Inspiring Women, Episode 16: Becoming a Woman of Influence
Influence is merely the capability to have an effect on the character, development or behavior of something. Do you want to be that woman of influence? Host Betty Collins discusses what it takes to expand your influence on this edition of “Inspiring Women,” presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Betty Collins, CPA, Brady Ware & Company and Host of the “Inspiring Women” Podcast
Betty Collins is the Office Lead for Brady Ware’s Columbus office and a Shareholder in the firm. Betty joined Brady Ware & Company in 2012 through a merger with Nipps, Brown, Collins & Associates. She started her career in public accounting in 1988. Betty is co-leader of the Long Term Care service team, which helps providers of services to Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and nursing centers establish effective operational models that also maximize available funding. She consults with other small businesses, helping them prosper with advice on general operations management, cash flow optimization, and tax minimization strategies.
In addition, Betty serves on the Board of Directors for Brady Ware and Company. She leads Brady Ware’s Women’s Initiative, a program designed to empower female employees, allowing them to tap into unique resources and unleash their full potential. Betty helps her colleagues create a work/life balance while inspiring them to set and reach personal and professional goals. The Women’s Initiative promotes women-to-women business relationships for clients and holds an annual conference that supports women business owners, women leaders, and other women who want to succeed. Betty actively participates in women-oriented conferences through speaking engagements and board activity.
Betty is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and she is the President-elect for the Columbus Chapter. Brady Ware also partners with the Women’s Small Business Accelerator (WSBA), an organization designed to help female business owners develop and implement a strong business strategy through education and mentorship, and Betty participates in their mentor match program. She is passionate about WSBA because she believes in their acceleration program and matching women with the right advisors to help them achieve their business ownership goals. Betty supports the WSBA and NAWBO because these organizations deliver resources that help other women-owned and managed businesses thrive.
Betty is a graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene College, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and a member of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants. Betty is also the Board Chairwoman for the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce, and she serves on the Board of the Community Improvement Corporation of Gahanna as Treasurer.
“Inspiring Women” Podcast Series
“Inspiring Women” is THE podcast that advances women toward economic, social and political achievement. The show is hosted by Betty Collins, CPA, and presented by Brady Ware and Company. Brady Ware is committed to empowering women to go their distance in the workplace and at home. Other episodes of “Inspiring Women” can be found here.
Betty Collins: [00:00:00] Today, becoming a person of influence … In fact, today, because this is Inspired Women, I’m going to say becoming a woman of influence, right? I’m going to start with this. I love a certain movie, and I bet I’ve watched this a hundred times; I’m not kidding. My husband will come home and can’t believe I still have this on, but it’s “Two Week Notice,” with Sandra Bullock, who plays Lucy Kelson, and Hugh Grant, who plays George Wade. Sandra Bullock is an activist and she is a “cause” – I’m putting that in quotes – per Hugh Grant in the movie.
Betty Collins: [00:00:32] He says that, at some point. She is very passionate about architecture and preserving historical buildings that have meaning. They’ve been in the community forever. How dare you take this down? Right? On the other hand, he’s a developer, and he tears down buildings, and he puts up new ones that are nothing like the historical buildings, of course, that she loves. He’s that big corporate America; she works for all these legal aid things and does all the good work. They are night and day. He grew up wealthy. She grew up poor. I mean, they have nothing in common, really.
Betty Collins: [00:01:08] Needless to say, her method is that she would protest, and take her protesters, and they would stand in front of buildings when they were trying to tear them down. For a while, it would work, and all three people that she had protesting with her … Then they would take them, and she would go into jail, and her parents would bail her out. One of those times, the parents were- they were coming, of course, out of the building- or out of jail, actually. The parents had paid her bail, and she looked at her parents and said, “Did they tear the building down?” They didn’t say yes. They didn’t have to. She just looked at her parents and said, “I’m just not getting through.” They said, “Let’s just go to dinner …” She goes, “No. I gotta go home and think about this one.” That line stayed with me – “I’m just not getting through.” In other words, she wasn’t influencing anything.
