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Finding Your Voice, Owning Your Power, and the Art of Persuasion

Download an excerpt from Lydia Fenet’s book The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You.

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About This Episode

Knowing what you want to say is just half the battle. Actually communicating it in an effective, engaging way is the hard part.

Joining us this episode to talk about this topic is one of the best communicators in the country – Lydia Fenet. Lydia is the global managing director and lead benefit auctioneer at Christie’s in New York City. She’s also a gifted speaker and the author of the widely acclaimed book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You. She’ll talk with Tricia and LZ about how to communicate your message in a way that captures and holds your audience’s attention.

1. Sell authentically.

Find your own voice and the language in which you’re comfortable selling. Don’t try to copy someone else’s style, tone, and manner. Be comfortable in your own skin and sell as yourself. Whether you’re selling a product, a service, or your own expertise, use authenticity as your friend – your sales will be better for it.

2. Own your power.

Be responsible for who you are, and don’t let someone else tell you who you are or how you should sell. You don’t have to be ugly or aggressive about it, but just be confident and bold. Step into and be responsible for your life. Own where you are and where you are going!

3. Don’t be scared of rejection.

When it comes to sales, accept their “no” as a “no” – and don’t take it personally. They’re not rejecting you. So when you’re not scared of rejection, then you aren’t scared of sales. That’s when you become a really incredible salesperson.

 

What are some of the best/worst experiences you’ve had with sales on both sides – as the salesperson and as the customer?
What have you learned from those experiences?
What is the best advice you’ve heard about selling?

your way?

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced when it comes to sales?
Do you feel like you represent who you are authentically in your sales process?

Find your power and own it, then go after what you want and don't look back!

Lydia Fenet

Once you're over the fear of rejection, I think you'll find that a lot more yeses come your way.

Lydia Fenet

A lot of times what you're selling is really irrelevant. It's how you're selling what they need.

Lydia Fenet

There is no shame in asking for more!

Lydia Fenet

(02:06) Lydia answers the question, “What’s your most-used emoji?”

(04:30) Lydia talks about how she got into auctioneering and being the lead person at Christie’s. 

(07:42) Think about why the other person is telling you “no” when it comes to sales. 

(10:36) Lydia walks us through her 5 selling tips that she highlights in one of her keynote talks. 

(15:33) Where do people stumble the most when it comes to selling?

(18:45) What really holds people back when it comes to finding their voice, whether it’s personally or professionally?

(22:48) “That’s something I think about on a daily basis: ‘What can I show my kids, as a mom, as a woman, as a citizen of this world, so that they will grow up understanding things that I did not and pass them forward.’”

(24:11) What advice would Lydia give to someone who hasn’t found their voice and feels like they aren’t an effective communicator?

(29:35) What does Lydia mean when she says to “own your power?”

(31:03) You only have so long to complain about something and then you have to change it. 

(32:48) Lydia talks about a funny, insightful interaction she had with Matt Damon at an auction. 

(42:39) Go download an excerpt from Lydia Fenet’s book The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You.

Lydia Fenet:

Every time you go in for negotiation, if they’re rejecting the price you’re giving them, they’re rejecting the business. They’re not rejecting you. Even if it is a service you are selling, it is the business they’re rejecting, not you. I think that that keeps people from asking. I think that’s what gets people tongue tied. I mean, we’ve all seen it firsthand. That’s where people fall short time and time again.

Speaker 2:

Welcome to One Next Step, the most practical business podcast in the world, helping you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence, with tips and tools you didn’t get in business school. Here are your hosts, Tricia Sciortino and Lisa Zeeveld.

Tricia Sciortino:

Welcome to One Next Step, the practical business podcast that helps you run your business so it stops running you. I’m Tricia.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And I’m LZ. Today’s topic is something we can all benefit from, and that’s learning how to become better, more persuasive communicators.

Tricia Sciortino:

Whether you’re someone’s personal assistant or the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, the way you talk to people and convey your message is incredibly important. Joining us today about this topic is one of the best communicators in the country, Lydia Fenet.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Lydia is the Global Managing Director and Lead Benefit Auctioneer at Christie’s in New York City. She’s also a gifted speaker and the author of the widely acclaimed book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You. We are so excited to have her on the podcast to talk about really finding our voices as communicators, owning our power, as she puts it, and being confident and persuasive whether we’re giving a keynote to thousands of people or making a sales pitch in a boardroom. We’ve got so much to cover, so let’s get started.

Tricia Sciortino:

Welcome. The One Next Step, Lydia, it is a honor to have you on the podcast with us today.

Lydia Fenet:

It’s my pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. I can’t wait for this conversation. But before we dive into the amazing conversation we’re about to have, I can’t wait for, I have a fun question to ask you. The question is, what is your most used emoji? Do you use emojis?

Lydia Fenet:

I do use emoji’s, although I feel like my daughter uses them in a better way. But my favorite emoji, which is not always my most used, my favorite emoji is the dancing emoji. I love the salsa dancer who looks like she’s running. I think it really is evocative of everything. Can be really put into anything. You’re trying to cheer someone up, they should be dancing. You’re excited to do something, you could be dancing.

