In Part 1, Lena talked about focus, strategy and passion. In Part 2, she talks about her calling; her belief that women are going to change the world; and the importance of speaking up for yourself and about yourself.
Listen in to Lena’s words and passion. They’re inspiring.
Who’s Lena West And Why Should You Listen To Her
Lena is an award-winning social media consultant, blogger, speaker, journalist, technologist and the founder, CEO & chief of InfluenceExpansion.com, the only social media training program created exclusively for women business owners and leaders.
Lena is also a columnist for American Express OPENForum, former Entrepreneur Magazine blogger and columnist, expert blogger for FastCompany Magazine and guest blogger for Lipsticking.com and bplans.com. West strongly believes that social media is a catalyst to uniting the world’s people and will continue to lead businesses and individuals toward greater levels of environmental accountability, social responsibility and corporate transparency – hence her passion for the medium. Influence Expansion’s goal is to help women business leaders expand their influence, increase their income and ROCK the world! In 2009 Forbes said Lena West is one of the 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. You can find her @LenaWest .
The first part of my interview with Lena ended as we were discussing her confidence related to speaking on Capitol Hill about how women are portrayed in social media.
Transcript of Part 2 of my interview with Lena West for the Confidence Chronicles
Lena: The thing that keeps pulling me forward is, when it comes to technology, women get the short end of the stick. We are talked at, instead of spoken with. We are made to believe that technology is this secret ninja, black box, karate-judo kind of thing and it is so not.
It’s straight forward, it’s really simple, and if you just look at it from a step-by-step, paint-by-numbers perspective, you get it. And all of my students, and all of my clients when they learn my system, they say, “That’s it?” And I’m like, “That’s it.”
My perspective is that my work isn’t about me. It’s never been about me. Every time I get on stage, every time I have an interview like this, my prayer is always that I be used for the highest good of everyone listening, of everyone seeing it.
I went to a screening recently of a documentary called Miss representation about how the media portrays women of power. Excellent film.
Cherry: I saw a trailer for that. [click here for link to movie trailer]
Lena: It was amazing, there wasn’t a dry eye in the screening room. It’s part of the Oprah Winfrey network documentary series. In the video they start off by saying, if you don’t see yourself [represented in different roles/positions], how can you determine what to be?
So someone may look at me and think “Oh this is possible for me because of whatever [characteristic] they may see in me. Lena did it, so I can do it. So it’s not about me. It’s about, I’ve been given a gift, and I have to show up, because to not show up is to deny my gift.
People ask me all the time “Aren’t you nervous about talking to 500 people? Aren’t you nervous about talking to 1,000 people?” And this may sound so egotistical, but I’ve always said I’m the one who’s on stage. People are coming to see me because they have some sort of confusion about marketing their business, and they’re probably doing something wrong, if not a lot of things wrong. I’m not the one who should be nervous.
Cherry: <laughing with Lena> That’s true.
Your business is set up to help women entrepreneurs.
You’re also the founder of Real Women Do Social Media which is a social media training initiative solely for women in business.
You do pro-bono work for women.
I love women and that’s where I, too, focus my work. I know the reason I want to help women. What’s yours?
Lena: First, I believe women are going to change the world. We are the change we have been seeking. I could go on and on and on about why I believe that, but women possess a system of unique qualities and gifts and just an approach to life that this world needs right now.
I also believe that when you teach a woman, you teach a nation. Because the first thing that we do, I mean, what’s the first thing that you did? Right? The first thing you did was, you met me and you wanted to share me with your audience. So when women learn something, we want to take that information and share it with the next person.
“I have to get this out there. People need to know.” So that’s our nature, that’s what pulls us forward. And I think that’s going to be the change and the energy that we need in the world. I believe in women. I believe that we are unstoppable. We are passionate.
We are focused. We are moms. We are daughters. And in all of those titles and symbols there is energy. You don’t know what it is to be a mom until you’ve been a mom and you have that visceral feeling of, this is my tribe and you go too far here and you’re going to have hell to deal with.
And so, it’s that energy, that primal force. The Japanese say it’s your hara, the seat of your power, that actually pulls you. And I believe that women are change agents at our core. If you’re someone who has a cleaning service and you clean houses, you help keep my domain in order; your part of my success team.
Lena: If I don’t have to do those things, I can focus on doing interviews like this. I can focus on going to Saskatchawan and talking to a group of women entrepreneurs. I can focus on being in London last June and not worry about, gee, is my toilet clean.
It’s women who have this power and the time is now. There is no other time. One of my daily accountability partners says, “It’s now or now.” And I love that. It’s now or now.
Cherry: I agree with you and I’m sure you can also hear some hesitation in my voice. My hesitation is about what I refer to as the confidence factor.
