Negotiation tactics and insights that women shouldn’t miss

If you tend to shy away from negotiations you’re not alone. Many women do. So I sat with a negotiation expert to find out some negotiation tactics and insights we could all use. Read on!

If you had a chance to pick the brain of negotiation expert Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida, the Academic Director of the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program at Columbia University, what would you ask her? Leave your question in the comments section!

I chose to focus on proven negotiation tactics that women don’t usually take advantage of. Granted, Dr. Fisher-Yoshida wears many hats. She’s the Co-Executive Director of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4) and the Director of the Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) Program, both housed in the Earth Institute at Columbia University. She also has her own consulting firm, Fisher Yoshida International which leads organizations through change by improving communication and aligning their mission and vision. But negotiation seems to be weaved into all her activities.

Negotiation advice and insights for women from one of the leaders in the space.

Negotiation advice and insights for women from one of the leaders in the space.

Mariela Dabbah— You have a Ph.D in Human and Organizational Systems and an M.A. in Organization Development from Fielding Graduate University, and an M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University. At what point in your career did you decide to become a negotiation expert?

Beth Fisher-Yoshida— It was early in my career. I started my work in negotiation while doing cross-cultural communications while I lived in Japan. There I learned intercultural communications and conflict resolution. I had started my career in Special Education but realized that I wanted to advance beyond being a teacher. I was interested in working with people, not in advancing as an administrator. So I started to work with adults in learning and development in Japan where I had gone to learn art. I became involved in intercultural communications, moved into working with adults in organizations. And then I went back to school for my second masters and my doctorate. I find that intercultural communications, conflict resolution and negotiation are overlapping areas.

MD— Why do you think negotiation has always been a sore subject for so many women? I confess that for a long time it was a difficult topic for me too.

BFY—I think there’s a stigma attached to it. Women are fearful of it because the traditional way of negotiating is very male oriented so women shied way from it. They didn’t think they were good enough for it. It had an image of you have to be tough, play hardball tactics, bang on the desk with your fist. It’s counter cultural to how women were raised to be: Nurturing, empathetic, consensus builders. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Many women are naturally inclined to build relationships. So if I think of negotiation as a way to build relationships, I have a natural tendency to negotiate. It’s all about how we frame it. Men and women in some way can use the same negotiation techniques and in some ways not, because their behavior is not understood the same way. When a man is tough, it works. For a woman it comes across as a being the “b” word.

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MD— What situation comes to mind when you think of one of the most difficult negotiations you undertook through your career?

BFY—I had a very difficult negotiation in Japan when I was having a performance review with my manager. I was negotiating my performance review and was questioning how I was being measured in order to try and understand. He misunderstood my line of questioning. It took months…

Another example. I’m an expansive thinker, I like to brainstorm, and to me, rules are something to be looked at but with which you can be flexible. So for me, a challenging negotiation is when I work with people who think rules are very strict. They become very stubborn about sticking to the rules and they become contentious when they see you’re trying to be more flexible. Unless I back down and take a strategic look, the negotiation will stall. They feel backed into a corner and they need to defend their honor or principles, and when people are not relaxed their brain becomes more rigid.

A good sign to look for is when someone repeats something over and over. It means they are not listening any more. They may feel threatened and they feel they need to defend themselves. They lose ability to entertain possibilities. This is called cognitive rigidity. They get stuck in a certain mindset. Earlier in my career I would’ve continued to push my agenda. Now, I know that I have to take a step back. My suggestion is first, try not to create that scenario but if you see the negotiation going that way, back away from that scenario. It can be even worse when you both go into a space of rigidity.

5 Successful Negotiation Tactics and Insights You Can’t Miss

MD— Could you highlight for us some of the most successful negotiation tactics you’ve seen?

BFY— Let’s look at a few.
1Relational orientation. One of the most successful negotiation techniques is a willingness to collaborate. When people are attuned to what they want and what others want in the negotiation and everyone wants to be flexible on how you come to an agreement. There are different ways of getting there and it’s a question of exploring what works best. They care about the other party because they want to have a long- term relationship. Relational orientation is a very successful negotiation tactic to keep in mind.

