Drink Like a Lady Podcast

Season 4, Episode 1: How to Think Strategically

September 09, 2021 Joya Dass Season 4 Episode 1
Drink Like a Lady Podcast
Season 4, Episode 1: How to Think Strategically
Show Notes Transcript

It's Season 4 Episode 1 of the Drink Like a Lady podcast, designed to get you, as a female leader, a seat at the bar and a seat in the boardroom. This season, we are focused on
HOW TO THINK STRATEGICALLY as a woman leader. I'm joined by guest host Deb Boulanger, The Great Do-Over

  1. Start with the end in mind - how does your initiative connect to the strategic goals of the organization?
  2. What are the potential benefits of this initiative if successful? Can you cite other use cases or similar challenges/approaches in other companies?
  3. Who are the key stakeholders involved in this decision? What do THEY care about?
  4. What is your business case - pros and cons of each approach - give leaders choices. What are the associated risks / benefits?
  5. Framing your presentation - Take a McKinsey Approach - Create your Hypothesis and use data to tell a story
  6. Seed the room by pre-socializing your idea with key stakeholders so that your presentation is just a formality to get approval.
Joya:

Welcome to the drink, like a lady podcast, which is designed to get you as a female leader, a seat at the bar and a seat in the boardroom. This is season four, episode one, and we are focusing on how to think strategically. And you'll notice here that my guest hosts today is Deb Boulanger, who is the founder of something called The Great Do-Over." Deb, For those who don't know what the Great Do-Over is, what is that?

Deb:

That's the ability to do over your career anytime you want. And for many women these days that do-over includes , uh, hanging out a shingle as an entrepreneur, as a coach or consultant. So I work with women making the leap from corporate leader to entrepreneur to replace their corporate salary.

Joya:

And we did a great IG live talking about the top mistakes that people make when they do that transition. But now we're talking about folks that are a little further along, probably in a corporate setting, maybe not so much in an entrepreneurial one. And we're going to go over a couple of ways in which you can think strategically when you are trying to get buy-in or you're trying to get your vision across to your team. So , um, the first , um, tip that you had is to start with the end in mind, what does that mean?

Deb:

Well, it means, you know, the strategic goals of the organization are set by the top, right? So the board, the leadership team has already set the strategic goals for the year. And if you want to be noticed as a leader, the best way to do that is to hit your wagon to the strategic goals of the organization and find an initiative that you can lead that brings the company forward. So I always say, start with the end in mind. Um, what are the goals? What can you accomplish in your current role that , uh, is an easy sell to the leadership team?

Joya:

There must be some grace around how you do this. What if you're like two levels down and you don't necessarily have ready access to what those goals are. What's a graceful way to ask for them?

Deb:

Uh, to your direct line supervisor. And I think we need to think of our bosses as allies. Now I know not everyone is blessed with a great relationship with their boss, so maybe it's not your direct line supervisor, maybe it's someone else on the leadership team. So for me, I think maybe it's best to tell a story. I wanted to go into owning a P and L in the organization. And I had a direct line relationship with the senior vice president of HR. And I knew I could trust her and I could have a conversation with her. And I asked her, do you feel like I'm ready to be like, this is my time to take this on? And she gave me the green light. She said, Deb, I think you'd be fabulous in this. And so then I went to someone else in the organization who is responsible for this line of business as a direct reporting manager. And I shared my vision for what we could accomplish together and the revenue that that could generate and he signed off and he sponsored me in that position. So I think , um, you know, understanding the company's goals, the company's culture. So sometimes you have to be there for a while in order to understand how to navigate the culture and to form those strategic relationships. But any woman leader should always be managing up a level or two.

Joya:

And also it sounds like you should be asking for permission at every step to kind of insert yourself into the conversation after you've done some listening.

Deb:

Absolutely. You get what you ask for. All right .

Joya:

So the next one is what are the potential benefits of this initiative, if successful and by that you mean the initiative that you are in fact proposing.

Deb:

Exactly. So maybe the best way to do this is by telling a story. Uh , so I happened to have been a product leader. And so I looked around at the marketplace and I looked at the competitors and I, I noticed that they had a line of business that was generating momentum and really selling well in the marketplace. And we didn't have a competitive offering for that. So being able to present that to the leadership team saying, we could do it differently, we could do it better. We could own a bigger share of the market means that you're doing your due diligence. You're citing. The use cases are or similar situations in other companies. And you're doing the market research. You're saying here's, what's, what's available to us so raw , whether you're launching a product inside the corporation or you're driving diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, or driving ESG initiatives, you want to be sure that you have a handle on the challenges that the company is facing, where others have succeeded and what the potential for that market is. So that means you're doing a little research, you're doing a little homework before you present your idea.

Joya:

And some of the most successful companies in the world are successful because they've addressed the pain points that already exist in the market. They didn't create a product in a silo and then go look for customers that might need it.