Tricia Sciortino:

I love that. Okay. That is not maybe the answer I thought you were going to say. See, that’s why we ask these fun questions. I don’t know, like the kissy face. I’m like the queen of the kiss face or the like the one-eye snarky lady, like this lady.

Lydia Fenet:

I’ve never used that one in my life.

Tricia Sciortino:

I use that like… LZ knows.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah.

Tricia Sciortino:

Because I send it to her at least once a day. She gets one of these… You know what I mean?

Lisa Zeeveld:

Mine is the Winky with the tongue sticking out though. Maybe that means we’re really snarky, T.

Tricia Sciortino:

I don’t know. Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Now I’m worried, what are you guys sending dancing ones and we’re not snarky.

Tricia Sciortino:

I know. I’m going to have to expand.

Lydia Fenet:

I’m sharing positivity over here.

Tricia Sciortino:

Let’s expand. Yeah. Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I use the heart a lot too. So it’s a weird dichotomy. It’s the heart and the snarky one.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. Yeah. But teenagers have it the best. They’re super smart. Oh yeah.

Lydia Fenet:

The hand that goes up, the fingers pointing up for me, that’s like, “Here we go.” So if things are going well, you’ll get about 60 of those from me.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Like raise the roof. Totally.

Lydia Fenet:

Yeah. Again, could be used if you’re sad, if you’re happy. Really, it can be used anytime.

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh, I love it. I love it.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I’m going to put those on rotation now. Thank you for broadening my emoji horizon.

Lydia Fenet:

Now the podcast is over.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. It’s all we need to know.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Hey, we are the most practical business podcast. So there you go. They got a practical tip today, new emojis to add to the rotation. No, no. Well, thank you again for being here. As I said before we started recording here, that I’m a huge fan. I stumbled upon you through Instagram and have just loved reading your book and enjoying watching from afar everything that happens in New York and beyond and all the work that you do over at Christie’s. But that’s a great beginning to the podcast. How in the world did you get into Christie’s in this crazy world of being the premier auctioneer for them?

Lydia Fenet:

Well, I had never heard of Christie’s when I was growing up. So I always like to start this story by telling that small fact, because I think a lot of people think, “Oh, the art world. You were a collector. Your parents were collectors.” So let me disvalue of any notion that that was the case. I had never heard of Christie’s. I did not know anything about the auction world. When I was in college, I read an article in Vanity Fair Magazine about a charity auction with Princess Diana’s dresses.

Lydia Fenet:

It’s funny because even if people don’t really know anything about the auction world, many people will remember that auction because it was every amazing dress she’d worn over the course of her marriage to Prince Charles, and this was her moment to let everything go. So there were these incredible parallels with her life. But all I remember from the storyline was the entire auction took place, was set in New York City at this place called Christie’s.

Lydia Fenet:

The article went into granular detail about the people who worked for Christie’s and this glamorous auction room where everyone was in black tie and the women were wearing pearls and Hermes scarves. But it went into detail about how they traveled. I swear everything in my body was just like, “Well, that’s it. That’s the place that I will work.” Again, I wasn’t even an art history major at that point, but it really motivated me to dig into my studies.

Lydia Fenet:

I declared a second major in art history, my junior year. I talked about Christie’s to every single person I had ever met. Most of them gave me a blank stare. It wasn’t until almost a year later that I started talking, I’d been telling my father about it, who’s an incredible networker. He met someone who worked for Christie’s. She was a woman who just started as an assistant. She was, I think, 23 or 24 years old. He basically introduced us and then I got the card for the internship coordinator and essentially stocked her until she let me have an internship that following summer.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Wow.

Tricia Sciortino:

That is divine.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Amazing. I love that story.

Lydia Fenet:

Yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

So divine.

Lydia Fenet:

Felt divine. It did. I’ve been with the company now for 21 years, which is really hard to believe because it has passed in such a, I mean, obviously, I’d say it’s passed in a flash. There have been many long days and long nights and a lot of work, but it’s just such a dynamic world. It’s so changing always that no two days are really ever the same, which is what I love so much about it.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. Love that.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I think it’s interesting. Another one of my favorite authors and somebody who I hold equally up on a pedestal is Bob Goff. If you’ve ever read his first book, he actually has a similar story where he wanted to get into law school and they told him no. When I was reading your book, I thought about how you kept calling and calling and were relentless to say, “No, you need to hire me as your intern.” And you came up with creative ways even for them to do so. I love the tenacity and I think that that is such a great example, not only for young women who are entering the career force, but pretty much every single person alive, is if you want something bad enough, don’t take no for an answer.

Lydia Fenet:

Yeah. Not only don’t take no for an answer, but often you have to think about why the other person is telling you no. It’s the other side of the equation. It’s something that I talk about a lot in sales training where if you’re going into a meeting and you’re selling something, the first thing you should be doing is listening to the person across the table, because they’re giving you all the information you need. So a lot of times what you’re selling is really irrelevant. It’s how you’re selling what they need.

Lydia Fenet:

You have to think about whatever service or product that you have will help them meet their goals and meet their expectations. And so, when I tell this internship story of stalking this for women, and again, I always like to say, I know that I probably appear to be in my early twenties to everyone who is watching this right now, but I’m not as you guys know. It’s really funny because there was no caller ID when I was 21 years old.

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh. So you really could do it. Yeah.

