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Learning From Others

Sep 21, 2020

Today's guest speaks five languages. Surprisingly, my second guest in just one week that speaks French, and she's here today to teach you the importance of developing your leadership skills.

Please welcome Virginie Lemay.

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Virginie Lemay-Vriesde. Thanks for jumping on how are you doing? I'm good. Thank you, Damon. Thank you for having me. Yeah, so like I said, this is, this is fun because I've had my, my first French speaking guests just a couple of days ago, and that was pretty cool. And now I get two in one week, so thanks for bringing it to the conversation.

Well, I like to ask my guests two questions. The first one is what are you good at? And what are we potentially going to learn from you today? So I'm good at communicating with people. I speak for instance, five languages. So that makes it easy to speak to people. And, uh, I hope I will, uh, teach you some stuff about international leadership.

I think here speaking five language makes you qualified to talk about that. Well, before we get into all that, let's ask you the opposite. What are you not so good at? So I'm not a manual person. So for instance, I'm not a good cook that I plead guilty as charged I'm I'm there with you. So this is, um,  let's, let's just start with the obvious.

So you speak five languages, which is awesome. Um, have you always been into, like, when did you learn language number two? How old were you? Uh, I was 11. Um, it was English surely I don't know where that comes from because I grew up in a smaller town in Northern France with only French people, white people.

Um, so I, at nine years old, I remember asking my mum, can you teach me some English? Uh, don't ask me where that comes from, but that's how it all started. And, uh, went to school, started with English and then two years later started with German. I had some Latin in between, but that I stopped because, uh, to me that was not helpful.

And then I went to live in the Netherlands. Uh, so I speak Dutch and I also lived in Italy. Sorry. So, so long ago, Italian as well in the, in between, I've learned a bit of a Spanish, but because I don't never really practice it. I, I can't follow a conversation. I understand pretty much everything, but speaking it, everything comes first in Italian rather than Spanish.

So. What, which language has been, um, maybe the more interesting one or that you personally enjoy versus which language was the most complex to learn? So I would say the language I like the most is Italian. Just the sound of it. It's such a beautiful language, even when people scream at each other. How's I think so next time.

So I've always liked it. Um, it's probably the language I speak the least, unfortunately, but I really, really enjoyed it. The most challenging, I would say. Say it's Dutch. Um, that is very similar to, it's a mix between German, English, and French, but I'm speaking it, it was okay because the grammar is similar to German, but the right thing it's, um, it's, it's terrible for a French person.

And when I tell people, yeah, but you write this with, for instance, one or two eight. And they tell me where can, you can hear it? And I'm like, uh, no. Oh, wow. So that's why I, I think that she's a, is the most challenging language. Yeah. Uh, so at what point did, uh, language likely plays a huge part of your career?

At what point did, did did one influence the other, did learning multiple languages influence your career path or because of your career path that influenced you to learning more languages? Uh, it's probably the first one. So as I started to learn English when I was 11 at school and did my normal study to the GCA level.

And then when I went to university, I decided to study foreign languages. So, uh, uh, English and German. So I did that for four, five years. And because I always wanted to, to work abroad, um, that's kind of. Started to mix together. And from the last year at university, I needed to do training period abroad.

And I got one in, in Germany. So I went there and was supposed to stay six months after three months, they offered me a job. So, um, when they're, and after a year and a half, I didn't really like whatever was doing so resigned. And I went to the Netherlands at that time, a friend of mine had told me it was easy to find a job.

So I went there. And that's how I got lucky. I was hired in a company. Um, at the beginning it was the beginning of the internet and I was hired to help French speaking English, speaking in German speaking customers to get onto internet. And as I said, I was fortunate to, to grow and evolve and travel and.

Yeah. Yeah, it was, I was reading your background and I'm familiar with the company converges. Cause that's where you're talking about the company right there. There's a location that's here where I'm at in Utah as well. So I'm familiar with them. Yeah. So they were called stream international where I start when I started.

