Run it Like a Girl

Run it like a girl with Virginia Brailey, Season 2, Episode 3

October 07, 2019
Run it Like a Girl
Run it like a girl with Virginia Brailey, Season 2, Episode 3
Chapters
Run it Like a Girl
Run it like a girl with Virginia Brailey, Season 2, Episode 3
Oct 07, 2019
Virginia Brailey, marketing executive
Virginia Brailey is passionate about building teams. In this episode she talks about mentorship, the importance of being an authentic leader, and why she thinks there is no better time to be a woman.
Show Notes Transcript

Virginia Brailey originally had visions of a career in high finance, but after taking The Canadian Securities Course to become a stockbroker realized that wasn't the path for her, and found her passion in marketing. Virginia is a strong proponent of collaborative, fun work environments, and spends much of her time bringing in people with diverse backgrounds, and diverse ways of thinking to create teams that do amazing work.

On this episode of Run It Like a Girl, Virginia tells us that she’s an optimist, and believes there has never been a better time to be a woman. Virginia, who’s on the advisory board of Women of Influence discusses mentorship, the importance of being an authentic leader, and  talks about some of her personal inspirations including Michelle Obama, Malala and her mom.




Bonnie:
2:48
So today as we're entering into the final days of summer, I'm so thrilled to be sitting in my home studio where I'm about to have a amazing conversation, 'm sure with Virginia Brailey, who is one of my personal mentors and an exceptional human being. Virginia. I want to thank you so much for joining us for an episode of Run it Like a girl.
Virginia:
3:07
Thank you Bonnie so much for having me. I'm just, I'm so impressed with what you, and your brother are doing with it. Run it like a girl, all the amazing guests that you've had and you're working full time and you're a mom and you're doing this. So congratulations. It's amazing.
Bonnie:
3:21
Oh, thank you so much. well I can't tell you and we'll get into this a little more later, but you know, as a mentor, you've had such an impact on both, my career and how I think about things. And I just think your experience and what you're going to bring to the people that are listening in is going to be so valuable. And of course also talking about what you do as a marketing executive and you've had, an amazing career so far, far from over obviously. So maybe let's just get started. Talk to us a little bit about your background and your journey to becoming an executive.
Virginia:
4:06
Okay. Absolutely. So I grew up about four hours north of Toronto in a place called Sudbury. And my father was a president of a mining company and my mom was in banking, and I also spent quite a bit of time in the UK because I'm British. Both my brother and sister were actually born in the UK as well. So it's very near and dear to my heart. And I eventually went to university of Toronto and I took English literature much to my father's chagrin cause he's like, what are you going to do with English literature, right? After I graduated I had visions of going into the world of high finance. And so I'm not even sure I really knew what that meant, like high finance. So, the first step I was thinking would be a smart move would be to take a course that would set me up to be a stockbroker, which is the Canadian securities course.
Virginia:
4:57
And so I took that and, I did not love the course. I passed the course, but it was definitely not something that I wanted to do for my career. And so, I eventually found marketing, which to me is this fantastic combination of creativity as well as analytics. And so it's a really good fit for me. I would characterize myself as a marketer and a strategist and I think it's really important to find something you really enjoy. My journey to becoming an executive, to becoming a leader I would say is really around teams. I had so much great opportunity to be part of really fantastic teams.
Virginia:
5:48
Teams that were led by women and men, we were really focused on doing amazing work, moving the organization forward, and they were really supportive environments and so it was very collaborative. We had a lot of fun. So I think I took that into,what I wanted to do, which is really about building great teams. And so I focus my time bringing in individuals from diverse backgrounds that have diverse ways of thinking about things. I enjoy focusing very much on their strengths and what makes them happy in terms of their career journey. And make no mistake, it's all about doing amazing work, but it's about having fun doing it. because life is way too short not to enjoy what you do.
