It’s amazing to consider that Jeanne d’Arcs actions nearly 600 years ago still inspire people today. But how did she manage to create such influence? Jeanne started as nothing and rose up to become a hero; so logically speaking (after all her influence may be the stuff of legends, yet she’s as real as me or you), there must be a way. Today’s post gives you five key elements for convincing the world of your ideas, plus a bonus reward that will carry you across a lifetime.
In our Jeanne d’Arc series, we’ve been highlighting another strong women who build herself a reputation and influence to change the world for women in business, Nicole Beaudoin – Top One Hundred winner, President of the Quebec Business Women’s Network, mother, grandmother, and builder of women’s networks on an international scale. By looking back at Jeanne’s story and comparing it with Nicole’s personal experience, we’re going to unlock how these women convinced the world of their ideas.
First Key: See the Need.
France in 1428 was divided by allegiances and challenged royal lineages. The English were making progress in their campaign and the French people were divided. Jeanne was part of this, and she (with her visions pushing her forward) brought forth an idea that changed the story. Suddenly the need shifted from divided allegiances, to something everyone could agree on: God’s mission for France. She saw the need for cohesion, and she gave France a point at which everyone could rally.
Fifty years ago there were no women networks, no objectives to work together and build one another up in business. As Nicole puts it, “There was not solidarity 50 years ago.” Women emerging in business were pioneers – blazing trails without even realizing their actions, and feeling quite isolated in the experience. Was the only choice to become a man in a man’s world? As Nicole says, “we didn’t have models to follow, the models were all men.” There was a need for women to form community and yet doing this held a risk: it differentiate oneself from those who held the power. Yet nevertheless, there was a need.
Second Key Element: Master the Doubts.
Both Jeanne and Nicole had to put on their game faces to chase their ambition. For Jeanne that was to approach Baudricourt more than once, then follow through with the Kind, and then trust that her visions would prove her credibility. For Nicole, it was to rise to the highest levels within National organizations that were led by men. During our conversation, Nicole keep reiterating a phrase that I suspect lead helped her conquer nerves many, many times: “You may lose some battles, but you win the war.” If you aren’t’ the first person to take a risk on your idea, why should anyone else? Master those self-doubts, and charge forward.
Third Key Element: Invest in your Values
Give what you can to your values whether that’s time, money, energy, creativity, faith, etc. Jeanne gave her body in battle, and her life in trial as she cemented her place in history and the heart of France. Nicole Beaudoin gave her experience and energy:
“Something was missing in my life” Nicole knew she was good at helping organizations making money, yet that wasn’t satisfying her needs. “Widowed at 53, kids grown . . . I could pretty much do what I wanted.” And so, she did what she wanted (a fabulous concept!), which was to bring women together in business. In 1993 she purchased the Quebec Business Women’s Network. Back then only a telephone directory. She used her experience as a successful women in business to reshape its purpose.
Invest in what you believe is most important, however you are able at this moment – and watch as your ideas begin to grow.
Fourth Key element: Lead by Example & Results.
As Nicole Beaudoin says, “I give the best of myself to the network … I give them a leader.” (Heck yes! She had a career behind her that was proof of her expertise – your personal results speak volumes to others.) The mission statement of the Quebec Business Women’s Network, is build upon Nicole’s value that brought her to invest in the success of business women: “To contribute to the success of women in the business world, from entrepreneurs, small jobs and upward.”
And so she led by example as she gave herself to this network, guiding it with the same proven business savvy that had brought her to such high level positions such as Vice-President, Finance and Administration with VIA Rail Canada, General Manager, Eastern Manufacturing Division with Scott Paper Limited, and acting as an external, independent advisory panel for the strategic review of Canada Post.
You are the example. Be aware that in your history and actions you are leading others (whether or not that was your intention!), and at the same time you are leading yourself.
Fifth Key Element: Get Innovative.
Jeanne’s visions, courage, and dogged determination were a refreshing shock to the campaigns in France – she was an excellent strategist and her attacks were unexpected, more than once leading to an English defeat. As for Nicole, she wasn’t only a pioneer in women rising the business ranks, she was a pioneer in the formation of community and mentorship. Taking that phone directory, she gave women what they all quietly wanted – to work with one another. Mentorship began to grow, more women started businesses and today, more than ever before, a woman can be a woman in the workplace.
Once you see the need, build a creative solution. Your innovation will the attention of others.
And of course, as promised, the reward for convincing the world of your ideas.
Your Reward: Make Giant Waves.
From a ripple, a young girl who hears voices, a women who takes nightschool; to a wave, getting involved in a passionate cause, trail blazing through unwelcoming masculine dominated territories; to creating a tsunami by inspiring the country France to unite, and guiding women to support one another in Canada and now internatinally . . . the impact can be greater than you ever imagined.
When Nicole Beaudoin received her National Order of Quebec for her work, the Prime Minister told her “you have changed the image of business in Quebec.” By convincing the world of her place, and then bringing that power to others, she helped give countless women courage to proceed as they joined the world of business.
Can there be any better reward than seeing your values explode into a world-wide movement of change? I think not.
Till next week,
Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. Camille is currently accepting applications for the Women’s Executive Network Senior Executives Wisdom Peer Mentoring program. Applications to this exciting and knowledge-sharing program are available here.