Nis Arend is the founder of The Corporate Confidante – a learning boutique offering professional skills training around the most crucial areas facing professional women. Her expertise spans over a decade in financial services and in her prior role at Barclays Wealth in their senior team for leadership, learning and talent, she served as a thought leader and advisor to the women’s committee. Nis has been named as one of the top 100 most influential people in the events industry by Event Magazine.
“…if you’re not careful, as a woman you can easily lose yourself and behave in an aggressive, domineering way or on the other extreme, lose your confidence and forget your worth…”
I remember the day clearly… I had just come out of another meeting and was back at my desk. I loved my job, was proud of my varied career with all its twists and turns, but something was missing.
Discovering your entrepreneurial vision
What started as a thought some years back transpired into a vision which became stronger over the years and is now my reality. This vision was based on something I felt was lacking for professional executives: creating advanced experiential training events which cuts through the politics and diplomacy so that more people can get out of their own way to lead fulfilling and focused career journeys to success simply by learning the right strategies of those at the top.
Unwritten workplace rules
There are unwritten rules in every workplace and life in the office is one big game where only the few with the right mindset will survive with their authenticity, confidence and femininity still intact. That was my vision.
I had been one of those women for many years working in mainly male environments with no real aspirational female role models in the corporate world. What I started to uncover is that if you’re not careful, as a woman you can easily lose yourself and behave in an aggressive, domineering way or on the other extreme, lose your confidence and forget your worth.
The rollercoaster ride of being a business start-up
When I started to set up, I was new to the world of ‘business startups’ and I can honestly say it’s been a rollercoaster ride of people and moments that excite and encourage you and also those that distract and disarm you along the way. My first encounter of staying true to my vision was creating the brand.
I ended up working with several designers internationally all reading from the same ‘specification’ to get my brand right, with each designer translating it in their own way. The brand designs coming back to me ranged from a series of basic fluffy designs right through to complex and crazy designs that were off target in my opinion and despite trying to find different ways of saying the same thing, this despair continued as each inappropriate design arrived in my mailbox.
Tempted to settle…
There was a range of people trying their best to help with choosing the brand including friends, family and my network. Looking back I think deep down most were hoping I would pick a brand and carry on with the rest of the business activities. But none of the brands presented felt right to me. I questioned myself constantly and wondered if I was in fact placing far too much importance on the brand since everyone around me breathed another sigh when the next inappropriate design arrived.
I could sense the tension around me – my network’s intention was pure, however the fact that I wouldn’t move to the next step until the brand was exactly as I envisioned did produce this audible silence and if it weren’t for my sister who kept echoing back my own vision to me, I felt rather tempted to settle.
I wanted something that would resonate with rising professionals at the top of their game. I’m grateful knowing that I’ve worked with the best colleagues, worked for the best firms in the world and coached the best so naturally, in my own business it would have to be the cream of the crop!
Investment of heartache and time
What I didn’t expect, is how much heartache and time I would have to invest in trying to source the best and then only to discover the hugely different perspectives of ‘high standards’. After several months of reviewing hundreds of brand designs, a new designer came on board and produced exactly what I wanted in record time and so The Corporate Confidante brand was born.
Now, whenever someone new comes in contact with our firm and they see the website or a business card, I always hear positive feedback and compliments about our brand and design. I smile knowingly that it was all worth it!
Now the brand is exactly where we want it to be and we apply this vision to every single part of our firm.
One of my fellow entrepreneurial friends who went through exactly the same process of creating a solid brand. He invested tens of thousands of pounds to a design agency to design his global brand and logo and eventually they exhausted him into going with a logo that he never really liked. At his first presentation to a potential client, one of the prospects around the boardroom table said, “Everything looks great, but we are wondering why you chose a handbag as your logo?”
Don’t allow others to take your vision
At that point my friend turned around to look up at the presentation screen and there it was in all its glory; a huge handbag as his logo, which he never noticed before and all because he allowed others to take over his vision… And back to the start line he went. This meant another reinvestment of time, money and energy…
If you have a vision and want to fulfill it whether that is in your career journey, a new project or a new business idea, here are my top tips for success:
Get clear about your vision. If your vision continues to get stronger and is vivid in your mind, go for it and make it real.
2. Trust your gut
Your gut and intuition always knows what is best, whether you understand the reasoning behind it or not. And as women we are known for having a sixth sense… Use that too. It will guide you to exactly where you need to go…
Stay true to YOUR vision. Everyone else has their own visions, so stick to yours, don’t compromise and you’ll surprise yourself that you get what you ask for.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As women we tend to shy away from this. Try it out, you’ll be surprised who appears to help you and it’s not always the people you’d expect…
5. You deserve the best of life
Don’t settle for anything less than the best when it comes to your business and your entrepreneurial vision. Never. Do not compromise on this. Ever.