But yes, their convention is now. Yeah, what's been, um, so why don't you explain to our listeners what you, what specifically you do with your skills? Sure. So, um, I used to work for Amazon here in Luxembourg until April, 2017. Jen and I decided to resign after almost four years because with my husband, we wanted to travel the world.

And so in 2018, I decided to start on my own and looking at all my experience and skills that I had, I decided to help people with leadership and confidence. And so recently what I've decided as well as try to see if I can combine my art, the fashion, which is salsa dancing. And, uh, when I, uh, thought about dancing and leading and yeah.

Leadership, I was thinking, well, there are actually lots of similarities. So that's how I came. Um, came up with the tagline late fee. So I had people succeed in the adventures of leadership and self assurance. So succeed S adventure, a L for leadership as self assurance. And so that makes Sansa. So that's why, how I try to help people say with their leadership skills, improving their confidence and be a better international leader.

So do you work with individuals or do companies hire you to work with, uh, you know, departments or both? Both. Okay. And what's, let's talk about you starting that journey of going out on your own. So did you, a lot of our listeners are early stage entrepreneurs, and so I think these stories are beneficial.

Um, Did you have, were you scared to go out on your own or did you already have, um, some safe contacts to start your clients and start your business? Or tell us a little bit about that, you know, year one? Yeah. Well actually when I look back, I'm thinking I was completely crazy, cause I had no idea what was coming.

So now I really started from scratch. I had known nothing, no knowledge about, um, what was happening. Um, I didn't really look at the market. So that's one thing I'm thinking I should have found that better. Um, but so I, I really started from scratch. It's been an amazing adventure cause I learned so much from the tours to use, um, what is out there, how to sell myself, et cetera, et cetera.

Uh, so I was pretty blanket, as I say, if I had to go back, I would probably do a few other few things differently for sure. Yeah. What, uh, how long did it take until you started to feel a little bit of confidence that, um, you could find success in what you were doing? Uh, Oh, only recently. I say you always have doubts and I guess, you know it as well, Damon as an entrepreneur, you're thinking, okay.

Uh, do I continue? Do I give up? Uh, you, you always have also, even if I teach confidence and I'm quite confident, sometimes you just have these doubts, you just the way human rights, um, So it's only recently what I'm, I keep thinking of what I'm good at and how I can help people. And also the feedback I received from lots of people, especially on LinkedIn and Facebook.

And I'm like, yeah, this really, this is really what I love to do. I feel like positive energy, every time I'm talking about leadership, trying to help people. And so that's why I know deep down, this is the right thing to do. I'm not there yet where I want to be by. Definitely know that again, like everybody else, it's, um, it's a journey and we're all learning.

And I, I know as, as I'm going in the, in the right direction. So, um, that's what keeps me going. Basically, let's talk a little bit about how you help people with their leadership skills. So where do you start when you have a new person that you're working with? So while it depends on their goals, maybe like if it's a younger woman who wants to grow into and organization, and she doesn't know how to get promoted for instance, or what are the steps she needs to do to, to be a director or vice president in five to 10 years.

So look where they want to go, where they are. And we're trying to establish, okay, what are the different steps or my stone they need to achieve and what I had them as well, these I'm building that confidence, giving them some tips of the things they need to pay attention to. Um, especially for us women who sometimes say things or do things that we shouldn't, or that have a, let's say a perception of people is different from what we think.

So I try to build their skills there as well. Um, and if it's a company, again, depending on what their needs, uh, are, uh, let's say, would need help with stress management or they would need help with how to deal with conflict or improving communications, especially in international environments. Nowadays, the world is very small and everybody works with everybody pretty much.

So I had them how to communicate better when, with someone who doesn't have your native language, or how do you deal with a virtual team and especially recently she with the whole face. Yeah. And so that's how I try to give them some tips and tools on what they can do. How do you help them build that confidence?

