Betty-Ann's Both Sides Blog


Dare To Be Different

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Naturally, it’s a woman who is credited with coining the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  The exact words are said to have been first written down in a book by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, who wrote novels under the pseudonym of “The Duchess” in Victorian England.

In truth, the notion has been around since third-centrury Greece and it has morphed and morphed and morphed again.

At the PotashCorp, as the head of investor relations for 20 years, I often heard my colleages talk about share price and say, “Betty Ann, value is in the eye of the beholder”. and it was true, even in that context.

In modern workplace terms, the value of a woman may also be measured in the eyes of her beholders – and the beholders in this case may be her boss, her colleages, her employees, even her clients.

If women want to climb the management ladder, they need to be seen to have value.  We need others to see the unique attributes of our gender that give us worth.  We want companies to invest in us and include us because of our gender, not in spite of it.

It’s important to us and to to the next generation as well.  Girls have to want to be girls, and as long as their archtype doesn’t yield any power, it’s not appealing.

What can we do as women to present our unique value proposition?

To increase the valuation of the  PotashCorp we made sure investors knew our business was “feeding the world”.  As the largest producer of farm fertilizer, we had enormous global worth.  We detailed the strengths of the company and told our investors our strategy for maximizing our business.

Women can follow the same philosophy.

We need to believe in who we are and what we do if we want women to do the same.  If you don’t put a high value on your unique attributes you can’t expect others to value women.

Lead with our strengths and be proud of what makes us different.  Studies show that women are more service orientated and better communicators.  These are competitive advantages in business.

Develop Your Strategy.  Successful women will say that mentors and champions were crucial to their success.  There is no time like the present to get out and find yourself a mentor.

Remember that valuation depends on you so you need to put your best case forward.  Male or female, you need to know how you differ from the pack and how those differences make you critical to your company’s success.

There is a tendacy to melt into mediocrity rather than have people see how we differ.  But as many a millionare will tell you, success comes from daring to be different.  Copy an existing business model and you’ll get the same old result.  Do something that’s never been done before, and you can capture value.

It’s all about finding a special place for yourself by finding a new niche, product, market, service or insight.

Try your wings with the Southwest Airlines philosophy.  They dared to adopt a different business model, and now they’re one of the few successful companies in a money-losing industry.

At PotashCorp, I saw contrarian investors make a lot of money by selling when the share price was hot because everyone was buying.  Then they scooped up under-valued shares when the herd sold cooling the market.  They dared to be different!

It takes courage to say “no” to the conventional wisdom, and it’s easier to make safe choices.

Daring to be different comes from within.  We grow up hiding our differences in an effort to fit in.  We may bury our differences so deeply that even we aren’t aware of them!

Start by increasing your self-awareness.  Know who you are and the value of your uniqueness.  Then assert your right to be yourself.  It doesn’t make you wrong.  In fact, excercising self-acceptance puts you firmly on the road to abundance.

So start today, value yourself as a woman in the workplace – and dare to enjoy being different.  It is beautiful!

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