Bonnie:
6:45
That sounds like it started fairly early off for you, the team environment, like really enjoying collaborating and working with amazing people to accomplish great things.I think that's awesome. And I think it leads very much into how you are as a mentor as well. And I imagine you've grown up a lot of teams and have seen a lot of people advanced in their career... So I'm kind of switching around a little bit here, but I'd love to talk about mentorship for a minute because what I found when we started a formal mentorship ,at first, and now it's a little bit more informal, but still absolutely there. What I loved about you is, you brought an organization to how I was thinking about my career. So, at that time I didn't know what I wanted. Like I was kind of struggling a little bit and didn't where I wanted to go, what was my next move was, or how I was going to get people bought into who I am. And you said it very clear - what is it that you want to accomplish? What are the three things we're going to do here?That really helped me. So I'd love to talk a little bit about your mentorship style. And what you try to bring to those relationships.
Virginia:
7:48
Sure. Yeah. Absolutely. So I love to hear that you think I'm organized because there are definitely people in my personal life who do not think that.So I'm going to make them listen to this part of the podcast. I think first of all, it's really important to give back. And so I just want to put that out there. I didn't have formal mentors, really, but I had great bosses and I had people who would put me forward to do things when maybe they knew I didn't have all of the experience. And later in my career I had access to coaches and I would characterize them more as a mentor type relationship.
Virginia:
8:30
And what they really helped me do was think about, where do you want to be in five years? Where do you want to be in 10 years? What do you want to be known for? And, it's kind of that adage where, if you don't know where you want to get to, how will you know when you get there? I probably wasn't awesome at process and so that really helped me focus on putting a little bit of structure in place and when you have a bad situation, when you had a crappy boss or a crappy situation what can you learn from that? Like what is it that you don't want to, exemplify when you're being a leader. And so those things always help A little bit of structure and process help. I probably brought a little bit of a structure to our relationship.
Bonnie:
9:26
So....risk taking - saying yes to opportunity. I sense you do that. Is that part of getting those opportunities to do great things, by not saying no or shying away?
Virginia:
9:43
Yeah, that's absolutely something that's a huge part of my life, and in my personal life as well. I'm sky diving, going in hot air balloons and flying in helicopters. That kind of like risk is really fun for me from an energy perspective. And you know, I think I mentioned it earlier, but I really had these great people who are willing to take a bit of a risk on me. And so they were like, Hey Virginia, you know, I've got this great project and it's in strategy or strategic planning, which is a little bit outside of marketing. And so, maybe don't have all of the experience I want, I'm willing to take a chance on you.
Virginia:
10:25
And I always jumped at those opportunities. And I made sure I was set for success and I had support. My niece has this quote and I don't even know where it's from, but it's a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. And it's so right, feeling uncomfortable is really where I think you're growing and learning. So it's a big part of my approach to work. Absolutely.
Bonnie:
11:00
One of the things I remember most from when we were working more closely together is, I was thinking of applying for a promotion, but I was worried that I wasn't fully qualified, or that I wouldn't be selected. You said why would you not apply? Let's talk about this. Let's talk about all the great things you'd get to do. And I just think that women do struggle with this a little bit more than men, which is, that it doesn't matter if you're a hundred percent ready, if you have the support and you're willing to work hard, you should go for it. I think that's really great.
Bonnie:
11:35
And I'd love to talk a little bit a minute about women in leadership. It's been a hot topic for years and it's coming up more and more and more. What I find interesting, and another guest had said this is, there was great advancement made in the fifties and sixties and then it kind of stalled. When you think about where people got to then compared to where we we haven't really advanced that much in terms of women in leadership, women on boards, women CEOs and, and different things like that. So people are getting louder and louder about equality opportunities, equal pay and now the whole me too movement as well. Which really surface last year and brought down a lot of people, particularly in Hollywood and politics as well. But I'd love your perspective on what we need to do to continue pushing and moving forward to get more women to go into those leadership positions.