Deb:

Absolutely. So connecting with your customers and your primary stakeholders is super important. Be curious, be , um, be a forensic scientist and trying to understand what could we do better. What's missing. What's your biggest challenge that you're experiencing in your role or in your organization? What have you already tried and how did that work and what didn't work and the biggest and best question of all is what do you wish you had?

Joya:

Hmm . Could you tack onto that? What does success look like and what does failure look like? Are those two things they would also go to your boss with when you're proposing something new?

Deb:

Yeah. So to the boss, I would say, what is success look like to you, to the organization what, what numbers, or what goal would I have to achieve? And it's always best to have a clear target in mind so that you know, what you're working toward ,

Joya:

But on the, on the flip side, is there, is there a purchase and actually saying what the failure would look like? What's the threshold for that?

Deb:

That's largely determined by corporate culture and some, some cultures have a threshold for failure and others don't. So that's , um , interesting to navigate, but I would definitely ask my trusted advisor, you know, what happens if this initiative fails ?

Joya:

Hmm . And how do we pivot that? That would be what would be in the back of my mind? Like if this scenario doesn't work, how do we pivot? And let's have that scenario lined up.

Deb:

Yeah. And it's always , um, a good thing to do the investigative work and say, Hey, there's, there's no real benefit here. So let's not go down this path. And the quicker you can get to that answer, the better it is.

Joya:

All right. Who are the key stakeholders involved in this decision? What do they care about again, when I think about this question, or I think about this , um, point that you made, I always think about how one goes about finding this out without seeming like you're trying to do you're up to something.

Deb:

Yeah. So I think being totally transparent, I think , uh , it's totally okay to be yourself. And so, for instance, I think it's best told by example. So if I'm presenting a new product idea to the executive leadership team, if I go to the head of technology or to the head of research and say, Hey, I want to run this by you. Before I present it to the big group, it does several things. Number one, it's an indication of respect that you respect their opinion. Number two, you know what you're walking into the room with. So if someone has a major objection, you're not finding it out in the middle of the meeting and then have to , to peddle to find your answer. So I think socializing your idea is super important , um, to understand what they care about so that you can preempt those objections when you're right in the district .

Joya:

And I love that. Can you expand a little bit more on the process that you recommend for clients when they need to anticipate the different questions that they might get and how do they practice their answers? So they remain confident throughout the whole process.

Deb:

Absolutely. So if you have a two or three page, like short, short deck that you can meet with the key stakeholders and say, Hey, do you have 20 minutes? If they're senior executives, they're not going to give you more than that. Um, so you run the idea, what concerns do you have about this? How will this impact your department? So if I'm creating something that has an impact on the service delivery of the research team needs to deliver, then the head of research is going to be very concerned about their resources. So how am I using their resources and what will be the compensation back? Because everyone is into it for what's in it for me, right? So you need to sell your idea, what's in it for them and also understand their objections . So they, in the meeting, you can either preemptively address them with that individual so that they can check the box that they're in agreement, or you have answers by the time you get into the room.

Joya:

Now what happens if you get blindsided with a question that you don't know the answer to, what is the grit? What is the grace around how you handle that?

Deb:

That's a great question. I need to do a little bit more digging, but can I send an appointment with you afterwards? And, and we can address it. Yeah.

Joya:

This is something I teach in my public speaking masterclass too. It's a great one. All right . What is your business case? The pros and cons of each, like in other words, give your leadership some choices. It's almost like giving them a menu, isn't it?

Deb:

It is. And so some people , um, most people are liked to have a choice. They don't like to be backed into a corner. So if you have , uh , an eye hypothesis that if we went down this road, then this would likely be the result. So taking, say a DEI initiative, and that, that will improve our relationships with key partners and suppliers. It improves our branding and our position in the marketplace. It will improve our ability to recruit and retain new talent. Then there's a value to that. And , uh, we want to give people options. We can either take this approach and these are the relative benefits and drawbacks of that approach. Or we could take this approach and here are the relative benefits and drawbacks. It enables people in the room to feel like they have a choice that they don't have to just rubber stamp something and agree with it, that they have an option to have their voice heard.

Joya:

Where is there a place for story when you're doing something like this? I love that you , you kept bringing that up to illustrate the first two points that we had, but is this a particular place when you're presenting the pros and cons of place for story as well?

Deb:

Absolutely. And I wish I knew that then , and that I know now, so bringing up stories and examples, and it can be either examples internally from successes that you have personally had, or that the company has had and what went well. And what were the patterns in that success or stories from the outside, if it's something that hasn't been attained yet. So being able to see something in practice is super important for the other people in the room to be able to visualize themselves in that same situation, that equation,

Joya:

All right, framing you'r etaking a McKinsey approach. Um, do visuals help with this?