Lydia Fenet:

Oh yeah. I mean, and I did it. I did it. She picked up. Poor Mary Libby picked up every single time. I was asking the same question. I know. I was asking the same question every time, which was, “Why can’t I have this internship?” which wasn’t really the question. The question was, “Why is the internship, why is it capped? Is there a reason?” So if you ask the question differently, and in that case, it was capped because of the number of people who could go on the museum tours in the afternoon.

Lydia Fenet:

But to me, that seemed like an opportunity because if all the interns were leaving every afternoon, what about one intern who could just stay and do the work? Because, obviously, if you work in a team. You don’t want to lose your intern every afternoon, unless they’re not creative, it’s, “Have a great time at the museum.” But for most people, having an extra set of hands is always something they’re going to want. That was really what I saw as my entry. That’s how it started. I just asked that question differently. I did a “modified internship” and I ended up going to the museums I think every single time, except for once, because, of course, with college interns, you just never know about them.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. Well, I talk a lot about turning a no into a yes. It may take work, tenacity, and really getting to the root cause, like you said. But I love that you were able to turn a no into a yes. I think that a lot of people stumbled there. I think that a lot of people really struggle with accepting a no for what a no is and then just saying, “Okay, well, I guess that’s not for me and I’m going to go try this other thing or move along.”

Tricia Sciortino:

But I think that you’re living proof for a lot of us out there that no sometimes just means not now, or not today, or not in this way, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Lydia Fenet:

I think rejection is the thing that stops us all in our tracks. We’ve already played out that scenario where someone has said no. And so, when someone says no, we assume that’s the final answer. But if you aren’t really afraid of rejection, and if you’ve gotten over the fear of asking, then all of a sudden you’re emboldened to keep asking in different ways. And so, I think getting over that takes a lot of confidence, that once you’re over that hump, I think you find that a lot more yeses coming your way, for sure.

Tricia Sciortino:

Amen to that. Well, so I love how you talked about this tying into sales. For a sales person who’s really feeling the rejection of a no, and we stumbled upon a video that you had done talking about five selling tips. I’d love if you could walk our listeners through how this conceptually really works out when it comes to things like selling inside of the business.

Lydia Fenet:

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, I think I’d talk about the first point that I always go back to, which is to listen. It’s, in my opinion, the biggest issue that people run into. We’ve all met that salesperson who gives you information out of a fire hose and you can’t even tell them what you’re asking because the information is coming so quickly that there’s no time for you to even formulate your thoughts and get back to them. So you’ve already checked that box of no before they’ve even finished their sales pitch. So first and foremost, listen.

Lydia Fenet:

But I think as we go into almost that rejection piece that I was talking about, one of the easiest ways to be comfortable and to be a good salesperson is to get comfortable in your skin, or as I like to say, sell as yourself. And so, that really comes with finding your own voice and your own language in which to sell. If you’re selling something not to pretend like you’re doing it because you saw someone else do it. I use the example in my book of, I trained under auctioneers who were older British gentlemen, and they were all 20 years older than me, and I was 24 when I became an auctioneer.

Lydia Fenet:

And so, for me, the only thing I had ever seen was an auctioneer who took charity auctions, which inherently are taking place late at night at dinner parties and galas all over New York City, where a lot of people have been drinking and they’re having fun, versus an art auction, which is a very serious affair where people are seated to buy art. And so, I would get on stage of those charity auctions and do everything that I’d been taught to do at the art auctions, when in fact it was a completely different style that needed to really develop over time.

Lydia Fenet:

That was really, for me, that moment when I got up on stage and realized that I had to take these auctions as a 20 something year old woman, not a 45 year old man from England, because there was something interesting and dynamic about that too. It wasn’t better or worse. It was just different, and different isn’t bad. So sell authentically. I always say that the easiest way to do that is to start with the strike method.

Lydia Fenet:

I opened my book talking about getting on stage in front of thousands and thousands of people at these charity auctions, and I’m standing backstage in that pitch black, and I walk out onto the stage and I always had a gavel, and I slam the gavel down three times. So I make this sort of… “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Lydia Fenet. I’m here from Christie’s Auction House.” And then I throw in a joke. Why I do that is because I always have nerves, just like everyone else, even though I’ve taken thousands of auctions over the course of my career.

Lydia Fenet:

I have nerves when I stand backstage and those nerves need somewhere to go. And so, the strike method for me is really funneling that nervous energy into emotion, or a mantra, or something that helps you get laser-focused. So when you walk into a big presentation, even if it’s for two people, you don’t walk in with your voice shaking. You walk in and you feel confident in what you’re about to say because you’ve taken away that fear and you’ve put it into something else, and you’re allowed to move through it.

Lydia Fenet:

So think about what your strike method is and make sure that it’s lined up. Then after that, I would say, if you’re a nervous speaker, line up two or three sentences afterwards, because the best part about speaking is the minute you start speaking, the nerves start to go away. It’s like a car crash, that you hit that wall and then the nerves start to dissipate. So you want to make sure that you are ready to go. You have those two sentences lined up and you’re already in it and the nerves have started to go away. That would be my third point.

Lydia Fenet:

You are what you negotiate is another chapter in my book. I feel like I’m really walking you all through my book. So if you haven’t read it, I suggest you buy it.

