120 Building Mass Influence: Bestselling Author and Entrepreneur Teresa de Grosbois Shares Her Secrets
Entrepreneur Teresa des Grosbois is the best selling author of Mass Influence, and she shares shares the mechanics and inspiration of viral influence and how to grow your thought leadership and impact.
Melinda Wittstock: Theresa, it's great to have you on Wings.
Theresa de Grosbois: Thank you, it's awesome to be here, thank you so much for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I am really intrigued with what first got you interested in the concept of influence.
Theresa de Grosbois: You know, I'd have to say, the seeds of me becoming a global expert on influence were probably sown when I was three years old, because I'm the youngest of a really big family. I'm not only Canadian, I'm from northern Canada, so I really did grow up in the back woods, and as the youngest of nine children, my siblings were everything to me, but at the same time, I was often getting left behind, you know when you're the youngest, you're always the tag along. Importance actually became a really important conversation to me at the age of three, well go figure that it would become my passion as I grew up and got university degrees and started becoming an expert in industry. The idea of what makes someone influential or important to other people was something that I always focused on, even from a very young age, and it became a fascination for me throughout my life.
Melinda Wittstock: What made you influential at age three?
Theresa de Grosbois: Pretty much nothing. I think one of the reasons I was so fascinated by it was because at age three, I had zero influence, and in my own mind, zero importance in my family. I think the same principle happens for a lot of us, you know one of the key foundational elements of influence is that a lot of us stop ourselves from becoming influential because our inner dialog gets in the way. Usually we invented that inner dialog at a very young age. I can actually remember the moment I first created my biggest self-limiting belief as a child.
There was a day we were all coming back from the cabin, we used to spend our summers in a remote boat access cabin, we had all just come back, we're standing in our little tiny house, 100-year-old kitchen, all my older siblings are present as well as a number of my cousins, so everybody is just packed into this little tiny kitchen, and the room is buzzing with excitement because my grandmother is taking us all to the movies, which is a really big deal. Three-year-old me looks across the room just in time to hear my mom say, “Theresa can't go, she's too little.” Devastation, right?
As a three-year-old, I decide in that moment I'm too small to play with the big kids. In that moment, importance became the utter focus of my life, because that was such an uncomfortable and horrific experience for me, to think that I was too unimportant, to small. The interesting thing is, you know that became a dominant inner dialog for me, so like every other human being on the planet, because we all do this to ourselves in some form. I started doing one of two things, I started desperately being terrified that it was true, or desperately trying to prove that it wasn't true. As a result, in that pursuit of, “I'm to small to play with the big kids, can't possibly be true,” influence and importance actually unknowingly became a passion of mine at a very young age, which happens to a lot of youngest children.
It's no accident that a lot of senior executives are actually the youngest children, because importance becomes such a critical conversation to us at a young age.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, that's something we have in common, I am the youngest and by a long way, with two older brothers. I know all too well what you describe, because it was this constant struggle to try and keep up with them and be heard and be included in conversations about, you know, “Dad, what's the stock market, how does the stock market work?”, you know that kind of thing that at the time, because I'm just old enough, girls weren't really seen as, especially young ones, that it was even an appropriate conversation. I had to like muscle my way into those kind of conversations, I totally understand.
This is so interesting, because all of us, men and women, do kind of graduate from childhood with all these self-limiting beliefs, and often we don't even know what they are, they're subconscious and they hold us back. When did you first become even conscious that this was a motivating factor…that you wanted to figure out how to influence, in essence, be heard and change the outcome of things?
Theresa de Grosbois: I think for me, it first happened probably about 15, 20 years ago, I can't remember the exact year, but it was when I affectionately had what I now call my “really bad year”. In the course of that year, the first six months of that year, my father had passed away, my health was in a tailspin, my marriage had ended, and my business at the time had failed. The only thing I could remember at that time was how utterly unhappy I was, you know I would wake up in the morning and have to remind myself to breathe. There was this specific moment in time where I was sitting on the bathroom floor of my post-marriage breakdown condo, and I've always been a renovator, so this bathroom was going to be my latest project, I'm surrounded by tools and I'm sitting there, tears just streaming down my face.
