“Millennials are bad with money.” “Millennials are self-absorbed and unable to build real-life connections.” Labels such as these are often used to describe us, the Millennials. If that hurts, wait till you hear stereotypes used to characterize women!
On the flip side, women and Millennials are perhaps the biggest contributors to today’s economic growth. Nobody tells us that. And it’s for a simple reason. Stories like that won’t sell the papers, nor will they make board members happy. So, they’d rather you hear about how bad the Millennials are in general and how women are unable to make rational decisions on their own.
However, thanks to social media, Millennials, and particularly women, are beginning to raise their voices and shape their narratives. Our narratives. One example of a Millennial doing this is Simonetta Lein — Forbes top 100 social media influencer and founder of the Ausonia Group.
Lein is changing the narrative about women and Millennials and breaking stereotypes, using her influence on Instagram and Twitter. I chatted with Lein to learn how she’s able to manage this power, using it to benefit others, while building several successful businesses along the way.
Know your identity
It’s easy to lose your identity when others label you without understanding who you are. That is why my first question to Lein was: How do you like to describe yourself?
“I am a social media entrepreneur, a woman with the blessing of influencing other people as her business. An influencer is a business woman and an entrepreneur at 360 degrees,” she says.
Her response showed not only the confidence and experience of someone who knows what she is doing but also her readiness to take the stage and change the prevailing narrative, inaccurately reflecting her cohort.
By discovering her own identity, Lein is now in a better position to help others find their voices through her powerful platforms. She reaches over 6 million people through her social media accounts. Combined with her blog that has over a million monthly views, her message is seen by 7 million Millennials monthly. She understands the power of such reach and is ready to influence others to help them write their own narratives.
Build yourself up
You cannot give what you do not have.
This statement is as true as it gets. No one can lift others if they don’t have the strength to lift themselves. Having the dream and passion to give a voice to others is great as well as noble, but it starts with oneself.
Lein understood this and set out to build herself up first. She did it the slow, hard way. She immigrated to the United States after an illustrious career in the media in Italy. Her first book, Everything Is Possible, a novel about the power of wishes, nudged her toward the limelight. She then became a model, working her way up the ladder of success before venturing into social media. With the success of her book came many opportunities, including a column with Vanity Fair Italy, a translation gig and her own exhibition at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan.
But she wanted more.
“Then I got chosen to work at a national radio show, and I was picked up by one of the most famous Italian TV shows when we decided not to proceed. That’s because I wanted to reach the world, and Italy at that time was too little for my soul. So, we decided to start all over in America,” she said.
Realizing she had a lot of learning to do about social media, she used her free hours between her modeling gig and her radio career to hone her social media marketing skills. Her deft use of hashtags to make images and discussions go viral soon won her millions of Millennial fans.
That’s when the mission began.
Having a mission is not enough — you have to be steadfast
In our conversation, Lein revealed that the desire to right the wrongs against women and Millennials was not enough. She needed to be consistent with what she did. Otherwise, her audience would not get the message.
“In the social media age, your audience will build expectations,” she explained. “You have to be consistent with what you present to them. If not, you’ll let them down, and the disappointment will drive them elsewhere.”
That’s the power of consistency.
Give, and give some more
True success is not born without generosity and sacrifice to benefit others. Lein reaffirmed this notion when I asked what her final note to Millennials would be.
“Give, and you shall receive, in life as well as in business. Be generous before asking.”