Lisa Zeeveld:

This is like, yeah.

Lydia Fenet:

It’s called The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You. It looks great on a bookshelf. My fourth point would be to say, you are what you negotiate. Remember this in sales, remember this whether you’re selling yourself as a service, remember this if you’re selling a product. No one will ever sell something that you made or created the way that you will. So you need to negotiate for what you are worth. This comes down to salary negotiations.

Lydia Fenet:

I often say, if I’m doing something in a side hustle or side business, people will say to me all the time, “Well, how do you price yourself?” I keep raising the price until someone says no. Then I do the service and then I ask for more. There is no shame in asking for money, so don’t ever forget that. I really mean that because so many women spend their lives thinking, “Oh, maybe I should ask for a 5% raise.” Ask for 50%. Maybe you’ll get 6%. You never know. Point is you ask.

Lydia Fenet:

Don’t be afraid of the answer no, because as we talked about, the fifth point, don’t be scared of rejection. That, for me, it’s really what sums it all up, because if you’re not scared of rejection, you won’t be scared of sales. That is when you become a really good salesperson.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. Absolutely. I think that’s so often what happens. The majority of our listeners here are small to medium-sized business owners. And so, a lot of times what that means is that they’re probably going to be a solopreneur. And if they’re not a solopreneur, they’re probably still selling quite a bit of the business, because it’s them and some admin staff and maybe some marketing.

Lisa Zeeveld:

When it comes to selling or when it comes to communicating and those five things you just spoke about, where do you feel like people stumble the most? Where is that communication failing on that other side of things?

Lydia Fenet:

I think that people always stumble over the money. I mean, I’ve seen it. I’m sure if anyone has ever been in a meeting where they have to ask, you see, especially with women, and I have all-female team, so I know what this looks like real time. But it’s incredible to watch how people can’t get money out of their mouth. They can’t price something. They can’t ask for something. I always say to people, “If the only tip you take away from what I say today is to remember that money is not personal. Look at money as business, and your emotions are personal.”

Lydia Fenet:

They’re actually not correlated at all. So every time you go in for a negotiation, if they’re rejecting the price you’re giving them, they’re rejecting the business. They’re not rejecting you. Even if it is a service you are selling, it is the business they’re rejecting, not you. I think that that keeps people from asking. I think that’s what gets people tongue tied. I mean, we’ve all seen it firsthand. That’s where people fall short time and time again.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, especially women. You notice they come in there and go, “Is it okay? I’m thinking that, for my annual raise, could I maybe have” I mean, their body language changes. They start adding in a lot of words that are not very direct. They’re more passive words like I think, or maybe, I should, instead of coming right out. I’m in the business of money. I’m very comfortable talking about it, and that’s what I always try to tell my team is like, “It’s just dollar. It’s just numbers on a piece of paper. Take the emotion out of it.”

Lydia Fenet:

Yes. Exactly. Exactly. It’s hard. I mean, I don’t want to say that it’s the easiest thing that any of us will ever do, but you’ve got that fist in your stomach and just hold tight and put the words in your own mouth. Because honestly, there’s nothing better than getting paid and feeling like you’re being paid what you’re worth.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Amen.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I’m giving the emoji that does this right now. I’m doing the dancing, hands up emoji, but silently in the background.

Lydia Fenet:

First, to get paid what you feel like you’re worth, there is just nothing better because you become a happier employee. You feel like whatever you’ve created is worth what you think it’s worth. And there’s just no better feeling. Money is power at the end of the day, and that’s the other element that we all forget. If you have money, it empowers you to do whatever you want with it, to live the life you want.

Lydia Fenet:

I think women are so amazing at giving money away when they have a lot of it, which is such an incredible part of being able to reach a point in your life where you can actually give money away. I mean, what a goal for us all to set. But it also allows you to control your destiny because you’re not looking around for someone else to create your dreams for you.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. I love that. Well, what do you think holds people back from finding their voice? Whether it’s personally, if it’s related to their career, to their personal life, or to talking about money, what do you feel is really holding people back from really finding that voice?

Lydia Fenet:

I mean, I think a lot of it has to do with society, where we are raised. I mean, look, I grew up in the south. My mom is British. I always say that neither of these cultures are very like, “Go out and get what you want,” or they weren’t when I was growing up, certainly. I think we’re finding our way. I do think that that has a lot to do with it. I think there’s a lot of, again, less now.

Lydia Fenet:

But when I first started, I mean, there were definitely people who said to me on more than one occasion, if I would say anything about even, “Maybe I could get, I don’t know, like a 1% raise this year,” and people would say, “There’s so many women who would do your job for less,” which is true, by the way. I mean, I work for a place where there used to be a lot of people who receive jobs because their parents were collectors or they had those ends. That was not my story. So how incredibly frustrating from the age of 21 until really about 28 or 29 to be treated like a young child who was patted on the head and said, “You just wait your turn. You’re sticking out of turn here.”

Lydia Fenet:

I had so many friends who said to me over the course of their career, people have said to them things like, “You’re just lucky to have a job.” Yeah, but I’m still doing the same job that everybody else is doing. I’m just getting paid. I also have two brothers who when I tell them this laugh so hard. No one has ever said to them like, “Oh, lucky you. You get to work for the glory of this job.” They’re like, “That’s not actually a thing. You realize that.”

