Once upon a time, I spent three days immersed in the Springboard Enterprise Australia induction program. It was perhaps one of the most eye-opening experiences of my personal and professional life, and I will never forget the feedback I received at the boot camp. In short, the mentors critiqued my Aussie-taught, sarcastic, self-deprecation delivery. They were right, I did not know how to present myself or my company in a public forum. Learning to best deliver myself and my company is still a lesson I'm working on and a lesson that I would love to pass along to those who want to make a meaningful impact, regardless of topic or audience:
Tell the whole story.
Even though big audiences of smart, important people can often be intimidating, at the end of the day we are all just people. People love stories. They help us make sense of the world; and the problems and the solutions that we develop to tackle those problems. Learning to give context and the human angle to real estate technology, in my case, was huge. People don't care about fancy features, they care about how you will help make their lives better. That requires a nuanced story, rather than just a bullited list of capabilities.
Brag authentically and comfortably.
The generation and culture that I call home taught me to avoid 'I / me / my' language. It taught me to give credit to everyone else and downplay my own credentials and successes. Springboard advisors snapped me from that habit, in lieu of talking confidently about my first person, professional journey. I learned to speak confidently about my computer science background, the four companies I built before Switch Automation and the business relationships I've cultivated over the years. For me, it's always been important to be true to myself. So, soak up the 'best practices' you learn from mentors, but find a way to make each of them authentically work for you.
Don't be afraid to challenge the status quo.
In the buildings industry, we're looking to solve a massive problem. The way that buildings are operated and managed hasn't changed too much in the last 30 years. And that means there are huge challenges to tackle, with equally huge opportunities. I've found that people really appreciate when we're not afraid to acknowledge the hard stuff. Being honest about reality and how we can improve as an industry helps rally us all and shake up the innovation.
If you have a great idea that solves a major pain point, you need to think globally. The successful women in my network are successful because they created a solution to a problem and put GLOBAL ambition behind it. Don't limit yourself to your neighborhood because you are 'just one woman.'
This one needs no explanation. Though I will admit that these lessons are a cinch to serve up in a blog post and much harder to actualize in real life. And while speaking to large crowds is still not my favorite, as the CEO of a company, I need to do this for my team. And I need to be good at it. So I rarely turn down an opportunity to practice. It actually never 'makes perfect' as the adage suggests, but I'd be willing to bet that the Springboard Enterprise mentors who savaged me on that day years ago would be proud of the progress I've made.
Deb Noller is the CEO and co-founder of Switch Automation--the world's first cloud-hosted Enterprise Operations Platform for managing buildings and building data. With more than 20 years of experience in technology, business, relationship building, efficiency and sustainability, Noller is passionate about helping large industries use technology to run smarter business operations. Noller built a multi-national team and software solution to help automate the tedious job of building data acquisition, normalization, fault detection, controls and reporting. Deb also love cycling, mentoring young women in the tech industry and is a self-proclaimed coffee snob.