Bec Sands is a Personal Brand & Thought Leader Coach who helps exceptional professionals become the go-to people for their expertise, and stand out in a crowded world. With 14 years experience working with some of the world’s biggest brands as an award-winning PR, marketing and communications consultant, Bec has supported hundreds of professionals, executives and entrepreneurs to build their personal brands and position themselves as innovative thought leaders in their fields. Bec is a certified Beautiful You Coaching Academy life coach and host of the Career Pivot Podcast. Visit Becsands.com.
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Table of Contents
We’re grateful for your time today, thank you for joining us! Share your story with us.
Bec Sands: Thanks so much for having me! I spent 12 years in corporate roles in PR, marketing and communications before launching my own coaching and consulting business and stepping into it full-time in 2019. This required some serious shifts in how I approached productivity outside the construct of the corporate world because I was suddenly in charge of my own time and had all the freedom to do the work I chose when I decided to do it.
For me, it was useful to continue keeping corporate hours to start with so that I could be as disciplined as possible with my time, but I was of course able to take afternoons off here and there when I chose. Rather than needing to work 9-5 (or 8-6) because it was in my contract, there was now so much incentive to get things done faster!
Some say leadership is innate, others would argue against it. Would you say you were born a leader or did you have to become a leader? Explain your experience and viewpoint.
Bec Sands: I would say that leadership is learned over time, but there needs to be the desire to lead. I’ve found that some people innately seek instruction and don’t want to be left to make the big decisions themselves. I have always felt the urge to take responsibility and make decisions, and to lead others with a positive and optimistic approach to help motivate and inspire. I think you either innately have that desire to lead or don’t! However, the skills are learned. Not just in leading others, but in leading ourselves first and foremost.
Tell us about your company/Organization. What are some of the most exciting projects that you’re working on and how does your organization distinguish itself from the rest?
Bec Sands: I’m a Personal Brand and Thought Leader Coach, as well as a freelance PR, marketing and communications consultant. My coaching and consulting business provides me with so much freedom, variety and creativity, as well as a diversity of income. These are things that corporate could not provide and so I have created this for myself in my business. My point of difference is that I’ve built a successful corporate career, climbing the ladder into leadership roles, and also a successful six-figure business, replacing my income within 18 months and growing.
I currently offer 1:1 coaching services for exceptional professionals, entrepreneurs and executives, helping them to stand out in a crowded world, land new opportunities and clients, and become leaders in their fields by becoming more visible. I also offer corporate personal brand and thought leadership training workshops, helping employees and execs boost their profiles, make more sales and become brand ambassadors for the company.
Throughout your career, have you been a team player or a lone wolf? How did that benefit or handicap you throughout the years?
Bec Sands: I’ve always been a team player but found it challenging working in marketing teams and PR agencies where it could become quite competitive. Being a team player meant that I made lots of friends and connections though, and I was always being referred by others. This was actually what enabled me to build a successful business so quickly because the majority of my current and past clients have been through my network and connections and primarily through referrals.
What leadership qualities do you possess that, in your opinion, inspire your employees to work harder and be more productive?
Bec Sands: I think one of my biggest strengths is empathy and being able to read others’ emotions as well as their strengths so that I can help them shine. My approach to leadership and enabling productivity is to focus on what’s going right – if you can provide encouragement and absolutely value others, they will be more inclined to give you their best work and remain engaged.
A national survey from the University of Phoenix has found that 95 per cent of employees who have functioned as part of a team think that teams are an important workplace function but less than 25 per cent prefer working in teams. Individual and teamwork both have their advantages and disadvantages. What work model have you adopted and how has it benefited your organization?
Bec Sands: I don’t have any full-time employees in my business, but rather engage contractors and freelance business owners including a designer, business coach, accountant and VA. So, they also manage their own time which works perfectly. This means that I get the support that I need, as I need it in my business.
People often procrastinate when they are unsure of how to do certain tasks. Is there an element of your business process that employees shy away from? How do you counter this problem?
