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Five Elements to Convicing the World of Your Idea

26 Nov

Make waves.

It’s amazing to consider that Jeanne d’Arcs actions nearly 600 years ago still inspire people today. But how did she manage to create such influence? Jeanne started as nothing and rose up to become a hero; so logically speaking (after all her influence may be the stuff of legends, yet she’s as real as me or you), there must be a way. Today’s post gives you five key elements for convincing the world of your ideas, plus a bonus reward that will carry you across a lifetime.

In our Jeanne d’Arc series, we’ve been highlighting another strong women who build herself a reputation and influence to change the world for women in business, Nicole Beaudoin – Top One Hundred winner, President of the Quebec Business Women’s Network, mother, grandmother, and builder of women’s networks on an international scale. By looking back at Jeanne’s story and comparing it with Nicole’s personal experience, we’re going to unlock how these women convinced the world of their ideas.

First Key: See the Need.

France in 1428 was divided by allegiances and challenged royal lineages. The English were making progress in their campaign and the French people were divided. Jeanne was part of this, and she (with her visions pushing her forward) brought forth an idea that changed the story. Suddenly the need shifted from divided allegiances, to something everyone could agree on: God’s mission for France. She saw the need for cohesion, and she gave France a point at which everyone could rally.

Fifty years ago there were no women networks, no objectives to work together and build one another up in business. As Nicole puts it, “There was not solidarity 50 years ago.” Women emerging in business were pioneers – blazing trails without even realizing their actions, and feeling quite isolated in the experience.  Was the only choice to become a man in a man’s world? As Nicole says, “we didn’t have models to follow, the models were all men.” There was a need for women to form community and yet doing this held a risk: it differentiate oneself from those who held the power.  Yet nevertheless, there was a need.

Second Key Element: Master the Doubts.

Both Jeanne and Nicole had to put on their game faces to chase their ambition. For Jeanne that was to approach Baudricourt more than once, then follow through with the Kind, and then trust that her visions would prove her credibility. For Nicole, it was to rise to the highest levels within National organizations that were led by men. During our conversation, Nicole keep reiterating a phrase that I suspect lead helped her conquer nerves many, many times: “You may lose some battles, but you win the war.” If you aren’t’ the first person to take a risk on your idea, why should anyone else? Master those self-doubts, and charge forward.

Third Key Element: Invest in your Values

Give what you can to your values whether that’s time, money, energy, creativity, faith, etc. Jeanne gave her body in battle, and her life in trial as she cemented her place in history and the heart of France. Nicole Beaudoin gave her experience and energy:

“Something was missing in my life” Nicole knew she was good at helping organizations making money, yet that wasn’t satisfying her needs. “Widowed at 53, kids grown . . . I could pretty much do what I wanted.” And so, she did what she wanted (a fabulous concept!), which was to bring women together in business.  In 1993 she purchased the Quebec Business Women’s Network. Back then only a telephone directory. She used her experience as a successful women in business to reshape its purpose.

Invest in what you believe is most important, however you are able at this moment – and watch as your ideas begin to grow.

Fourth Key element: Lead by Example & Results.

As Nicole Beaudoin says, “I give the best of myself to the network … I give them a leader.”  (Heck yes! She had a career behind her that was proof of her expertise – your personal results speak volumes to others.) The mission statement of the Quebec Business Women’s Network, is build upon Nicole’s value that brought her to invest in the success of business women: “To contribute to the success of women in the business world, from entrepreneurs, small jobs and upward.”

And so she led by example as she gave herself to this network, guiding it with the same proven business savvy that had brought her to such high level positions such as Vice-President, Finance and Administration with VIA Rail Canada, General Manager, Eastern Manufacturing Division with Scott Paper Limited, and acting as an external, independent advisory panel for the strategic review of Canada Post.

You are the example. Be aware that in your history and actions you are leading others (whether or not that was your intention!), and at the same time you are leading yourself.

Fifth Key Element: Get Innovative.

Jeanne’s visions, courage, and dogged determination were a refreshing shock to the campaigns in France – she was an excellent strategist and her attacks were unexpected, more than once leading to an English defeat. As for Nicole, she wasn’t only a pioneer in women rising the business ranks, she was a pioneer in the formation of community and mentorship. Taking that phone directory, she gave women what they all quietly wanted – to work with one another. Mentorship began to grow, more women started businesses and today, more than ever before, a woman can be a woman in the workplace.

Once you see the need, build a creative solution. Your innovation will the attention of others.

And of course, as promised, the reward for convincing the world of your ideas.

Your Reward: Make Giant Waves.

From a ripple, a young girl who hears voices, a women who takes nightschool; to a wave, getting involved in a passionate cause, trail blazing through unwelcoming masculine dominated territories; to creating a tsunami by inspiring the country France to unite, and guiding women to support one another in Canada and now internatinally . . . the impact can be greater than you ever imagined.

