Meeting so many inspirational, bold and amazing women on International Women’s Day inspired me to launch a new series on my blog. The Woman of the Month series! Every month I will be asking questions to inspirational, entrepreneurial women.
(If you can’t listen right now, click HERE to see the transcript).
I am incredibly honoured to launch this series with one of the most inspiring women that I know, Vanessa Van Edwards. I have been lucky enough to become a certified body language and personality trainer by the Science of People and through Vanessa’s teachings. She is an amazingly warm individual but balanced with the credibility and expertise in her subject area.
Vanessa Van Edwards is a behavioural investigator and published author. She runs a human behaviour research lab. Where she uncovers the hidden forces that drive our behaviour called the Science of People. Her latest book, Captivate, was chosen as one of Apple’s Most Anticipated Books of 2017. She is fascinated by body language, leadership and charisma and writes about these topics for CNN, Fast Company and Forbes. She also writes a monthly column for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post. Her innovative work has been featured on NPR, Business Week and USA Today. More importantly she’s addicted to sour patch kids, air plane coffee and puppies.
Just click play to hear what happened when I asked Vanessa Van Edwards from the Science of People a few questions about gender, branding and the proudest moment of her career. Like what you hear? Then check out Vanessa’s new book Captivate launching next month on Amazon or any place that sells books!
So the question that I have first is how would you describe your professional and personal brand.
It’s an interesting question because I used to things that they were separate. I used to think that my online brand for science at people was my very science heavy research-based. A very academic voice. Like the voice was black and white and not very personable, more neutral like a science journalist. Then as I was writing I realised that my work was boring! Terrible to say but it was very helpful but it wasn’t inspiring it wasn’t relate-able it wasn’t warm. I try to be a little bit more warm in person and I realised that it was because I was taking myself out of my professional brand so I really tried to integrate the two.
My website is a reflection of how I think and how I interact with people. So it’s a mixture of some of my favourite geeky science articles. As well as feeling like we could sit down over coffee and talk for hours about human behaviour. I am very lucky to frequently sit with amazing friends and other researchers and business people and have these really deep interesting conversations. So when I sit down to write an article or film a video or create something for my brand I think to myself how did I talk about this with a real person. Instead of trying to create content as a online avatar or as something fake or as a universal voice because I don’t think that there is such a thing of universal voice.
I would say that my personal and professional brands are one of the same and hopefully they are relatable, interesting and inspiring. I try to be at least!
Question two what does it mean to you to be a woman in business?
You know I think a lot about my gender. I know that a lot of women said they don’t think about their gender but I think it’s a huge part of what I do. Particularly because I know that the science says that people perceive the genders differently. So often I’m the only woman in the room. Very regularly I’ll be the only woman on a panel or the only woman asked to speak at a conference. That happens a lot. So I think of it as a way to represent my gender if I’m one of the few women in the room or one of the only women in the room. A lot of bloggers out there are men, if you notice a lot of the top authors out there are men.
All I’m trying to do is represent my gender well. If I can try to contribute to the conversation, try to honor being feminine but not giving up any credibility or power. That’s something that I try really hard to balance and work on in authentic way.
Question three what has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
I think that is actually a rather small moment. I had just put out a course on the science of people skills and we got a email from a student who said he was an adult with Asperger’s high functioning Aspergers. He said that for his whole life he had really had a hard time understanding people. He said that my course, my framework was the first time he ever really felt like he could understand human behavior. This completely changed his life and that was something that was really amazing. I think about it a lot. It meant the world to me that I could create anything that would help someone in that kind of way. Especially in a way that gave calm. He was always anxious and nervous in social situations. The framework actually helped him be more peaceful, more secure, more happiness in relationships.
That was just the greatest moment. So now when I write courses instead of thinking how could this appeal to everyone. I try to think of how could this help him to specific students. Or you know my friend Sarah who was telling me about her dating. Or my friend Jeremy who was telling me about his elevator pitch awkwardness. Trying to think of those very specific people so that I can reach out to them at the end of the course and say did this assist you or just help you in some way.
Question four, what advice would you have for other women to overcome setbacks professionally or personally?
That’s a big question! I would probably say that I think as women not always, but we tend to be, people pleasers. You know we tend to really want to please everyone. I would say that actually that is one of the most harmful difficult setting backing mindsets that we could possibly have. So one of the biggest piece of advice I would have is stop. Stop trying to be your mentor or your role model. Stop trying to be like someone else and try to spend more time figuring out who you are. Instead of trying to find the perfect voice that you’ve seen or emulate. Try to figure out who you are naturally. What feels the best to you and how can you make that come across in the best possible way.
I think that sometimes we feel like we should be thinking about others first. But actually if we feel that we are true in ourselves and our own brand that comes across to others really well. It took me a long time to stop researching. I think that in a weird way researching for reading from role models is actually as a form of procrastination. Just doing it yourself is the best thing you can possibly do. So I would say just do it! Don’t worry about having all the information or reading enough books. You already have all the skills that you need to succeed. All you have to do is find them in yourself.
I hope that helps you’re welcome to submit any questions to me if you feel like it on Twitter @vvanedwards. Or on my website www.scienceofpeople.com. Thanks so much Laura for giving me this chance and talk to you all soon.