Sylvia Becker-Hill on why a leader should not allow gossip, drama or conflicts to fester

Don’t allow gossip, drama or conflicts to fester. Always address those symptoms immediately. Have strong boundaries and a powerful morning routine which nurtures your soul, mind and body and connects you with your source so you can radiate high energy. That generates presence and charisma, and makes leading a joyful breeze. Use state of the […]

Don’t allow gossip, drama or conflicts to fester. Always address those symptoms immediately. Have strong boundaries and a powerful morning routine which nurtures your soul, mind and body and connects you with your source so you can radiate high energy. That generates presence and charisma, and makes leading a joyful breeze. Use state of the art app technology to communicate and stay in touch with your large team daily even when you travel. Treat yourself as a “personal brand”. Have an assistant to help you with social media and team communication. Make sure it’s your authentic voice, yet delegate the logistics.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sylvia Becker-Hill. Sylvia “wows” stage, podcast, and television audiences by creating entertaining and educational experiences using science, psychology, and proven success principles that help free her audiences from the patriarchal stories and struggles blocking them from their ultimate success. As a sought-after expert in the corporate leadership arena for the last 20 years, Sylvia Becker-Hill is passionate about helping women unlearn the patriarchal “superwoman” rules while supporting and training the men who realize that the rules, codes of conduct, and ‘old boys clubs’ of the patriarchy may not be serving them either. Sylvia can currently be seen in the second season of Fix My Brand with Ali Craig.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Sylvia! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was a little girl, I watched my mother leaving the house for work in the early morning darkness, with her shoulders hunched and a dragging walk. She would often be crying from tiredness, mumbling how much she hated her job and how scared she was of her bullying boss. It pained me to see her like this and I promised myself to never ever be like her, so unhappy and a victim of her circumstances.

Fast forward 20 years: I was working in HR for German Telecom as a young manager. My parents were so happy because in their eyes, the security and social status of that position was like a lottery win. One morning in late fall of 1989 I was getting up for work on a cold dark German morning. When I looked in the mirror, I started screaming in shock! The face of a much much older very unhappy woman looked back at me! Her hair was thin and with zero color. Her mouth was hanging down in disgust and her eyes were dead. I realized that this face was my future-self and how I would look and feel in 30 years if I stayed in that career, doing what everyone else expected me to do with my life.

I got dressed, went to work and quit my high status safe career job the same day. My family was in shock for months, yet I never regretted that decision. That was the defining moment of my life in which I saw the price I would pay for denying my true ambitions and living life as a victim of other people’s expectations.

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

Wow, let’s see, in fall of 2016 — I already lived and worked in California — my business brand at the time was not communicating what I was doing, I had no clear offers, I didn’t make enough money. Nevertheless I hired a local famous male “marketing and funnel expert” to help me fix all that. I remember in one of our group coaching calls I shared that I didn’t implement what he suggested in the previous call because it felt too salesy for me. He got really upset with me and started yelling “What do you want to be: A business woman OR a social worker? You can’t be both!” — Wow! He had no idea and still doesn’t know, how much his outburst served me! It became so clear: He was wrong. I am committed to be both!

I stopped working with him, became a member of the United Nations Association Chapter in San Diego, got elected onto their board, and started to attend the “Commission of the State of Women”. This is the huge annual women’s conference at the United Nations in New York, where over 10,000 women and men from around the globe come together to share ideas and plan for a future global community that represents true partnership between men and women.

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?

When I launched my business in 1997, after four weeks in I became a partner of an old established consulting company in Germany. Their senior CEO took me under his wing and opened doors to their clients for me seeing how talented and eager I was. During my first ever executive leadership training in front of 78 executives from the huge German Bayer corporation, I facilitated a mindfulness exercise inspired by Qigong. The audience was 72 middle aged managers and just 6 women. I facilitated the energy guiding and following your body movements exercise while shifting their weight from one leg to the other. Before starting the second part of the instruction I asked them to stand on both feet shoulder-width apart and feel the difference the exercise had made between their legs. All 72 men burst into roaring laughter. It was the most embarrassing moment of my whole career.

The CEO of the consulting company, who was my co-trainer, took me aside, explained the joke and took me off this client account. I was not able to meet any of the executives in the hotel lobby or in the training room without them bursting into laughter. What I learned from this experience? To never ever facilitate a body involving exercise without making sure I know how to describe things in a way that does not get misunderstood! Innocence and being a “newbie” or “corporate virgin” can be painful and embarrassing!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I bring a crazy mix of dichotomies and varied life experiences to the table. I grew up in Germany, but my husband is from the other side of the world from New Zealand, and we chose to live with our two sons in California. My parents were victims of the second world war as children, and lived with undiagnosed PTSD from the horrors they experienced their entire lives. Culturally and personally, this means my background is quite complicated and has a lot of influences, challenges and change.

