In this interview, Susanna delves deeper into why she created the online congress for introverted female entrepreneurs. Susanna’s greater mission is revealed to answer why she took time out of her day job of visibility coaching to bring together 24 introverted experts who have found a different way of running a business that the standard extrovert coaches push out there. The Introverts Powerhouse is streaming live from 14-20 January 2019. Live attendance is free and for a small fee you may access all the talks after the event.
Play the Audio Only of the Interview:
Lavinia: Good morning and here we are today with Susanna Reay who has brought this amazing Introverted Powerhouse to life and this will be running from the 14th of January through to the 20th of January and it's a great way to start 2019. The shoe will be on the other foot. I'm interviewing Susanna. Good morning Susanna.
Susanna: Morning Lavinia. I am normally interviewing everyone else so it's a pleasure actually to be on the receiving end.
Great. It's a very interesting combination of your activities through 2018, and I'm just very curious how you birthed the summit and what it means to you.
The idea came about, as you say, during 2018 I've worked a lot with my own business coach and mentor and really got involved with a lot of women who are also entrepreneurs and gathering together to support each other in their own endeavours.
I was at a big meeting, it was actually in Zurich in Switzerland, and we were discussing what do you want to do to take forward, who do you want to connect with. That's when the idea of this online congress was born basically because I was sat round with a table of eight other amazing female entrepreneurs and I was going, "Well, you know, it would be quite nice to pull together and really give the introverts a voice out there," because I sat at this big conference where you could tell the extroverts were closer to the front, to the speaker, and they're up there and dancing and being really involved. Then, as you got to the back of the room, you could tell the introverts were a bit like, at the start of the day they were like, "Yes, we've got lots of energy," and you could feel the energy going down, down, down as the day went on because there were amazing talks and really inspirational but, for me, it was just too much to be attending in one place, and this is where the idea of the online congress came because I was like, "Well, that way you'd have access to some amazing talks and connections, but be from your own arm chair basically." You can still stay at home. You don't need to take the step into that big crowded room of people.
For me, as an introvert myself, I know I love connecting with people, I love collaborating, and one to one conversations like this, they fill me with energy, but if I step into a big conferencing room and hall where you've got hundreds of people all talking at the same time, the noise level is rising, rising, rising, I'm a bit like, "Okay, I just need to like step away." That was how the idea that I really realised something was needed to go towards the more introverted personality who still wanted the inspiration of the talks and to connect and collaborate and network but in the way that suits us basically.
How interesting. Do you see this as joining the dots within your offer already? I know you call yourself the colour catalyst and you have a programme around golden visibility. Do you see this powerhouse as somehow bringing these two other passions of yours together and do you see it gaining momentum and growing legs in the future?
Yeah, I do actually. For me, my golden visibility programme, again, it's empowering introvert entrepreneurs to take that step into the spotlight and, in fact, there's several people who are giving talks who have been my students and clients, who have gone, "Okay, I'm going to do this. I'm going to put my foot out there," because the thing I realised with a lot of introverted entrepreneurs is they know their stuff. I mean, they're so with it, but their not shouting about it, so it's about giving the platform to be able to practise what it is that you know about and talk to and, again, by doing the recordings like this, one to one, which I've been doing with all the hosts, is everybody's in a very relaxed state. It's not the scary, you've got to go up on a TEDx stage and give a talk. It's really about bringing visibility to people and just pulling the expertise together and being an inspiration to what is possible and how you can actually build your business from your own home or an office, but you can reach out internationally basically from a very small space that you might feel, ... It's all about moving out of that small space actually because a lot of people feel very small but there's a huge audience out there, so this is how it sort of links in with my work as a visibility coach and helping people come forward.
I really hope that this congress does grow legs and next year it will be bigger and better and with more people involved, and it will give that collaborative momentum that I'm really seeing at the moment is needed. One of my main missions as well, my big why, is about female equality and empowerment, and I want to inspire and empower women. In fact the United Nations has various targets where they look at that things need to be reached in the world. For me, the equality of women is still nowhere near where it should be. I've had people ask, "Why is it female introvert entrepreneurs," and I'm like, "Well, It's one, I know that person. That's me." I've got a lot of experience to draw on. I naturally attract more introverted people to me as well because I'm not so shouty and sort of hustle in that way, but it's still productivity consistency.
I want people to shine basically, to show their true strengths and their expertise and to get out there, but many women need that extra bit of support to push them, sort of to go, "Okay, I am good." During this congress, I've got several experts talking about the inner work of fighting that critic who says, "I'm not enough. I can't do this. I don't have enough qualifications. I can't. I won't. I should." All those words. It's really important, it's what I've learned with my journey in 2018, is the inner work is really important as much as the outer work. That's why within this talk I've got a 50/50 balance between speakers who are talking about how to work with that inner personal development as well as the external productivity, sales, technical tips that we all need as well to get us going.
Perfect. Some strands that you're pulling together here, you're looking at the inner world, so things like empowerment. I think I did have a list of some of the talks. You've got an inner world, an inner journey for entrepreneurs, introverted entrepreneurs, and then the more technical side of life, the more practical side of business that appeals to women who are looking to develop sustainable businesses as introverts.
Yes, exactly that. It's recognising what you're great at. There's a lot of things that introverts are absolutely fantastic at, but there's also the sides that people get very wary of and they're a bit like, that pulls them back and holds them back, and if you're just given a few tips and the talks do have tangible takeaway points, that people having listened to can get, "Okay, I can start doing this," and that's what I really hope for people to take away from the week is to be inspired and empowered to make 2019 the best year yet for them.
That can be whatever they define it to be as well. It's all internally where do we want to be. A lot of us, as particularly female entrepreneurs, the reason we start out in business on our own, is because we want control over our life, what we're spending with family or relatives or your children, and how much time you want to spend with work, or where you want to work. If you work based off a laptop, you can be in different countries at different times and still running your business. It's that flexibility, and there's some really good ways that I've discovered in the last year working with multiple different coaches. I've taken, like many entrepreneurs who are also introverts, we're great at taking courses and so we absorb a lot of information but then we need to turn it into action. That's what I'm hoping these talks will inspire everyone who's listening to do, is to move from the theory into the action basically.
Super. In fact, as you were just speaking about that, I'm struck by your ability to distil information and take out the nuggets, and I'm feeling and sensing that perhaps, in bringing this gathering of speakers, you are kind of in some way editing what's out there and bringing it into a nice tasty meal, as a starter for launching the next stage of your own business, which I'm hearing is an entrepreneurial community that is really holding the essence of the introverts.
Yes. Very much so. I distil and I've purposely made sure these talks are really relevant to the things that we all need. As you say, there's so much noise out there and everyone does have different methods, but this is why I made this a very niche congress in the sense it's female introverted entrepreneurs, because I feel you always do far better work when you're actually listening to your own personality and the balance you need in life.
As you mentioned earlier, say colour catalyst is one of the names I call myself and that's with bringing in also the use of colour to help people gain confidence and how to project themselves so they feel really happy doing something like this or taking that step forward. Many women are so shy and they say, "Well, I'm just an artist." It's like, "You're an amazing artist. It's not I'm just." Women are very, sort of a lot more demure in the way they speak and that's where all these talks are talking about empowering and realising you've got to be more confident, cause that is naturally in the more masculine way of broaching things.
I often even joke with my husband about this. It's like, if he's on the phone and wants something done, it would be like, "Right, yeah. See you at 6:30. Okay then. Bye." Conversation over. If the same conversation with a woman, it would be, "Hi, how are you doing? Oh, I'm feeling quite good thank you. I was thinking around 6:30 should we meet? Yeah. Yeah. I think that would work. Okay then, we'll see you later." You know, it's like three times longer. We communicate in a different way. That's what I wanted to bring across is that the different communication styles, they can all work because it's about finding your audience and the people you want to talk to. That's where I realised, for myself, bringing together this community, as you say, of female introvert entrepreneurs, is just that way of connecting and building and just being really authentic.
Yes, yes. That is something that tends to come up a lot, this word authentic. We've seen it, you know, in the self-help world, through the work of Bréne Brown, and I was very struck, I was really looking at one of your introductory videos to this Powerhouse congress. You used the word intropreneur and I thought that was a really lovely word and in fact googled it and it does exist, so there is this notion of entrepreneurs that are intropreneurs, a bit of a mouthful, and, just before I came online, there was this article, which I didn't get a chance to read, and it was talking about, ... It was asking the question, is this the age of the introverted entrepreneur, so the intropreneur, and I'm curious about that. What are your thoughts on that Susanna?
That's interesting. I haven't seen that article, so now I want to read it. I definitely feel that the digital age and working online is actually perfectly suited for the intropreneur and perhaps, I'm now thinking in my head, maybe I should be changing the title so it's just female intropreneurs, which is smaller, more concise, and getting people connected. As you say, not many people are aware of that term because obviously when you're in business, you do have to put yourself out there in the sense people have got to be aware of what you do because a business is actually about selling something and someone receiving something in return. Obviously no-one can be in business without someone else knowing about them. You can't be completely insular.
Again, I've got an amazing talk I recorded with a video and a film director and she was also very much of the opinion that, for the intropreneur, video is just brilliant because of the fact that you can reuse these things. You don't have to be out there 24/7. You can use tools in the digital age which make you seem to be out there, but you're not. You could be lying on a beach. You could be having a cup of tea and reading a book, but in fact your posts are going out there. That's one of the things I really teach my clients about gaining visibility is not always having to be there yourself the whole time, which in the traditional business, yes, you'd have to be in the office. You'd be there nine til five, or nine til eight, or nine til nine, depending on the industry you're in, whereas now, we can be very much omnipresent in one sense, and getting our work done in the way that suits us. There's some very successful intropreneurs out there who really say they just do a 20 hour working week and are successful. You don't need to be sort of hustle, hustle, hustle, the whole time.
Yes. I'm struck again by what you're talking about in terms of balance and I know that's a key value that you speak of with your clients. Is that what you're building into your teaching around living a balanced life and combining the various roles that women still do perform in our cultures, where we tend to still do the bulk of the tasks at home and basically with our children?
Yes, definitely. It's about doing what you want to do. Personally it just happened that my natural interest are I love cooking. Actually I was a textile designer at the start of my career, so I love textiles, so things like ironing and things like that I actually love doing in that sense. I'm not against or saying that the division of the male and the female. It's about working out your balance and therefore, with your partner, what are you good at doing, and it just turns out completely randomly in my household that my husband's very good at doing practical building things, gardening, so he takes all that on, whilst I tend to do more things in the house and I want to be around my daughters. I always make sure as well that when they come in from school, which is between 3:30 and 4:30, that hour of my schedule is always blocked out if I can all but avoid it, because I know that is such a key hour for connecting with my children. They're now in their teen years. It's so important cause they come home and they brain dump, but then I know that I can get on and do more work after when they need to get away and relax and sit down.
That's the balance that I see that we can have is we actually look at our working week and say, "What's really important at which point in the week, at what point in the day, that we need to do?" Part of that as well is putting in me time. A lot of people don't tend to make meetings with themselves, but you kind of need to, particularly when you're working on your own. It's good to block out your diary in that way and really say, so even during this week of the congress is say to yourself, "Well, actually, I'm going to block out an hour of my time every day because I want to go in and watch the talks that really seem to connect to me, and I want to make sure that I catch them," and go through and just have that sacred time as well, so you say, "Yeah, this week, this is what I'm going to focus on," and just do it.
