As a woman, entrepreneur, innovation expert, growth strategist, and artist, Teresa Spangler has been breaking down barriers for years. She most recently published a book called All That I am, Now That I Know – 17 Life Lessons for Women Entrepreneurs.
After learning of her book, we thought the stories and exercises she shares would be valuable for many of you, as you strive to advance in your career, navigate the business world and overcome challenges that often go along with that. We sat down with her recently to explore this idea further.
WorkTrip: Teresa, thank you so much for agreeing to share some of your wisdom and insights with us today. Please tell me a little bit about your background and what prompted you to write this book.
Teresa: I read a lot. What I have found is that while a lot of books share wonderful experiences or insights, they don’t always offer real guidance to help the reader change things or approach things differently.
In my own writing, I really wanted to share my experiences in an effort to either help readers avoid the same painful experiences or at least help them handle those experiences differently. I have found that we often face the same things over and over again, so we have plenty of opportunities to practice.
My intention in writing this was initially to motivate and inspire my own daughter and other young professionals, but I have also heard from serial entrepreneurs who see a lot of value in the lessons I share. As I said, life is not “one and done”. We often face the same issues at different stages of our life. For example, we might deal with confidence issues in our early 20s as we are starting out, and they might rear up again later in life as we transition from one thing to another. There are some common themes crossing all the age groups.
WorkTrip: I know you wrote this book with entrepreneurs in mind, but how do you think event planners can benefit from what you have to share?
Teresa: I know that event planners are very detail-oriented and like to think ahead. My hope is to offer readers a roadmap of sorts they follow. As you read about someone else’s experiences, you don’t necessarily know how to turn those experiences into action for yourself. Or, sometimes those experiences are even discounted – i.e. that is them and not me. I wanted to provide actionable steps and exercises they could try for themselves.
When I look back on it, I wish that I had had more confidence, more trust in myself and a bigger voice. I hope I can also inspire my readers to trust themselves more, take those steps to move forward, and share their voice from a place of confidence.
WorkTrip: What is the best piece of advice you have to offer to young professionals, especially women, looking to advance in their career?
Teresa: The best advice I can offer is to think and dream bigger. If you come up with what you think is a big idea or a big dream, pull it up another 30,000 feet. I know that is my one wish looking back, that I had dreamed a lot bigger.
And, when it comes to dreams, the more detailed the better. If you aren’t clear about what you want, you may end up with something else entirely. For example, you could end up living in Denver, North Carolina instead of Denver, Colorado, which is exactly what happened to me at one point.
Writing about those dreams and the details can help you gain clarity around your vision. I believe that when clarity, vision and passion collide into a dream, it can be very powerful.
WorkTrip: Several of the stories you share in your book focus on taking risks, with some of them resulting in success and others resulting in failure. Naturally, the thought of taking risks can be scary. Do you have any advice that might help our readers feel more comfortable about taking risks?
Teresa: Risks are everywhere – even stepping out of your door can be risky. For event planners, bringing in a speaker or choosing a venue can be risky. It is helpful to understand the level of the risk you are taking and your comfort level in taking that risk. Are you risking your life? Your life savings? Your job? Or something smaller and more manageable?
When you think about taking a risk, don’t ignore that churn in your stomach. Take the time to acknowledge and understand where it is coming from. Is it anxiety? Fear? Excitement?
Journaling about what you are experiencing can help peel back the layers, to better understand your fears, potentially calm them or even put a plan in place to work around them.
WorkTrip: As you touch on throughout your book (and even in the book’s title) things don’t always work out the way we had hoped. What advice would you have for someone in that situation, struggling to recover from a fall or failure and do it all over again”?
Teresa: I think it is important to recognize that what you are going through is painful. Failing or falling can feel like a loss. Allow yourself to go through the mourning process. Give yourself time for reflection and healing.
Don’t point fingers and don’t beat yourself up, but take time to understand what you could learn from this experience and/or do differently the next time around.
Again, writing it down can be helpful.
Mind you, I am not saying this mourning process should take a year, but give yourself permission and time as needed.
Eventually, you need to get back on the horse again. When you do, you will know that you have already survived one fall, and that you gained valuable knowledge from that experience. The idea of falling again should be a little less scary.
WorkTrip: You also talk about Imposter Syndrome. Can you explain to our readers what that is and how it might affect women in particular?
Teresa: Imposter syndrome is when someone doubts their own accomplishments and abilities enough to feel like they are pretending to be something they are not or that they are not deserving of the opportunities they earn. It is especially common with women.
I know that I have often felt that I shouldn’t have gotten the jobs I was hired to do. As soon as I got into the job, I felt like a fake. If I had let that stop me, I wouldn’t have gotten very far. It’s important to realize that the fear and fight in your head isn’t reality. You got that job or opportunity for a reason, and you will figure it out.
One key to figuring it out, is to surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you.
WorkTrip: You also talk about why having a growth mindset is important. How can having a growth mindset help anyone interested in moving to the next level in life or their career?
Teresa: I believe that with a growth mindset, you can accomplish almost anything. One of the most critical things for any young professional is the willingness to learn and grow. As the old saying goes, “growth happens outside our comfort zone”. So, step outside of your comfort zone and grow. That growth will help you overcome a lot of self-doubts and help prepare you for the next move.
WorkTrip: I think Chapter 18 (Please Say Yes! How to Influence Decision Makers) is especially relevant to our readers. There are often numerous stakeholders involved in corporate events and getting buy-in and support is key to an event planner’s success. Let’s talk about some of the strategies you think would be helpful to our readers.
Teresa: In my book, I share a few simple steps I think would be helpful.
Identify the stakeholders. Who will be affected and what role do they play in making your idea or dream a reality? Dig deeper to understand how your proposed idea may impact them, positively and/or negatively. What could they have to gain? And, what are they at risk of losing? What objections might they have?
Identify the influencers: Identify all the people that can a. support you b. be affected by any decisions made and c. may not see any reason to support you. Take the time to understand each POV (point of view).
Build your case: Using all the great insights you have gained (from above), build a case that addresses goals, objections, funding concerns, etc. Then craft a strong story that emotionally connects with your stakeholders and influencers. Answer their questions before they ask them. It can help to practice your pitch with friends or colleagues you trust. Get their feedback and adjust accordingly.
It can also help to gather a group of early adopters to support your idea. It can help build momentum and create a groundswell. It can also help you feel more comfortable, by starting small and growing from there.
WorkTrip was created to lessen the pains associated with planning, executing and traveling to trade shows, meetings and events; and very importantly, to free you up to focus on what really matters. Let us know what else we can do to help.
If you would like to learn more about how other event planners are using WorkTrip, check out our case studies at https://www.worktrip.com/posts/tag/case-studies. To learn more about what WorkTrip has to offer, visit https://www.worktrip.com/features.