July 2019

Success is Personal: Gemma Carver

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We continue our “success is personal” blog series with some of our favorite people to learn more about their motivation and how they think to support diversity in the workspace.
This week we spoke to Gemma Carver – you can find her at @GempireRules.

What do you do & for who  – in the digital / transformation space?

I am a #Digital and #Innovation Director at Pentland Brands (owns Speedo, ellesse, Berghaus, Canterbury and many more Brands).

What’s your personal definition of success  – and what does that look like for you day to day?

The word #success is subjective, fleeting and ephemeral and a word that should be carried lightly. But since you ask, it is hard for me to talk about success at the level of a day. In both my personal and professional life I look at success over the long term. Are my children growing physically and emotionally? Are they mostly happy and are they learning and enjoying it? Am I connected with them inspite of my busy job? At work I ask are we further ahead this year than at the same point a year ago? Are we moving towards or away from our vision? Have we built on success and failure? Are we better understood and are we making a valuable contribution to thinking and decisions in the business. When I can answer mostly yes to these questions, then I feel I am doing something that might make a difference at home and at work. 

Is there a specific role model, mentor/mentors or experience that prompted you to shape this definition?

There are three big influences in my life:

First, studying English, German and Spanish literature for four years which gave me time to think and shape my world view.

Second, my husband who is the wisest person I know and with whom I have debated the Big Questions for hours and hours.

And third, working with data scientists who taught me how to think about data and statistics. Though it hasn’t stopped me making non-data driven decisions which I find interesting.

What’s the project or achievement that you have been involved in, of which you are most proud – (and does it speak to your personal version of success)?

I am proudest of my role as a leader in a large change project in an advertising business that positively changed the culture to enable people to do great work.

Finally – do you have any practical ‘culture hacks’ you can suggest to individuals on how they can encourage more diversity and inclusion in organisations – to support different approaches to personal success?

To encourage #diversity and inclusion in organisations, it is my belief that we need to explore how we show up as individuals, how groups interact with each other and how we can create systems that support inclusion.  For many organisations, this journey needs to start with understanding how things are now, as this is the catalyst for change. So my ‘hack’ would be to look for ways to illuminate and discover the current depth of inclusion.

Nina LovelaceSuccess is Personal: Gemma Carver
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Success is Personal: Carrie Birmingham

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10 Digital Ladies is starting a new irregular blog series where we quiz some of our favourite people about what motivates them, and how diversity can be supported in the workplace. This week we spoke to 10 Digital Ladies associate Carrie Birmingham – you can find her at @CarriebIrm.

What do you do & for who  – in the digital / transformation space?

I run a consultancy that specialises in resolving complex and messy problems with clients and work with lots of diverse and amazing people. (https://carrieconsult.co.uk/)

What’s your personal definition of success  – and what does that look like for you day to day?

I have a passion for creating workplaces where people can do great work and I love supporting clients to fix problems that are preventing this. My definition of success is doing this work, in a way that supports my wellbeing so combined with oodles of dog walks, swimming, camping, and cooking with my hubby.

Is there a specific role model, mentor/mentors or experience that prompted you to shape this definition?

This definition has been shaped by my Masters in Organisation & People development, 10 years as a HR Director and development with wise and kind teachers that encouraged / forced (choose your verb!) me to look deeply at myself.

What’s the project or achievement that you have been involved in, of which you are most proud – (and does it speak to your personal version of success)?

I am proudest of my role as a leader in a large change project in an Advertising business that positively changed the culture to enable people to do great work.

Finally – do you have any practical ‘culture hacks’ you can suggest to individuals on how they can encourage more diversity and inclusion in organisations – to support different approaches to personal success?

To encourage diversity and inclusion in organisations, it is my belief that we need to explore how we show up as individuals, how groups interact with each other and how we can create systems that support inclusion.  For many organisations, this journey needs to start with understanding how things are now, as this is the catalyst for change. So my ‘hack’ would be to look for ways to illuminate and discover the current depth of inclusion.

Nina LovelaceSuccess is Personal: Carrie Birmingham
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What I learnt about leadership (this week) “Just fire someone and give us some damn spoons.”