Betty Collins: [00:02:03] How many times have you had that passion, something in your heart and soul, right? And you have no results? You have that “I’m not getting through.” In reality, no influence. Influence can be applied to many things. Maybe you to influence and have a following. Maybe you want to push an agenda, be impactful. You have a passion. You have a cause, like Lucy Kelson. Today, we’re going to talk about becoming that person of influence.
Betty Collins: [00:02:31] Influence is merely … It’s the capability to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of something. Do you want to be that woman of influence? I hope so. We’re counting on you, actually. The movie is not real life, of course it’s not. It’s not. It’s fictional. But Sandra Bullock acted out and was determined to have influence about historical buildings. She really wanted the community center where she grew up to stay intact. But she had enough insight in that moment, when she saw her parents look that they had torn down another building, that it was not working, so she changed the way or the approach to influence her agenda of historic preservation.
Betty Collins: [00:03:18] I don’t know what your historic preservation issue is, but I’m sure there’s something out there that you would like to have more influence on. Well, the approach was very uncomfortable, and she had a mindset change to her method to her madness. Instead of having her and three people go protest, she ends up approaching Hugh Grant, as George Wade; the rich kid, the playboy, the guy who’s kind of everything she can’t stand. She ends up working for the guy who’s tearing down the buildings. Now, it’s a movie, and I get that, and I would call … But if that was real life, and you decided, “I’m going to now get in and get with that person,” like I talked in my last podcast – the decision maker, the person who makes things happen – that’s exactly what she did. It was bold. It was tenacious. She wasn’t comfortable. Confidence- she was confident in her passion, but it took a lot of … She’d be courageous now.
Betty Collins: [00:04:18] Okay, it’s a movie, but it could be real if you applied it to your situation. How are you going to change your mindset? How are you going to change your method? Are you going to do something a little more bold and tenacious to make it happen? Of course, Lucy Kelson did that. More on Lucy Kelson later. But before we continue, I want to think about the influence you have now or that you would like to have. Are you just not getting through to some aspect of your life or a situation, maybe in your family, with your kids? You know how that is. Bosses, customers, the career path. Think on it. Don’t just listen to my podcast, but really think on it. Define it, put it on the table, write it down, and then say it out loud. “I want to influence …” and make some change to becoming that influencer, so you get through where you need to.
Betty Collins: [00:05:12] To influence others, in other words, it’s not really optional to do these things, and it’s a lot. So, listen closely and get the transcript on these next few things, because this is not for the weak; it is not for the weary. You must go beyond general expectations, and you must reach for limits above the norm. You must have total confidence in yourself and what you are attempting to achieve, but you also have to be courageous. It’s one thing to be confident, but to stand up in the room and say what you need to say, that takes courage. You’ve got to provide words and wisdom to others who are seeking to obtain it. Then, you have to understand the impact, yourself, of maybe that historical preservation/community center staying. I don’t know. Show others that these things can be realized. Again, this is not for the weak, and it is not for the weary.
Betty Collins: [00:06:07] I’m going to give you some tips on how do I get through? How do I become that woman of influence? Well, first, you’ve got to focus on resonating with the audience. You’ve got to know the person or the group you’re trying to influence. I think, in the movie, that’s what she was doing. “I’ve got to get to know George Wade, and who he is, and get beside him …” Of course she got … It’s a movie, so it’s kind of … Go watch it, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. In her case, she said, That’s what I got to do. It’s no longer enough. I got to get to know this person and figure it out.”
Betty Collins, Brady Ware: [00:06:40] Begin with your audience and create generosity for them. I know that when I speak publicly, if I don’t get to know that audience, I will not connect, I will not resonate, and they will be on their phones. You have to benefit. You have to give them some kind of positive experience. That’s really just called you’ve got to make a resignation. Here’s a great quote, when you’re figuring out that audience or that person of who you’re trying to get to. “If you talk to someone about themselves, they’ll listen for hours.” I’m going to say that again: “If you talk to someone about themselves, they’ll listen for hours.” People will immediately like you, if you show interest in them first. We don’t do that well, often, today.