The only thought in my mind is that it's me that needs renovating, you know I'm looking back over the last 20 years of my marriage thinking, “Wow, I've had all the outward trappings of success, a healthy six-figure income career, known in my industry, two kids, great house, nice car, and I can't honestly look back and point to the last time that I was really lit up, happy.” It was a beautiful moment, because it was the moment I decided that I was going to be my next project, and I started doing every self help course under the sun, I got a lot more serious about my yoga and my health, I actually even went back and did an entire certificate in mediation, because I knew I had to get on top of being a conflict avoider.
That was the start of a journey to really start looking at my own self-discovery and looking at what's running in the background, you know what's running the show, because so many of us have an inner dialog that we're not even aware of, and it's the thing that's really driving the bus, and we're just moving through the motions at a conscious level, not realizing that there's some other thing that's having us react to every situation through a specific lens.
Melinda Wittstock: This resonates so deeply with me, also having not so long ago ended a 20-year marriage. When the marriage is going badly, it's very difficult for a business to thrive.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, and it's interesting, because it's most relevant when we start talking about stepping into influence or leadership, because you know the minute you think about stepping up to lead, especially the closer you get to your own dreams of really being a contribution and making a difference in the world, the closer you get to that, the more your inner dialog and self doubt is going to flare up, because your dreams are scarier to you than they are to anyone else on the planet. They're your dreams; that's freaking huge, right? We tend to stave off the things that actually are closest to our heart, because they're scariest to us, and in fact that's the place where it's easiest to be influential, it's easiest to succeed, because that's the place that you'll be the most inspirational and the most passionate.
Melinda Wittstock: Also the most authentic, like I think when we do step into that authentic power that we have, I mean because it really truly is empowerment, you are so unique and invariably offer the kind of unique solution, everybody has something that they're here really to do. The trick is getting into that and getting out of what I call the “life of shoulds”, where so many people, you go through life and you tic all the boxes, “It says here that if I do this, I'll be happy, and if I do this and if I do that.” It resonates so much with me to say that you had all these things, and I just go, “Wait a minute, I can't even recall the moment when I was happy.” How do we stay happy and present and in the moment as we build our businesses?
I mean, many of the women that I interview on this program are like me, a serial entrepreneur, we ride this kind of up and down, every business is a little bit different. A lot of the women who listen to this podcast are either starting their first businesses or reinventing themselves from a life in corporate. How do we first of all, find that kind of inner connection with ourselves to make sure that we're in alignment, and then stay in that present moment, stay in our power on that journey?
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, well first of all, you know life is an emotional rollercoaster; life is messy. The trick is to really notice: are you in control of your emotions, or your emotions in control of you? I love that you raised authenticity earlier, because there's a lot of definitions of authenticity out there, but I talk about it a lot in Mass Influence, my book, because authenticity is one of the most foundational elements of becoming influential. There's a lot of different definitions of authenticity out there, here's mine: Authenticity is your inside voice saying the same thing as your outside voice. In other words, what you're thinking and what you're saying and doing are in alignment.
If we're not even on top of our inner dialog, you know this impacts every area of our life, because your husband might be saying something like, “Honey, that dress looks good on you,” and if your inner dialog happens to flare up in that moment of, “I'm not pretty enough,” or whatever, you might think he's having you on, and have a reaction. When things are seen through the lens of whatever that negative self-talk is that you created as a child, your whole world is bordering on inauthentic, because you don't even know what inner dialog might be running in the background, and your inside voice may be disconnected from what's coming out of your mouth in many moments.
Melinda Wittstock: That's so true, so when you think of when people get triggered, it can manifest in all sorts of ways, in like hiring, in building a team, and I think of all the different ways that that manifests in business, you know really not understanding the other person, deals that go wrong because of it. I mean, there's so many different ways in which we can be our own worst enemy in that sense, if we're not listening to ourselves. What are some of the ways, you mentioned that you went on all these kind of, when you were renovating yourself, you went on all these self help courses, I mean how did you discover that inner voice, that connection between your inner voice and your outer manifestation of that voice, and stepping into your authentic path?