I’ve flown more than 25 times around the globe, and have friends and clients all around the world. I love serious deep research and have two university degrees, yet on the other hand I am very playful, creative, often wearing colored wigs on stages or when going for groceries! I develop systems for my clients yet always follow my intuition first. I strive to live my own life and coach my clients to bring together diverse aspects of their lives and make it work somehow against all odds!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! The launch of my Becker-Hill Women’s Empowerment School with our Winter Quarter 2019 starting in January. The first quarter has six courses teaching different aspects of how to be successful in a sustainable and joyful way. It will help professional women all around the world to let go of the self-sabotaging “Super-Women-Syndrome” — SWS as I call it — which is killing us all in the pursuit of success. It’s neither sustainable nor satisfying to hussle your whole life in the male style. We can be highly successful just by being simply women. I teach them how.

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

Be approachable, clear and honest. In times of corporate change and pressure, over-communicate! Repeat the same things over and over again. Stressed human brains need repetition to really hear anything. Team members need to feel safe, heard and acknowledged. Be a role model of positivity and solution focussed. Train yourself to not take anything personally. Know your team members personal dreams and support them to fulfill those. Don’t treat them as they showed up yesterday. See their biggest potential and treat them accordingly of who they could be. People behave according to your projections and expectations. Expect miracle workers and you’ll get a miracle team.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Don’t allow gossip, drama or conflicts to fester. Always address those symptoms immediately. Have strong boundaries and a powerful morning routine which nurtures your soul, mind and body and connects you with your source so you can radiate high energy. That generates presence and charisma, and makes leading a joyful breeze. Use state of the art app technology to communicate and stay in touch with your large team daily even when you travel. Treat yourself as a “personal brand”. Have an assistant to help you with social media and team communication. Make sure it’s your authentic voice, yet delegate the logistics.

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?

The first person coming to my mind is my husband! He is not only the biggest love and delight of my life, he is also my best friend with whom I can talk about everything. He is my most honest critic and toughest coach, yet never loses sight of my potential, even when I’m drowning in self-doubt in a rough patch. He is a true partner both financially and logistically.

Added to that he is a great father to our sons! He made a conscious decision to sacrifice his own corporate career growth in order to make sure he didn’t miss our sons growing up like so many fathers do. This was an immensely courageous thing to do in our male dominated and performance obsessed society. He truly has my back and keeps our family flourishing while I pursue my mission. I believe behind every strong leader is a strong partner like that. My blissful marriage is the success I’m most proud of in my life. It’s what I want for everyone. A partnership which makes you whole — not because you were not enough by yourself — but because it allows you to change and grow into your biggest possibility!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Being an entrepreneur gives me the financial means and the ownership over my time which allows me to travel the world and speak on behalf of women’s empowerment, dismantling the patriarchy and exploring true partnership between men and women. For example I fly in winter in March to the Commission of the State of Women at the United Nations to network, learn and speak there on behalf of women’s and girl’s rights.

Last January I flew to Puerto Rico for a paid client project. While there, I donated my expertise to facilitate a half day long process with the entire company staff of 350 people in order to help them integrate the trauma of hurricane Maria. They shared personal experiences, and collected their own hero-stories. This resulted in a strengthening and up-leveling of the spirit of these people within their battered community as well as within their company.

Currently I’m working on a proposal with a non-profit called Daughters of Kenya, on a project to empower women from the slums around Nairobi to start their own businesses. My Becker-Hill Women’s Empowerment School also produces a podcast each week “The Women’s Empowerment School” podcast available on ITunes, GooglePlay, Stitcher and from my webpage. The objective of the podcast is not to make a profit, rather provide free empowerment to the world. It’s immensely gratifying when I get an email from someone from the other side of the world thanking me for my podcast because she is listening to it daily during her commute to and from work.