There are a lot of women who question their value, their abilities and that’s related to confidence. In fact, there are too many women who doubt themselves and don’t think they are strong enough or smart enough to take that step forward.
Do you have any suggestions for how women can increase their confidence?
Lena: What I think is there are just the right amount of women that don’t feel confident, because, again, we are poised for a shift, and I think that, at this moment, we need – so I’m not saying forever and ever and ever – some women, a good chunk of them, to not feel confident because it’s up to those of us who do, to show them the way.
There’s an ebb and flow of things, that’s just nature. So if every woman was confident, we would have no purpose for what we’re doing right now.
We wouldn’t have these moments where you feel this empowerment and you think, “Oh, I can do that.” So there would be no work to be done.
Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing that’s happening right now is unnecessary. Every single thing right now is necessary for the process. So you may think to yourself, and women kind of go through this all the time too, you may think to yourself, oh well, you know, why did I date that jerk. Or, oh good grief, why’d I marry him. But there comes a moment, and it happens with every relationship, if you are honest with yourself, where you think to yourself, oh, that’s why I dated him; that’s why I married him. So, it’s that there are just the right amount of women who are not confident enough because when those women claim their power the huge shift will occur.
I don’t know if you were in the room, but someone at the Conference said, “I’m looking at so and so to figure out how much to charge”, and I said why are you looking outside of yourself to figure out what you should charge?
What do you feel your value is? I have clients in a $100,000 social media marketing program. They pay it, because it’s a good/fair value exchange for them.
So yes, there are a boatload of women who don’t have the confidence right now, and you know what? It’s all good.
Cherry: Wow, I’m going to have to think about that for a while. I’m going back and forth in my mind, because part of me does feel, just like you’re saying, that everything is happening the way it’s supposed to happen and that would include women and confidence. But to say there is the “right” amount of women without confidence doesn’t feel right so there’s some contradiction in my own thinking. Gave me something to think about so thank you.
Lena: We all have contradictions in our thinking and you’re welcome.
Cherry: You’re willing to toot your own horn. You talk about the value you provide your clients. Many women won’t do that.
We’re brought up with “Nice girls don’t brag”. “Nice girls don’t toot their own horn.
Were you always comfortable with stating your value and your skills?
Lena: At some point you have to be willing to say listen, this is who I am.
This is the value I deliver. And it’s not bragging, to me, bragging is embellishing. I think there comes a time when you have to be willing to own your power and stand up for who you are.
Star Jones said something years ago that I love. She said, “I am not going to make myself uncomfortable in my skin so you can be comfortable in yours.
And I am not going to sit here and pretend to be somebody who doesn’t get results. Here’s the bottom line, if I don’t say to you how I’ve made change and impact in my client’s lives and in my students’ lives and anybody that comes in contact with me, audience members, people who are watching this video, if I don’t talk about that, you don’t know what’s possible.
In my not speaking up about me, I have made a choice for you. I have said to you, you’re not powerful enough to handle what I have to bring.
I don’t want to speak for anybody else, I can only speak for me. So if we really think about the energy of not being willing to speak well of ourselves, what we’re really saying is I don’t think the other person can handle it.
I’m just gonna assume that you showed up in my orbit and I showed up in your orbit for a reason. If you don’t know how to deal with how I am, you’ll either get the hell out of there real fast, or you will adapt.
The expression tooting our horn sounds negative but why, if say that. Why is it not just sharing? Why is it not speaking with someone and telling a story? Why is it not speaking truths?
Cherry: Right. Very, very much so. It wasn’t until later in my life, and even yet, I grapple with speaking my truth. My truth about my success, let’s put it that way. I didn’t like hearing the sarcastic, “Oh, that must be nice Cherry.” So then I started keeping my mouth shut. But that isn’t fair to me or to them.
Lena: Someone wrote me this response to my newsletter that I thought was fabulous. What this person said – I think it was a woman in fact – they said, “I don’t want this newsletter anymore because this newsletter is all about Lena.” And I’m like, no freaking kidding! Of course.
This is Lena’s orbit. And if you don’t want to be in Lena’s orbit, great. It’s okay. I release you to do whatever it is you’re gonna do in the world, but when you’re on this trajectory, when you’re on Planet Lena, this is what it’s going to be about. So, you know, it’s funny.
And you know what, if you don’t like it, that’s cool. It’s all good. I’m just not gonna change who I am to make other people comfortable. I won’t do it. It’s not gonna happen. Not in this lifetime. No.
Cherry: Lena, that is the perfect way to end and say thank you and I’m not gonna change for anybody either. I think we can make this pact and hold each other accountable.
Thank you so much again for taking part in this.
Lena: I’m so glad you invited me to do this. This is fun.
Yeah, it was.