It isn’t everyday that you have the opportunity – wait, no: the privilege – of being able to listen to someone who’s considered a highly influential person not only because they excel in their line of work, but also because of the good that they have brought into the world.
Lydia Fenet is one such person.
One Incredible Woman
Currently Global Managing Director for Strategic Partnerships as well as Lead Benefit Auctioneer at Christie’s, one of the world’s most prestigious auction houses and private sales companies, Lydia has led auctions for more than six hundred organizations and raised over half a billion dollars for nonprofits globally.
Apart from her career, though, she is an incredibly compelling keynote speaker represented by CAA and she has spoken to groups across the globe about unlocking their sales potential and empowering their teams in the workplace.
Not only that: she’s a best-selling author, too. Her widely acclaimed book, The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You: Command an Audience and Sell Your Way to Success was published by Simon & Schuster in April of last year and was optioned for film and/or TV adaptation by New Form Entertainment in February 2020. Right now, Lydia is currently writing her next book – The Most Powerful Girl in the Room is You – which seeks to empower younger female readers.
As a result, Gotham Magazine named her among New York’s most influential women. She has been featured in publications like the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Crain’s, and has also appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, as well as Town & Country.
Making Time for a Woman Who Matters
In August, I was browsing through the stories on Instagram when I came across Lydia’s post that she was making a big announcement that Sunday at 4pm. I made a mental note not to miss it and – at exactly 4pm – I tuned in to her Instagram Live and was beyond excited to hear that she was hosting her first Master Class!
The summer of 2020 was such a dreary time – slow and stale and I was in serious need of inspiration – so I was beyond thrilled: I just had to sign up for it! I didn’t hesitate and literally sent her a message two seconds later to tell her I was in after hearing the announcement. I was not about to pass up the chance to work with a master salesperson like Lydia!
The first Master Class was on How to Nail a Sale. Now, I’ve been a full-time business development professional for years, but even someone who’s been in the field as long as I have should see the importance of looking at sales strategies from different points of view. For me, personally, it’s particularly interesting to hear the perspective of people from industries and fields other than mine.
Right from the start, Lydia reminded us that it really comes down to self-confidence. Given that so much of what has happened around us has eroded many people’s self-confidence, it only makes sense that we try to build that back from the ground up.
No Expectations: Just an Open Mind and an Eagerness to Learn
I did not have any pre-set expectations per se, but I wanted to do something different and learn from someone I have not interacted with previously. At the time, five months had passed since the pandemic broke out and, having been stuck at home for so long, I needed inspiration and something to shake my spirits up.
I noticed that there were a total of around 25 people in the classes and we all got to know each other in the process. Some people were there for all 4 classes, while others had only signed up for one.
Just like in Lydia’s iconic auctions, the class started with her signature GAVEL STRIKE. Mentioned on the first chapter of The Most Powerful Woman in the Room is You, the gavel strike is the moment where she gathers her confidence and takes control of the room. We were all eyes and ears at this point.
What particularly resonated with me was the idea that selling, presentations, and networking really come down to human to human [interpersonal] connection. Really: no one cares about your title or job description; it all comes down to people liking you as a person. When people know that you’re sincere and trustworthy, they will want to do business with you. You would think that, in a world where one-upmanship seems to be the way things are, this would be considered old fashioned, even outdated – but they aren’t. In fact, these are highly relevant to the current way we do business.
Today, we are all selling ideas in one form or another while and are constantly jonesing to influence others. That said, we need to think more strategically when we’re either networking or crafting visuals for an in-person presentation: we should always be prepared, aware of our targets, and have an end goal in mind. Negotiation, in particular, manifests in every aspect and phase of our lives, and this course taught us to keep negotiating until we get something!
At the end of every class, Lydia would send a Google Sheet so that all of us who participated could share our contact information with each other and stay in touch. I have been having virtual coffees with some really great people whom I met in the class and have enjoyed learning more about them.
Lessons Learned; Lessons Applied
We’re now in the middle of fall, and I think it’s been eye opening putting Lydia’s recommendations into practice as I’m trying to make this season the best part of my year.
The best part about having attended the Master Classes is that I felt refreshed and revitalized after every session: it’s like it really woke me up – body, mind, and soul – and I want to take the season on with vigor and determination to make this year (despite everything that’s happened) one of my best yet.
Today, I am actually taking action: taking steps forward, taking risks, learning to negotiate better for myself; pulling the trigger on ideas without overthinking or being worried about perfection – just getting started and doing things that motivate me and fill me with passion!
Lydia Fenet’s Master Classes were a great way to say goodbye to the summer. It enabled me to welcome the fall with my eyes wide open and my entire being ready to make the next several months the best part of my year.