Theresa de Grosbois: Well, triggered is one of the things to notice, like so notice when you are triggered, like when your emotion just goes bang, through the roof, that's the moment to notice, what are you telling yourself, or what are you making that situation mean in that moment? Because that's a really good clue to what your dominant negative self-talk is, because a lot of people have, you know there's a theme to their self-talk. In other words, in my case it was all around, “I'm to small, I'm not important enough, nobody's going to listen to me,” that was all along a theme, but everyone's theme could be different, it depends on what your dominant circumstances were as a child. It's a good idea to notice that, because then you can start looking at, is that true?
It's really in that inquiry of, “Is that true?”, like because here's the thing, your inner dialog is not good or bad, it just is. When you start to really make peace with the fact that there's a three-year-old version of yourself running around inside of you, I call my inner child “Tessie”, you know but a big part of it is making friends with your own Tessie, because Tessie was just trying to make sense of the world and trying to protect me, and that inner dialog that Tessie created at the age of three was actually one of the best gifts she ever gave me, because, “I'm too small to play with the big kids,” not only became a place where I tripped myself up, it also became something that was a major motivator in my life.
I would not be a number one international bestseller in seven countries, whose book has been on the bestseller list for over two years now, if it weren't for little Tessie creating, “I'm too small to play with the big kids,” when I was three. A big part of getting on top of this is really starting to notice not only where does it trip you up, but where does it help you and motivate you?
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it motivated you to take on, you know and this is great, this is so interesting for a female entrepreneur, I mean to go into the oil and gas industry, like a very male-dominated industry.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, I can remember the days when I was the only woman in the room. A lot of women from my era came up through the tough days of being the first women in business. In fact, the women in the generation before me, I have no idea how they did it, because it was such a tough environment they were breaking through. That environment in and of itself for a lot of us created an inner dialog, it created an inner dialog around, “This is a tough situation, and I'm up against the odds.” The interesting thing was, some of us had to then break down that inner dialog when the battle was won, so to speak.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, because you can set up this construct in your mind that business is difficult for women, it's always going to be difficult, you know and then you end up perpetuating that.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yes, that's right, and you meet a lot of women who started in the 1950s and 1960s that still have this brick wall shell around them that they had to create to survive those early days when women weren't welcome in a lot of environments. The reality is, they probably don't need it nearly so much anymore, certainly not at the level that they're carrying it. It really benefits us to start looking at, “Okay, maybe cushy, soft boundaries would work here, maybe they don't need to be ironclad.”
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I think we saw that in the American election last year with Hillary Clinton, because she clearly had to fight for everything, it was one of the first women in public life, the first ever first lady who had a career. I mean, it's amazing to think that that's not that long ago, but so many women of that generation came up with this really hard exterior. Then it's very difficult to be authentic.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, and it's difficult to have people who didn't experience that environment, they'll have different inner dialog, but there were moments when Hillary Clinton was speaking that you could hear her inner dialog, when she would say things like, “There's a special place in hell for women who don't support women.” I can't remember the full quote, but you know the idea being that everyone should be relatable to this. The reality is, it's not that I think there isn't still the need for a women's movement, you know we've done the 20% of the work that give us 80% of the result, now we're into the tough stuff, the subtle stuff that's underneath the surface and hard to see.
Sometimes those are the harder challenges to face, but it doesn't help facing them if the inner dialog is running the show. The way to face them is to be really conscious and really aware, and really loving in your interactions, because that's actually what breaks down the stiffness and the barriers, and other people's inner dialog. When you run into sexism, racism, any of those things, you're just running into someone else's inner dialog.
Melinda Wittstock: That's so interesting. I mean, I think in the context of women and technology entrepreneurs like myself, going out to raise funds from venture capitalists, knowing that we get 3% of the money, so it's a really curious conundrum, because on one hand, your head gets filled with, “Oh wow, this is really tough, if women are only getting 3%, oh wow, this is going to be hard.”
