“Not everybody is cut out to do the same things in life.” With Candice Georgiadis & Angela Bradford

For sure, not everybody is cut out to do the same things in life. To become a successful leader and executive you need to be dedicated. A person in leadership needs to have mental toughness. If someone has a hard time being self-motivated, it is going to be very tough to run an organization.In order […]

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For sure, not everybody is cut out to do the same things in life. To become a successful leader and executive you need to be dedicated. A person in leadership needs to have mental toughness. If someone has a hard time being self-motivated, it is going to be very tough to run an organization.

In order to step into these positions, you need to be able to lead yourself first. If you always need someone to tell you what to do, or prefer that, then unless that feeling changes I would personally recommend to not try to achieve some of these positions.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Bradford of World Financial Group.

Angela is a Senior Marketing Director with World Financial Group. Within four years of transitioning from the blue collar world of trucking and training horses, to the white collar world of finances and training people, she has opened multiple offices and started expansion into two countries. She has an amazing team working with her and has the goal of opening an office in every state and province in North America within the next 10–15 years.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Angela! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

What brought me into the financial industry was my choice to take an opportunity that came up just over 4 years ago. I believe in taking opportunities and seeing where they take me. Life is short, so I want to live it to the fullest!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

For sure, I can share a story. As I stepped into leadership in my firm, I recall that for the first 5 years I was not the best leader! What do I mean by this? I would TELL people what to do and then get mad when they didn’t do things ‘my way’. Without particulars, in respect of others’ privacy, I remember having heated arguments about very childish things because I didn’t know how to communicate, and I thought being right was more important than having a great, growth orientated culture. Without knowing it, I was doing management-role rather than a leadership-role thinking. I have learned a lot since I started leading, with the main thing being, I still have so, so much more to learn.

That is the best part about leadership, you are always growing and evolving. Be patient with yourself and just strive to improve daily.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t know if it was funny or not, but when I first started, I recall how inept I was at the business. I remember not really knowing what I was doing most of the time and making calls and talking to people with no idea what I was talking about. While I don’t remember an exact occasion, I sure do remember a lot of people saying no to me; however, looking back I realize they weren’t saying no to me, they were saying no to something that I couldn’t even explain!

What I learned from this period of time, and I would love for the readers to get from these experiences, is don’t wait until you’re ready to start whatever it is that you want to start. If I had waited until I was perfect, polished, and in full control, I would still be waiting. The best way to learn is through action.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It is so true that we cannot become successful without help. It is hard to think of one particular person as there are so many that have helped me get to where I’m at. The first one that comes to mind today though is Adam Dawe.

I met Adam just over four years ago; he introduced me to the business I’m in. I did not have a lot of confidence that this career path in financial services was for me. In one of our initial meetings, because of my disbelief about stepping into the opportunity that was presented, I went into Adam’s office with a lengthy list of pointed questions that had a skeptical bias, to say the least! With complete respect for me, Adam answered each and every question.

I learned something big in that moment: people borrow our belief in them until they believe in themselves. Through Adam’s belief in me and his coaching, I was able grow my confidence and become a leader. I will be forever grateful for that.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Relieving stress and becoming prepared before meetings is very important. A quick way I deal with this is just taking a moment and taking deep breaths. Sometimes I close my eyes and focus on who I’m going to be talking to. I pray that I will provide value in the meeting or event. The times I actually do all these things are the best meetings and have the best results.

One example is when I have to talk to agents that may not be happy with me or something around them. In other words, they are in an argumentative state. Going into those phone calls or meetings I always try to take a moment and just focus on their good points, and on what I want to achieve in that meeting, rather than focusing on being “right”.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

I believe diversity is really important in any company and in any situation for a few reasons. The first reason is that different cultures and different people think differently, and because of that diversity ensures fewer blind spots in an organization or company.

The second reason for having a diverse executive team, is that the leadership needed to mirror that acceptance of all cultures, religions, nationalities, and genders is how we were created to be. By setting an example, the whole organization is much more likely to act on the belief that all groups equally have value to offer. There are be fewer fights and arguments. Growth is fostered and the organization can become a positive force in society.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

As a business leader, I am conscious, first of all, of the need for an inclusive and equitable society. One way that I work at this is by not basing recruiting on a specific gender or nationality, but rather on skills, mindset, and values held by the individual.

Our agency is made up of various cultures and genders, as well as different past careers and personal beliefs. I have found that by working with a mixed group of people, the differences in views and ideas makes for a way stronger team.