Deb:

Visuals are necessary. So the McKinsey approach is , um, deck driven, you know, PowerPoints are the lingua franca of the corporate world. So being really , um, getting really good at being able to tell a story in the charts that you use. So the McKinsey approach is really taking a hypothesis about a market opportunity and presenting an approach and the relative strengths and weaknesses. So everything I've talked about thus far in this interview is really in alignment with the McKinsey approach to finding information, getting data on the table so that people can see what the relative benefits are. So it could be an opportunity cost of something that hasn't been attained up till now, where it might be being able to recover some sunk costs that have already been invested, but haven't returned on the desired results. So you want to create a hypothesis that you're testing in the marketplace, whether that's internally or externally, and then bringing your results to the table, to get a firm agreement on direction to move forward. Now,

Joya:

All of these statements that we've made today probably also apply when you're an entrepreneur. And since that's sort of your area that you're really focusing on, what would you layer on top of everything that we just shared?

Deb:

Right? So for most entrepreneurs, you are the CEO and for many, you are also your board of directors. And I think the temptation is that you can skip this part because you already see proof in the marketplace . So instead of noticing that someone else has , um, say a line of business or a revenue stream that you're not tapping into or taking advantage of the temptation is to do what they do , um, or hire a coach because you want to have the success that they've had by doing what they do. And the truth is once you do that, then you have a cookie cutter approach. You start looking, sounding, behaving, and having service offerings like someone else. And the better way to go is for you to find the gap in the market, find what's missing to create a differentiated value proposition to solve a problem that no one is solving or no one is solving well and develop a solution around that, that way you get to stand out in a crowded market, you get to charge a premium for your services. So you're generating revenue. Uh, and what many , uh, new women entrepreneurs don't do is measure , uh , you need to measure your success. So if it's not working as it had planned, as you had planned, then maybe it's time to cut your losses.

Joya:

I saw this great , uh, KPI meter that VP of let's say digital assets at Nike head had presented one time. And one of the things that she presented was, you know, revenue is the obvious sort of metric that people look at when they're measuring things. But what about happiness? What about sustainability? You know, so what I would, I would put the question to you. What are some of the KPIs that you encourage an entrepreneur to look at , um, when they're doing exactly what you just suggested?

Deb:

Absolutely. Um, where are you your own worst boss ever? So if you are, if you left the corporate world, because you were burning out, then are you burning yourself out in your entrepreneurial journey? So , um, and is your business meeting your lifestyle goals? So I think too often, we separate our business from our lifestyle when entrepreneurship can be all consuming. And so it can turn out to be all about the business and not enough about the lifestyle. So I know enough about you joy that I know you and I both value lifestyle as much as we value the business. And so when you're creating your business and it, it means that maybe you're not, not famous, you know, maybe you just carve out a value proposition and you're replacing your corporate salary and you have a mid six figure revenue stream. And that's great because that enables you to live the life that you want to live. And it gives you that flexibility. It gives you that freedom and you're able to make an impact through your work. So not everybody needs to be a unicorn, not everyone needs , uh , investor capital and not everyone needs to scale and exit their business. I think women are leading the charge with a sustainable and rapidly growing lifestyle businesses that you don't have to be embarrassed

Joya:

About. And I, you know, I had a speaker earlier today and we were talking about the topic was how to build a seven-figure business. And one of the questions that she put to the group is like, can you define what success is? And if success is that the money that you're making affords you, the lifestyle that you want, or the flexibility and freedom that you want, then that in fact is success itself. Are you creating a lifestyle business? Are you creating an asset based business that can run without you? And then you enjoy the residuals? So all of that of course , um , is great. It's great fodder and great , uh , food for thought today.

Deb:

Okay . Absolutely. And there's no such thing as passive income, right? So even if you're creating leverage in your business by introducing products or a SAS model software as a service or an app , um, there's nothing passive about the success of that business. It brings in leverage. It brings in capital that you don't have to work for, to deliver, but you have a team you're paying your marketers, your you've got paid ads, pay traffic out there that are generating those conversions. So , um, I think it's, it's great. I think everyone should have leverage in their business model. Um, I think we're done trading time for dollars, and we want to impact as many people as we can, but that in a way that is full of ease and flow for you to deliver and not burnout ,

Joya:

As Abraham Hicks said, you have to feel good. That is your biggest responsibility. The rest comes and follows afterwards. Deb, if anyone wants to work with you , um , who's an ideal client and how do they get in touch with you? I'll put that up here.

Deb:

Absolutely. So an ideal client is a female corporate leader who is , uh , tired of the grind and tired of fulfilling someone else's vision and someone else's mission and who wants to make an impact with her work. So the best way to get in touch with me is , uh , to reach out to Deb at the great do-over dot com. Uh, I also have a three-day event called fresh out of corporate, which is coming up September 30th. So anyone who wants a , uh , executive MBA in entrepreneurship can join us for those three days and walk out with a business framework and idea of how to package, price, and message your services . I

Joya:

Love it. That sounds awesome. Well, you are a great co-host today. Thank you so much for joining me and we'll hope to see soon.

Deb:

Yeah, absolutely joy . Always a pleasure to hang out with you.

Joya:

And that concludes our episode of drink. Like a lady. This is season four, episode one. We're so excited to be with you and thank you to our guest host today. Deb.

Deb:

Thank you. Pleasure to be here.