When Nicole Beaudoin received her National Order of Quebec for her work, the Prime Minister told her “you have changed the image of business in Quebec.” By convincing the world of her place, and then bringing that power to others, she helped give countless women courage to proceed as they joined the world of business.

Can there be any better reward than seeing your values explode into a world-wide movement of change? I think not.

Till next week,

Camille

Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. Camille is currently accepting applications for the Women’s Executive Network  Senior Executives Wisdom Peer Mentoring program. Applications to this exciting and knowledge-sharing program are available here.

Read more from Camille as she aspires to  help women explode their success. For more posts and experiences, join Camille at her Sister Leadership page, connect on Twitter, and follow on Facebook.

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Nicole Beaudoin of the Quebec Business Women’s Network

13 Nov

When people compare Nicole Beaudoin to Mother Theresa for the work she has done with women in Quebec, she humbly yet directly declines the honour of that connection. Instead, as she shared with me on the phone during our conversation for the Sister Leadership blog, Nicole prefers to see herself like Jeanne d’Arc, leading women as a collective and winning in the war for equality. She has shaped her business and her life to support those who are capable of changing the world. Reiterating that “You may lose some battles, but you win the war.”

As President and CEO of the Quebec Business Women’s Network, combining her incredible and high level success as a business woman (including positions such as Vice-President, Finance and Administration with VIA Rail Canada, General Manager, Eastern Manufacturing Division with Scott Paper Limited, and acting as an external, independent advisory panel for the strategic review of Canada Post), with her passion for uniting women and strengthening their presence in the workforce, Nicole brings the tools, the values, and the determination to the mission of the QBCN. She now maintains links throughout the world with many women’s groups, all of whom learn from the model Nicole herself established when she bought the QBCN and transformed what was then a phone direction into an ambitious and impacting women’s network.

But I’d go even further in linking Jeanne and Nicole, because both of these inspiring women built themselves up from nothing. Jeanne was a young, illiterate girl powered only by her determination as she approached Robert Baudricourt for an audience with the king in 1428.  Nicole was married and raising a family when she began her night school classes in accounting – back then, the social norm wasn’t for women to go into business, (let alone rise to the top and become leaders in their fields) it was for them to care for their home-bound duties.

So here is the question: How do you stand by your convictions? How do you know – right there in your gut – that what you feel to be right is absolutely, undeniably, don’t-stand-in-my-way, right?

Jeanne d’Arc had the voices speaking to her, pushing her forward and insisting she follow their instructions.  It is said that she protested after her initial failure with Baudricourt, saying: “I am a poor girl; I do not know how to ride or fight.” Whereas the voices only reiterated: “It is God who commands it.”

For Nicole Beaudoin, it’s all about the “gut feeling.” It is her intuition and her determination that pushed her toward the business world; however, women’s intuition is a difficult asset to introduce into an environment that is developed around a more masculine approach based on facts, figures and results. For instance, when she was VP finance for VIA rail, she couldn’t say aloud: “Please don’t hire that person because I feel they are not okay.”  Instead she had to go softly.

Nicole shared with me one story about her time at VIA rail. She was VP finance and the only woman on the board. When she first began the position she was quiet and reserved. Then as time passed, she began to gently contribute her ideas to the discussion. Soon she caught the attention of the men who were amazed at her ideas, and who asked her where they were coming from. Nicole simply replied: “I’m a woman, I see things differently.”

In these more recent times, Nicole feels there’s more place for women’s gut feelings in the office, believing that “Women have that intuition, we should use it more often.” But nevertheless one still needs to go gently. Even Jeanne who again failed to convince Baudricourt of her mission had to take a more gentle approach – staying in the area, living her conviction and slowly but surely winning over the reluctant man with her incredible predictions.

Nicole suggests that “We are different, we see the world differently. We are complimentary to men.” She is glad she didn’t charge forward with a fight. “You go slowly . . . you come gradually, and you change their mind.”

Conviction and gut feelings are forces in themselves, but integrating them into a society that has in the past been ruled by masculin values . . . well that takes a little more finesse. However, both Nicole and Jeanne d’Arc prove that it is possible, and as more and more women rise up in the business world – the opportunity for support, mentoring, and women’s intuition is opening wide for the next generation of female conquerors.

We’ll be hearing more from Nicole in the upcoming weeks on finding courage to make mistakes, becoming a leader and bringing your ideas to the world.

It has been our honour to speak and share with Nicole Beaudoin, and receive these incredible stories and lessons from her experience.

Till next week,

Camille

Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. Camille is currently accepting applications for the Women’s Executive Network  Senior Executives Wisdom Peer Mentoring program. Applications to this exciting and knowledge-sharing program are available here.

Read more from Camille as she aspires to  help women explode their success. For more posts and experiences, join Camille at her Sister Leadership page, connect on Twitter, and follow on Facebook.

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