To what extent do we convince ourselves that it's tough, or maybe it's not, it's just that we're in that mindset? Help me break that down, because this is in the realm of subtlety, there are so many different things going on in this equation.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, it's so true, because when you walk into the room with, “This is going to be tough,” you create that energy around you. When you walk into the room with, “I'm so brilliant, I am going to see the projects to pick up that aren't tough, and I am actually going to help create the projects that aren't tough, and this is all going to be easy, like floating downstream,” then a mind shift happens for everyone in the room. Because if you walk into, “I'm going to create that this is easy,” then a different conversation ensues. “I'm going to create that this is easy,” is a different space for everyone in the room to step into, and it actually causes a paradigm shift in the people that you're working with, because then you can hold them to account to, “Hang on, we're going to create that this is easy,” so you've got to be playing big enough, you have to be thinking inspiring enough, you've got to be really aligned with your own passion, because for this to be easy, you've got to be the kind of person that this is easy for. Then all of the sudden, all kinds of opportunity opens up inside of a different conversation.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, I mean it's so interesting when you realize that just a change in your mindset can have massive differences, it's like almost in any millisecond of any day, you're making all sorts of different choices, and they could all have completely different outcomes, and yet in our daily grind, sometimes it's really hard to even be present enough, to even be conscious enough to be making those choices. I mean, how do you get into that zone, Theresa, do you have any kind of recommendations for how women actually do that?
Theresa de Grosbois: You know, the zone is nothing more than an inquiry, and we're starting to see this with a lot of the top leaders now, are obviously doing their own work, because you'll start to hear some of them speak their inner dialog out loud. It's so cool when you witness it happening, and it could look as simple as, “I'm having a moment of fear that this is going to go off the rails, because blah blah blah might happen.” That gives other people the opportunity to calm your own fears and be the solution to whatever problem your inner dialog is creating.
It's really fascinating, if you stay in that inquiry of, “What am I afraid of in this moment, what's my inner dialog telling me, what's coming up for me?”, if you continue to ask those questions in the moments when discomfort comes up, sometimes speaking it out loud can be one of the most powerful leadership things you can ever do.
Melinda Wittstock: That's very interesting, and I think also the flip side of that is not making assumptions. I think we're very quick to make assumptions about other people, like we'll see them look a certain way and then fill in the blanks.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, and I mean we'll never be able to stop ourselves from making assumptions; we're freaking human beings.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, there is that.
Theresa de Grosbois: We are going to make assumptions all over the place, our brain makes 1,000 assumptions an hour I'm sure, you know we walk into a store, we assume the woman is going to take our money, because we've made sense of the world, and making sense of the world is fraught with assumptions. Trying to get rid of assumptions is almost like trying to stop the tide. Instead, question your assumptions. In any given moment, question, “Okay, I just made a bunch of assumptions, let's question whether those assumptions are valid,” because especially if things are going off the rails, that's the moment to say, “Are my assumptions valid in this moment?”
Because there's a lot of places where we're making assumptions, and those assumptions are actually really serving us, you know somebody's pointing a gun in your face, it's probably not a bad idea to assume that something is going on here, but on the other hand, if you're making assumptions that somebody is going to rob you just because of the color of their skin or the neighborhood you're in or things like that, those assumptions might not be serving you. You might be dancing on the realm of, “Okay, my inner dialog is doing something a little racist in this moment, let's look at that,” but don't beat yourself up that your mind did that, because you created a lot of those assumptions as a child.
The key is to really just notice that you're doing it, and dispel it, because getting rid of assumptions is almost like saying, “I want to stop being a human being,” it's just not possible.
Melinda Wittstock: Going back to the specific topic of influence, and looking at your own career as an entrepreneur and in business and as a bestselling author, and other women that you've observed around you as you came up in your career, what are some of the ways in which we jeopardize or compromise our influence as women, what are some of the patterns that you've seen or experienced?
Theresa de Grosbois: Well, the interesting thing is for women, women tend to be way better at mass influence just from a standpoint of their base wiring, because women are amazing at building relationships, and influence is all based on relationships. It's just we tend to get tripped up because mass influence, it's almost like it's a whole different sport. It's like we've been playing basketball our whole life, and suddenly somebody puts us on the hockey rink, and it's really uncomfortable and disconcerting at first, because we can't figure out what these stupid skates are on our feet, and why everybody is shooting pucks at us.
