faux-pas topics being brought to light and raw personal stories full of inspiration. I fully plan on attending next year, July 27-28 in Denver, Colorado and I hope to see you too.