Focus is another key word that I'm always talking about, because a negative of introverts is, because they want to gather lots and lots and lots of information, that often the focus goes to a side, and then you go into overwhelm, and then you find yourself procrastinating and doing lots of different things that you don't want, or you shouldn't be doing, but you're finding other things. It's an interesting balance as to how you combine all those things.
Absolutely, interesting. It's going to be very interesting to see the unfolding of the inner world and the outer world through your speakers' presentations. I'm just wondering, are you going to publish a timetable of who's speaking when, so women can select their particular preferences?
Yes. All the talks will be detailed on the website with a certain time, and when you've signed up for registration, you will receive an email each morning when the talks are being released that day. Every talk is going to have 48 hours in terms of being live and accessible to watch. Again, many online congresses that you might attend, the talk's only live for 24 hours, and I was like, "That feels a bit too rushed for the introvert in me." I thought about my audience and I went, "Actually I want to give a longer length of time." The talks, there will be between four and five talks released each day, Monday through Friday, and each talk will have an ability to be watched 48 hours after it's been released basically. It will be a rolling system that happens.
Perfect. Then, if people have missed key talks, what is the after the Powerhouse, what will you have available for people who would like to engage with the summit?
There will be a congress pack available where you can download all the talks and the reference material for a price, that will be launched during the week, so if you're feeling rushed and can't get to all of them and you feel that, "Yes, I want to have longer term access to this," there will be a congress pack available.
Super, Susanna. Lastly, I would love to know, what got you onto this journey and who's inspired you along the way? As an entrepreneur and then specialising in the introverted spectrum.
I've always, throughout my whole life, had a really independent streak in the sense that, ... It's funny. I've been quite often thought to be an extrovert actually, because many people don't understand the terminology so much, and they think that if you're friendly and outgoing, you're an extrovert, but introverts can also be friendly and outgoing, but you want to have your time on your own as well. When I was growing up that was a lot easier because, when I left school, I could just go home, and quite often I'd fall asleep even before dinner if I'd had a really exhausting day. That's like a sign that you need to gather your energy. I always was really independent and I've also always had a balance of enjoying and understanding maths and business side as well as being an artist and a designer. I could pull the various things together. Throughout my life, I've done various companies where I've focused on different ideas. If you know the term scanner, that's very much me.
Even though I have worked for companies, the positions I've held within those companies have been very independent in terms of running my own department and being very autonomous in the decisions that were being made. It became natural as well as I started, ... In fact, the last 18 years, I've lived in five different locations. I moved around a lot, so as I was moving countries, cities, it became clear that the time for me to become an entrepreneur and really set up, and want to be a location independent entrepreneur as well, because all the other businesses I had were a lot more specific to the area, which we all do to begin with. It's the natural way. You set up a business and you think, "Who is here locally for me to connect with?" I realised the more and more I travelled and, as an expat, that there was this whole new extra world that was opening up with the advent of the new technology.
I was right in with LinkedIn back, gosh, it must have been in 2005, I think it was, when I first joined LinkedIn, and I've always been really involved in the social networks because I love connecting. I love collaborating and I've been involved in marketing a lot throughout my life, designer marketing as well. That sort of all came together and I was looking at the threads of what to do and I realised quite naturally I was sharing a lot of the information I'd built up along the way. I had studied, about 10 years ago, an MBA, and, in fact, my final dissertation was about the role of strategic networking for female expat entrepreneurs.
I've always had this thread of wanting to connect with women and to empower and inspire and it's just got stronger and stronger. Right now, because my children are now in their teens, I feel I can take longer in terms of putting the hours in that I want to take in. I've seen this wonderful, it's just so beautiful, the side effect is my daughters are so proud to the extent that, I'm practically in tears here. The other week my daughter, during a class, was asked to draw a logo of a company that you admire and she picked me. She was just like, "Mummy, what's your logo?," and I was like, "Oh." That is part of my mission is I want the next generation, the girls who are in school now, to really know that they can do anything they want to and how they want to do it in their own terms. Having them see what I'm doing now and the focus, and they're like, "It's okay. You're on a call. You're doing a recording. We'll be quiet," as they come in and that really is what sort of pulled together on the personal side.