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes. Oh my God.

Tricia Sciortino:

You are hitting a pet peeve of mine right now. I personally feel so convicted about what you talk about right now. As a woman CEO of an organization that’s thriving and growing and out there, everything you’re saying just rings so true.

Lydia Fenet:

Yeah. And you get these interesting side currents too, where you really realize it. I mean, I remember being at a dinner party once with a large group of people, and there was a husband and a wife, and the wife was a stay-at-home mom. The husband said something along the lines of… They were talking about insurance, life insurance. The husband said, “Well, why would we get life insurance and you don’t have a job?”

Lisa Zeeveld:

Oh my God.

Lydia Fenet:

To me, that was the epitome of, we do not value women in the same way. Stay-at-home moms, to me, that is an incredibly difficult job. It is something that a lot of people juggle just on a daily basis. If they are working, they’re doing both of those jobs as well. As we know, women usually pick up the backend of that as well, as we saw in the pandemic. So I just think, again, there is a lot of language that’s used without anyone even realizing it. The guy who said it is not a bad guy. I think he genuinely was like, “Why should we get insurance? I mean, you don’t have a job,” where she’s like, “Yes, but I’m the person who literally takes care of our children every hour of every day and that’s a job too.”

Lydia Fenet:

But the fact that that was even a conversation taking place. So I think a lot of these things happen, and I really try with my own children. My husband and I have an open dialogue about what our partnership looks like and how those different parts of our jobs and parts of our lives need to intersect for us to both be successful and feel supported. I think that that’s a really important thing that we can do as women who are raising children, to have those conversations with them now, so they see that and they mirror what they see even in their own home.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. Raising a son and a daughter, I have to agree with that. It’s what they see. I stayed home for many years. I had a small stint of retirement and then came back to work for BELAY. But absolutely, we have a responsibility as parents right now, men and women, to really set in motion how our future generations are respected, taken care of, and heard.

Lydia Fenet:

Absolutely. Every level. I mean, we have children, so we all know. Ultimately, you hear what you say coming out of their mouths, for better or for worse. So keep it clean.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes.

Lydia Fenet:

But definitely, I think that that’s something that I think about on a daily basis, like what can I show them as a mom, as a woman, as a citizen of this world? So that they will grow up understanding things that I did not and pass them forward.

Tricia Sciortino:

Look, work and life don’t have to be so hard. That’s why BELAY wants to make it easy and fun, all while catering to you and your needs because we know you work to live and not the other way around.

Lisa Zeeveld:

That’s also Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Atlanta Business Chronicle, and FlexJobs have all recognized BELAY as one of the best places to work.

Tricia Sciortino:

With 10 years of successfully being a 100% remote organization, BELAY recognizes that maybe you want to pick up your kids after school every day. Maybe you prefer to work on your own schedule. Maybe you’re an empty nester who wants more flexibility, and BELAY offers that flexibility.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Whether you’re a virtual assistant, bookkeeper, social media strategist, or website specialist, BELAY has clients right now who need your expertise and insight.

Tricia Sciortino:

You can a meaningful career working from home while being present and available for loved ones too. And it starts with BELAY.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Well, being an effective communicator seems to come so naturally for you. I’m thinking through your story, because I have read your book. But I can’t remember, if in the book, if you talk about that moment when you just receive that confidence. Were you just born with the confidence to feel like you could go into any room, or to not get frustrated when at 24, someone said, “Oh, sweetheart, do your time here. Wait until you get a little bit older”?

Lisa Zeeveld:

You just had that confidence to rest in the space that you were in knowing that your time was coming, or thinking through how you have to handle perhaps, say, a charity auction where the crowd isn’t really paying attention to you and you have to get their attention to know it’s not like… What kind of advice could you give to somebody that really hasn’t found maybe their “voice” yet, or really found how to become that effective communicator because they don’t feel like they can.

Lydia Fenet:

Yeah. Honestly, the reason I wrote this book was because every time I was backstage before an auction, or I was seated at a table, like at the dinner right before I would get up to go backstage, or frankly even when I got off stage, there was always a person, and it was almost, I’d say, 95% of the time, a woman who would say something like, “I could never do what you do. I hate selling. I’m so bad at selling. I could never ask anyone for anything.”

Lydia Fenet:

As I said earlier, I’m Southern and British. I did not grow up in cultures where people were taught to ask for things at all. I went into a company that was full, that the entire top of the company was men for the first, really, 15 years that I worked there. So how did that all come about? I realize a lot of it came from charity auctioneering, from putting myself out there so many times in situations that were going… People are talking and I’m standing on stage and no one’s paying attention and I’m just like, “Help,” having to navigate that and figure out what my voice looked like.

Lydia Fenet:

Then I realized that that voice spilled over into my career. I would be sitting in a meeting where the charity auction, 10 years after I started being an auctioneer, listening to people tell me what an auction was supposed to look like, when in fact this was their first year as a committee and this was my thousandth auction. It was somewhere in between, I would say probably my early to mid thirties, that I sat on a call once with an auction committee and they said, “Well, we’re going to put the auction after dessert.”