For example, I have some agents on the team that are from Africa. Listening to their stories of struggle and conquering those challenges, inspires me and many others around them in the “hard times” we go through in North America. When we think outside our small circle, we are able to make a bigger impact and change in the world.

Another step is to build a business culture that encourages self-reflection and the awareness that personal perspective is just that: one way of seeing the world. There are valid other ways to view experiences. From this place, it is possible to see that everyone is doing the best they can based on the many variables in their lives. We, as a culture and a society, can learn to acknowledge the differences in people and love people just as they are.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

The difference between a CEO or executive, and a lot of other leaders, is the number of different things that they are responsible for. A lot of leaders are leading a team, rather than an entire company. When you’re leading an entire company you are responsible for not only the team but also back office, compliance, the organization, lawsuits, and anything else that may come up in the course of a day or year.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

One of the beliefs that people may or may not have about CEOs or executives is that they are somehow different than everybody else. What I mean by this is that some people feel they can never achieve those statuses. However, anyone can achieve almost anything if they let themselves step into it and do the work.

One of the things that makes a person different and gives them the ability to achieve higher levels of leadership, is how they think. In my opinion, effective leaders have skills anyone can learn, and work on. In other words, anyone can become a CEO or executive if that is something they really want.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

One of the biggest challenges I see faced by women in leadership positions is learning to not take things personally. I find that women are often more empathetic than men, which means they attach to things that people say and do personally. This makes them effective as leaders, but also can make it hard on them emotionally and mentally when they need to detach.

I also find that sometimes there are “boys clubs,” but not as many “girls clubs.” Because of this, sometimes women can feel alone as they don’t have as many people to bounce ideas off of. I do feel this is changing though, as more and more women are stepping up into leadership type roles.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I thought my job would include more management, but really, it’s all about leadership. There is a massive difference between the two. One is more about helping the team find success and the other is more about making them do certain things. Leading by example is key to the overall success of any organization.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

For sure, not everybody is cut out to do the same things in life. To become a successful leader and executive you need to be dedicated. A person in leadership needs to have mental toughness. If someone has a hard time being self-motivated, it is going to be very tough to run an organization.

In order to step into these positions, you need to be able to lead yourself first. If you always need someone to tell you what to do, or prefer that, then unless that feeling changes I would personally recommend to not try to achieve some of these positions.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

One piece of advice I would give to other women in leadership, is to listen. Listen to your team and to your leadership. My second recommendation is first become the person you’d want as a leader; then, those following you will copy you.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I have been using social media to make a difference in how people view challenges and life. I have also been visualizing the ranch I will buy, where I will use horses to empower women. I plan to make a huge impact in the professional and personal successes of women worldwide.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

For sure I can share that.

I had no idea how many “friends and family” wouldn’t support my career change.

I didn’t know how many people wouldn’t support my change from one career to the other. That was a bit of a tough eye-opener. The good side of this was it gave me space to make new friends that would support me.

I recall getting facebook messages telling me to quit even a year after getting started at WFG. The interesting part of this, is no one that told me to quit offered me a better option. Something to think about. If someone is telling you to not try something, make sure they have a better option for you.

Care less about other’s opinions of you and your potential sooner.

When I started to transition into business ownership, I had a lot of people, including those closest to me, try to stop me. I know they meant the best for me. The thing is, what others feel if right for them, is not necessarily right for you. One of the things I would recommend for those looking at the change into executive or CEO type rolls, is to blaze your own path and go all in if that is what you feel you are lead to do!

That it wouldn’t be easy.

To become a leader is tough. Why? Because you have to become a person worth following. The internal growth that happens is not easy. Growth is never easy; and, in fact, it is not meant to be easy. But I will say it is also more fulfilling then you can imagine. It is worth the ‘pain’ and ‘stretching’ of your internal self.

I wish I had got obsessive about personal growth sooner.

In order to lead people better we have to become better. I started down the personal growth journey later then I should have. I would recommend to anyone that wants to advance to begin to work on personal growth, starting now!

I would have reached out to leaders in the industry for help.

I came to the business with an independent mindset. Independence is important, but I needed to change this perspective to an interdependence mindset. Reach out to those already in the space you want to get into, as this is a way to fast track growth.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I am working on creating a movement to empower women to reach their full potential. Women are powerful and many of us just need someone to help us find our “seed of greatness”.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite quotes is “life happens for us, not to us.” I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis just over a year ago. I could have believed my life had “ended”; instead, I chose, and continue to choose, to use the tough times to build myself into a stronger person and who can make a bigger impact in the world.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

I would be honored to spend time with Emily Frisella, as she is a serious boss lady with a huge mission to make a change in the world, especially among women entrepreneurs.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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