On the work side, the breakthrough point, I think, was the point when I actually changed and engaged and went, "I need a business coach for myself, someone external, who gets where I want to go and is just supporting and gives me the avenue to talk through the ideas and issues," because it's one thing talking to your partner, and it's very different talking to an external business coach who's gone through some of the same issues as yourself. When I made that decision to really invest in myself and go, "I'm not playing at this. I'm going to be serious," that was like the breakthrough point. I guess that's where that you'll find listening to all the talks in the congress, some are coaches and, in fact, many are coaches in different ways and different aspects. It might be inner work or the outer work but it really does benefit working with someone, and I guess I just love the international connections. I've got people coming in from America, across Europe, the UK, and everyone is just pulling together.
You don't need to just think, "Is there somewhere here in my hometown to connect with?" Actually that's the last point as to why it all came together for me right now is, three years ago, I'm actually now in my home studio, outside of Oxford in England, and I came back and I thought there weren't that many people I was really connecting with locally, because locally there were still many people doing the nine to five grind, going up to, we’re within commuter-ville of London, so there are many people doing that and not understanding there was this other world out there.
Still when I attend local networking events, I have people ask me, like, "Why are you operating in US dollars? You're being international. How do you deal with that with taxes and all the rest of it?" These are people who are very established and well known in their sphere but they've never thought to take that step sort of beyond, and this is what we can do online now. Suddenly they go, "Oh," because I'm not shouty again in that way; I would be quietly stood at the back of the room, and then when I've been asked to speak, they go, "There's quite a lot there actually. You know quite a lot." That's what pulled it all together is also wanting to share the information that I have taken on board myself and putting it in very, ... I loved your term sort of bite sized pieces, to make it not be overwhelming.
Yes. I can really feel that, Susanna. I'm aware that we want to keep this interesting and fresh for everyone so perhaps I'll just wrap up right now, and just really present what you bring to this experience: that is your love of sharing and your ability to take people out of their comfort zone and particularly your soul client, which is yourself as the intropreneur, and just really my experience through this interview is the essence of collaboration. You're like this bridge that, you know, as I say, you gently nudge people out of their comfort zone and you provide this ability to cut to the chase in a very good way, not in the kind of the patriarchal way, but more in the gentle, but firm and focused way, which really instils an inspiration and an integrity on the inner and the outer.
I think sometimes as women, we are very good at the inner integrity, but we're not always that confidant when it comes to the structures, and feeling supported in our own confidence to move out into the world. No matter that we have children and, you know, we raise families, it's this quality that perhaps is from our generational, you know? Yeah, there's a lot here really, and how would you like to round off our interview and launch the series?
What I'd like to say is the whole congress is being supported by a closed Facebook community which is called the Introvert's Powerhouse that will open up for people to join in from January the 1st. People can go in and start to talk and connect and introduce yourself as to why it's something that you feel is right for you. As every talk goes live, they'll be headers of the person's name who's speaking and the title of their talk, and those specific conversation threads will be ones where you can engage and connect a bit more with the speaker as well, and they'll be in that Facebook group. All my speakers are in there as well. They're here and they really want to talk and connect with the people listening. I would say to everyone, just take that step out of your comfort zone and say hello. Maybe you never normally say hello. You're the lurker in the background, but this is going to be a really safe, collaborative and, I'm hoping, very inspirational space where we can gather together. You never know who you can connect to that could make all the difference to you in your business for the year. That's what I'm hoping, and I think that's a good point to round off.
Super. Thank you very much, Susanna. I really, for one, am really looking forward to the journey of the summit.