Lydia Fenet:

As the auctioneer, it’s literally your worst nightmare because everybody leaves. I mean, if you imagine everyone’s out drinking, they’re having so much fun, and they have a big heavy meal. Then dessert comes down and everyone’s looking at their watch because it’s the middle of the week and they want to get home. And so, I was sitting there thinking like, “This is going to be a disaster and I’m the person who has to stand on stage and watch it be a disaster.” I stand there and people are leaving.

Lydia Fenet:

It’s like Bon Jovi plays and then they bring out the auctioneer and it’s Lydia and the crowd of empty chairs. So I said to the crowd, I mean, to the group of people. I said, “I just want to jump in here really quickly because I think if we were to move the auction earlier, it might be more effective.” I have this crowd of people sort of, “Well…” Then I said, “I’ll be honest, I’ve done this enough that I understand what it’s like to take an auction at the end, and it doesn’t go well. So if you would like to find another auctioneer, you’re welcome to do that. But if you would like for me to take it, then the auction will need to go earlier in the evening.”

Lydia Fenet:

That was it for me because you know what they said, “Oh, okay.” I mean, I had that intel for the first 999 auctions, but it was only the thousandth that I choose to use it. All of a sudden the auctions were so much more fun because they were early when people had had a cocktail or two and no dinner. So they were super buzzed and happy to spend money, instead of tired and sneaking out of the back door. So I think that things like that were pushing through, I always say, it’s like pushing through that stomach where you’re like, “Oh God, I don’t want to say that.” And then realizing on the other side, there is a reward.

Lydia Fenet:

I would just encourage anyone who doesn’t feel that yet to start pushing into that out of comfort zone, which is so important and really growing.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. Because I think we have to advocate for ourselves. Nobody else is going to do it for us. As women, society tells us, to your point, we should not. We should be secondary or we should be quiet. And so, even personally, very early on, I was very convicted that somehow, some way, my voice mattered somewhere. I felt like I could not stay quiet, and I was not going to go through life being quiet, and that I had value to add that was equal to any man that would add any value anywhere.

Tricia Sciortino:

And so, that’s, for me, how I’ve even worked in my career, is just believing there is a better way and there’s room for everybody. And just because my gender is different doesn’t mean the value I add is different. And so, it’s like you said, the more you do it, the more emboldened you are to continue to do it. I’m like, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad. It worked out in my favor. I’m going to do it again.”

Lydia Fenet:

Then you walk out of here like, “Ooh, I could have gotten either way. Glad it went that way, in that particular instance. The next time I’ll just try it one more time.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. Creates this momentum in your life where you feel confident being able to do it whenever feels necessary.

Lydia Fenet:

Yes. Absolutely.

Tricia Sciortino:

Which goes into this idea that you talk about of owning your power. And so, I’d love to hear little bit about what that really means. I know our listeners would love to hear about it as well.

Lydia Fenet:

I mean, owning your power, for me, is just living the life you want to live, creating your own reality and creating your narrative. I don’t know if you have people in your life like this, but I certainly know people who, any opportunity they have, they’ll put a negative spin on something. I could be in the same situation, and to me, I would see it as a learning experience. To them, it’s created their year.

Lydia Fenet:

And so, I think that owning your power is really stepping into this belief that it’s your life. You’re responsible for what you want to do with it. So own it. Don’t let someone else tell you what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. Don’t let someone else take every opportunity and make you feel like a victim. Go after what you want. You don’t have to be ugly about it. It doesn’t have to be aggressive and horrible. There’s a very feminine way to do it. It’s where I always pull on my Southern roots.

Lydia Fenet:

It’s the reason my book is hot pink. I’m like, “There is power in femininity.” There is power in being who you want to be, and that can be, as I said, for being on stage, I’m in a bright red dress with huge heels. My male counterparts are in black tie. We are both powerful in our own way. So find your power and own it and then go after what you want and don’t look back.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, such a great mantra. I love it. To that point, I always tell people that you only get so long to complain about something and then you have to change it. Don’t sit there and wallow in misery. Okay, you’re done. I’m done listening to you. Move on. Either stop complaining or change it.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes.

Lydia Fenet:

I also, and I’d be curious to hear what you guys think about this. But I often find that the person… I find with women, there can be a lot of jealousy, as we all know. I think this goes across. Someone’s doing very well. Someone’s very successful. There can be a lot of jealousy. I’ve said to many people over the course of my career, and even coaching people, when people are jealous of you, the easiest way to get that to go away is to reach out to them and to offer help.

Lydia Fenet:

Because the interesting thing is a lot of times, if someone is jealous of you, even if you go to them with every tool in your toolkit, they’re still not going to do it. But at least you’ve given them the opportunity. If they do it, you should be their biggest fan cheering them along because getting them out of that rut is going to make them not jealous of you, but a loyal supporter and friend for the rest of your life.

Lydia Fenet:

And so, I talk a lot about that in the last chapter of my book. It’s really about all doing this together and making sure that… Not just women. I mean, men too. If you see someone struggling, realize that if you have found your power and you are owning your power, it is incumbent on you to reach out and help other people too, because that’s part of it. Honestly, I think that’s the best part of it because there’s nothing better than helping someone for no reason and then watching them succeed, when it has absolutely nothing to do with you. You can just look over and be like, “That person’s living in their dream now.”

