SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR VICKI SAUNDERS KNOWS BUSINESS.
In addition to founding multiple companies, she’s created SheEO, a network of individuals who support women entrepreneurs through mentoring, networking, and investing. She is also the author of “Think Like a SheEO: Succeeding in the Age of Creators, Makers and Entrepreneurs.” Saunders shared key insights about leadership and business with the founder of Emerging Women, Chantal Pierrat.
On Why It’s Great That Everything is Broken
“Almost everything needs to be redesigned, reinvented, or redefined.”
This is something I’ve really been thinking about my whole life: how do you create an environment for people to believe that they’re free and that they can do more than they think they can? I think at this particular point in time in the world, when I look at it, it looks like everything is broken. For me, that’s a great time to be alive. Everything’s broken? What a great time to be alive! If you’re a creator, maker, or entrepreneur, this is kind of your nirvana, because if you look out on the street – when I look out on the street, anyway – almost everything needs to be redesigned, reinvented, or redefined. And I really think it’s important that women are at the table for that redefinition, because I think we can do better in creating a better world.
On Finding Meaning Over Money
“All bets are off on the black-and-white world we’ve been living in.”
The vast majority of Millennials and many other people now really want to have meaning – meaning matters to them more than money. Making a difference matters more than what the salary is. And ideally, we mash the two together and you have a meaningful, well-paying job, or you have a meaningful, awesome, growing startup.
It’s not enough anymore to just provide a good product. You have to have a good product that’s sustainable, that adds value to the community that it was developed in, that makes you feel better, and delights you. There are seven billion people on the planet – how do you stand out above the crowd with your product? We went from the 20th century, which was dozens of markets with millions of customers, to this new world where we have millions of markets with dozens of customers. To make yourself stand out, you really have to get into the heartstrings, the emotional connections, the meaning of people, so that they become rabidly excited about your product, because they have so many other choices out there.
When I look at all of these people that are going, “I don’t want to go to Wall Street when I graduate. I want to go do something that makes a difference in the world, because look at the state of the world. What is the highest form of leadership and the biggest impact that you can have?” People are asking these questions now, as opposed to just pursuing money, because we’ve got so many studies now showing that it doesn’t really lead to happiness. And what people really want is a sense of that personal advocacy that they have in the world.
I think that all bets are off on the black-and-white world we’ve been living in. We are really moving into a much more integrated perspective, where people are looking at, “How does this make me feel when I use this product? How does this make me feel when I work at this company?” as well as, “What is this company doing? Is it doing good things in the world? And what are we putting out there in the world? Is that the best thing that I can do with my life?”
On “Flipping It” And Limiting Beliefs
“We’re only limited by our imaginations.”
If you believe that you can have what you want, then you can have what you want. If you don’t think that’s possible, then of course, you create that reality. One of the things that I have been working on for years and years and years is listening to my language for times when I have limiting words that come out.
For example, I’ll hear myself saying, “It would be really hard to do that.” And then I quickly notice that and go, “Well, what if it wasn’t? What if I could do it faster? What if I could do it in a different way? What if I could make it a game? What if it could be fun?” And I’m constantly flipping that, because really, we’re only limited by our imaginations. It’s important to be constantly checking in on yourself when you say those things, because your words create your reality.
If you’re walking around going, “I can’t do this unless I raise a million bucks,” then you’re limiting yourself. What if there were a way to do it differently? What if there were a new approach? When you walk in with a thought that things are going to be a certain way, you create that reality. So if you don’t want that to be true, be careful about what you’re thinking. I think this is really important in every part of your business. It’s going to be really hard to raise money, and if you have that in your head all the time, “It’s really hard,” then you create the situation for it to be hard.
“The risk for me is living in mediocrity and never achieving my potential.”
If you actually think it’s a risk to quit your job and go do what you want to do, then you need to think about that for a minute. I mean, the risk for me is living in mediocrity and never achieving my potential. That, to me, would be the biggest disaster ever. So I actually don’t think of it as risk when I think about, “What do I want to achieve?” I tie it much more into my impact and my being and my purpose for why I’m here.
If that’s actually an issue for you, then you need to really pay attention to that. It doesn’t mean just chuck it. If you have a job and you think you need $100,000 a year or you built your life around that, then yes, you can’t go and create a business until you’ve got a revenue model that’s going to support it.
Entrepreneurship is the big buzzword of the day. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur. But what does that really mean? I think people want to feel like they have autonomy and they’re working on purpose and they’re increasing their mastery around whatever that is in the world. That’s the real motivation stuff, and whether or not you’re doing that in a startup or you find a way to do that within a company or within a government department, wherever that is, I think looking at your impact is a critical component of it. I’d really step back and ask, “What’s the risk? Why do you need to have what you think you need to have? And is that really true?”
Chantal Pierrat is the founder of Emerging Women, which exists to support and inspire women to express themselves authentically through the work that they do. The organization strives to provide the tools, knowledge, and network to help women lead, start, and grow businesses in a way that integrates feminine values such as connection, collaboration, and heart.