Betty Collins: [00:07:27] You’ve got to learn about who they are, what they are, what they dislike, what their favorite sports are. Make yourself more likable, and maybe you’ll gain some trust. I have a great example that. I was interviewing a very large client, and I really wanted this client. I went in there not really having any ability to resonate with this person. The more I tried to sell myself, and sell my company, and talk about myself and all those things, the interview was over before it started. Fortunately, I was perceiving that. I had good perception.
Betty Collins: [00:08:12] Then, I realized I just need to wind this down. She’s not interested. I saw two pictures on her desk, and one of them was … It looked like a place I had gone to. So, I said, “Hey, do you travel a lot?” She goes, “We love to travel. We live to travel.” I said, “Oh, is that St. Lucia? She goes, “It is.” Completely different conversation. We talked travel for 10 minutes, and we talked about everywhere we had been. She talked about all over, and it was personal for her, because it was with her husband, and her children, and a lifetime of those things. I was able to now resonate with that audience. I made a connection. Then, at the end, she said, “Get me the contract, and let’s get started.” It was the most bizarre thing I’ve ever …
Betty Collins, Brady Ware: [00:09:01] But I learned from that, that first thing, I went in … I try to do this now. I look around the room. What is the audience? Even if it’s one person, what is in their office? What are they – what resonates with them? If you want to influence, you’ve got to resonate. You got to know your stuff. If you want to be an influential person, you’ve got to know your stuff, and you’ve got to be incredible.
Betty Collins: [00:09:23] Lucy Kelson, played by Sandra Bullock, knew her stuff about historical preservation. She just did. She could go on, and on, and on about it. Now, Hugh Grant didn’t hear her, but she knew her stuff. She gained knowledge. She knew her research. When it really came to the moment where she could actually work for somebody like him and be there, he then began to go, “She knows. She’s credible. She might be a liberal, and I’m a conservative. She might be frugal, and I’m excessive,” but she knew her stuff; she had credibility; that took her a long way, and it kind of- she gained some authority because of that.
Betty Collins: [00:09:58] It’s funny, in the movie, now, he can’t make a decision without her. Everything is what she thinks, right? But knowing and research, you have to do that. You have to know, if you want to be an influencer, and it doesn’t matter what it is. If you want to help someone at your church, and you want them to know the Bible; if you don’t know it, it means nothing that you’re trying to help them. If you are in a situation where you’re trying to help someone sell something, and you’ve never sold anything in your whole life; doesn’t help. You’ve got to know your stuff to be credible.
Betty Collins, Brady Ware: [00:10:27] It’s our nature to listen to those who know more. It also is our nature to not listen to people who know more. Sometimes, the smartest person in the room is “the expert,” and they get attention because you’re stuck with them, because they’re expert. You don’t want to be in that but know your stuff and be credible.
Betty Collins: [00:10:47] Build your strategy and process first. To become influential, you’ve got to be intentional. I’m sure you’ve heard that. But those who plan, influence; those who think first, influence; those who are paralyzed by the plan, don’t influence, by the way, so don’t get too wrapped up in that, because if the plan sits on a shelf and collects dust, it means nothing. In order to have a real plan, you’ve got to think it through, but then you’ve got to go, “Here’s how I’m going to process this,” and then you will influence.
Betty Collins: [00:11:16] I know in Brady Ware, with our women’s initiative, I really did sit back and go, “What is the purpose? What is the mission? How do I want this to go? What is it I really want to achieve at the end of the day?” Then, I began executing things in pieces, and in five years, Brady Ware can’t believe how we’ve grown this to what it is. But it took a lot of that. Now, I’m pretty influential in Brady Ware, when I go in and say, “I think we should do this for women.” A lot of times, it’s just a given, because I’ve done my homework, I know my stuff, and I have a credible reputation. But then, I build a strategy, and I continue to change the strategy.
