Women Of The C-Suite: “#BeInclusive” With Brenda Christensen, CEO of Stellar Public Relations

In light of the recent #MeToo movement, I think this is the seed that is going to bear even greater fruit. We are on the dawn of a newer…

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In light of the recent #MeToo movement, I think this is the seed that is going to bear even greater fruit. We are on the dawn of a newer even more inclusive movement that truly recognizes we are all creative, intelligent and thoughtful humans who are in this together — #BeInclusive.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Christensen, CEO of Stellar Public Relations, a world leader in public relations, investor relations, branding, funding and corporate guidance for startups, Inc. 500 and Fortune 500 companies, with direct attributable growth worth over millions of dollars. She currently serves as an adviser on private boards in North America, and previously served as corporate officer for a leading publicly held technology company, across multiple continents.

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

 It was quite by accident. I always enjoyed writing and eventually became a daily newspaper reporter. That training gave me the discipline often required in business.

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

The best part of being a female CEO is paying it forward and mentoring other women coming up the ladder. Sharing my experiences — both bad and good — and taking the time to truly take an interest in their careers has probably been the most satisfying aspect of my career.

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?

 We all make mistakes but what’s more important is your attitude, how you handle it and what you take away from your mistakes in the form of lessons learned. The funniest story i have to share is once I prepped Muhammed Ali for a press conference, not knowing he would go “off script” and start talking to patients at the hospital and doing magic tricks for them. I quickly shuffled the press to another part of the building, but it was very close! The takeaway from that experience was to expect the unexpected and just roll with the changes. Always.

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

Being a female-led and owned company makes it unique by itself, unfortunately. I’ve worked throughout my career to support and encourage other women to become entrepreneurs and start their own businesses before it was popular to do so. We stand out not only because of this, but also because women-owned businesses typically outperform any other. We’ve had Fortune 50 clients to single startups engage with us because we execute effectively and have superior customer service. We know how we would like to be treated and our mission is to do the same for our clients.

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

 One of the most recent projects we worked on was very exciting — it was a new concept in healthcare based on an incentive-based platform, leveraging blockchain. We were able to place them in some major business publications very quickly, and as a result, they were offered $100M for their business just after 2 months of our engaging with them.

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

People thrive when they do what they enjoy and feel a sense of being part of a something bigger than themselves. One of the most rewarding aspects of my career was learning that a major software company I was promoting actually led to the election of one of our US Presidents, Bill Clinton. So, I’d like to think that had it not been for that software helping him get elected, we would have never had our first female presidential candidate, Sec. Hillary Clinton.

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

The best way to manage a large team is the same way you would a small team — ensure that everyone has a sense of purpose and goals aligned with the “big idea” or outcome. When we are all valued for our contribution and see the implicit reward in accomplishing something, teams come together and work in perfect harmony.

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?

 There have been so many who have helped me on my path, but particularly my high school yearbook advisor selected me to be the first female editor. It was quite unconventional at the time, but he saw something in me that wasn’t defined by gender — a sense of direction, purpose and the ability to get people to work together well. As a result, we were awarded the national prize for best yearbook.

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

 Other than helping a president get elected, I would have to say that building awareness and educating the general public about technology and its implications has really given me a sense of satisfaction. Believe it or not, I launched one of the world’s first cell phones and it didn’t have a vibrating feature — it just rang. I let engineering know that a silent notification feature was needed for those moments when out to dinner or in a theater. The rest is history.

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

Be Authentic — Your true self is always going to shine through in everything you do. Learn how to heed that “little voice” inside yourself and understand how your role fits in to not just the company but beyond its walls. You’re ultimately contributing to a larger community and you’ll earn the most respect by simply being yourself and helping others. I am frequently thanked by others for “doing good for the world.” What a tremendous compliment.

Be Determined — When the chips are down, flip them around. There’s no problem or challenge that can’t be conquered with a good attitude and creativity. Learn to be flexible and open to new ideas and approaches and tackle issues with an objective in mind. History is filled with people who simply never gave up. Be one of them.

Believe in yourself — It’s easy to reflect and be impacted by what others think of you. Never value your self worth based on other’s opinions. While constructive feedback is always valuable, we all have an inner drive and compass that will guide us what is best for ourselves and our careers. Remember that you are unique and what works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa.

Never Say Never — Never should never be in your vocabulary. There have been many times when I’ve encountered pretty insurmountable odds, including hosting a press conference in a brightly lit parking lot tent that was intended to be held in a darkened room for presentation. Most would have said it NEVER could have worked, but we improvised and talked about the announcement and offered to give presentations at a later time to everyone or groups post-event. What could have been a catastrophe was approached with a positive, winning attitude that left everyone better informed — it’s the end result that is key.

Break down barriers — Always be aware that no matter someone’s background or experience, they have the potential to achieve, dream and soar to unknown heights. So much of our culture is restrictive and people put limits on themselves and others. Be part of a new outlook that is inclusive, creative and always searching for solutions that are perhaps unorthodox and even revolutionary.

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. 🙂

 In light of the recent #MeToo movement, I think this is the seed that is going to bear even greater fruit. We are on the dawn of a newer even more inclusive movement that truly recognizes we are all creative, intelligent and thoughtful humans who are in this together — #BeInclusive.

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

Since I never put limits on myself, I never do so with others, either. So my favorite quote is from a former PepsiCo chairperson: “Be afraid of nothing.”

How can our readers follow you on social media?

 Twitter: @brendachrist

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

Originally published at medium.com

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