Yet when you get related to the new sport, it really is that easy. Mass influence, I like to say it's as simple as breathing. There was a time in your life when you thought breathing was difficult, you came out of that beautiful warm womb, somebody had slapped you on the back, you cried, it hurt like heck, and then you mastered the skill of breathing. Mass influence is a lot like that, you know I've never seen an influential person say, “Oh my God, kill me now, I've got to spend 24/7 today influential, where am I going to find the time?”, it doesn't work that way. Once you get the paradigm shift, you just move through your day doing the habits that influential people tend to do, and it is not a time killer, it's simply a different paradigm and skill set with which you approach your day.
Melinda Wittstock: Break it down, what are some of the habits?
Theresa de Grosbois: Well, I'd say the first and foremost is learning how to build relationship with highly influential people, and that happens through reciprocity. That's something Chaldini talks about in his book, that's like the Bible of influence, but he talks about it from the standpoint of building relationships one on one. This is where most people get tripped up, because you know for example, we learn that it's a good idea to buy a colleague a coffee, but you know that if you offer to buy a coffee for someone highly influential, that again, faster than you can say “gatekeeper”, you would get stopped. The reason for that is that reciprocity works differently for highly influential people.
[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]If we try and live in a little bubble where everything is perfect and nothing goes wrong, then we're probably actually isolating ourselves from everywhere where there's joy and fun in the world. #WingsPodcast #WomeninBusiness @TeresaDee[/tweet_box]
The challenge that you see or the biggest mistake you see people make in this realm is what I would affectionately call the premature ask. People always laugh when I say that one, “What?”, but you know the premature ask is like the equivalent of you've just moved into a new hood and the neighbor comes by and says, “Wow, I love that stereo, I just saw you carrying it up the walk, I can't wait to borrow that.” That would be the equivalent, that's the moment you're rolling your eyes back in your head saying, “Oh my God, who did I move in next door to?”, but you see that in business all the time at networking events.
This is where the paradigm shift is going to come, right now, bang, once you've got it, you'll see it, because at networking events, usually the two most influential people in the room are often the host and the guest of honor. You often see the guest of honor walk offstage and there'll be a lineup of people waiting there to meet them, half of them will have a product sample or a book or a CD in hand, the other half will be waiting to offer to buy them coffee or lunch. When you go to someone highly influential and ask for an hour of their time or ask them to look at your product sample, that's kind of like going to the new neighbor you just met and saying, “You are so going to love my kids, you are just going to adore babysitting them.”
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Theresa de Grosbois: Because any of those things, an hour of their time to have a coffee with you, a product sample-
Melinda Wittstock: An hour of their time is so valuable.
Theresa de Grosbois: It is.
Melinda Wittstock: You can never get your time back.
Theresa de Grosbois: Exactly, and so it doesn't equate, those things are more about you, it's way too early in the conversation to be making any of those asks. It's better to offer, and here's the currency of influential people, offer them something influential, offer them a means of growing more influence, because that's what influential people do. They're always endorsing and connecting each other; they're helping each other gain more influence, because influential people understand that influence is in itself currency.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay, so talk us through that then in practice. Say the keynote speaker has just come off the stage, and Theresa, this is someone that you really, really want to, I don't know, do business with, or you just admire or whatever, what's the first thing out of your mouth if you get a chance to talk to them?
Theresa de Grosbois: You might say, “Hi, I'm Melinda Wittstock, and I have one of the best podcasts out there, can I interview you for my podcast?”
Melinda Wittstock: That's exactly what I do. Not only that, but I ask all my guests to nominate other women who should be on my podcast.
Theresa de Grosbois: Absolutely, and that's why we love coming on your podcast, because you get influence, Melinda. I would come on your show any day of the week, because I love everything you teach. Yet as an influential person, you know because I have the privilege of leading an organization like the evolutionary business council, that has a reach of over 200 million people-
Melinda Wittstock: That's amazing.
Theresa de Grosbois: I have to do a lot of podcasts.
Melinda Wittstock: I bet you do.