Bec Sands: Both in my career and in my business, I have always taken the approach “fail fast”. It’s imperative to take risks, whether it’s trying a new PR pitch, a new marketing campaign, or a new business idea. Otherwise, there’s no growth, and if there’s no growth then ultimately we’re going backwards. But people need to feel safe and supported to take risks. So, with my team, I’ve always said that if something goes wrong, I’ve got their back and we’ll work together to fix it.
Many businesses today are being overwhelmed with all kinds of data which impacts productivity. How do you ensure that you and your employees are focusing on the right metrics?
Bec Sands: Well, the biggest metric at the end of the day is the business’s profit as well as how much we’ve grown year-on-year. There are a million things I could be doing on any given day, and there are a lot of things that I could get support within my business, but my priority first and foremost is money-generating activity (landing and retaining clients).
This means focusing my time and efforts on nurturing new leads, delivering an exceptional service for my clients, and building my audience.
To this point, other metrics that are useful are overall audience figures, the number of offers I’m making, and how many new people the business is reaching. Individual figures such as the number of social media followers, or likes on an Instagram or LinkedIn post, feel more like vanity metrics and although they are useful in the scheme of things, they’re not my focus.
According to PwC, nearly 60% of survey respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis. Which employee feedback system does your business use to boost productivity?
Bec Sands: Currently I don’t have a productivity feedback system in place given the set-up and nature of my business.
What financial or non-financial incentives do you offer employees for motivation? What role has that played in increasing productivity?
Bec Sands: Again, not as relevant for me given the set-up of my business.
If you had an unlimited budget and resources to spend on increasing productivity, what is the first thing that you would change?
Bec Sands: I would probably get additional support across various areas of my business to free up my time and become more productive when it comes to things like new client outreach and engagement, speaking events and PR.
According to Gusto, 54% of employees say a strong sense of community (great coworkers, celebrating milestones, a common mission) kept them at a company longer than was in their best interest. How do you improve the way teams work together? How do you build a sense of community?
Bec Sands: I’ve definitely felt this in the past when I was in a team! Having a sense of community and collaboration has certainly kept me in roles because of the connection with others and shared goals. I currently do this with my broader suppliers by communicating my business’s goals, objectives and strategy so that they feel part of the team and united in what we’re trying to achieve.
This has been very insightful and I’m sure other entrepreneurs can learn from the knowledge you have provided. As for your company’s future, what big changes are coming down the pipe in the next 6 months that might increase productivity?
Bec Sands: I’ve just engaged a VA (virtual assistant) to support me in my business which will free up my time immeasurably and enable me to take on more clients. One of the most important ways that I will be improving productivity for myself and my team is to strategically plan and prioritise the right tasks that will move the business forward.
Productivity is important but as is an employee’s wellbeing. What are you currently doing to prevent employees from burning out?
Bec Sands: Again, probably not as relevant in my business model – but I can talk to what I do to avoid burnout! Boundaries are incredibly important, which means switching off email by around 6 pm each day and not going back on until after my morning work out at about 7 am; turning off social media notifications; having meetings in the afternoons so that I can use my most productive time in the mornings to create things in my business, and removing distractions to focus.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. We will select these answers for our ValiantCEO Award 2021 edition. The best answers will be selected to challenge the award.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make, this past year 2021, for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts
Bec Sands: One of the biggest and most challenging decisions I made in 2021 was to rebrand my business. Previously, I was a Career Pivot Coach but I found this incredibly hard to market outside of referrals because I essentially helped people leave their jobs and transition into new careers or businesses. This was highly confidential so I couldn’t create an online community around it to nurture leads, and people did not want to share or engage online about this.
I was also excluded from the corporate speaking circuit as understandably, companies didn’t want me to support people to leave! This was a challenge for my sales pipeline, which I decided to transform by becoming a Personal Brand & Thought Leader Coach and rebranding my business in early 2022. Already this has transformed my business and engagement online and with corporates.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Bec Sands for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Bec Sands or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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