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I attended a fabulous leadership workshop this week, arranged by YLD and Professor Frank Flynn from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. The session uncovered lots of great tips on how to achieve four key #business and/ or #leadership team improvements; making effective decisions on a regular basis, harnessing the collective wisdom of your team through better meetings, fostering collaboration within your organisation and motivating your teams and people.

These are all useful tips for leaders from all kinds of backgrounds, from corporate to public sector, startups to established businesses. Here are some of the top takeaways I’ve collated from the day.

Firstly, thanks to Frank Flynn for his marvelous insights, and to Greta Strolyte and YLD for having me along.

YLD kindly gave some of our 10 Digital Ladies members a discount to this brilliant and thought-provoking event (arranged by my lovely co-founder Lucia Adams). 10 Digital Ladies is the Women In Digital network that I run alongside my main entrepreneurial leadership development and mentoring startup, Kandu.

Good decision-making in leadership teams relies on good data – “Even a genius fails when that genius is relying on bad data or a bad frame in which to view it all,” explained Frank after taking us through a great workshop illustrating exactly that. Particularly, the session made clear that too often we sample on the dependent variable only e.g. business success books only ever research successful business leaders, they never ask ‘unsuccessful’ leaders what they do to actually see whether it’s the ‘how’ or the ‘what’ they do that’s actually relevant.

Bias can cloud and affect decision making, and there are many, many different types of bias – Confirmation bias, default bias, overconfidence, loss aversion and risk aversion, all of which are fully Google-able for more detail. For me personally, default bias was of particular interest. For example, once a person has made a decision, it can be psychologically hard for them to retreat from it, even if new data comes to light that suggests that decision is now out of date.

There are some great hacks you can use to improve decision-making – The first is to drill into that data. Frank said that, “People that are strong decision-makers have a propensity to ask probing questions about data to check its utility,” they automatically engage with critical thinking. Also, use checklists – Frank referenced a McKinsey report that shows that if organisations work at reducing the effects of bias in their decision-making process they can achieve 7% higher returns.

Harnessing collective wisdom is very valuable – it can surface better decisions through the collection of diverse views. But groups will naturally work toward convergence and not surfacing divergence of opinion; “When groups get together, they talk about the stuff everybody knows – not the stuff that just one person knows,” said Frank. In fact, the latter may not even be surfaced if a person doesn’t offer that information up at the right time. As a result, the benefits of collective wisdom can be limited without due regard.

A useful hack to get around this is to agree that one person will be responsible for collating all the relevant information needed for a collective decision ahead of a meeting and for sharing the composite with everyone. “When using this approach, groups are more accurate, more efficient and generally like each other more at the end of the process (of making a decision),” described Frank. This does mean the person leading/ collating information should be open-minded to really include everything that is relevant (bearing in mind that everyone thinks they are open-minded… ).

As a leader, you should instigate collaboration between your people to kick off more innovation or activate opportunities. “It’s not your job to facilitate or maintain collaboration, but you do need to get the ball rolling,” said Frank. He encouraged leaders to get their people to ask for help/ offer help or facilitate introductions to valuable secondary connections. “Technology can help with linking people together, as can well-designed physical spaces”, he added.

“Any intervention to encourage the instigation of collaboration needs to be designed to success” warned Frank. Networking events or mixers may not work, for example, as often people leave without having spoken to anyone new.

You need to motivate your people through extrinsic and intrinsic motivation – and one is not a replacement for another. Your best chance of motivating your people is to ensure you’re mainly using intrinsic #motivation, e.g. giving them #autonomy, mastery (allowing them to learn and get better), relatedness (fostering a feeling of connection between colleagues) and finally #purpose. There was a lot more discussion about all of these, but far too much for one blog!

Rewards and incentives can help with motivation – Receiving an unexpected reward can particularly activate dopamine production (unlike expected ones), said Frank. But by offering perks you can open up the risk of loss aversion if times change; people are more likely to remember what you took away rather than what you gave. An example was given of a major firm who took away free plastic cutlery from staff. A choice piece of staff feedback was, “Just fire someone and give us some damn spoons.”
T

Do not guess what motivates others, just ask. You may be surprised, but it can help to better understand how to get the best from them. However, many leaders feel uncomfortable asking what their people want to achieve or do, feeling like perhaps they shouldn’t have to ask, they should just know it – despite not being mind-readers!

