DON'T BE AFRAID TO HAVE STANDOUT STYLE
Creating any brand is about cultivating a unique presence. "Nobody loves a product that is generic,” Nathalie says. That is true whether you are talking about a product or a person.
“I constantly offend people,” she laughs as she explains, “I just try to hope it's the right people.” See, its part of her bold style to speak her mind and spread awareness on issues she knows are important- whether other people want to hear them or not.
She says she’s been called spitfire, a force of nature, aggressive, and brutally honest, which she sees as positive. There is something to be said about consistency, and embracing your unique style.“ When people ask me to come and speak now," she says, "because I'm consistent, there is a lot less pushback since they know what they're getting.”
On the contrary, “if you are not consistent, then the backlash and the resistance will be higher.”
And speaking honestly is exactly what has elevated her as a preeminent leader in women’s business equality, women’s rights, and fixing a broken financial system so more women of color get funding to grow their businesses.
STYLE THAT FITS PERFECTLY
Q: How would you style your A.Lynn top for a workday?
A: On stage at the Apollo the day of our shoot, I wore an Ann Klein faux fur vest on top of my shirt, it looked great!
Q: As a badass businesswoman, we’re sure you have to pull out the blazer from time to time…what’s your favorite suiting brand and piece?
A: I've been a little obsessed with Clara Sun Woo and MM Lafleur. The piece…The liquid leather jacket, I have two.
"The last thing you want to do is appeal to everyone,” that is why she targets the segment of the room that is usually ignored (women entrepreneurs usually) and speaks to them. “Suddenly,” she says “they don't just like you, they don't just feel lukewarm about you, they love what you are saying.”
From both a marketing and personal brand point of view, the words could not be any more poignant. For entrepreneurs, this is even true with fundraising.
“Sometimes that's in a room of investors, where the investors that don't care about gender might take offense to something that I say,” but Nathalie says “there is the 10 percent who do, and who are likely to write a check for me.” She wants to reach those people who resonate with what she is saying. Being true to her brand and values might be just the thing that compels an investor, explaining, maybe “my provocativeness is exactly what will register as courage, as bravery and as the sort of person that they want to be putting money into.”
Yet, as many entrepreneurs experience, standing out isn’t for the faint at heart. Creating a brand -personal or business- that sticks to values and distinguishes itself is hard work.
Thankfully, there are are some hacks to LEAPFROG conventional business and marketing norms that constrain many aspiring leaders. Nathalie literally wrote the book on this (click the link above), but she is giving A.Listers some additional insight from lessons she has learned on her journey.
Essential to building a brand and making an impact is having people in your corner. “I'm a little older, but I think our generation did not make use of alliances.” Something she believes the youngest generation of women entrepreneurs is getting right.
Two years ago, when widespread reports of sexual harassment of women entrepreneurs by VC firms came out, women banding together created huge shifts in the industry.
"Power in numbers,” Nathalie said, "and the only difference between then and now is that we didn't figure out the power that we had in numbers. We didn't create alliances. We suffered in silos."
Alliances are powerful, but more than that they are there during the good and the bad times.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Once you figure out your brand and your alliances, then you need to know how to speak to your audience. There needs to be value behind your intentions otherwise people will turn on you. But don’t be provocative just to stand out.
“You have got to know your audience and you've got to be sure that they like when you're taking a stand," she explains, then when you're doing something that is potentially controversial there won't be a backlash.
And views and clicks don’t mean community. She points to social media stars and provocateurs like Gary Vaynerchuck, building an audience one F*bomb at a time. “I think when I see people like Gary Vaynerchuk or whoever, they're so hostile towards their audience,” in her opinion, “that flavor of building a community to me is abusive.”
So, if you are going to be provocative you need to be doing it for the right reasons, not just to get attention otherwise your grand plan could backfire.
To quote Maya Angelo, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Overall, it's about knowing your investment values.
“I actually think that every woman might want to create her own investment thesis,” Nathalie says, "look at how she is investing her time, her energy." Then assess the priorities and focus attention in the direction that suits their intentions.
For Nathalie, she explained when she started to chart her criteria for what she wanted to put her time and energy into her investment strategy became clear. Investing in businesses that benefit as many women as possible is her focus. This could be a women-led company or a company that is impacting millions of women's lives. That is where she writes her checks and spends her time.