2Manage your emotions. If there’s a situation where people are getting emotionally elevated, they are losing their perspective or their calmness, a good tactic is to disturb that moment. Practice breathing and mentally or physically (suggest a ten-minute break) separate from the situation and come back to it. Stop it from escalating out of control.

3Good listening. Listening at multilevels. Not only listen for what you want to hear but also listen for what’s not being said, and for what’s important to the other person. Ask yourself: “What’s going on here? What do I really want to know to open up the other party?” People reveal more than they think. If you listen well, you’ll find out a lot. Ask the right questions. Not just the yes or no kind of questions.

4Preparation. Most people don’t take enough time to prepare. They want to wing the negotiation. As long as things go a certain way you are okay but if they detour you don’t know how to do deal with the situation. If you prepare backup plans you can turn the negotiation in several different ways. Otherwise you get stuck and then you walk away frustrated. You waste an opportunity to build the relationship and have a good negotiation.

5Clarify the issues you’re negotiating. Sometimes we think we are here for the same issues but we may not. At the beginning of the negotiation set the scope to make sure you are negotiating the same issues.

Sometimes junior women in their careers have said to me “I didn’t know I could negotiate that.” It’s important to know what’s negotiable for you and for others. And you learn what those boundaries are for yourself and for others. When you hit a wall and you’re offensive to the other person, you need to know what that person’s boundaries are so that you don’t continue pushing and closing the door.

Dr. Beth-Yoshida leads groups discussions on negotiation tactics

Dr. Beth-Yoshida leads groups discussions on negotiation tactics

MD— If you had to say which negotiation tactics women tend to shy away from, which ones come up?

BFY— Women tend to shy away from negotiations when they start to tell themselves they are not experienced enough, or not good enough so they don’t challenge themselves or the other party. They want be nice, they don’t want to ruffle feathers. So it’s about asking for what they want but also about how they ask. Men and women can’t assert themselves the same way. Women have to find their voices. They shouldn’t sound like they are whining or getting emotional when they ask for what they want.

It’s hard for women to have a strong self-advocacy because they don’t want to sound as bragging or egotistic (even if they qualify for whatever they are asking.) They want to be noticed without having to brag about themselves. But the truth is that they won’t. Other people will pass you by.

Another area where they shy away is if they are working mothers they don’t want to be seen as not carrying their weight. So they don’t ask for any accommodation in order not to be seen as weak, even if it’s at the expense of burnout. Some women feel that if they ask for accommodation they are side tracked. It depends on the organization.

Take our Negotiation Skills Quiz!

Negotiation Tactics and Insights You can Learn

MD— You are the Academic Partner of the WIN Summit in New York City, which focuses on helping women learn negotiation tactics, so you obviously believe this is a learnable skill. What would you say is the first step women can take to shake off their discomfort around negotiation? And then, what is a good way to learn some of these key negotiation tactics you talk about?

BFY— Everything starts with self-awareness. Start focusing on all the things you have accomplished and the things you know how to do well. Know your strengths, your impact on other people, and acknowledge your achievements and your success. Focus on all those great things you did that allowed you to get to this point in your life. Then you can look at what holds you back. More often than not it is the lack of awareness of what you’ve done.

Then find negotiation techniques that fit with what you know and with your personality. Start small, negotiate with people you know, identify what you did well and build your confidence. Reframe for yourself what negotiation means. People negotiate all the time. As long as you get scared about what you think negotiation is, you’ll avoid it. But if you deconstruct what it means and you realize you’ve already been doing it for a long time, it will be easier.

A good negotiation tactic is to listen to what's not being said.

A good negotiation tactic is to listen to what’s not being said.

MD—You work with clients helping them develop customized interventions to improve the organization’s performance. What is the role of negotiation in an organization?

BFY—In the workplace there are formal and informal negotiations going on all the time. The obvious formal negotiations are: Title change, promotion, salary increase or if you are in procurement and you negotiate with a vendor. Then there are all the informal negotiations you do all day long. You are part of a team and you negotiate work assignments, responsibilities and deadlines. You build relationships with other teams and negotiate with them too. People who don’t negotiate well, don’t do well in all of these daily situations.

