Reflections & Reminders of What’s Most Important

Dinner with super-connector Lorena Diaz in Buenos Aires, Argentina in November 2013.

Dinner with super-connector Lorena Diaz in Buenos Aires, Argentina in November 2013.

Three huge, colorful Post-it notes hung on my wall this year.

At eye level, they stared me in the face. I saw them all day, every day, right above my desk. On each one was an audacious goal for 2013.

As 2013 comes to a close, I – like you – pause to reflect on the past year to get ready for the one ahead. I am grateful for the fantastic year I had, but I have to admit that I did not fully achieve any of the three goals I set. Yet, by virtue of having set them, I took huge strides toward them and now their achievement is realistically in sight for 2014.

Along the way, I was reminded of some very important lessons:

There is no replacement for a true personal connection. No matter how big your social network, your email list or the number of your LinkedIn contacts, there is nothing that comes close to the power of talking face to face with someone. This year, Erin (our Director of Community Engagement) and I, personally connected with more than 100 women entrepreneurs and women in corporations in emerging economies all over the world uncovering and sharing their paths to professional success.

With super-connector Sandra Portugal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2013.

Erin (left) and I (right) wiith super-connector Sandra Portugal (center) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2013.

The power of Super Connectors is real. Super connectors are very generous people who have truly built (not just claim to have) a close network of professional connections that will respond when the super connector makes a request. Planning our trip to interview women in South America we experienced first hand four remarkable super connectors: Lorena Diaz, business consultant,  Marta Cruz, cofounder of the start up accelerator and seed fund NXTP Labs, Silvia Torres Carbonel, Director of Entrepreneurship Center at the IAE Business School in Buenos Aires, and Sandra Portugal, Director of IT at Hi/Telemar, who because of their generosity, reputation and contacts connected us to over 30 women. Yes, women do help women!

Silvia Torres Carbonel, Director of Entrepreneurship Center at the IAE Business School in Buenos Aires, Argentina

By the window at NXTP Labs, talking with super-connector Silvia Torres Carbonel, the Director of Entrepreneurship Center at the IAE Business School in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our trip in November 2013 was also made possible by super-connector Carolina Dams (far left), co-founder at A2C Advisors.

Start by Picking Yourself. This is a particularly hard one for me to remember. There is a need in all of us to be picked, to be recognized by “important” others. We spend undue amounts of time, resources hoping to be selected. When we shift our focus to deeply and truly believing in ourselves, to consistently improving our work, upping our game and producing remarkable work, our work will be valued by those who need it the most. They may not be the famous people and they may not make you famous but they will honor, appreciate and use your work to real benefit. This was the year I stopped worrying as much about being recognized by the top names in my field. Instead, I put my efforts into what I could control – my own work. I placed my intense caring into you, the women from emerging economies that I want to support. I was rewarded with progress, results and impact.

Nothing happens without Accountability and Action. Back to my 3 Post-it notes. Without clear goals, without holding yourself accountable, without taking action every single and I mean every single day toward your goals, your hopes and desires remain dreams. What worked for me this year was setting 3 specific goals, hiring a coach and taking action every day whether I felt like it or not, whether it was hard or not, whether I was rejected or not. I was accountable to you and myself.

Perseverance. For me, 2013 was about perseverance. It is tough to build something new and to be a pioneer in a new arena. There is always so much more to do. At times, doubt about our ability to accomplish all we have set out to creeps in. What makes me persevere is my deep, driving belief that you are the women the world’s been waiting for and that my job is help you realize your full potential.

We often lose sight or stop believing in these five things because our self-imposed urgency to get things done. Take time for your own reflections in the months to come. I hope you will join me for an exciting 2014 as we keep what is most important in mind!

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