363. Be Ready For What You’re Not Ready For
Ready for a shift in her career, she was considering enrolling in Stanford Business School, but hesitated about the hefty tuition. A friend told her, “If you were a guy, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Guys invest in themselves.” She went straight home and wrote the check to Stanford.
Denise Brosseau is the CEO of the Thought Leadership Lab, a lecturer at the Stanford Business School and the author of “Ready to Be a Thought Leader? How to Increase Your Influence, Impact, and Success.” She loves working with entrepreneurs and executives, particularly women, on their journey from leader to thought leader. She believes that becoming the go-to thought leader in your niche is the very best career insurance around. Denise has been featured in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Forbes, and was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I came out to California just before I turned twenty-five. I remember waking up on my 25th birthday, having one or two panic attacks and self-doubts, asking myself, ‘Am I on the right path? Am I doing the right thing?’ Fast-forward to a year later: I had started my first company, was working in the tech industry and really flourishing. It’s nice to know that in a year you can turn from questioning what you’re doing with your life to finding a new path.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
After thriving in male-dominated environments—both in the corporate sector and in business school—Denise surveyed the landscape and discovered there was virtually no venture capital available to female entrepreneurs. “Back in 1993, less than 1% of the venture capital went to women entrepreneurs. We hosted an event and when 80 people came, we realized there was a need for an organization. At that time in Silicon Valley, there was only one organization for entrepreneurs, and it was 90% men.” Partnering with a friend from grad school, they created Silicon Valley Women Entrepreneurs, and set out to brighten the venture capital picture for entrepreneurial women. The organization, under a variety of names, has survived and thrived since then.
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“People think of entrepreneurship as being high risk, but I think of corporate America as the bigger risk. Many people think that when you go into a corporate job, have a boss and get a paycheck, that you are not at risk. But what I see, as a coach to executive women, is that you are at high risk. On any day somebody is not going to like something you said or did, or didn’t do, and you are out of a job. Or, the company merges or gets bought, or your boss gets fired, or there is a reorganization. There are a thousand reasons why you could be on the street tomorrow. That, to me, is a much higher risk than being an entrepreneur. I think a lot of people just have it backwards.”
Steps to Success from Denise Brosseau
1. Be ready for what you’re not ready for. Change is the one constant.
2. Establish yourself as a thought leader in areas you are passionate about. It’s great career insurance.
3. Broaden your knowledge and skills so you can use all facets of yourself. It’s a great way to keep yourself engaged in life.
4. Create situations where you get to choose who you spend your time with. Entrepreneurship might just be for you.
5. Don’t work all the time. Two weeks of vacation a year is just not healthy.
On Her Bookshelf
Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, by Herminia Ibarra
Even Eagles Need a Push: Learning to Soar in a Changing World, by David McNally
Connecting With Denise Brosseau
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