432 Vicki Saunders: Community Wins

Women Innovating Networking Growing Scaling – that’s WINGS … I’m Melinda Wittstock, my mission is to help women take flight to soar to the success of our dreams in business and in life– and create and grow businesses in alignment with our passion and purpose.

On this special Mentoring Minisode of Wings of Inspired Business … we talk about how inspiring it is to see so many women excel in entrepreneurship, and increasingly with businesses that are doing good in the world.  We also talk about the necessity of community for women to excel in business … and why we must all get better at asking for help.

Here with us today to provide her insights and inspiration is …

Vicki Saunders.

Vicki is the founder and CEO of SheEO – it’s a global community of radically generous women who support and invest in women-led Ventures working on what she calls the World’s To Do List – that is, using entrepreneurship to solve the UN’s 17 global goals – from poverty to clean water and climate change to quality education and economic development – and more besides.

She believes, as I do, that entrepreneurship is by far the best way to address these pressing problems where governments have failed – and that women entrepreneurs are uniquely suited to step up to these challenges.

Vicki is a serial entrepreneur and award-winning mentor who has co-founded and run ventures in Europe, Toronto and Silicon Valley and taken a company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Vicki Saunders will be here with her advice in just a moment on our Mentoring Minisode and first …

Vicki calls herself an advisor to the next generation of women change makers and leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world.  She’s the Founder of SheEO, a global community of women investing in women-led businesses with interest free loans. Each invests $1,100 – or $92 a month. Vicki says, it’s basically like this: “What does the intuition of 500 women pick this year?”

Vicki was named one of the 100 most influential leaders of 2015 from “EBW – Empowering A Billion Women and she says her goal is to get to a million women with a billion dollar perpetual fund… that grows and grows as founders pay back the loans as a legacy for the planet.

Melinda Wittstock:         Vicki, welcome to WINGS.

Vicki Saunders:                Thank you so much.

Melinda Wittstock:         I’m excited to have you on and of course I always want to start by asking what is inspiring you right now?

Vicki Saunders:                I am so inspired by the ventures that I’m meeting every day. Women who are working on what we call the worlds to do list. The sort of top priorities of the planet, so at SheEO we fund these kinds of women. I think every day I’m seeing people stepping out of their comfort zone, coming up with super cool solutions to a lot of the challenges we’re facing.

Melinda Wittstock:         Gosh, I think women are uniquely suited for mission oriented, global businesses. You know, playing big on mission to use business for social good and it’s so exciting to hear that that is your focus.

Vicki Saunders:                There’s endless numbers of great stories out there and I can’t wait until we start telling more and more of them in the papers and media.

Melinda Wittstock:         Absolutely. And so, we all have challenges. I know you’re an entrepreneur as well, and you work with so many. And I like to de-stigmatize these as part of the process we learn from, sometimes, when we have adversity. What are some of your challenges.

Vicki Saunders:                There’s so many.

Melinda Wittstock:         Right.

Vicki Saunders:                So one of the challenges I have is myself, which is I get in my own way all the time. I’m always in a rush and I need to slow down and breath. Do you know?

Melinda Wittstock:         I know that one.

Vicki Saunders:                I am literally obsessed with opportunity, and so I see all kinds of opportunities around me, and the challenge of saying no versus like, “Oh, maybe I could fit like one more thing into my day.” which is kind of crazy. And I tend to, you know I really do push quite hard and so it would be to everyone’s benefit including my own, if I just took a bit of a chill sometimes. I tend to overfill everything.

Melinda Wittstock:         Oh my god. I think we’re sisters. I have the same challenge and it’s interesting because you unlock abundance in your life you suddenly have and abundance of opportunities, you do spot them everywhere and they’re all great but focusing on the one that is the thing at any given time and taking time for your own self care, that’s my challenge too. Oh my, so along the way, drawing on your own experience what are some pieces of advice you would give female entrepreneurs and women business owners that you wish you’d known perhaps in the early days of your entrepreneurial career? What would be the top three?

