For nearly two decades, Denise Brosseau has been a leader in the field of entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment. In 1999, after a career in tech, Brosseau founded the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs. Later, she cofounded Springboard Enterprises to promote women’s access to venture capital. At the time, women were getting 1 percent of venture funding; now the figure is 9 percent. That includes over $6 billion that Springboard-affiliated companies have raised. Now she is sharing her strategy for making an impact so that others can replicate it.
“Thought leader” has been cited as one of the most overused business buzzwords.
One of my goals is to reclaim that word. Being a thought leader is related to being a change agent. Also, there is a difference between subject-matter experts and thought leaders. The former want you to know how smart they are, but thought leaders are trying to share their expertise.
Does everyone who reads your book have to give a TED Talk? What can a regular person learn?
You can be discoverable for what you’re doing now, which means speaking up for yourself and showcasing your expertise. Most women don’t create good LinkedIn profiles with their skills and expertise, or they don’t speak up for themselves, or they don’t speak up, period. I use the phrase “being discoverable.” If we don’t know people and can’t find them, how can they make difference in the world?
What were some of your goals in writing the book?
I’d like to see more people claiming their expertise and speaking up for the change they want to see in the world. I have spoken to an amazing woman rabbi, raised in a culture where women’s voices should always be softer than men’s; extremely competent women raised by nuns who are told, “Don’t ask so many questions”; or women whose fathers told them, “You’re too big for your britches.”
Why is it important to be a thought leader?
We have a responsibility to be role models and to pay forward all the help we got in our careers. We want to encourage and reward and invite others. You can actually invite more women to be more discoverable.