15 Sep beth hand.
How many times have you thought to yourself, I wish I had known fill in the blank before stepping into a particular conversation or meeting at work? It is safe to say, we have all experienced this, and as you age, you begin to recognize that knowledge truly is power. And if there were a handbook you could buy that shared knowledge on how to guide you through unspoken traps, most certainly it would quickly become a best seller. Well, there is such a handbook and it recently hit #1 in the Kindle store under Women and Business, and it is entitled, Hidden By Gender.
Beth Hand is on a mission. This executive coach and author aims to brighten the invisible line that we all often trip over in the dark without knowing the influences. And believe me, there are invisible lines out there that—if avoided—could save a lot of time, confusion, and frustration.
Growing up in a family that emphasized education, Hand learned that self-improvement through education and hard work, would inevitably lead to success. Both parents were influential in Beth’s world. Her mother and father worked hard in every facet of life. They believed in the power of education so much they helped found a school when they became concerned about the education being provided. And although they did not want their children to leave the house at an early age, they decided to broaden horizons and send their children to boarding school.
This strong foundation created a pattern of constant learning and improvement that carried Beth into adulthood where she began to recognize that being a woman came along with a set of unwritten rules. And that the field she was born into was not the field she wanted to play in. From being taught to be appropriate and lady-like, to navigating an invisible family line that dictated circumstance into the professional world, Beth began to recognize a pattern that differentiated the male from the female. A line that she feels certain still exists, a line that separates the male from the female. And through experience, Beth learned how to navigate this line allowing her to overcome challenges in her personal and professional life. And like any good mentor, she has the desire to share her knowledge. I am honored to share the knowledge of Ms. Beth Hand, an intelligent woman and mentor for us all.
How did you choose the life you lead and was it a conscious decision?
It is more conscious now! I didn’t have the maturity or the tools earlier in my life. I didn’t have the mentorship you so generously offer the world through J-Jane. I didn’t know the importance of a having a vision. That’s one of the reasons I strongly advocate people create a compelling vision for their business or life.
The next step is to create a one-page strategic framework for turning that vision into a reality. Don’t let it drive you crazy by trying to adhere to the strategic framework… Use it as a guideline, so that you and your leadership team, if you are leading one, are more conscious in your choices and eliminate distractions. I’ve included this in a free guide you can download.
You have written several books on leadership: Hidden By Assumptions, Hidden By The C-Suite, Hidden By Leadership Paradox. What inspired your Hidden Solutions Book Series?
I wanted to get world-class leadership approaches—the ones our clients in Fortune 500 benefit from—into the hands of women leaders and business owners in second world and first world countries. What we know is that when more women lead and thrive, everyone thrives.
I wanted to illustrate those approaches by shining a light on leaders who are contributing to global good. That’s people like Beth Keck of Walmart, who led her team to develop a sustainable agricultural strategy for the world’s biggest grocer. Her work contributes to a continued food supply for consumers and support for the small farmers around the globe. Or, Paul Polak who is on a mission where business is a solution to those living on less than $2.00 a day. I share his story in a special edition Hidden by Your Customer of how his commitment to getting clean water to the Untouchables also led to discovering a new market!
And finally, my books needed to be accessible: all are available as eBooks. Each one is focused, supported by simple models and frameworks, and deconstructs these leaders’ brilliance so we can see where we too already have it or make it our own.
As a leadership coach, how do you speak to your clients about fear? Whether we admit it or not, we all have it. How do you overcome your own fear?
I’m not sure I overcome my fear, Jessica—I work through it! Having a big compelling vision that makes a contribution to others— family, employees, customers, the world, or all of these, is critical. When I focus on my business vision: helping mission driven people have a bigger impact, it puts fear in perspective. The importance of contributing gets bigger, pulling me forward, and the fear gets smaller.
There are different types of fear too… Like fear that shows up as worry or anxiety. For me, that is usually a signal from my wisest self that something important is being left undone, or there’s something I need to pay attention to that I haven’t. Action is a wonderful antidote. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering. It can be a simple phone call to put the ball in motion. My job now is to listen to that signal and take a next step, even a small one, so it doesn’t have to get my attention through fear or worry. Just writing this reminds me of something I need to take action on!
Most recently, you published your latest book entitled Hidden By Gender. Do feel that gender equality is still an issue in America?
Gender inequality is an issue globally. You only have to look at the numbers—how few board seats women hold, the size of women’s businesses in contrast to men’s, our difficulty getting access to credit, etc.—to see the lack of parity. In other parts of the world, if you are female, you may be killed before you are born. If you are born, your survival may be at risk your entire life.
I wanted to understand why there is such inequality. I also had a personal need to understand how being female has influenced me leading my company. There have been times when I felt like I was on a hidden playing field and didn’t know the rules.
I discovered some fascinating research and interviewed people like Elizabeth Vazquez, co-founder and CEO of WEConnect International, and Dr. Kevin McCabe, Founder and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Neuroeconomics at George Mason University. Vazquez’s organization helps women business owners get into global supply chains. McCabe is a neuro-economist who studies how the brain makes business decisions! I found that there is a way to reveal the hidden playing field. It’s not just a “man’s world!” Further, there is a way for women to successfully, whole-heartedly compete on it and in a way that’s authentic for each of us. This is where women leaders in America and worldwide can shine as a force for global good!
What was your greatest life lesson learned thus far?
Every one of us has something going on in our life that requires a private courage the rest of the world may sense but never sees. Be kind. That doesn’t mean you aren’t firm or don’t take a stand. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
What is your best advice on how to live a graceful life?
Practice gratitude. For someone like me who lives where there is political and economic stability, where I have legal rights and know about them, where my survival isn’t at stake, almost every problem I have is a high quality one.
I remember the story of a friend who was praying with her spiritual mentor. Her mentor said, “Bow your head a little lower.” When I notice myself reacting to daily bumps in the road that I wish weren’t happening, I remind myself, “Bow your head a little lower.” In the blink of an eye, that acknowledgement of what is, and bowing to it, reminds me to be grateful. In that way—through gratitude, I live a more graceful life.