“Women, I hear you. And I revere you.
As a woman, and especially as a female CEO, I cherish the dynamic women whose counsel and support have inspired me to persevere throughout my career. And I cherish our own Amy Yoder, who has partnered with me to tell their stories – stories of how women overcame formidable challenges to rise to the top of their respective fields. For this new Copytalk initiative, Amy will focus her incredible talents on interviewing these woman and writing their stories, which we will publish as an ongoing series. Why are we doing this? Because I’m confident that these amazing stories – extraordinary women all – have something of great value to offer you, as well.”
– Maree Moscati, CEO, Copytalk
How did your career path lead you to where you are today?
Alexis: Through most of my career, I was always an internal consultant, so I learned a lot about going and presenting things in order to quote, unquote, “sell our services.”
Even though it was internal money, I was trying to come up with solutions and show why our recommendation was the right thing for their part of the organization. So that really, I think, set me up really well for then when I went out on my own because I already had that mind-set around how you do business. The only difference being when you’re an internal consultant, you still have a salary every day. You don’t have to worry about where the next client is coming from. You have to actually find the next project, the next client and keep up the business development. So that was kind of the difference between what I did internally and what I’m doing now. But there’s a lot of synergies, and a lot of the skills I learned on the internal side have translated really, really well to being an entrepreneur.
It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. The nuances that change are the culture and the terminology and what’s important for an organization, but if you want to grow your leadership skills, it’s pretty much the same across. Good leadership is good leadership.
Could you share how someone influenced you in your career?
Alexis: My boss at Amoco and I supported these other senior executives around the business from each of the different businesses. He recognized my contributions, and sometimes he would say it in the meeting, but a lot of times, he would say it outside of a meeting to me also.
He was a pretty insightful gentleman, and I really enjoyed working for him. In one instance, I went into a performance review with him, and he said, “I have to show you something,” and someone had written scathing supplemental feedback.
I’d never asked her for it. My boss had never asked her for it. She just unsolicited provided it. He said, “I want you to read it,” and I read it, and I remember getting a little teary-eyed. He took it from me, and he ripped it up. He said, “This isn’t you.”
What can you share with women just entering the business and in particular, in the fintech space?
Alexis: Build a network.
Internally, you want people to get to know you and see who you are. There’s a lot of different ways you can do that, building that network. You can volunteer for cross-functional projects. You can show up at meetings, whatever the case may be, but figure out how to do those types of things.
Also, you need to find mentors, and I say “mentors,” as in, multiple. You can find different mentors for different parts of what you’re trying to do. I think an internal mentor can share with what the culture really is like. They become somebody that you can trust.
Sometimes women say, “There’s this woman in my organization. I really think I want her to be a mentor, but I don’t know how to go about it.”
Just say, “I’ve watched your career,” or, “I would love to learn more about you. Can I take you out for a cup of coffee?” And that can start the relationship. Just ask.
Alexis Gladstone is the founder of Intelead, a Chicago-based consulting practice dedicated to aligning people strategies and business results. Intelead designs strategies and programs to help clients develop current and next generation leaders, increase the effectiveness of individuals in sales, and drive organizational change that delivers results.
Alexis has a passion for empowering women and helping them succeed and is a sought out voice, trainer, and coach on the topics of women and leadership and helping clients attract and develop female talent. She has worked domestically and internationally across a variety of industries, including financial services and legal services.