Ultimately I believe everything I do in and through my business brings goodness to the world. When I transform a corporate team which was filled with conflicts and resentments to a team which supports each other and loves to come to work, then their enhanced well-being at work has a huge knock on effect on their families and communities. If I was simply training them to sell more stuff or make more money I don’t believe this would be the case.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Where we come from matters more than we know. In my mid-forties I had a phase of struggling in my business. When I finally learned about the concept of “inherited trauma from wars through three generations” a lot of experiences in my life finally made sense! Germany lost two world wars, and the resulting trauma and self doubt affected the whole nation in terms of how Germans think and operate emotionally. I finally could use my own coaching tools to heal myself from habits of self-sabotage I wasn’t even aware off I was doing.
  2. Becoming a mother changes everything. Learn to surrender. I got pregnant at age 38 after six years in business. I signed a big contract the same week I found out I was pregnant. Then I read all books about pregnancy and raising a child and work-life-balance I could find at that time and thought I’m good to go. Then the hormonal changes of pregnancy hit me like a sledge-hammer! No one had warned me. No book spoke about it. It was as if I fell into a huge taboo no one was willing to prepare me for. I changed. My values changed. My priorities changed. The big project I had signed up for and which had felt like a huge dream coming true didn’t interest me any longer! I just wanted to lay on the couch, with my hand on my growing belly talking to my growing baby inside me and not care about anything else. It was a huge shock for myself, my business partner and my husband.
  3. Self-Care must be your priority #1 or you will fail in the long run. We “super-women” who broke glass ceilings and are now able to do nearly everything a man can do need to embrace the fact that we are women, that we have a different body, a different brain, different hormonal cycles and different stress thresholds and activation levels. For a long time I tried to ignore these facts. I was a man with boobs ignoring my body and my self-care. I was pushing, hustling and efforting. Then I had a series of health issues, stress, insomnia, pre-menopausal symptoms, a cancer scare, adrenal fatigue… basically burn-out! Looking back now I’m deeply grateful that my body forced me to step on the brake and reconnect. Now my body and I are partners. My sleep is holy, I spend time meditating, walking and painting in my little ‘she-shed’ in the garden. I still have periods of high intensity and stress, yet especially when I travel my number one priority is and stays self-care!
  4. No mentor knows the perfect blueprint for you. Only your intuition does. 
    In my genius zone of teaching, coaching, facilitating, speaking I’m an eager student and learned a lot from mentors and by trial and error. As a business woman I struggled more to learn things like marketing which felt foreign for me. I spent a fortune on different business and marketing/sales-trainers and gurus. I learned a lot yet often their values were not aligned with mine. It took me a few years to be confident enough to realize that even a so called “big guru” does not necessarily knows what’s best for me and my business! Only my intuition does. Training my intuition and following what it tells me is now my foundation to build a business from the inside out. It’s a scary process to defy what everyone else is doing but essentially I have spent my whole life not following conventional wisdom about anything!

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

The name of the movement is “Love Differently”. I’m working on a book with my husband Peter under this title. We will not only share our unique global love story, but will write independently what each of us did before we met in order to be ready for each other and to “love differently”. My husband is very like me in that he was always determined to live life on his own terms, doing what he felt drawn to do and be, while stepping outside the usual male role models and male ideas about love and romance. I don’t know any men who have thought so much about love as he has. To me this makes him even more masculine and attractive. There are so many misconceptions, lies and memes about love running though society, TV, music, and social media that absolutely do not serve people’s happiness. Divorce rates are all the proof you need that as a society, we are really doing something fundamentally wrong in terms of our ideas about love and how to create healthy relationships.

I truly believe that peace between men and women is the foundation for world peace. Happy people don’t go to war or use firearms for mass shootings! I know that unconditional love is not only possible, I know how to teach it in just a few minutes! The book will be published in fall 2019 and I do hope it starts a global movement of people committed to do the work to rewire their brain to “Love Differently”. You can also book me to speak about it and teach it right now!

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

“It’s not about you.” That is such a simple, short, yet profound true statement! It helps me to stay out of drama, not take things personally, stay in deep listening, keep healthy boundaries, not react impulsively to threats, and stay in a solution focused creative brain state. I came to this simple formulation during the writing of my book about ego-management. Repeat this simple statement “It’s not about you” often enough, and your ego goes to sleep. A wonderful state to be in!

Some of the biggest 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 🙂

That’s easy: Michelle Obama. When I watch her loving her husband, handling her daughters, managing the public, speaking at events… I feel utterly close to her. She is the personification of an EVElutionary woman I work on becoming and I teach/ train my students to be: Powerful leaders with their own unique feminine style and grace. I would like to meet her, become girl-friends, work on a project together and ask her to open doors for me as a speaker. I want to speak to more political leaders around the world about dismantling the patriarchy. Right now most men are scared of the rise of women in society. They think when women rise, they will lose. That’s a misconception! It’s part of my genius to take people’s fears away and help them see the advantage of diversity and inclusion. For this global work I seek corporate funding and the right political and corporate stages for my message. My ultimate mission is 30:30. Which means: 30% more female leaders across all parts of society in the next 30 years world wide. The true partnership between men and women will create a world that works for everyone! I’m excited and feel honored to be a catalyst for that.

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