Theresa de Grosbois: I'm in that lovely place where I have the privilege of being able to say no to some, you know so if I think somebody is inauthentic or I don't love what they teach, I don't have to be inauthentic and go on their show. It's important to understand that influential people are often driven by are you inspiring, are you doing something that really helps the world? If you are, offer to share their message with your following, and that will kick start, that's the equivalent of bringing the apple pie to the new neighbor.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, this is true, so say in this case, you know my mission or I guess my moonshot, my big why is to really invest in female-run and founded businesses, and so what better way to do that or at least to start to do that, short of writing checks to everybody, which I do intend to do, not to everybody, but you know scalable businesses that are solving big problems, things that I care about for sure run by women, I absolutely intend to do that, but as a start, why not affirm and acclaim our journeys? Because all too often, I perceive that women are succeeding in silence, and there is this, we were talking about subtlety a little bit before, but you know the image of the entrepreneur is the 20-something in a hoodie in a garage, like eating ramen noodles.
That's not necessarily, or it's very rarely true of female entrepreneurs, so I just want to kind of change the game. What a wonderful way for our stories to be heard, because I think the more other women hear these stories, the more likely they are to feel the confidence they need to go out and be big mass influencers.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, and that's why, Melinda, you're such a great example of influence, because you're such a contribution to women entrepreneurs, and you're a contribution to other influential people in this space, by so generously interviewing so many of us to help us spread the message of our own word. You are what I teach in action, I would sing from the rooftops what you teach any day of the week, because I so love what you stand for, for women in business.
Melinda Wittstock: Well that means so much to me, coming from you. I think that in business, and one of the things that I've learned, so I'm one of those serial entrepreneur types, so when you do create value for other people, if you come at it first from that mission, like so solving a problem and just creating value, things like money and influence and all those things follow, but it does have to be genuine. A couple times, you know every now and again, I'll go and I'll talk to a group of entrepreneurs, I do a lot of mentoring, either men or women or a mix of both, and I'll usually start by saying, “Hey, so why do you want to be an entrepreneur? How many of you want to be an entrepreneur for the money?”
This is a funny one, you know about a third maybe of the room will put up their hand, sometimes more. “How many of you want to be an entrepreneur because you don't want to have a boss?”, and another third roughly, and those are all like the wrong reasons, because going for it for just the money, I mean often those sorts of businesses don't fly, because there's no mission, it's not tied to your higher purpose.
Theresa de Grosbois: Very true.
Melinda Wittstock: On the boss thing, being an entrepreneur, you have many bosses, more than you can count.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, and it's not that those reasons are wrong, but if they're your only reason, then you're not standing on a solid platform. I know I'm saying just what you're saying anyway, you know I really love the point you're making right now, because it's so critical. It's good to want money, it's good to want to be your own boss, but until you find that thing that just really lights you up, that you're so passionate and awesome about, and I love everything you teach in this realm, Melinda, because it's so spot on. One of the reasons I wrote Mass Influence was because I really wanted women to get that if they just have the courage to step into their dreams, what really lights them up, business and influence and life in general just get so freaking easy, it's really hard to imagine how easy and downstream it all can get.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, not only that, but that influence and authenticity can scale now, because of social media. As long as you don't go on social media and say, “Me me me me me,” and sell, like it's the equivalent of someone standing on a street corner and saying, “Buy my thing,” but getting into that authenticity and really caring about people and doing that kind of enrollment, selling or relationship building or whatever on social media provides a leverage to that authenticity, if you're able to harness that. Do you think that's kind of a realm where women, you know because I think I heard you say this a little bit earlier in our interview, is that women are uniquely suited for this sort of influential relationship building role. How can we scale that?
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, it's so true, because a lot of influence happens in the world of reciprocity, it's just a matter of learning the paradigm of building reciprocity with other influential people, that's really all it comes down to. Women tend to do this in their sleep, it's just it's almost like learning a new sport, once they learn the sport, they're like the super athletes of the sport, but it's just a matter of having that paradigm shift and learning the habits and the etiquette that influence tends to operate under. That's why I created my 30-day influence challenge to go along with my book. Do you mind if I give that a shout out?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, please, go ahead, thank you.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, because you know it's really just one minute daily exercises, one to two minutes, “Here's something you focus on today,” we have you learn influence as you're doing it. It's really not a tough thing, it's not like, “Oh, I've got to go study for the exam,” it's stuff that tends to be very intuitive anyway, it's just a matter of most people aren't putting enough focus on it.