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes. 100%. Well, I’m going to go a little bit off the rails here as we conclude. One of my favorite stories in your book, and I think that this speaks volumes to how you can own your power, regardless of who was in the room with you, is you have one story that I found particularly funny. I believe it was the actor, Matt Damon. Am I correct?

Lydia Fenet:

Yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes. Could you just share a little of that? Because I think that’s a great way for us to end today, and just help motivate people that even in the midst of maybe a big star, that you can hold your own.

Lydia Fenet:

My dad has a phrase that he’s used my entire life called, “Everyone puts their boots on the same way.” I’m sure you guys have heard it. It’s not proprietary to my father, but he does use it a lot. He’s like this with everyone. He doesn’t care who anyone is. I remember being in a restaurant in New York City and a guy walked by and he’s like, “Hey, Steve.” This is pre theater and Broadway. We’re all having dinner. I look up and it’s Steve Martin. I was like, “Oh my…” Typical 20-year old, “Oh God, dad, please stop. Please stop.”

Lydia Fenet:

He doesn’t even hesitate. He’s like, “What? I watch all of his movies. “Okay. All right, dad.” I guess that’s always really been part of… It’s been in the back of my head, even though I didn’t really believe it. But again, when I get on a charity auction stage, there’s this different persona that comes on, that especially in my early thirties, it was really starting to come on.

Lydia Fenet:

And so, there was a school in Manhattan where Matt Damon’s kids were at school, and he had agreed to not only be there for the actual school auction that night, but to come on stage at the end. So during a charity auction, you usually have live auction lots where you’re selling physical things. And then you have a paddle raise, which is basically just you’re asking for money for the school or for the nonprofit or whatever it is, for financial aid or whatever you’re supporting.

Lydia Fenet:

And so, that evening, they said to me like, “Matt Damon’s going to be here, and he said he would come up on stage with you for the paddle raise. I said, “Okay.” I arrive and the event organizer rushes me over. He’s super nice. He’s just the guy it’s nice to meet you, but you can tell, obviously, he meets a billion people. So fine. My name is Lydia, by the way, for everyone, so that you understand what the story is. Lydia.

Lydia Fenet:

I get on stage and I start the auction. I’m halfway through the auction and there was this one lot. There was this amazing, I think it was a dinner party and the bidding had just gone completely out of control. It was basically two groups, two different grades of parents. Matt and his friends were sitting at one and then there was another table and they were going back and forth and back and forth.

Lydia Fenet:

We reached this price that was way too much, but again, this is donating for financial aid for the school. So I’m just egging it on because it’s all for a good cause. We get to this point where at any regular auction, when I’m taking a charity auction, there’s always a place where every once in a while, someone will say, “Listen, we can do two.” So I get it up to the highest point. Let’s say I get it up to $10,000 or whatever it might be, and I hit that point, and then I can say to the audience, “Great news, I have a second one to sell.” Now we just made $20,000.

Lydia Fenet:

But the donation usually happens beforehand. Obviously, Matt has been to a lot of auctions over the course of his life because he started yelling out, “Hey, Lindsey, Lindsey, double the lot.” The crowd is quiet, so obviously he’s talking to me. Again, I will go back to what I said right before I started this. My name is actually Lydia. So I looked down at Jason Bourne and I’m sitting there thinking to myself, in a split second, “What do I do here?” Because I know a lot of the people in this audience and they know my name is not Lindsey.

Lydia Fenet:

But this is Matt Damon, so my name could be Lindsey. So I’m either going to change it and this is just going to be the night, or I’m going to say something and just call him out. And so, I said, “Well, there’s always someone who loves to be a junior auctioneer and unfortunately tonight we only have one lot to sell. So thank you so much for your services, which are obviously not needed. And also, my name is actually Lydia.”

Lydia Fenet:

He put his hand and he was like, “Oh my God.” It was just such a perfect moment. And then, the best part, and I knew that he was funny because I’d seen him in interviews before, when he got on stage for the paddle raise, which was about 10 minutes later, he got on stage with a microphone and he said, “Hey, Lindsey, it’s Matt.” Then he turns to the crowd and he’s like, “This is just something we do, Lindsey and I.” I was like, “I’ve never even met you. They told me there was a struggling actor named Mike Diamond who was coming on stage tonight, and I guess that’s you.”

Lydia Fenet:

And so, he laughed and then we just got into an all-out. I treated him basically like I treat a brother and we just made fun of each other the whole time, even though we’d literally met for two seconds. That was my cocktail party conversation starter for almost 10 years of my life. And so, it had to go in the book, of course. But that is the story of how it’s really just about… Doesn’t matter who anyone is. At the end of the day, they’re just a person.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Exactly.

Lydia Fenet:

And so, we put people on pedestals and we think that they’re holier than thou or better than thou, and at the end of the day, we’re all the same. So treat people the same and you’ll get back what you want, which is an authentic connection.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Absolutely. Own your power, own your voice, become an effective communicator, and have your own gavel strike, whatever that could be.

Lydia Fenet:

Just get a gavel, everyone. I mean, will it ever be a bad idea to walk into a meeting with a gavel? Yes. But you know what? No one will ever forget you.