It’s a lot about communication. I take the negotiation principles and apply them to communicating effectively to get what you want. I don’t need to call these situations “negotiations” but you need to understand the principles and practices of negotiation in order to function effectively in an organization. Especially when organizations are going through change management. When they need to implement new procedures, and people resist and push back. They’ll say “we’ve always done it this way” and they don’t want to do it in a different way. It’s a negotiation to get them to change and communicating effectively is part of it.

This is a different kind of negotiation because you’re all working at the same organization and you are all there to fulfill its goals. You need to figure out how all the parts work together towards those goals. Identify what each part needs and how you’ll make it all work together.

Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida does intensive work in Colombia

Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida does intensive work in Colombia

Negotiation Tactics in Different Cultures

MD—Do different cultures use different negotiation tactics? Could you give us an example of how Latinos might negotiate with Anglos, for example?

BFY— Different cultures manage personal and professional relationships differently. Some groups need to build first the personal relationship so they can trust you, like Latinos or Japanese. Whereas Americans first want to negotiate and then socialize. This is the efficiency model. But for people with a different concept of time, building the personal relationship can take a long time but then the decisions can be made quickly because they know you.

The concept of saving face is different in different cultures. In Japan for instance, you need to go around to everyone before the meeting and make sure to get their support before you speak at the meeting. Nobody likes a surprise at the meeting. So by the time it comes around it’s just an opportunity where everyone is agreeing to agree. Here in the U.S. people can go into a meeting and brainstorm ideas, be creative. In Japan people won’t take the risk to be creative because they don’t want to be criticized or come across as being different, or make others feel uncomfortable. And if you have a more senior person in the room you don’t want to step on their toes. There’s a lot more sensitivity toward “the other” in Japan than here. Here, if I want something I’ll say it. If I step on your toes, I’ll say sorry but I’ll still move forward with the idea. In the U.S. you may see some of that orientation towards other in women who are relationship oriented.

MD— You have a new book coming out on this very topic of women and negotiation. Could you give us a small advance on some of the book’s highlights?

BFY—I’ve interviewed women about their experience negotiating in and out of the workplace. I was interested in how they developed their negotiation orientation. What influences in their lives shaped the way in which they negotiate. How they model the way they negotiate.

MD—What influences did you receive?

BFY— I always pushed myself not to back down. I felt that if you don’t try something that feeling would grow and get trapped in you. I always admired people who asked for what they wanted. For example I had an art teacher when I was 12 and she had a nice way of deflecting questions she didn’t want to answer without offending people. She negotiated that communication very well. You could feel her boundaries. Then there were women along the way that were role models. I saw what they were able to accomplish. And I also didn’t want to be the person who was silenced or lost confidence. I always pushed myself to accept challenges and figured out how to do things afterward.

You can connect with Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida via Linkedin

Women Leaders: Leadership Styles that Play Against Us

With an ever increasing focus on promoting more women leaders, it’s worth recognizing that certain styles are less effective in building the leadership brand for women in general.  Part of effecting change is having courageous conversations. Read on!

From the beginning of the Red Shoe Movement, we made sure our motto focused on “women supporting women for career success” so that we would take some of the narrative regarding women not supporting each other off the table. By keeping our eyes on mutual mentoring and mutual support, we hope to encourage many more women leaders in our organizations. This helps avoid any distractions caused by the ongoing social discourse that women don’t support each other as the reason for the dearth of women leaders.

Powerful leaders inspire with their vision

Powerful leaders inspire with their vision

For a long time, I thought my colleagues exaggerated when they talked about some of the women leaders they had the misfortune of working under. They described abrasive leadership styles that,  instead of  eliciting cooperation and loyalty, turned employees off. Then I ran into a person who fit every stereotype of the woman leader that I  fight so hard against and I decided we had to talk about this issue openly. Because, whether we like it or not, women leaders are still a minority, and, as such, the missteps of one tend to affect the brand of the entire group. And what I mean by brand is the brand “women leaders” or “female leaders” as a whole. Just ask African Americans, Latinos or Jews about the ripple effect that a bad apple has on the reputation of the group as a whole.

Women leaders with ineffective leadership styles

Although the styles I discuss on this post apply both to men and women, today I focus on the impact they have on my female colleagues.

Here’s what happened to convince me to talk about this issue. After weeks of volunteering my time to help a friend (let’s call her Mary) organize a fundraiser to benefit an organization she supports, we were getting nowhere. Every time we got a leading professional to donate his or her services  for an auction, the CEO of the organization (let’s call her Jen) would change things around without notifying anyone involved.  As the date of the event approached, my friend Mary and I started to receive daily calls and emails from our professional colleagues who so generously had accepted our plea for their free services. They didn’t understand why their services were not listed on the event’s website, why the amount of consulting hours being auctioned was different from what they had committed to, or why they had been taken out of the event altogether despite having confirmed their participation.

After one too many unilateral changes, I emailed Jen expressing how unprofessional this back and forth made us all look in the eyes of our contacts, only to receive in return a scolding letter on which she copied six other people from her organization. Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. I admit I should have called her to begin with, but my note to her was private. Her email to me was not.

The incident left me wondering, why some women leaders exhibit leadership styles that are obviously unproductive? Leadership styles that, rather than project power, play to the stereotype of “the woman who undermines the power of other women.”

Together we build the brand "women leaders"

Together we build the brand “women leaders”

But the better question might be: Should we confront these women leaders with their misbehavior, or should we avoid them and move on?

It’s no easy task to approach any powerful leader for a conversation about their leadership style shortcomings, but, in cases like the one in my example, not doing so carries an even greater risk –  The perpetuation of the undeserved stereotype that women are not suited to lead. That all women leaders miss the mark.

Just as Jen’s style was ineffective and was eventually responsible for her losing her job and her organization closing down, here are a few other leadership styles that leave everyone wanting:

  • Micromanagers. Women leaders who can’t step out of their manager role and are constantly micromanaging their team rather than providing a vision and allowing their teams to carry it out.
  • Queen Bee. These are the women leaders who feel there ‘s only room for one woman to shine in the organization and they systematically undermine other women, refuse to help them succeed, or are over critical of other women in the company.
  • Emulators of male leaders. Women who rather than leverage their female traits alongside their experience, knowledge and skills, lose all femininity on the way to their powerful position in order to fit in. By emulating a masculine style, they play well in the boys club but tend to leave the culture of their organizations  unchanged for women coming behind them.
Women leaders stand on the shoulders of previous leaders

Women leaders stand on the shoulders of previous leaders

How to approach women leaders for an honest conversation

This is certainly one of those million dollar questions. It’s never easy to approach someone to provide this type of feedback. So here are a two suggestions on how to set up a productive conversation.

1If you have a good relationship with the leader, you could send a note saying you have a few insights that may help her get more support for her vision/project/etc. Then ask if she’d like to hear your insights. Giving the person a chance to accept or refuse your suggestions is key to avoid overstepping and creating a bad situation for yourself. If she accepts a meeting, prepare your feedback carefully. Focus on objective performance and results rather than personality.

2If you’re not too close to the leader, identify who has her ear. (Who does she provide air cover to? Who does she agree with at important meetings? Etc.) It may be best to speak to that person first and get a sense of the most productive approach to take. That person may even suggest that he/she is the one to bring up the issue with the leader. For this to happen effectively, you have to trust the person who will carry your observations to the leader and make sure they won’t backfire.

Women leaders are joined together to protect brand

Women leaders are joined together to protect brand

Standing up for more great women leaders

The truth is that we are joined together in the guardianship of the brand “woman leader.” The success of one is the hope for all. By the same token, the failure of one impacts us all. So, as painful and difficult as it is, we must have these courageous conversations with our gender-mates when they are called for.

Needless to say these  feedback conversations should be held in private and conducted diplomatically in order to avoid eliciting a negative reaction.  Unfortunately,  avoiding the discomfort of having these conversations will only hold us back on our quest to see more great women leaders at the helms of our organizations.

Turn Professional Disadvantage into Your Advantage

Thinking of turning a professional disadvantage into an advantage may sound contradictory to you. But, as Malcolm Gladwell proposes in his book David and Goliath, we often underestimate the benefits of the disadvantage.

Gladwell explains it by analyzing the biblical story of David and Goliath from a different point of view. From his perspective, David’s very inferior size, lack of protective armor, heavy weapons and training (which historically was interpreted as a disadvantage) were the reason he won the fight. That is, he did not win it despite being much smaller than Goliath. He won it because he was smaller and more agile and because he had other skills that Goliath didn’t expect from an opponent with whom he was going to have a close range combat.

A professional disadvantage can be your best advantage. Get inspired by David and Goliath's story.

A professional disadvantage can be your best advantage. Get inspired by David and Goliath’s story.

David was not an infantryman like Goliath. He was a shepherd boy used to using a sling to defend his flock from predatory beasts. Therefore, he wasn’t wearing heavy armor that limited his movements and slowed him down, as his enemy was wearing. Moreover, he didn’t occupy his hands with a shield, a spear and a sword. The boy just carried a sling and a bag with five stones.

By skillfully shooting a pebble to Goliath’s forehead, David ended the giant’s life and then cut off his head with the fallen man’s own sword.

Now, think about it. We have spent centuries using this story as an example that sometimes those who are most disadvantaged can overcome those most advantaged (the weakest beat the strongest, the poorest beat the richest, etc.) when statistics show that this turn of events takes place much more frequently than we think. It’s time to review our idea of ​​what a disadvantage is.

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Identify your professional disadvantage and turn it into your best advantage.

Identify your professional disadvantage and turn it into your best advantage. Here Katy Sullivan, 4 times- US Champion of 100 meters, runs with her prosthetics.

Turning any professional disadvantage into an advantage

In your career it is simple to justify that whatever doesn’t go well for you happens because you have a professional disadvantage (or any kind of disadvantage for that matter.) You don’t have the right education or contacts; you don’t have the proper title; you’re overqualified or you live in the wrong town or country. What would happen if you took this apparent professional disadvantage and let it guide you towards a solution only you could identify? Something that few people without your particular professional disadvantage would even think of.

For example, your apparent professional disadvantage is that you live in an economically depressed area where the economy is broken, it is difficult to get work, and everything is an uphill battle. By carefully observing your situation you realize that the cost of living where you are is so low that you could offer products or services at attractive prices abroad. Can you use e-commerce platforms such as Freelance.com, Outsource.com or Alibaba.com to sell your product or service outside your town or your country?

Or, considering your professional disadvantage is that as the marketplace has changed, your role has been collapsed into other roles and it no longer exists as stand alone. You seem to be overqualified for most of the jobs you apply to. Could you set up a consulting business that offers services to those companies which no longer have your position as they are deemed to have unfulfilled needs?

Or suppose you are interested in running a new project in your job and the other person being considered for the position has much more experience than you. Instead of seeing your lack of experience as a professional disadvantage, take advantage of it to focus on developing good relationships with those with whom you would be working on the project in question. By doing so, you have a chance to share your unique points of view, your great creativity and your social skills. In other words, you demonstrate with facts the great value you would bring to that group if you were chosen. Suddenly, your lack of experience is no longer relevant because the team feels comfortable with you and what you bring to the table so you become the obvious choice.

Let your professional disadvantage guide your success

Let your professional disadvantage guide your success

Lateral thinking can help you figure out best way to leverage your professional disadvantage

You can read this article and say, “Yeah, it’s easier said than done. Not all professional disadvantages can be turned around.” Sure, it’s true that there are situations where you won’t come out on top. But you will always get more benefits from using your professional disadvantage as a driving force to get ahead than by letting it determine a future in which you are not happy.

So try it. You have nothing to lose. Sit down with your perceived or real disadvantage which you consider is responsible for your current frustration and let it guide you into the field with David’s confidence. With no armor, no weapons, just a sling and a bag with five stones. And see what happens.

Shoe Entrepreneurs: Interview to a Successful Shoe Industry CEO

Gitte Sandquist, one of a handful of female shoe entrepreneurs, founder and CEO of Lola Ramona, the Danish shoe brand, is the perfect blend of a rocker and a girly girl. How has she managed to marry these two seemingly opposite styles into a beloved brand? Read on!

Gitte Sandquist one of a handful of shoe entrepreneurs is a perfect blend of rocker and girly-girl

Gitte Sandquist one of a handful of shoe entrepreneurs is a perfect blend of rocker and girly-girl

With over 25 years of experience in the fashion business Gitte was not new to the industry when she launched Lola Ramona in her native Copenhagen, Denmark. Before she became one of the edgiest shoe entrepreneurs in the world, she started her career with Scandinavian giants Bestseller and H&M and with American giant Levi´s. She went on to become an independent agent representing several international brands such as: Pepe Jeans, Lacoste, Paul Smith, Caterpillar, and Paul Frank.