Vicki Saunders:                So really the number one thing is I spent an awful lot of time on my own, feeling isolated, like I didn’t have any support, which was completely and totally of my own doing. I isolated myself instead of getting into community and asking for help and getting support. That was a number one thing and I think part of that is just the culture, the narrative out there is you have to go do this on your own and you’re the boss. You need to figure things out. And this inability or lack of muscle building around asking for help, I feel is such a gigantic barrier, especially for women. So that number one thing is asking for help and then getting yourself in community I would say is number two or number one, whatever between the last two-

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. It’s true. Again, we’re sisters in that too. For years, this is my fifth business that I’m on now and I’ve learned at this stage that it does take a village. You need mentors around you and support and masterminds and coaches and all that good stuff. What is it about women do you think that makes it so hard for us to ask for help?

Vicki Saunders:                I don’t think this is women at all. I think it’s the system and the structures that we grew up in. We give to everybody else first, and that’s kind of the design of everything, and then we’re last. So that’s, I think, a really big part of it. I just think almost all of these issues are systemic and cultural. It’s tough to change and it’s not about women. There’s nothing wrong with women. We rock. We are amazing as we are. There is nothing to fix in women. It’s the systems that are broken.

Melinda Wittstock:         Yes. So true. So what would be the second piece of advice?

Vicki Saunders:                I think this getting in community is one and asking for help would be two. When I’m speaking at different events, at any of our SheEO events I always ask this question. “How many people in the room would help someone right now if they asked you?” And every hand always go up. Then I go, “How many people like asking for help?” And it is, exactly, literally no hands go up, or two or three. And this is the thing. It’s so crazy right? We are literally surrounded by all of these people who have something that you don’t have, and they have it in abundance, that they’d be happy to give. For me that’s connections.

I have a wicked network and I say to people, “Go connect with me on linked in and I will say it to your audience as well, and if there’s anyone in my network who can help you, please ask me. I’d love to make that connection because I have like 19,000 people or something stupid like that. Everybody owes me a favor. How am I ever going to use all those favors? I’m not so I’m going to ask them if they’ll help you. So that whole piece of, if you don’t ask… When I was younger, I didn’t have a ton of confidence. It took me a long, long time to build up my confidence and so when someone would say that to me, that I can’t of maybe looked up to, I’d be like, “What? My question’s probably dumb.” Or, “I should probably already know how to do this.” Or, “She said that, but I bet she says that all the time and she doesn’t really mean it.” You know, like all those voices in your head-

Melinda Wittstock:         Right! Yes.

Vicki Saunders:                -and I’m just here to say, “I mean it.” We mean it. Those people that are around you that say they want to help you, please ask.

Melinda Wittstock:         And receive too. I find that a lot of people have, and women, have a hard time actually receiving it, even to the point of brushing off a compliment. To me, in a way, when you think about it, we love to give, so it’s like dissing someone who’s trying to give to you.

Vicki Saunders:                I think that if you can flip it around that way it then makes you think a lot differently about it. So-

Melinda Wittstock:         It really does.

Vicki Saunders:                -like, I have an abundance of things, you’re robbing me of the change of using all of that community capital I’ve built up [crosstalk 00:06:39]. And so, you’re like, “Oh, you mean it’s helping you for me to ask you for help? What?” You have to kind of flip it around.

Melinda Wittstock:         It’s so true. So much of this comes down to mindset around all of these things. So what would be your final, number three piece of advice?

Vicki Saunders:                The hardest thing for me was to believe that I mattered and that I was worthy, and that just takes a lot of work, a lot of personal work. I saw things quite differently as a young person, all the way through. I always wanted to do go and make money at the same time, and everyone said that’s ridiculous. You make your money and then you give it away. But I always had a very strong flavor of I could not just go make money. It wasn’t something I could do. I had to have deep passion and meaning and impact underneath it.

I think part of the thing that I would say, I mean, I tried to do this too, but it was like, go find the others. If you can, find you people and do not surround yourself, whatever you can do, with people who don’t get you, because that just sucks the life out of you, when people are constantly picking at you, telling you you’re weird and you’re not doing it right. So hard.

Melinda Wittstock:         So very true. So how can people apart from LinkedIn. How else can people work with you?

Vicki Saunders:                You can find me through our website at SheEO, S-H-E-E-O dot world, so sheeo.world or you can find me on Twitter @vickis, V-I-C-K-I-S, or on Instagram or on everything. I’m everywhere.

Melinda Wittstock:         Wonderful.

Vicki Saunders:                I answer. I’m constantly online answering stuff so catch me anywhere.

Melinda Wittstock:         You are an inspiration Vicki, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.

Vicki Saunders:                My pleasure, thank you for inviting me.

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