How to avoid being rich but miserable20/06/2018
The future belongs to innovators, rulebreakers and strategic thinkers20/06/2018
Victoria Foster is the adventurous co-founder of the U.S. business of global leadership consultancy, Better Future. A business graduate of Georgetown University, she’s a thought leader on women’s leadership, business strategy and innovation.
Leading Better Future’s FutureWomenX platform, Victoria provides individual executive coaching for ambitious senior women and a customised women leadership journey. Formally the Vice President M&A and corporate finance at Credit Suisse, it was an unrelenting gut instinct that prompted Victoria to leave financial services to seek out her true mission. It led her to a globe trekking sabbatical of self-discovery and launching Better Future.
In this week’s Success Story, she talks with Catherine Robson about the four questions that changed her life, preparing financially for entrepreneurship and why she recommends children’s books for startup founders.
During her seven years at Credit Suisse, Victoria advised top-tier corporate and PE clients on corporate finance and M&A transactions valued over $15 billion. The whole time, however, she wrestled with the gut instinct that the role wasn’t her true calling. Ultimately, she made the decision to leave, despite having no idea what her next career step was. Seeking time to reflect and refocus, she took a 14-month sabbatical travelling the world.
“I realised that most of the time in finance, I spent honing my analytical capabilities, the more rational, masculine side of myself and that I was only using half of me. So I declared it the year of the feminine. That set along a journey for me to connect with my instinct, to connect with who I am” she says.
She now committed to helping other women explore this for themselves through the Better Future’s FutureWomenX platform.
Better Future is renowned for its highly creative, experience-driven journeys taking senior leaders & teams off the beaten track through an inspiring process and into stimulating new environments.
“While we’re working with women on the personal leadership foundation side, on the other side, is bringing them out to solve critical challenges so this isn’t just an inward inspection” explains Victoria.
“There’s a couple of things I find really important for women. One of them is helping them find what I call the ’big remembering’. Really connecting back to who they are, finding that untapped potential in themselves. Challenging all of the assumptions they make and most importantly; the stories they tell themselves.”
Swapping a secure paycheck for unknown income is one of the biggest risks entrepreneurs face when launching a startup. Forward planning and a more frugal approach to finances helped Victoria make the transition comfortably.
“I always looked at how much do I really need to live on here? How can I save as much as I need? I don’t need an extravagant banker life.” she says.
“That has helped me definitely as an entrepreneur. I didn’t face those same challenges as some other startup entrepreneurs that immediately have to go and seek funding.”
She might have been prepared financially for entrepreneurship, but it hasn’t been without other challenges.
“The reality that I wasn’t expecting was the personal journey. The challenges as an entrepreneur, you are fully responsible for your entire day and every decision. If something isn’t going the way you want it, you pretty much have a mirror in your face all the time.” she says.
“You have to find ways to continually recharge yourself.”
“I love to leave the city, I love to be in nature and run, physical activity for me is the grounding. If I don’t have that, then after a few days you’ll notice I’m very grumpy!” she laughs.
The need to network like a crazy person is a bit of a myth about entrepreneurship believes Victoria.
“There is so much going on here all the time (NYC) you can fill your calendar five or seven days a week with events; you think you need to network with all these people. What ends up happening is, you get really tired and a lot of people drain you.”
“Another myth of entrepreneurship is that it has to be really hard. So, if you don’t feel like it’s really hard then you must be doing something wrong” she says.
“If you can take the time to say, ‘What’s that stepping stone?’ that easy way that might be right in front of me. Or, who do I know that can help me get there. Asking for help can go a really long way.”
Her tip for a budding entrepreneur to keep it simple? Read children’s books.
“They have the best business lessons you will ever, ever need.” she says.
“For an entrepreneur so many of them are about create your own future, design everything and what would you do with an idea? I think; why do we need 300 pages when I can look at a simple sentence on 20 pages and have everything?” she laughs.
Harold And the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson