As a preview for the upcoming Women of Color Leadership and Empowerment Conference, being held Thursday, June 23, 2016 at Harvard Law School, Color Magazine will publish a series of Q&A stories with the Executive Speakers for the event.
Our third interview is with Monica Molina Austin, President of Westwind, LLC, who will be speaking on What is Your Thinking…Style?
- Can you tell us more about your position as the founder of Westwind? What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I feel the greatest sense of reward when my clients are successful, and that can take a variety of different forms. It might be when a client retires early with financial security and a rewarding retirement plan, or when another pivots from the shock of being laid off to secure a position setting them on the path to their ultimate aspiration, or when another receives that long overdue promotion after learning how to employ a culturally appropriate approach to move things along. It almost sounds like a cliché, but my business really does define success as helping others reach their dreams.
- How did you hear about Color Magazine’s Women of Color Leadership and Empowerment Conference? What is it about the conference that intrigues you?
I heard about it through my colleague Tia Purnell, who introduced me to Josefina. There are so few venues that have such a focused audience. I think the more customized the approach and focus, the more effective any development opportunity is. The U.S. has a long history of targeting certain populations for development and opportunity. It is time to open up those opportunities to others. However, in order to take advantage of those opportunities when they arise, we have to be ready.
- Please tell us more about the session you’re holding for the Women of Color Conference. What are your goals? What do you want others to walk away with?
My session focuses on the importance of knowing your authentic style of leadership and your professional preferences. That begins with understanding how you uniquely add value to any situation. The more you learn about your unique way of communicating, collaborating, working, and bringing others together, the more effective you will be in your own career and in business. Individuals are not hired for their weaknesses—they are hired because of their experiences, what they have learned from them, and their strengths. But strengths can be a bit like wild horses; incorrectly used and unbridled, they will be all over the place and often overused at the wrong time and place. When you can clearly identify and refine your strengths to know how and when to optimally apply them, you’ll move significantly faster toward your goals.
Most of us have an inkling of our strengths and liabilities, but clarity around how to strategically use your strengths, when combined with awareness of your work style preferences, creates a powerful toolkit to navigate your career. When participants take the 40-minute intro to work style, preferences model, and approach, they will be introduced to one of the best professional self-awareness methodologies and tools in the world. I hope they take advantage of it by adding it to their toolkit and continue the process of self-mastery in the future.
- What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What else are you passionate about?
My daughter and I volunteer for APAW, a service dog organization that trains mobility service dogs. We assist in training and occasionally fostering dogs. Although I work roughly equally with both executive men and women, I have recently been making more of a priority of working more closely with emerging executive women. The focus has been to help them prepare, handle, and leverage everything from promotions, salary negotiations, responses to difficult situations, and more. Women tend to have to work more carefully, smarter, and frequently harder than their male counterparts. It’s not only because male-dominated industries tend to hire, promote, and invest in folks like themselves (completely normal, but not right for all of us) but they also have to manage unconscious biases in people, in company culture, in decision making, in self-talk, and more.
- Who and/or what inspires you?
I am inspired by many things. I am in awe of single mothers and their ability to manage a family and household. I am inspired by my clients that commit to themselves and aren’t afraid to self-define as top talent. I am inspired by bold and courageous actions by people who are on the fringe of our society but continue to endure and give generously. I am inspired by people with limitations and disabilities that identify and sometimes demand resources and thrive. I am inspired by animal lovers. I am inspired by people who give with compassion.
- How will you help to inspire other women of color career-wise?
By living a full life through positive self-talk to myself and others. By understanding and knowing my strengths and values and paving the way for others to recognize those assets in themselves. By continuing to tell myself I am top talent, believing in it, living it even in the face of difficulties, and passing on that practice. The first thing I check when meeting a client is to explore whether she speaks negatively about herself to herself. I find that women do this far more than men and they have to catch themselves in the act and practice speaking to themselves kindly and compassionately. That is the first step of becoming fully aware of and truly living your authentic personal power. Employing that awareness and power in your career is a crucial factor in achieving career and personal satisfaction.
The Women of Color Leadership and Empowerment Conference takes place on Thursday, June 23, from 11 A.M. – 4:30 P.M., at Austin Hall, Ames Court Room -Harvard Law School. For tickets and more information click HERE.