Melinda Wittstock: You know what's interesting, we had a guest on the podcast a couple weeks ago, and she was talking about how women sometimes confuse personal branding with personal bragging, and that we're very afraid sometimes to get the message out about ourselves because we think, “Oh, that's bragging.” Yet increasingly, if you want to be a successful founder and CEO, you really do need to become a thought leader in your space, it's part of that kind of respect. Help us navigate that a little bit, in terms of how women should really go about showing their expertise and becoming the top authority in their field, without falling into this kind of, “Me me me,” brag sort of thing that I think a lot of women are afraid of being perceived as doing, even if they're not doing it, they're afraid of being perceived as doing it.
Theresa de Grosbois: Well, I love everything that [Dr. Shawne Perrin [spp-timestamp time="00:44:38"] teaches in this realm. If you don't follow her work, go to shawnetv.com right now and sign up for her mailing list, because she is brilliant in this regard, it's S-H-A-W-N-E-T-V .com. She talks about shameless self promotion, and you know a lot of times when we hear the term “shameless self promotion”, we have a negative connotation around the word shameless, like, “Oh, aren't you shameless,” but in fact that in and of itself is a form of inner dialog. Shameless really means without shame, and if you really are the best at something, if you are really awesome at something, and you can get your inner dialog around that out of the way, then it's actually just speaking the truth to say, “I'm really awesome at helping people step into the realm of thought leadership.”
In fact, that's all you're doing in that moment of shameless self-promotion, is really telling people how you can love and support and assist them in the world. Why shouldn't we do it? I think Shawne is just brilliant, Dr. Shawne, at what she teaches in that realm.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it's kind of a crime, in a way, to hide an area, an expertise that you have or a power you have that would actually help other people. Sometimes I think that women in particular, men can fall into this a little bit too, but can think that they're the only beneficiaries, and that they're not actually providing value. Perhaps it's because somewhere along the line, again, it's that old limiting belief from childhood of feeling like you're less than or you are not valuing yourself. It manifests in all sorts of different ways, and one of the funniest ones that I've ever seen, in one of my mastermind groups from a few years back, we did this exercise where one at a time, the whole group gave each individual in the group a standing ovation.
Most of us couldn't take it, like it was like we were like squirming under, like, “Oh, make it stop,” and I thought that was the most intriguing thing, and I kind of observed that in myself, “Why can I not handle this standing ovation? Hmm, that's interesting,” and we talked about it for a while. It was a really interesting exercise to go do.
Theresa de Grosbois: It's a really good indication of how deep our inner dialog, our negative self-talk is. I think one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as an entrepreneur is permission to succeed sloppily.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it's always going to come, well I don't know, maybe that's a belief, but I think often it does come. “Sloppy” is an interesting word, it certainly comes in unpredictable ways.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, it's so true.
Melinda Wittstock: Never a straight line.
Theresa de Grosbois: Because every moment that we're beating ourselves up for it not being perfect is a moment we're not focusing on completing our mission in the world, you know and the reality is, life is messy. In fact, the messier life is, often the more fun and the more interesting and the juicier it is. If we try and live in a little bubble where everything is perfect and nothing goes wrong, then we're probably actually isolating ourselves from everywhere where there's joy and fun in the world.
Melinda Wittstock: Man, you just prompted a thought in me, I think of all the little girls, you know myself included in school, just asking if neatness counted and drawing little pictures, making our work look really perfect and really nice. Isn't that interesting, because boys are taught it's okay to be messy, but girls have this thing about being neat. I wonder if that translates into this kind of perfectionist gene that we have, that it all has to be like perfect, and startups aren't perfect.
Theresa de Grosbois: Absolutely, nothing worth doing in life ever came about in a neat and tidy box.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, so girls should be more messy; I'm going to tell my daughter to be a little bit more messy, although she's got a messy enough room.
