Changing times and volatile times like the one the world is currently going thorough might be difficult for many businesses but crisis is the time for growth believes, Shellye Archambeau. She should know. Archambeau serves on the boards of Verizon, Nordstrom, Roper Technologies and Okta.
She was a grand keynote speaker at the Road toTiEcon 2020 event held July 22, hosted by TiE Silicon Valley.
To inspire upcoming entrepreneurs and help them face all kinds of challenges, the Road to TiEcon series has been bringing together industry experts, tech titans and thought leaders to share their wisdom and insights.
Archambeau, in conversation with Thuy Vu, co-founder & president of Global Mentor Network, spoke about what it takes to grow in challenging times and how one needs to have more than ambition to be a successful leader.
Vu asked Archambeau, the first women of color to achieve what she has, about role models in life and what inspired her to break the status quo.
Archambeau said: “In the racially charged ’60s, everyone made it very clear that I wasn’t very welcome, and that really helped me focus on my priorities. That focus worked, it helped me realize that if I really stayed intentional and setting goals, objectives, I could increase the odds of my luck and get more opportunities.”
She said that she didn’t have many role models when she was growing up, and that made her take more ownership and responsibility.
Entrepreneurs need a certain level of discipline and courage more than others to get things done and make progress. Archambeau said.
She added: “Having courage is a muscle. Just practice doing things that you’re uncomfortable with and just keep doing them, it will get so much easier.”
Asked about taking risks in business, she said: “…If you want opportunities, you’ve got to take risks but the key is taking risks that are rational, right and reasonable. Doing your homework is the most important thing.”
Asked what should a business do in times of crisis, Archambeau said: “Focus is imperative, not just your focus, but ensuring that your entire organization is very focused on what is critical. Therefore, as leaders, you have to be in front, you need to be communicating, all the time. Even if there isn’t anything new to say, they just need to see that you’re in charge. In essence, and to know that you care about them, because people are struggling individually too. And they need to be seen as whole people so that’s why the focus the communication.”
One of the most interesting points Archambeau shared was to ask children to focus on goals rather than dreams.
Her take is that children and adolescents have not seen the world enough to have a dream, and setting progressive goals can give them a sense of accomplishment and empower them.
“People all the time tell others to follow their dreams. But when they’re young, they do not have much experience in life. How would they know what they could be interested in? So, I tell people to have a dream, and a goal. The difference between a dream and a goal, is you have a plan and a timeline. As we go forward build up skills that give you more and more options that’ll help us figure out what we want to do.”
Archambeau’s book, Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms, will be out soon.
The Road to TiEcon event July 22, attended by over 1,300 people, also had another woman-focused panel, Diversity and Inclusion on Boards, moderated by Tina Shah Paikeday, global head of D&I Advisory Services, RRA.
“When you enter the boardroom you should leave your gender at the door,” said Anjali Bansal, founder of Avaana Capital, a platform that invests in and supports scaling up of startups.
Bansal is the chairperson of the Investment Council of NITI Aayog’s Fintech and Women Entrepreneurship Platform.
“We work with the companies and present them with the right information. As independent board members the role of the board and the independent is are you a watchdog or are you a bloodhound. And there are so much liabilities these days. But you have to be a watchdog; if you are a bloodhound then there is something wrong.”
Deepti Jaggi, board member of Tech CU, referred to California former governor Jerry Brown ]signing the Bill SB 826 that requires corporations must have at least one woman on the board.
She said: “If you look at the data alone, companies with diverse boards perform better.”
“The CEO of Goldman Sachs David Solomon has announced this year that they would refuse to take any company public unless they have one woman on board, “ said Jaggi. “So the awareness of diversity on board has been going up.”