Virginia:
12:32
I'm all about optimism. I'm an optimist and I really, I actually think that it's, there's never been a greater time to be a woman. And I love hearing about these organizations that are focused on funding women led organizations and startups. I love that ground swell of support. It's, I think it's absolutely fantastic and actually exciting and energizing. On the flip side, if you look at Canadian C level executives, only 10% of them are women. And that's not enough for me. I really do think we need some big bold moves. And part of that, part of that journey is these amazing women who are courageous and they're calling out bad behavior. And you know, I'm quite humbled by that because it's so hard.
Virginia:
13:24
It's so hard to do that, to call out bad behavior. And I think that's a piece of what needs to happen. I think there's really two other areas that are really important and one is joining hands with men and going arm and arm. So, men who are fathers of daughters and great partners and, brothers, joining hands with them because they know that diverse organizations are going to be more successful. I always have this business perspective when I'm thinking about leadership. And there are great programs out there. Actually I'm on the advisory board of Women of Influence and Stephania and Alicia, the amazing women who run this organization, are very focused on shining a spotlight on successful role models that happen to be women.
Virginia:
14:14
So you can imagine if you're a young woman and you're thinking about being a doctor and there are no women doctors, so maybe it's not going to occur to you, that's something I can do. It's changing cultural perceptions, whether it's like the work that you're doing with your brother - that's amazing that's a contribution and whether it's in media or entertainment or hearing about these women role models. I think that's a critical piece. And I do think we need some big bold moves, but the incremental chipping away at cultural perceptions is critical. But then there's gotta be some big bold moves that help move that. feel like we're not moving fast enough. And I think there's gotta be some big moves that we can take to help propel us forward.
Bonnie:
15:22
Yes, I agree. And I think it's happening now because, and it's funny because no one's comfortable with change. And I think what I find sometimes happens, and I'm not just talking about gender either, is that people think by giving someone else what you have, it's taking away from you. Right? People sometimes think that equal rights or equal opportunities is taking away from me. But that's not true. We just want to bring everyone up to the same level. And so I think you're right. I think some bold moves need to be made. And I think there's lots of organizations and individuals out there that are starting to do that. So that's fantastic.
Bonnie:
15:57
So this next question is kind of going back into leadership a little bit and I think I've got a good sense of perhaps what you're going to say, but authentic leadership, you hear about that a lot, right? Like bringing your true self to work being a the same person, nine to five as you are five to nine kind of idea. I was just wondering from your perspective, what does it mean to be an authentic leader?
Virginia:
16:24
I actually remember I had this pivotal point in my career. I went to this workshop and it was by Susan Scott and she had this book called Fierce Conversations. And I remember I remembered vividly the conference room and all the people who I was at the table at this workshop. And she had this idea about, sometimes you have colleagues where you don't get along with them or you're having a challenge or you're not seeing eye to eye with your boss. And she had this structure for a fears conversation. And a big piece of it was to be vulnerable and to actually say you don't have all of the answers and you're open to learn. And you're also opene to looking at your behavior and what you could potentially change. And it was a bit of a light bulb moment for me.
Virginia:
17:12
I don't have a lot of light bulb moments, but I was like, Oh, so you mean I'm not supposed to have all the answers? You know, and so I did sort of change a little bit and it's so energizing and it takes so much less energy to be who you really are then try to be somebody you're not. So I absolutely think you need to be authentic to be a great leader. And, why would you not want to do that? Right? It's just, it's way too tiring and exhausting to be someone you're not.
Bonnie:
17:41
I agree with that. I think how else do you build trust with your teams unless they see the whole picture of who you are and not just a sliver of what you do during the day.
Virginia:
17:53
Yes!And I would also say that when we're talking about mentor relationships, I learned probably more from you and our relationship. They're reciprocal. You're not supposed to have all the answers.