Do you do, um, you know, experimental engagements and sample discussions? Like what types of experiences do you have them go through? Yeah. So I'm a mix of things. Sometimes I show little videos, you know, like sometimes you have these ads that are very powerful, uh, just to show 'em to show women that things that are the same, which we do or say unconsciously, but when you see that in the video repeated again and again, but suddenly someone is going to say, Oh my God.

Yeah. I always say that. Or yes, I always do that. So just bringing the. So that's the first thing. And then as well, trying to, obviously to, to again, bring their awareness of what they do, what they say, how they stand, how they look again, the, the, the, that starts with what you you're dressed with and how you, you stand your body language, both.


So doing some exercise as well, with affirmations as well and power poses as well to show what they can do to feel more confident. So it's a bit of a mix of, uh, of different things. Is there a, is there something funny that you see people do all the time? That is just like human nature that has a totally different perception than, than we usually think.

Like what's, what are the, some of the common things that you see over and over? Mmm. So what I see and sometimes I still do it myself, is that we often say, sorry, for no reason, like, sorry. Can I ask a question? No, don't say, sorry, just say, can I just ask you a question? Don't even say, can I ask a question?

Um, or these little words say like maybe, or just like when you ask. People, what do you do? And they say I'm just an accountant or just a manager. No, it's not just, you are in the content. You are a manager. So as I said, these are all these little things, but once you're aware of it, you, you catch yourself more and more often doing it and therefore not doing it anymore.

So. Uh, I find myself saying just, yeah, in emails and it's that very word I've noticed in the last couple of weeks. Um, and then I was talking with another guest a couple of weeks ago that usually after I record these episodes, I send them to an editor and every once in a while, I'll go through and play back some of it.

And I've noticed that I say the word like. Way more than I would have thought that I did. I know I say it. I didn't realize they say that many times. Yeah. Yeah, no. I think recording yourself is a great, great exercise. I'm part of Toastmasters as well. And um, sometimes when I put some videos of myself, whether it's in French or in English and I'm, like I said,

And that does matter. They teach you to try to catch this, but sometimes you're so into what you want to say, that you tried to use this filler words, like you said, the like, or, well, so it's just becoming aware and once you are aware, you're going to pay attention, not to use them more often, but it's just like everything it's practice.

It comes with practice. Yeah. How long do you usually work with somebody? Um, it depends sometimes after five sessions, they, they say it's enough. I always, um, encouraged people for free months because it's really where you really have time to look at the, let's say the medium term, what are the goals? And then put a stop to look at things from different areas, because sometimes.

If we talk about confidence again, that may be linked to a problem that you have at home or that you yourself, because I don't know something happened when you were a bit younger that you don't feel that concerns are, you need a bit more time to again, make people aware and then try to put them the action plan in place.

And then I helped people countables and okay, we are great. You would do this. Did you do it? Yes or no? And if, no, why not? What can we do to recover it? So usually I'm advising at least three months, but I've had some cases where it was a bit shorter. Would you agree? You, you talking about, you know, maybe things happening when somebody was younger.

Our last guest was talking about how they feel like people don't have business problems, they have personal problems that. Rollover into the business world. Um, and, and it's, it's really interesting, like you said, how many things happen in the past influence our subconscious now. So, uh, would you agree that, uh, you know, in the business world and business confidence and leadership, that the majority of those, um, inadequacies come from the personal side, Oh, yes.

Yes. At least if I look at my circus, I always try to put myself in people's shoes and I'm trying to see, okay. What I was. I know that, um, it took me many years to, to build my confidence. And I also got to burnout at approximately 10 years ago. And when I talk to people or I talk to someone like three, four years ago, and we were talking about childhood and et cetera, and I remember suddenly, uh, something that's happened to me and I was very young.