Theresa de Grosbois: Yeah, you know and as a parent, you can always just shut the door.
Melinda Wittstock: Sometimes it is really the only way.
Theresa de Grosbois: Or you could just give yourself permission to be messy.
Melinda Wittstock: Now at this stage, your book, for two years on the bestseller list, and influencing a lot of people on how to influence, which I love, it's just so close to my heart, what you're doing, and the whole piece about authenticity as well is so critical. Talk to me a little bit about what you're doing right now in Costa Rica.
Theresa de Grosbois: That's the joy of my life at the moment. One of the privileges of leading an organization as wonderful as the evolutionary business council, because it's getting close to 300 members now, is that that community decided, “You know, maybe it's time we actually need a physical location that represents the EBC.” I often teach this in business, I say, “Build the community first, and then figure out where your physical structure exists.” In essence, Costa Rica is an example of us doing that. We're now creating an intentional community down here that stands for the principles of transformational learning and eco-conscious living, and we're going to be building a retreat center.
Some people are buying lots, we're selling off weeks at some of the guesthouses, we're calling it all enlightened, because we're about a fifth of the price the normal timeshare fractional industry is. It's really all just about gathering the big thinkers of the world down here, the people who are really lit up to create change and goodness in the world, and putting them into an environment where mastermind-like conversations are going to be the norm. The idea that we can all be dreamers and visionaries together is going to be the norm, it'll be a place where you as an entrepreneur are not the oddball out, but as someone that we're all inspired by and believe in.
Melinda Wittstock: I think it's really inspiring, Theresa, what you're doing there, because it occurs to me that entrepreneurs really have this tremendous power to solve a lot of problems that perhaps governments cannot, you know whether it's a local problem or it's an issue on a much more of a global scale.
Theresa de Grosbois: No kidding, like look at the work you're doing in Puerto Rico, that's such a great example.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it's interesting, I mean I think through one of my business network groups, Maverick 1,000, we work very closely with Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Unite, and so the whole effort to remake the Caribbean after these catastrophic storms. I think further afield too, to how can this podcast or how can all the effort around Wings really raise up women in developing countries as well, not just first world women launching tech startups, but further afield? What's been interesting in our research at my current company, Verifeed, where we look at and analyze millions of social media conversations, we've seen not only that brands and businesses that stand up for the authenticity that you're talking about, but also are really attuned to the evolved enterprise or conscious capitalism models, are actually outperforming everybody else.
Theresa de Grosbois: Isn't that inspiring? By the way, thank you for the work that you're doing in Puerto Rico, I think that's so beautiful. Like Vista Mundo, what we're discovering in Costa Rica is often, there's a lot of potential in an area, and they just need a handout, like people to bring down supplies or computers or things like that.
Melinda Wittstock: That's right.
Theresa de Grosbois: It's so simple to give a hand up to people who deserve it, you know it really is.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it's interesting there, because now there are all these opportunities to remake the electrical grid, like rather than just building it as it was before, the technology for wind and solar power is moving so fast, so hence Elon Musk down there with all those solar panels, I mean it's very inspiring. How can women and any men obviously listening to this podcast as well find out about what you're doing in Costa Rica, and if they're interested, come and help out or join you?
Theresa de Grosbois: Well, feel free to come and check out our website, vistamundo.info, and if you're really inspired by it, hit the “contact us” section on the website and get on a phone call with us, because if this inspires you, we'd love to have you as a neighbor.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay, well you'll get a call from me.
Theresa de Grosbois: Okay, perfect.
Melinda Wittstock: Theresa, thank you so much for such an inspiring interview. I think that this connection between what's on our inner manifests on the outer in business, or the connection between personal and business growth is inescapable.
Theresa de Grosbois: Absolutely, and I love what you teach in that regard. It really is just as simple as starting to notice what's going on for you in any given moment, and forgive yourself for it and move forward.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, thank you so very much, I know this is going to resonate with so many women as it does with me on so many levels. Theresa, thank you for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Theresa de Grosbois: It was just my joy, thank you so much for having me on.
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