A few sign-off notes from me: I will discuss this with my co-founders but I reflected that with 10 Digital Ladies we have seen collaboration happen because we run small, intimate events, where we actively encourage our members to share learnings and any possible challenges in a safe environment. By giving this strong steer about the purpose of our events and our overall mission, we effectively encourage our members to ask for help or at least solidarity which sparks conversations, new relationships and ideas.

Nina LovelaceWhat I learnt about leadership (this week) “Just fire someone and give us some damn spoons.”
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Ten things we learned about confidence building

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Confidence is one of the biggest factors holding women back as they navigate their digital careers. It’s an issue 10 Digital Ladies co-founder Lucia Adams has navigated first hand – both in her own career journey, as well as with the coaching clients she works with.

This month we were treated to a workshop by well-known BBC TV broadcasters Luisa Baldini and Louisa Preston. These two veterans of news broadcasting provided a fascinating insight into the tricks of projecting with confidence in front of an audience of millions. The workshop explored how we can start to build our own confidence and what we can do to appear confident even when we don’t feel it.

The event was once again held at the fantastic venue provided by our sponsors at Photobox and was an interactive affair with 10DL members trying their hands at rewriting a news story so that it could be delivered in 20 seconds.  

Here are the top ten pieces of advice that we took from our time with Louisa and Luisa:

Know when you can be assertive

Trying too hard to assert yourself can mean that you end up appearing argumentative or aggressive. When we are concerned we won’t be heard we might try to hard. Pick your moments.

The font of confidence: innate, underlying, immediate

There are three things you notice when you come across confident people. Firstly the confidence appears to be built in – they seem to be born with it. Secondly, it underpins everything about them – the way they stand, the way they speak and the way they move. Thirdly, it is immediate. They speak with confidence from the very first word.

Understand your personal brand

Confident people come in all shapes, sizes and styles. What is common to all of them is that they are comfortable in their skin. This comes from a real understanding of their personal brand. They know their strengths and weaknesses and they have created a brand that is built around those strengths.

Tackle your imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is something that most of us struggle with from time to time. Often the more successful we are the more of an issue it comes becomes. This is something that we need to tackle head on otherwise it will build and become a real barrier to building your confidence.

I am here and you will listen to me!

All too often we seem to want to want to ask permission to share our thinking. This often leads to a tone that is uncertain – as if we lack confidence in the veracity of what we are going to say. Whether you are a meeting or at an event you are there for a reason and we need to recognise the importance of your own contribution.

Hold your imaginary cloak in place – chin up and shoulders back!

When we lack confidence our posture gives us away. We tend to hunch forward – head down. Not only does this make you appear unconvinced in the importance of what you are saying it also makes it harder for others to hear you. If you imagine that you are wearing a cloak over your shoulders think about holding it in place – keep your shoulders back and your head up.

Do a quick count of three in between sentences to pace yourself

One of the common mistakes we make when speaking in front of a group of people is to rush our sentences. It is important to remember (especially if you are speaking in front of a large audience) that you need to drop your speaking pace and to pause. Pausing gives an impression of confidence and gives people time to absorb what you are saying. One simple trick is to count to 3 in your head between each sentence.

Video yourself – no matter how excruciating it feels!

Nobody likes to watch themselves on video. Most of us don’t even like to listen to our own voices but if you can bear the embarrassment it is well worth doing. It helps you understand any vocal or physical ticks you may be unaware of and understand how you are going to be perceived by your audience.

Have the confidence to do things slightly differently

The most memorable speeches we hear or conversations we have are the ones that aren’t quite what we expected. It might feel safer to follow tried and tested routes but it is by doing things a little differently that we can have the biggest impact.

Own your entrance!

It is important that you are delivering with confidence from the moment that you walk into a room. If you watch great orators take to a stage they have captured your attention before they even open their mouths.

Thanks again to everyone who made this such a good event. We had some fantastic feedback from our attendees and I am sure we will be calling on Louisa Preston and Luisa Baldini again for another session.

Remember, if you have any thoughts on building and projecting confidence and would like to share them with us please comment below or join us on Twitter or Instagram (@10digitalladies). As always, we encourage our community to offer ideas for our next 10 Digital Ladies book! If you still haven’t got your copy of our first book, Career Hacks, you can register for a copy here: http://bit.ly/10DLbook.

Emma SindenTen things we learned about confidence building
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