During the eight years she spent as an independent agent, Gitte always felt there was a gap in the market of women shoes. Shoes that were beautiful and comfortable that women could wear every day, and not just for parties. So, she decided to become a shoe entrepreneur and started Lola Ramona.  While still selling these international brands during the day, Gitte planned her new company at night sleeping only a few hours, usually at the office.

A few years ago, we stumbled upon her stunning brand and when we discovered the company’s founder was a one of a handful of female shoe entrepreneurs, we approached her to be a Red Shoe Movement partner. She loved our mission, we loved her shoes, and the rest is history. We had a very successful event at her Copenhagen store and plan to continue doing bigger and more exciting things together. We talked to her about what it means to be a shoe entrepreneur, what’s the hardest thing to give up as a CEO of a small business and what’s up with the Spanish-sounding name of her company.

We recently had a very successful event at Lola Ramona's store in Copenhagen. This shoe entrepreneur knows how to throw a party!

We recently had a very successful event at Lola Ramona’s store in Copenhagen. This shoe entrepreneur knows how to throw a party!

First steps for shoe entrepreneurs: Naming the business

Red Shoe Movement — Your company is Danish, and your business has a Spanish sounding name. Where does the name Lola Ramona come from?

Gitte Sandquist— Well …I did not really think about the name as being Spanish when I invented it. I wanted a first & last name for the brand, so that people would see Lola Ramona as a person and identify themselves with that girl. I chose Lola, because not matter which language you speak, everybody knows that Lola is a female.  Ramona was the more Rock´n´roll part of me 🙂 I love The Ramones and at the same time I thought that Ramona sounded like a beautiful flower.

RSM—You yourself are a mix between a girly-girl and a rocker. Have you always defied stereotypes? What is it like to be a shoe entrepreneur as someone who defies stereotypes?

GS— I guess it’s just my nature. I have always had the urge to express myself on my own terms. Not dictated by fashion, music, culture or sub-culture, but by my own feelings and where I wanted to go. I like the fact that I can be the girly girl one day and the rocker the next.  I am attracted to all kinds of types/stereotypes. My only wish for everyone is that they feel comfortable being the type they are. I like the fact that people respect me for being “in-between.”  My friends often tell me that I collect souls not types. Being in fashion and having that attitude, I can sometimes put people off. Other times it attracts people. I do not see it as a big challenge. I am sure Vivienne Westwood or Betsy Johnson must feel the same way. Yes! It divides groups, but the ones who understand and respect that attitude, get you more than they get much of other fashion.

Learn about the meaning of red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement!
RSM team wearing Lola Ramona shoes

RSM team wearing Lola Ramona shoes

The life of shoe entrepreneurs

RSM— Give us a flavor of what a week in the life of a shoe entrepreneur is like

GS— I never get out of bed before 8.00 AM, and I always stay up until after 2 AM. There is always something going on inside my head. A song, something I am planning, a small discussion or a shopping list. My whole day is filled with shoes: Decisions about shoes, shoe designs, communication concerning shoes. Meetings about how to make and sell shoes and how to market them in the best way. 🙂 I work in a wonderful environment with my dedicated and skilled staff in Copenhagen. In the evening I hang out with my husband and very often I go out with him and friends. I have a lot of input to offer every single day and I like to stay open to as much as possible. I also travel a lot and I love it.

RSM— What’s the hardest thing to let go when you’re the CEO of a successful small business?

GS— Micro management… OMG! I keep disciplining myself. It’s annoying both for the staff and for me.  🙂 Sometimes I do miss specific tasks that I was normally in charge of doing in the past.

But all in all… I feel blessed that I am so incredible lucky to have a successful, small business, and a great staff. And I do not often think that I have to let things go. I try to focus more on how much I am winning and getting.

As a shoe entrepreneur, Gitte Sandquist finds supporting other women is critical. We created this charm to honor our partnership.

As a shoe entrepreneur, Gitte Sandquist finds supporting other women is critical. We created this charm to honor our partnership.

