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What You Want and How You Get There

It’s pretty hard for me to give up a Saturday. My husband and I both work awfully hard during the week so that we can enjoy the weekends side-by-side. Whether we are cleaning the house, adventuring into a new part of the Pacific Northwest or just enjoying time with our friends and family, Saturdays and Sundays have become quite sacred to us. That being said, when the invite came out for this years Women’s Leadership Summit, I didn’t think twice about giving up half of my weekend. From my experience with TrueLife Coaching’s (a company created and lead by Shandel Slaten) leadership summits past, I just knew it would be well worth it.

And, sure enough, it was definitely worth it! Each year the conference has a similar structure. There is typically a large section focusing on the attendees survey results (which shows your DISC profile and motivators) sandwiched between multiple other amazingly useful info-rich topics (this year there were a couple great panels and a terrific talk on Personal Branding by Debra Trappen who is the Chief Experience Office for CB Bain). Everything I learned at #2012WLS was useful and I highly recommend Debra (or any of the speakers on the panel as a speaker). The most useful bit for me, as seems to be every year, is the information presented by Shandel about the DISC profile and motivators. I very much so recommend that every person looking to grow (whether personally or professionally) takes the DISC test – it has taught me so much about myself and my loved ones. Even though, the DISC and motivators part of the conference is something that I have heard a couple of times now, I always seem to learn new things about myself and the way I communicate with others. This year, what really hit me (my ah-ha moment) was when Shandel was speaking on how DISC scores and motivators play off each other. She said, “Motivators show what you want and your DISC profile will show how you are going to get there.” To give you a little background on both, I have listed what the different DISC profiles and motivators.

DISC:

Basically, DISC represents 4 different behavior types: D stands for Dominance, I stands for Influence, S is for Steadiness, and C for Compliance.
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  • Dominance: People with a high score in dominance have an emphasis on shaping the environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results.
  • Influence: Those with a high Influence score put great emphasis on shaping the environment by influencing or persuading others.
  • Steadiness: If you have a high Steadiness score then you probably hold an emphasis on cooperating with others within existing circumstances to carry out the task.
  • Compliance: And, finally, if your score is highest in compliance then you place a greater emphasis on working conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy. (Information from DISCProfile.com.)

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MOTIVATORS:

Motivators are a little different. Motivators have to do with what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. There are six key motivators that each person contains a certain portion of:
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  • Theoretical: A passion to discover systematize and analyze; a search for knowledge.
  • Utilitarian: A passion to gain return on investment of time, resources and money.
  • Aesthetic: A passion to add balance and harmony in one’s own life and protect our natural resources.
  • Social: A passion to eliminate hate and conflict in the world and to assist others.
  • Individualistic: A passion to achieve position and to use that position to influence others.
  • Traditional: A passion to pursue the higher meaning in life through a defined system of living.

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For myself, I am a high D and high I. My top motivators are 1. Social (I like to help others and make people happy) and 2. Utilitarian (I also like to make money). This means, all combined and in its simplest form: I want (to help others succeed in life and get a good return for my time) and I will do this by (overcoming obstacles and influencing others to help). It was interesting for me to see this the first time I took the test (which was a coupe of years ago). I knew that people were important to me but I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to own up to the fact that making money (or any other kind of worthy return on my investment, like time, people or relationships) was also so important to me. I felt bad. I started wanting my motivators to be like other peoples. Why couldn’t I have an Aesthetic motivator and want to see this world become a more beautiful place? Or, a passion to pursue the higher meaning in life? Both of those sound a little more… zen. And, both of these options sounded so much better to me than wanting to make money. But, this year, something Shandel said put a new spin on things for me and I realized that being passionate about Social AND Utilitarian (people and ROI) can be an awesome combination. I love people more than I love money. It’s my number one. But, with money a close second, I actually have a great advantage. It means that I want to create Win-Wins. Why? Because I love people and want them to be happy and I want to be successful myself. I wont make a decision purely for the monetary benefits but I also wont make a decision just because of something that will make another happy. So, while I am good at looking out for my team, I always keep the bottom line in mind. Not to toot my own horn, but it seems like a pretty good combination and I feel more confident in myself as a leader, and as a person.

The best thing about the Women’s Leadership Summit every year is that I always learn something new. The time spent is always valuable and worth my precious Saturday hours. Coming away with more information on yourself and being able to find the positives about who you are as a person, instead of trying to change yourself to be someone you’re not. I would definitely encourage you, if you haven’t already, to take the DISC and motivators assessments. You may be surprised what you find out.