Betty Collins, Brady Ware: [00:11:53] The other piece is you’ve got to find your unique voice, when you want to influence. You can be the norm. You can be like everybody. You can be a copy, or you can be original. You’ve probably heard that. The key difference between influencers who make it and those who don’t is really not about how hard you work. That’s good stuff. It may not be that you are the big producer … People wear that badge of honor and thump their chest – “I’m the biggest! I’m the best! I’m doing all this!” – but it doesn’t mean that they are always going to be heard. In fact, sometimes people don’t want to hear about how hard you work and how good you are. They will be inspired by you, if you have a unique voice or method in how you communicate or how you do something.
Betty Collins: [00:12:38] There’s a funny part in the movie. It’s the envelope part of the movie. Now, of course, Hugh Grant can’t make one decision without Sandra Bullock. She knows her stuff. She’s credible. She’s on it. She’s gained his trust. On and on … So ,he brings her these two envelopes, and she’s like, “These are the same envelopes. I don’t know what the debate is?” He’s describing it to her, and she’s still going, “I don’t know what the debate is? They’re both not made with recycled paper, so I wouldn’t buy either of them.”
Betty Collins: [00:13:07] Then she goes, and she licks the envelopes, and see how they seal. He goes, “What are you doing?” And she goes, “Well, you’ve got to see if they seal well,” and she’s licking to see how they taste. He was like, “I’ve asked a hundred people this same question, and you’re the only one who came up with this answer.” That stuck with me, because I just think about these things. I don’t know why … She just had a unique way of helping him make decisions or getting him to where he needed to go. Again, it’s a movie, but the principle is there. Never underestimate the uniqueness of how you leverage; your voice will be heard differently, versus just, “I work hard, so I should be heard,” or, “I’m the biggest producer, I should be heard.” Those are things that are out there.
Betty Collins: [00:13:48] You’ve got to be consistent, period. To create trust and connection, you’ve got to be consistent. Deviation is okay, but consistent rules the day. I’m sure you’ve heard this – if you want to be influenced … You want to be the influencer, and not be influenced. Not that that’s bad but being authentic and building trust; you’ve got to be the real deal. People can read through that. It’s critical to stay that way. It’s critical to be transparent. People want to connect with people who are the real deal and are trustworthy. I see that in all levels and positions at Brady Ware. When you have somebody who just- you know that they are going to be authentic, and you can trust them, you’ll deal with them a lot more, you’ll use them a lot more, and you’ll probably support them when they need it a lot more.
Betty Collins, Brady Ware: [00:14:37] Another thing I didn’t … As I was doing my research for this podcast today, focusing on the metrics that matter … It seems like all I hear about right now are metrics and measuring, but influencers having impact need to measure metrics, and they need to measure the right ones. My good friend, Sheri Jones, she has a company, Measurement Resources, that measures outcomes. She has convinced me, over and over, it’s important, and it’s valuable, because I see results with it. But, at times, as an influencer, you think if you are dealing with metrics like ‘I have this many employees, and my company’s bigger, and now I’ve gotten to this revenue; my office is now the corner, and it’s the biggest; or my LinkedIn connections have hit 1,500; or, hey, I make more money …’
Betty Collins: [00:15:27] Those are all good metrics and things to shoot for. But you probably will have better results as an influencer if you focus on two things. Engagement; engagement with employees, engagement with customers, people that totally … You’re engaged and, no matter what, there’s a strength in that. So, engagement is huge. You can do all you want for employees; if they aren’t engaged and own it, and they’re … It’s not nearly as effective. So, measuring engagement is proven to be something that’s huge. It’s not just that I saw five people and have five contacts; It’s did I engage with them? Did I make a connection with them? Going again back to I knew my audience, and I was able to talk about St. Lucia, and it all came to full circle. That’s engagement; not talking about what I do, and how hard I work, and what we can do for you.