RSM—Humor plays an important part in your brand, something that distinguishes you from other shoe entrepreneurs. How do you imbue humor into your business while building a serious business?

GS—I love a good joke and my staff does too. We often try to do something silly/funny on one of the shoes. Like attaching a moustache or making the design so that it looks like the shoe is laughing at you. Of course we take the business seriously. This is our career and where we earn our money and this is what we are passionate about. But we are aware that these are shoes!  We are not doing life-saving medicine.  If you’re not able to do this work with a smile on your face, I do not think you should be a shoe entrepreneur. When you are able to make people laugh, both in the office and on the streets, I think you have given them space to breathe and in the end you make them stronger.

RSM—How do you stay inspired to come up with new, exciting designs?

GS—Really easy! We flirt with all past decades and add some new features or mix them all. For instance, the 2018 winter collection is both 60ies fashion and 80ies glam, with some sports features.

RSM—You recently launched the LolaRamona hack. How did this idea come about? What were some of the most fun ideas people shared?

GS—IKEA had a campaign which got really close to the Lola Ramona sign off. So I decided to #IKEAhack them which is a really common thing, and again with a touch of humor. We had a lot of fun and success with it, and even IKEA thought it was fun. And since we were working with the #IKEAhack I launched our own #LOLAhack too. We had so many good hacks, but I think the best hack we got was a Christmas decoration with candles and all, made out of one of our stilettos.

#LOLAhack stilettos

#LOLAhack stilettos

RSM— You are half owner of your factory in China and your partner is a woman. We find this most interesting given that the industry continues to be male-dominated and there are few female shoe entrepreneurs who own their factories. Does it make a difference in your final product to have a woman designer and a woman as a head of manufacturing?

GS—There is ONLY differences! Communication is different, the way we see business and interaction is different. We speak so much more the same language when it comes to quality and finish of a product. How we choose to treat the staff, and the list goes on and on. We share the Red Shoe Movement principles that we should aid and help other women to achieve their goals, not just worry about “what’s in it for me.”

Shoe entrepreneurs Gitte Sandquist and her factory partner discuss new designs.

Shoe entrepreneurs Gitte Sandquist and her factory partner discuss new designs.

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Making mistakes, at the core of most successful shoe entrepreneurs

RSM—Can you share one of the worst mistakes you made and how you fixed it or got over it?

GS—Hmmm… I have made thousands of mistakes! Selling the company (I bought it back, though.) Letting friends down, not listening carefully enough, doubting myself, doubting others, and so on. I think the biggest mistake you can make is to not make mistakes. You learn more from making mistakes than from most other things in life. Afterwards you just have to be able to say I’m sorry. And off course not consciously hurt other people.

RSM—Which one of Lola Ramona shoes would you say best reflects your inner red shoe?

GS—Without a doubt: It has always been Angie Hero!

Angie Hero the choice of the shoe entrepreneur behind the Lola Ramona brand

Angie Hero the choice of the shoe entrepreneur behind the Lola Ramona brand

RSM—What do you value about the partnership with the Red Shoe Movement?

GS— The enthusiastic approach you are always met with. The network that stretches all over the world. The beautiful, strong women who aim to empower other women. It’s a beautiful concept and it sits very well with me.

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4 Simple Actions to Improve Your Self-Confidence

At the core of most successful people there’s self-confidence. This doesn’t mean they were always (or even that they are still always) self-confident. But that they built their self-confidence enough to get them where they are. And that they continue to reinforce it so they can keep going. Don’t miss these 4 simple actions to improve your own self-confidence.

Definition of self-confidence

self-con·fi·dence

ˈˌself ˈkänfəd(ə)ns/

noun

  1. a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment.
synonyms: morale, confidence, self-assurance, assurance, assertiveness, self-reliance, self-possession, composure

Differences between self-esteem and self-confidence

 

Knowing your power helps strengthen your self-esteem. Believing in what you can do and proving yourself increases your self-confidence.

Knowing your power helps strengthen your self-esteem. Believing in what you can do and proving yourself increases your self-confidence.

So that we are all on the same page, let’s start first by understanding the differences between self-esteem and self-confidence, the subject of today’s post.