I was eight, nine years old. She said, well, that may be that's where your, your stuck I started and I'm like, Oh my God. So I got my burnout, like 30 years after actually the root causes. What happened to me when I was a little girl. So yeah. I fully agree. Yes. Yes. We estimate that for sure. Yeah. Well, do you have any stories, people that you've worked with that stand out more than others, right.

Maybe a real great success or, um, a real big improvement. Is there, you don't have to explain, you know, who they were or anything, but is there an example of great success that really stands out? Well, one, I am really a I'm happy about is, um, a former colleague of mine. Um, at Amazon, he was working to be promoted, but, uh, Even if we say imposter syndrome is often with women, he had it as well.

And he was like, I'm never going to make it and I'm not good enough. So I also build this confidence, gave him some tools as well, what you could do. So I was kind of coaching slash mentoring him as well. And he also had challenges. He was getting a new team. And you also had challenges with. Team member.

And so I, again, tried to guide him, told him why you could try this. You could do that, et cetera. And I think after six to eight months, he finally got that promotion and he was so happy. And he's all. Thank you. So imagine, let's say, well, you don't have to think you did it. That was just maybe that one person that.

That helped you, but it was so nice to see that you finally achieve what you wanted because he had been trying to get promoted up to the next level for a few years. And, uh, I was happy to be part of his adventure. Yeah. What contributed to that person's imposter syndrome? Was there a specific thing that they're hesitant about?

Uh, I don't know. I must say I didn't. I didn't. Ask him too many questions. Cause I still wanted to try to keep it professional by know that, uh, he had that other, um, job experience where he was also doubting himself as well. And he had never got a promotion before. So I, uh, again, by telling them, okay, tell me what happened.

And uh, what do you think you could have done better and where you are now? Are there any similarities or things now you're doing different. So again, slowly but surely. Rebuilding his confidence. I didn't really go into the personal side because I didn't, as I said, as you know, we're coaches, we look more to the future and psychologist and we'll look at the past.

I didn't really want you to look at his past in too much depth because I'm just not qualified for that. I tried to guide him as much as possible and it works. Yeah. Well, you know, as we get kind of closer to wrapping up, I imagine that you've had some funny language misinterpretations. Do you have any that you can share?

Um, maybe the first one that's happened to me and then another one that, um, that happened in one of my teams. So the first one, I, when I was 18, I went to the UK to London to be an old pair, um, to learn, to improve my English. And I was in this family and, um, I was not eating so much every day. And one time the grandmother was there and I said, can I eat something?

And she was like, do you want to eat or heat? And I was like, okay, what's the difference? So that's how I learned what that means and, and the important because of the aging enlisted in French from do it. So the one, so that that's the one and another one. And that happened to one of my team members. When I, I, um, at the beginning, when I was working at strengths or, um, or convergence, now I set up an international, no, Tim, we were supposed to the I'm supporting five languages and the team started with, uh, French speakers and English.

Because and one of the French, because she was a lovely Spanish lady, very, very nice lady. She could speak very good French. And she had a small accent. So it's probably like me when I speak, speak English. I have my, she had a small Spanish accent and she wants, had the customer on the phone and she was trying to solve his issue.

And in France, when you want to say, hold on, you say no, but she said, no murky T pride. That means don't leave me.


well, at least at least that one was a positive one. Well, Jenny, I appreciate your time today. I want to give you the last few moments to share, you know, your website or contact information or anything. Um, our listeners can, uh, you know, find out more information about you. Great. Thank you, Damon. So, um, you can, my website is, um, he

So not operate w before, just VLV my initials, that coach, uh, you can also find me on LinkedIn on there, full name  or sort of Facebook, um, not so much on Instagram, but it's. Virginie_LV and otherwise I'm also relaunching my, a YouTube channel. So it's a visionary leadership expert. So you can find me all of that.

And I'm happy to connect with anyone who sends me a request. Great. Well, we'll make sure to put those links in the show notes and thanks so much for your time. Thank you, Damon. Thank you for having me.