Tricia Sciortino:

I’m taking notes.

Lydia Fenet:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

I’m getting a gavel.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Oh no.

Tricia Sciortino:

Lisa’s like, “Oh no, our next management team meeting, so she’s going to roll up with a gavel.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes. Yes.

Lydia Fenet:

People love the gavel.

Tricia Sciortino:

In honor of you, Lindsey.

Lydia Fenet:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

Lydia. In your honor.

Lydia Fenet:

I’m like, “You too. You too, Tony. Whatever.”

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. That’s right.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Well, Lydia, this has become more of a joy than I thought it was going to be. You are just fantastic. Thank you for graciously agreeing to join us today and just share all your wisdom. As you said before, please, everybody go out there and buy Lydia’s book. It is phenomenal. Again, I have read it. I recommend it to so many people I mentor and I’ve given it to all my mentees. So it’s phenomenal. I continue to do the great work and enjoy this next auction season.

Lydia Fenet:

I know.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. Thank you so much.

Lydia Fenet:

Oh, ladies, thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Man, Lydia was such a joy. I knew she was going to be awesome, but she was more awesome.

Tricia Sciortino:

She was so good. One of my favorites, honestly.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

So good.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Mine too. I know. That’s why I had to tell my daughter. I was like, “I’m totally not going to fangirl, but I wanted to fangirl.

Tricia Sciortino:

Well, she would tell you you should have and, well, and she just puts one boot on at a time.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I know. Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

So just like Lindsey.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Like Lindsey Lydia.

Tricia Sciortino:

That’s right.

Lisa Zeeveld:

No. But she did have so many good nuggets. What was your one thing that you think you’ll take away from today?

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. I mean, aside from experimenting with emojis and maybe buying a gavel.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes. Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, I really connected with her messaging around, especially as a woman, owning your voice and owning your power, and really just being confident in who you are and letting the world see that, and putting those fears aside and just powering through moments when you just need to be out there and be yourself. That was my favorite part of the conversation. How about you?

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. I mean, I think it was just a good reminder. So many people are fearful of communicating. That’s ultimately what she started to talk about that gavel strike, is to ease her nerves. I think that that’s just such a good reminder for folks, that communication is really the key to everything. And especially as you were going into an environment where you’re having to sell something. You have to be believable. You have to be a really good communicator.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And so, I think that that is really one of the things that I took away, is know who you are and sell from who you are, because if you’re trying to sell from a position or a person that you are not, no one’s going to believe it and no one’s going to want it.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. Well, and as the numbers girl, let’s be honest. I love how she talked about separating emotion from money.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes. Totally. Yeah.

Tricia Sciortino:

Especially as women, and removing the reluctance to ask for what you think you’re worth. So-

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes.

Tricia Sciortino:

… all the emoji power hands.

Tricia Sciortino:

And hand raising for that one too.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And the dancers.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. All the emojis for that one.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, because I think it’s hard. In the book, she goes into… I can think of two examples right off the top of my head, where she went in fighting for what she thought she deserved. Here’s the catcher though. She was okay if she had to walk away if she didn’t get what she wanted.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And that is really, really hard. I don’t think anybody out there is going to be like, “Sure, that just comes easy.” That is hard to do. That is like you’re going to talk to your boss. She talked about the 1%, to say, “Hey, I actually think I should make more money. I got another offer from another company, and I know that I can make more. You either match it or I walk.” But that means you have to walk.

Tricia Sciortino:

You have to be able to do the walking part. Yeah, exactly.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right. Yeah. Yeah. I think the courage around talking about dollars and being okay with walking if you don’t what you want. That’s something I’m still learning today, is I’m good at talking of removing the emotion from numbers, but it’s not 100%.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

There’s still 10% left in there. You know?

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. Yeah. Absolutely.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Where you get a little nervous. I mean, the housing market right now is crazy. How many people are struggling with just, they know they shouldn’t overpay for a house, but they’ve got five other people who they’re bidding against and their emotion starts to come with it. And so, before they know it, they turn around and they pay too much for a house because the emotion was there. And so, I think that’s a good key.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Well, awesome. All right, guys. Are you ready for the download so you can take your one next step? Well, this week’s download is an excerpt from Lydia Fenet’s book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room Is You.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. So text the phrase One Next Step to 31996, or visit onenextsteppodcast.com and you’ll get access to today’s resource to help you keep moving forward. Thank you for joining us today. We’ll see you next week for another episode of the One Next Step.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Start by making today count.

Tricia Sciortino:

Check out next week’s episode one when we’ll have Michael Taggart, the COO of Envoy Media Group. He’s going to talk to us about how leaders can get a better grasp on all marketing channels, both online and offline, to help them achieve the best results possible. Here’s a sneak peek into our conversation with Michael.

Michael Taggart:

I think about sticky marketing strategy. The thought that comes up for me is like you’re living rent-free in someone’s mind. You’ve planted a seed, so to do that, you’ve got to speak directly to a problem that the person is having and how your solution is there for it.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for listening to One Next Step. Be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or follow us on Spotify. Then join us next time for more practical business tips and tools to help you get more done, grow your business and lead your team with confidence. For more episodes, show notes, and helpful resources, visit onenextsteppodcast.com.

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