Self-esteem is the confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. It refers to your self-respect. It’s slightly different from self-confidence in the sense that self-esteem refers to how much I value myself. Example: I deserve/don’t deserve to be successful. Whereas self-confidence refers to how much I believe in myself. Example: I can /can’t reach my goals.

It is useful to recognize that all of us at some point may falter in our conviction and need someone to remind us of our value, be it our families, friends, colleagues or social media followers. Someone who tells you: “you deserve it,” “you are worth it.”

But one thing is to have a moment of weakness and another is to harbor constant doubts about your worth, your knowledge, skills, etc. This is a feeling that fosters anxiety and can prevent you from developing a fulfilling career. So if you suffer from chronic low self-esteem, you may need to consult a specialist such as a therapist or a coach.

Today’s conversation focuses on self-confidence, a state of being that occasionally, even the most successful people also need to reinforce.  And the good news is that there are very effective ways to give yourself a shock of self-confidence whenever you need it.

Self Confidence Definition

Self Confidence Definition

Let’s explore these four self-confidence boosters.

1Powerful appearance

Many experts will recommend that you explore the root of your lack of self-confidence. And looking inside is always a good way to go. But today I suggest that you begin working from the outside in. Starting off with what is generally considered “superficial”. Your appearance.

There are many studies that indicate that clothing affects how we feel. And feeling good is an important step when it comes to building or reinforcing your self-confidence.

Choose a look that suits you well and with which you can connect with the world. That in itself will affect your attitude. It will give you the courage that you may lack to face certain situations or to accept a challenge. Carefully consider every detail of your outfit, including accessories, shoes (and if they are red even better!), Purse, briefcase, or bag, etc.

The same goes for grooming. A good haircut can renew your image and help raise your self-confidence. A little makeup, lipstick, and a good manicure can have a very positive effect on how we face the world. These seemingly superficial changes have a very favorable impact on how we see ourselves and therefore, how we feel.  I for one, don’t feel the same when I wear sneakers than when I wear high heels. When I wear sweatpants than when I wear a dress pants. It’s not better or worse, just different. And as different situations call for me to feel and project something specific, I always wear outfits that help me feel my best in that particular situation.

Here's a great post on how to use color to dress for success!

2Powerful postures

Amy Cuddy did the research around power poses ability to increase your self-confidence.

Amy Cuddy did the research around power poses ability to increase your self-confidence.

Maybe you heard about certain power postures that send the message of self- empowerment to the brain. Try them every day when you get up and also just before an event in which you want to stand out.

  • Hands at the waist, legs separated in superhero style.
  • V-shaped arms, legs separated in the style of a sprinter who just won a Gold Medal.
  • Standing in front of a desk or table, hands on the table, legs apart, a defiant boss-style look that says: “This is the right thing to do”.

3Powerful words

Human beings are verbal beings. We are the stories that we tell ourselves and others. The words we use to define ourselves, explain situations, and make sense of life determine who we are and the results we get.

If you want to increase your self-confidence, watch your words and eliminate from your vocabulary those that disempower you. So instead of saying: “I’m not good at this,” you can say: “I choose to take on this challenge and learn what I need to conquer it.” And very concretely, instead of “I can’t speak in public,” you can say: “I will find a coach to help me develop my public speaking skills.”

Getting rid of disempowering words will also help you find new actions that will help you achieve your goals. New actions lead to new results and positive results breed self-confidence. You see, as you repeat this cycle and build on small successes, you will continue to boost your self-esteem.

Get rid of words that disempower you. Acquire new ways to talk about yourself and what you want.

Get rid of words that disempower you. Acquire new ways to talk about yourself and what you want.

4Powerful mantras

And keeping with the theme of words, it is very valuable to create a mantra that you can repeat daily. Particularly just before a situation when you are about to get relevant exposure. Some examples:

  • I achieve everything that I set my mind to
  • I choose to be successful
  • I am an excellent negotiator
  • I give myself permission to make mistakes and learn from them
  • I got this!

I assure you that if you consistently repeat these four actions you will reap the benefits of a strong self-confidence.

And if you are looking to build your self-confidence alongside a community of like-minded professionals, join our Step Up program where we work on all the soft-skills needed to take you to the next level. Get a dose of daily inspiration on Instagram.

Join the Step Up program and be you, amplified!

Join the Step Up program and be you, amplified!