What I Learnt from Four International Women’s Day Events

Attending four International Women’s Days events last week in London was an incredible opportunity to listen, learn, reflect and discuss the issues and keys to success for women in business today.

I attended the outstanding Women Inspiration and Enterprise Symposium, an intimate and inspirational Islington Chamber of Commerce Women in Enterprise event, an exuberant Women Unlimited Annual Conference and then a very stylish and chic Woman in Business Brunch. Speakers I watched ranged from Dame Vivian Westwood, Ariadne Founder Julie Meyer, Lynn de Rothschild, Muks founder Jaime Cooke, and vegan cupcake and bakery owner Ms Cupcake.

Across the International Women’s Day events I watched over 30 successful women business owners speak about how they succeeded and in some cases almost failed, then succeeded again. Distilling the lessons from their stories, it was evident there are three traits all of them shared which enabled their success.

The common traits all of them share are;

  1. Focus
  2. Mindset
  3. Perseverance

1. Focus

What are you trying to create? What is the vision for your business and how will you impact your customer? All speakers spoke about their commitment to their vision of where they could see their business would be in the future. By having a clear vision, this enabled them to stay focused on the core business idea and do one thing brilliantly. Whilst tempted, they realized that shiny new toys, and left field opportunities would dilute their focus and thrust behind the original idea.

Related to that focus is also the choice that these women made about what type of business they wanted. Did they want a lifestyle business, offering flexibility, smaller working hours and potentially less stress and income or were they going after a high growth business? In their experience, making this decision early on determined the future and revenue potential of the enterprise.

2. Mindset

The clarity of vision underpins the mindset needed for success. Many speakers talked about their desire to really bring their vision to life driving them and their mindset. Their mindset is one of determination; belief in what they have created and it’s potential for growth. Their mindset is passionate and courageous, often pushing through after a series of ‘no’ and setbacks.

For some of the speakers, it wasn’t an easy road to success. Many of them sought out supportive and stretching networks, mentors and continual education to enable them to keep on going.

3. Perseverance

Even with focus and a success mindset the path to success had challenges for all speakers. What was astonishing is no matter how bad it got, they found a way to regroup and keep going. The belief in what they wanted to bring to the world was unflinching and this drove their perseverance. With the benefit of hindsight, many of them were grateful for their setbacks and subsequent learning. Carole Stone summed this up well by saying “how you overcome things when you don’t succeed is critical”.

When I work with my clients and ponder my own approach to my business I can see clearly how these three tenants play out with us all. Being conscious of them and being active in these areas will enable all of us more success.

Your say: I would love to know how you fare with focus, mindset and perseverance…..easy, hard or a bit all over the place???

  • http://www.nicolaholdendesigns.co.uk Nicola Holden

    Wendy, thank you for putting down all these points so succinctly! It is definitely food for thought, and a reminder to us all not to forget our original dreams.

    • wendykerr

      I love what you say about not forgetting our original dreams – that is the petrol to keep us going!

  • Karen Haller

    What an amazing line up of speakers. I would have loved to hear Dame Vivian Westwood speak. Ms Cupcake is so enthusiastic and passionate about what she does. She spoke at the Women Unlimited Conference last Friday – brilliant.

    Couldn’t agree with you more on Focus, Mindset and Perseverance… and an abundance of passion!!

    • wendykerr

      Both of those women had bundles of passion!!! The thing I have learnt about passion, is that when you are truly and authentically passionate, you instil this in prospects, customers and collaborators…..suddenly things flow!

  • Keren Lerner

    Thanks Wendy, what an interesting take on things – your post was very thought provoking. I was at the Women Unlimited Conference and what really resonates with me is the women who spoke hadn’t had it all plain sailing, they went through learning experience just like the rest of us, and reached their successes through exactly these 3 characteristics. Just a reminder, keep going, keep learning, keep improving! Thanks for posting!

    • wendykerr

      Yes, sometimes we can be sucked into the ‘get rich quick’ business stories…..but now I am older and wiser – it takes time…and a few hard lessons! But then, my mantra is ‘noting is ever wasted’ and we are always learning

  • http://www.tamsinfoxdavies.com Tamsin Fox-Davies

    Wendy – thanks for this article.

    I think that the 3 themes that you’ve identified are essential for business success, and it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve formed a common thread for all the women that you’ve seen speak at these events.

    Great summary!


    • wendykerr

      Thanks for that – I see these threads more and more now, so I am trying to diligently apply them to myself….

  • http://www.mumandcareer.co.uk Inge

    Thanks, I really enjoyed reading this. I believe I have focus, but you know what, if you would have asked me that last year, I would have told you the same. Whereas I have a way better and clearer focus now.

    Mindset, makes me a bit scared, reading about all these fabulous women. Am I courageous and resilient enough? I just hope for the best, but do have niggling doubts.

    Perseverance, ‘could do better’ as some teachers would write on my report card. I have learned a lot in this area though over the past year. The best thing I learned is to do things with a ‘learning mindset’ rather than a ‘results’ one. I do aim for a result, but when I evaluate I look more at what I learned and remind myself it was an action meant to learn from. This really helps me avoid being totally devastated and loosing confidence in my venture.

    • wendykerr

      Inge, thanks for your honesty – I love what you say about the learning mindset…..when you have that, and you start to consider problems ans set backs with this question – “I wonder…….?” suddenly, you can switch a real down period into a moment of learning, consideration and thoughftulness.

  • Laura

    Hi Wendy – love your post!

    I couldn’t agree more. Focus is one of my pet favourites. What you focus on is what you get – and so true on so many levels: pratical, emotional, meta-physical.

    Bet you’ve had a great time and met loads of fabulous people at all those events!

    Looking forward to reading your next post :-)

    • wendykerr

      Love the comment on FOCUS – it is so true – what you focus on expands and you get more of it – good and the not -so-good……..

  • http://www.theoysterclub.co.uk Tanya Rennick

    Thank you for this Wendy; you have clearly distilled what it takes to succeed. I would also add two things; “Story” because without a good reason to move ahead, it is difficult to achieve momentum and “Audacity” because although the word may be absorbed into “Mindset,” taking some leaps of faith and leaving one’s comfort zone is crucial in order to create ultimate change.

    • wendykerr

      Ohhh yes!!!! Great point – story is so much about the WHY – and that is what fuels us as well. And being audacious is essential, as if we are to grow, our comfort zone must grow too.

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