Bonnie:
18:33
Absolutely. I think that's a great segue into the next question , and we ask all the women that participate in our podcast if you could go back in time to a younger version of you, maybe starting out your career and have lunch with yourself, what would that conversation look like and what would you say?
Virginia:
18:52
So, first of all, I'm not sure I would listen because I was pretty stubborn when I was young. Right. I shouldn't say that. I certainly listened to advice. I would say, well first of all, like we were just talking about you don't have to have all the answers and that you should ask for help. The sooner you realize that the better off you're going to be. I would say take risks, that you should jump at every opportunity and yes, make sure you're set up for success. Find your voice. You have a voice, find it, use it. And that's I think something that women struggle a little bit more with. And, and I think that coaches and mentors should do whatever they can to help women make sure that they're speaking out.
Bonnie:
19:47
That's great. I 100% percent agree with that. I think that's awesome. And I think your younger self would've listened. Maybe...I don't know if I would have. I find this funny too, sometimes I think about my mom and you know how often she was right, now that I look back at advice she would give. But back then, you know, you just, you don't want to hear it, but I think it's the tidbits you take away, like find your voice, have a voice.
Virginia:
20:14
Yes. Absolutely.
Bonnie:
20:17
So now we've got a fun new addition to our podcast, and we're calling it the fast three. So it's just three questions I'm going to ask you. So the first one is, what is your favorite podcast or source of information?
Virginia:
20:38
The bullet. So Joanna Track and her team put out this daily bullet, which is a curation of, media, entertainment, business tech, and it shows up in my inbox every morning. And it's my GoTo. I have a lot of other sources, but that's definitely my go to.
Bonnie:
20:58
Cool. Very cool. I've written that down. The second question is, what are you reading right now?
Virginia:
21:03
So I'm always reading a ton.. From a business book - The Exponential Organization by Salim Ismail. It's the singularity university and it's all about massive transformative purposes. Very, very cool. And the other book that I'm reading is The no Asshole Rule. And I feel like it should be mandatory reading for anyone that works in an organization. It's a really good book.
Virginia:
21:38
I'm also reading The Book People, which is a fiction book. So it's excellent. It's really good.
Bonnie:
21:47
See, part of this is selfish because I'm going to gather all these great books that everyone's saying and then go off and read them and sign up for things like the Bullet. So thank you for that.
Bonnie:
21:56
And the third question is, who's currently inspiring you?
Virginia:
22:01
I have so many sources of inspiration. Michelle Obama is, I took my mom to see her a couple of months ago and, it was amazing. I think she's an incredibly inspirational individual. Plus she's an amazing speaker and she's so down to earth. She appeals to individuals from all different generations. She never preaches, right? Like she's such a good speaker and she's hilarious, she's got the best sense of humor.
Bonnie:
22:34
So she is a huge inspiration and my mom actually is a massive inspiration to me. She's turning 80 soon. She gets up every morning and walks 10 K. I'm not quite there yet, but maybe someday. I think Malala, I've heard her speak a couple of times. It's unbelievable what she has been through and survived and not only survive, but she continues to give back and she's helping to change the world and make sure that there's a spotlight shining on young girls getting educated.I get goosebumps just thinking about it. She's a huge inspiration.
Bonnie:
23:28
Virginia, I want to thank you. I know how busy you are and it means so much that you've taken this time to chat with us today.
Virginia:
23:41
Oh, thank you so much Bonnie, and congratulations again to the amazing work that you and your brother are doing. That's also a huge inspiration to me listening to those podcasts. I think you run it like a girl is hosted by Bonnie Moke. Brian Long is the producer web design and technical assistance provided by Dan Moke and music courtesy of the talented to Brooklyn Guild. Chuck, on the next episode of run it like a girl, Christina Schwarz, started a daycare out of her home. She fell in love with the business but didn't want to stop there. Christina is now the licenser responsible for overseeing 25 home daycares that run based on her daycare model. Christina Schwartz on the next episode of run it like a girl.
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