Gilt: Co-Founders Who Built Their Billion Dollar Company on Respect and Implicit Trust

Alexandra Wilkis Wilson

Today I got to attend the CRAVE Seattle event which featured entrepreneur Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder of Gilt Groupe. The event was packed with 150 (mostly) women entrepreneurs. CRAVE founder Melody Biringer puts on amazing events and I’m thankful that she extended the invite out to me. Gilt Groupe – launched by Alexis, Alexandra, and three colleagues in 2007 – is one of the most fascinating start-ups of recent years, with a valuation of more than $1 billion. And it all began with one bold idea: to bring sample sales online and change the way millions shop.

The co-founders Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank are authors of the book “By Invitation Only“. I have to say that it is the best entrepreneurial book that I’ve read in 2012 so far. The book is a fascinating journey between two people who were friends before they were business partners. The book does a good job sharing how the contrasting personalities worked well together. While the success in terms of revenue generated year-over-year is off the chart amazing, the part the interested me the most was the partnership between Alexandra and Alexis. I wish there was more time at the event for Alexandra to expand upon the true meaning of friendship and how their relationship was able to flourish through a start-up. In the book “By Invitation Only”, there are many chapters that go into relationships and the team. I’ll highlight a few quotes from the book:

Focus on Relationships and Execution

“We believe that Gilt Groupe is powerful proof that strong preexisting relationships between cofounders-coupled with a focus on relationships with customers, vendors, and employees– is a potent formula for both success and personal fulfillment.”

“Bring complementary skills and personalities to the table and both happen to value each other more than any enterprise you could start together– makes you more effective, and makes the adventure more meaningful.”

“From the beginning of our friendship, our different personalities made us a great pair, because we approached the same challenges from different skills and perspectives.”

“We believe that our relationship helped us execute better than our competitors. Ideas are cheap and easily replicated these days; its the execution that really matters.”

“In start-ups, the execution is much more important than the idea. No matter how brilliant or timely your business proposition, if you don’t have a team capable of effectively executing it, and executing it together, it will never work.”

Respect and Implicit Trust

The thing that I picked up on from Alexandra and through the book was an incredible amount of respect that each had for the other. They both knew that the other had skills that the other could not touch. They also were able to be responsible for completely different areas of the business. They were both self-starters and would be free to do their own thing, trusting each other implicitly. It’s this level of humanity between these co-founders that I admire and aspire for. What is the backbone of your business partnership?

Sari Crevin: Leap From Corporate Cog to Successful Entrepreneur

Sari Crevin, CEO of Booginhead, shares her entrepreneurial journey of how she built up a successful $1M+ company at night and on weekends while working by day as an HR Manager in the XBOX division at Microsoft. Sari’s company, BooginHead, creates award winning, parent invented products for the Baby/Toddler industry. Sari was ranked #14 out of 50 in a national 2011 Mompreneur website.

Sari bootstrapped her company while supporting her family. Sari also faced some huge challenges along the way which I’m not going share because I don’t want to steal her thunder, I’ll just say the challenges were the kind where you want to just give up. Sari’s products are now in Target and most recently launched in 500 Walmart Stores and in Babies R Us nationwide and abroad in countries like Canada, China, Australia, Mexico, and Europe.

If you’re looking to quit your day job and start your own company, you will definitely enjoy listening to Sari’s story. The thing that I love to listen about is how people that have had really successful corporate careers take their leap into entrepreneurship. Some of the best stories are not the one’s that raised millions of dollars but the one’s that bootstrapped their companies and had to really grind it out and become successful by getting customers. Entrepreneurship is not an easy path, but, it certainly is the most rewarding.

Come join us and listen to Sari Crevin share her story at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue Square on May 31st! Sign up for the event.

Cultivating Women Leaders in Seattle

I met Shandel Slaten, CEO of True Life Coaching, six years ago through the Entrepreneur Organization Seattle. Since then I have hired Shandel to help coach me with building my company and team. Shandel has been critical in helping me identify my own strengths, understand my communication style (or lack thereof in some cases, as I have a natural tendency to be blunt!), and also help me with some of the most challenging opportunities when the goal is to build a great company.

For the last three years, I’ve sent managers and leaders in my company to an annual event that Shandel hosts called the “Women’s Leadership Summit”. My COO, Alyssa Magnotti, has attended the event for the last three years. I believe that in order to have great leaders in my company, I have to re-invest in them and make sure that they get incredible learning experiences. Shandel bridges the gap in leadership training for me, helps me build leaders in my company, and helps them grow both personally and professional and go from being managers to being true leaders.

Tom Peter’s says it best: “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

If you’re interested in developing your leadership skills and have a heightened level of self-awareness, check out her podcast on “Why Should You Attend the 3rd Annual Women’s Leadership Summit