Monthly Archives: February 2014

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Since our evening with Jane is tonight, we thought we’d share a blog post with you, to get you thinking.


Ambition is no longer the kiss of death for women’s careers. 

Just ask Sheryl Sandberg and the 1 million people who bought her book, “Lean In.” Sandberg should be roundly applauded for creating greater awareness of women’s work challenges, and for encouraging more conversation to emerge. But it’s important to realize the limitations of her message, which doesn’t translate in China, as Quartz recently reported, and in other Asian cultures as well. 

Here’s why:

Words, often the simplest ones, across cultures create confusion. For the Lean In movement, “ambition” and “family” are at the root of the cultural disconnect. 

Having facilitated many (predominantly female) workshops for multicultural and multi-generational teams across Asia, I can tell you that when the question of ambition comes up, which it often does, most participants felt the word and subsequent definitions to be blunt, boorish, and not reflective of their professional aspirations.

To ask, “How ambitious are you?” in Asia is fascinating. In China, women are more comfortable speaking about their ambitions than women in Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore, where the question is often met with silence or a detached shrug. For many women I encountered in Korea and Vietnam, ambition does not square with leadership, and instead has more negative than positive connotations. Being seen as “ambitious” still conjures a pejorative image for women.

Read the rest, here.


Join us at our event, tonight.


Kicking off 2014, Women Media Networks hosted an event about personal and presentation communication skills (#wmnpres). Our friend and supporter, @TheModernBelle_ writes up her takeaways from the event.

I was invited to blog about the event, covering a topic I find especially interesting. Hong Kong Chapter President, Christina Pantin, offered valuable tips on how to present yourself and also revealed her big secret on public speaking (I’ll come to that later).

Pantin has a love for the art of communication and has worked in over five countries around the world, which includes 25 years with Reuters. Her experience is evident as she makes us think about our personal brands.

What makes a brand?
The talk begins with Pantin asking us to consider, “if I were a brand, what would my label say?” She showed us an example of a food label, which often use positive buzz-words, like organic, natural, healthy, or improved recipe.

Brands always present themselves in a positive light, so that’s something to think about applying to your own brand. She also asks, “what do people look for in a brand?” Image is everything, so having a high-resolution, professional photograph of yourself is important. Think about how you want to come across in your photo – friendly? Professional?

Being unique is another important factor. What makes a brand stand out? Why is it different to others? What makes it memorable? Pantin cites National Geographic’s iconic magazine cover from 1985, of the girl who was an Afghan refugee and was photographed for the very first time – it’s a great example of uniqueness. And something that most remember, because of the girl’s expression and the look in her eyes which told a story of war.

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What makes a personal brand?
Appearance, voice, written and verbal communication, experiences, upbringing, values and most importantly, market value are all facets contribute to defining a personal brand. Pantin advises us to understand our market value within our industries, explaining that many women tend to shy away from their real market value. 

She also advises us not to forget about the digital side ­­– be careful when expressing yourself on social media, as it can be potentially damaging to your personal brand if you come across as negative or controversial.


Citing Kiran Bedi as an example of a great personal brand, we saw a short clip of Bedi’s TED talk
 where she tells the story of her upbringing. Her family (in India) broke traditional roles and she was educated instead of staying at home. She went on to work in a prison and managed to make a significant change. Bedi’s passion and courage was evident in the talk, which helps her to be a great personal brand – being personal helps people to feel connected to you.

Who are you and what do you want to say?

Pantin reveals her No. 1 tip when it comes to personal branding: Trust yourself.

You know yourself better than anyone else,  and you are your best story-teller. Pantin points out that we each have more control over the impression we make than we think we do, so consider about your opening line and the type of language you use throughout the presentation.

Of course, content matters. Make sure you your facts and figures are well researched and correct and don’t over-complicate the presentation. Rehearse until you feel comfortable enough and remember your notes more. Every crowd is different, so anticipate your audience’s needs – especially if they’re a smaller crowd.

Among the facts Pantin shares is that 75% of women decline an invitation to speak publicly. SO here’s Pantin’s big secret tip: Everyone gets nervous and afraid, so don’t worry about presenting. She advises trying to look comfortable and to wear comfortable clothes – there’s nothing worse than being nervous and physically uncomfortable! To help, familiarise yourself with the location before the presentation and get used to the setup. And when you present, remember to give eye contact and pause every so often.



Conference calls
You might not consider this public speaking, but con calls can be tricky – more so because you can’t see the other people involved in the conversation.

Pantin advises to prep beforehand and know who and how many people will be on the call. If you have a moderator, it’s useful to ask people to announce themselves when they speak. Follow a pre-arranged agenda and make notes during the call. Now, your voice is your image, so be mindful of your tone – smiling when you speak can really help, here. Interrupting someone who goes on too long can be hard – the audience offer a few ideas here, like waiting for the right moment or interrupting with a clarifying question. And finally, make sure there’s a backup plan if you have technical problems.

Ending a call is as important as ending a presentation – end strong, say thank you and smile. One of the best tips Pantin offers is to always have a Q&A session after the presentation or call – it’s the best opportunity to get valuable feedback.