Betty Collins: [00:16:20] Then, the return on your investment. There are things that you can do in any organization, where you might put a lot of metrics on volume and sales. If it’s the wrong sale, and you don’t make any money, it doesn’t matter. So, measure what is bringing back to you. I can make this much money on these things, so obviously, it’s adding to my cash, or paying off my debt, or it’s I now have reinvestment money. People who are pretty influential measure those things that matter. The two metrics are engagement, and the other one is return on investment.
Betty Collins: [00:16:59] You’ve got to be vulnerable but smart. Opening up about your struggles and fears; some people do that better than others, but it’s tough. Doing so, though, helps you connect to that audience. It definitely humanizes you, because we all are. I’m not saying that you need to tell your life story every day. Please don’t. The difficulties you share could be really relatable to that person. You never know. It also can be real negative, if you overdo it.
Betty Collins: [00:16:59] In the movie, Hugh Grant, who is more of a playboy, not over-serious, successful, living on his dad’s money, but yet, he’s influential because he’s successful. Of course, the activist of Sandra Bullock’s very harsh about him. Then, in this one moment in the movie, they’re in her favorite place, and they’re talking about expectations, and they’re going on and on. Then Hugh Grant just says, “Or maybe no one having any expectations at all …”
Betty Collins: [00:17:59] She understood, in that moment, because her parents had such high- that his parents probably had such low, so no wonder he didn’t get it. He didn’t get what she was totally driven with, right? I just found that an interesting line, because she heard him, and, at that point in the movie – again, this is not real – but she listened to him differently. She treated him differently, because she saw something in him. For her, for parents, or anyone around you to not have expectations of you was very, very foreign to her, because that was all her parents were about. So, she heard, and it changed her view – again, influence.
Betty Collins: [00:18:42] Don’t take shortcuts when you’re trying to be an influencer. In fact, it might put you three steps forward, two steps back. You can’t do it faster and easier. It has to be at a pace that works. Don’t put your reputation at risk. Definitely don’t do that. To become an influencer, you probably have built a lot of authority and trust that we’ve talked about. Do not lose that investment by going rogue or just dipping into something that you shouldn’t. In this movie, both characters were so opposite, but they really never compromised who they were, at the end; they just didn’t. She loved historical buildings, and he loved new ones, and there was nothing wrong with either side. They didn’t ever put their reputation at risk, because that’s who they are and it’s what they did.
Betty Collins: [00:19:28] Lastly, but not leastly, it’s not about you. When you’re trying to influence, it cannot be about you. It may be about you, in the end; it might be somebody you’re trying to influence to build a bigger company or influence your family to be a better- all those things. But it really is about the person. It’s less about you, and it’s more about cheering on the cause, or cheering on the people that you’re trying to influence. Becoming a woman of influence is not for the weary. It is not just for the strong, either. I’ve seen all kinds of women in all kinds of positions in all stages of life influence.
Betty Collins: [00:20:01] These are just a few quotes that I found. I always love to find quotes, and so I’m out there googling, but I thought some of them were interesting. “If you’re going to influence, associate yourself with people of good quality, for it’s better to be alone than in bad company.” Two, “You can be much more influential if people are not aware of your influence.” Again, I go back to my friend Caroline Worley, who’s such a master at being political savvy and such a master at influence and using it for the good. She was fantastic. “Influence is like a savings account. The less you use, the more you got.” Let that sink in. And, “The ability to influence people without irritating them is probably the best skill that you can ever learn.”.
Betty Collins: [00:20:45] So, today I’ve said a lot. Get the transcript. Get my notes, because there’s a lot there that you need to dig into. Influencing, becoming that person of influence is something that you can do. It takes work, and it takes intentionality, but it would be worth it in the end of whatever that you’re trying to accomplish. I’m Betty Collins. Thank you for listening today.