By Margaret Riordan, SmallGood Intern
Every day at SmallGood we find ourselves in excellent company.
We work with a lot of smart, accomplished people, helping them bring out the meaning and purpose of their business or organization and communicate that better to the world. Along the way, we always learn so much from them; so we thought we’d interview a few of them and share some of that brilliance and insight with you all.
We decided to start with one of our very first clients, Patricia Cook & Associates, a company in the business of finding, training and polishing potential. Started by Patricia, she and her team, through in-person workshops, online videos and one-on-one coaching, help individuals and companies bring out their best in the workplace.
SG: What makes PCA’s work unique?
PATRICIA: We spend a lot of time with each client, learning about their business, learning about the things that are going well, and their challenges. Then, we customize every piece of our workshops and training sessions — which focus on everything from strong introductions to building lasting professional connections. We want it to feel like we work there with them, and once we’re in sessions it has to be entertaining, but also informative and productive so when we’re done everyone on the client’s team leaves with new skills.
SG: Looking at your wide array of clients and services, it seems like there are a lot of ways to help clients — can you give me one example of how you help clients meet a specific goal?
PATRICIA: It’s great when clients really believe in trying to change the whole culture of the firm. For example, one of my clients offers our classes regularly through the year and we have everybody at all levels, up through senior management in attendance. It’s great to see them looking at the big picture — they really believe in a culture of respect and they don’t just want one level of folks getting it.
SG: What are some of the key skills you help bring out in employees when working one-on-one with them?
PATRICIA: We’re working on tiny things, like soft skills, that make a big difference. Like, we’re trying to get people to remember to stand up when they meet somebody, to have a strong handshake, to look somebody in the eye to release the oxytocin, to read your audience, and to use your two ears twice as much as your one mouth to stay present with people and show them they matter.
SG: As a woman-owned and woman-led business, we really admire how you try to help women succeed in the workplace — can you talk a bit about how you do that?
PATRICIA: Women naturally carry strengths that are necessary in employees today. More than 70% of employers are looking for candidates who have high levels of emotional intelligence and research shows that women are traditionally stronger in four out of the five emotional intelligence indicators. At PCA, we tap into this potential, providing women the skills and confidence to make the most out of every opportunity.
SG: Are there some things women aren’t always naturally good at, that can hinder them professionally? And how do you try to help in those situations?
PATRICIA: When it comes to business situations, women typically excel at building strong relationships over time, but we’re not as quick to take the next step and ask people to make a connection for us. For example, women often work networking events by focusing on one person and making a stronger, deeper connection, whereas men often come in with a goal of starting multiple new relationships in the same amount of time. At PCA we help women get the most out of networking events by building on their strong relationship skills to make the same authentic connections more efficiently.
SG: When it comes to presentation, how do you help women make themselves a strong presence in the workplace?
PATRICIA: I want women to grow their confidence and to feel more comfortable. That work starts with physical leadership: we need to carry ourselves confidently when we sit, when we stand, and we have to be the first one with our hands out to make a lasting impression. We need to project success, making sure we are taking up some space in our chair and in the room. These small improvements help women establish themselves as a powerful and confident presence in any workplace.
SG: What are three soft skills we all should be working on right now?
PATRICIA: First, folks are so lost on their devices that we’re not making eye contact in the elevator, on the street, anywhere, so we’re losing the connection we have with people and with the world. Next, we need to pay attention to our body language. I was sitting in a very large meeting and a couple people sitting in the front row had their phones out. Everyone else sees them doing this and their body language shows a lack of respect, which is so important. Finally, I think the way you dress is important because of how others perceive you and also because cognitive research now shows that the way you dress affects your performance, which is why I teach women to dress like leaders.
Wow, so many ways to help people flourish — we are inspired — thank you, Patricia for sharing.
Know someone who may benefit from Patricia’s wise insight? Feel free to share.
And stay tuned for more #SmallGoodSpotlights on people, companies and organizations that are doing small, good things in the world.