In this episode, Driven Female Entrepreneurs Podcast I speak with Tiffany Dawson about how she came to start a coaching business to empower more women to enjoy wildly successful and fulfilling STEM careers.
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- Tiffany shares her tips and encouragement for those of you who want to into STEM
- Overcoming Impostor Syndrome
- Breaking through the gender bias and what you can do to excel and thrive as a woman in the Tech space.
- The importance of Self-promotion.
What made you want to start this particular business and how did you come over those fears and doubts yourself as you were getting started in your business?
[00:02:03]Tiffany Dawson: I worked as a mechanical engineer in the construction industry for about eight years. And time and time again, I saw amazing women leave their jobs.From the outside, it looked like they were leaving because they were off to start families. But I know these women, I knew that they all had one thing in common - they were no longer fulfilled in their roles. This was a massive concern for me. I feared that I was also going to lose that fulfilment. And in fact, I had started to feel a bit that way myself. When I started to look at my leaders and look at my future in engineering, I wondered whether it was really a job that I wanted to do because I saw my leaders put so much into their jobs and sacrifice so much of their family and social life. I started asking lots of questions.During this time I also felt I was losing my confidence in my ability at work and the more and more senior I got, the more and more responsibilities I was given, the more I felt like someone was going to find out that I was actually no good at my job and I felt like a complete fraud all the time.
Melitta: I think a lot of listeners are going to relate to what you've just said. You've touched on so many huge topics for women and I love that you've taken your unique insights, that a lot of people probably miss and would just say, 'Oh yes, women have a family now and therefore their priorities changed' and that's why they don't go back to the office - they miss this whole fulfilment piece.
Tiffany Dawson: It wasn't until I had professional coaching that I realised that I have the power to change all of this myself. I don't have to take on everything that the world was stacking on my shoulders. I actually could control all of these things and once I learned that, I felt this immense sense of freedom and I just started telling everyone I knew about it.So I took on management roles. I led a team of thirty engineers, and I was just shouting from the rooftops that everyone could have a thriving career and have an amazing personal life as well. I became so passionate about this part of my job that I thought, 'Hey, life's too short, I want to just do this part', which is how I became a coach for women in STEM.
My coach helped me realise that I had the power to change how I felt. I didn't have to take on everything. It gave me an immense sense of freedom. - Tiffany Dawson
What drove you to start your own business? And what was the reality like versus what you thought it might be? Was it just as you planned?
[00:11:38]Tiffany Dawson: No! I guess if I looked back, I don't know what I was planning if I'm completely honest. There's probably a few main things that came to light when I started my business. The first was that I learnt so much about myself. I thought about the things I had to learn with business skills, how to market, how to do social media, how to put the right copy on my website. I thought it was all those hard skills. But what was really surprising was that I had to learn so much about myself. It was the first time ever I'd been left to my own devices. I had the freedom to do what I wanted to do, but then I had to decide what was the most effective.
Melitta: Yes, the classic Freedom Trap! You can control what you do and when you do it...then you realise, 'Oh, I have complete control of what I do and when', and that you have to make up your own plan and take responsibility for getting motivated and inspired. This is essential as business success is all about consistency - but it's not easy. Learning who you are, what motivates you, and what keeps you going is a really important part of the process.
“Learning who you are and what motivates you and what keeps you going is a really important part of the process of starting your business, as success is all about consistency.” Melitta Campbell
Tiffany Dawson: Absolutely. Especially the 'What keeps me going?' part. I think now that I'm working for myself I can really tell the difference between the my output when my mindset's good and what I put out when my mindset is not so good. I think it was a real kick in the bum when my business coach told me that I actually had to be proactive. I had to reach people on a one-to-one basis. I can't just put posts up on the internet and expect people to come to me. I need to actually go out there, whether that's via LinkedIn, private messages or meeting people for coffee. You need to create meaningful human connections.
If you asked me a year before that point, whether I would own my own business, I would say no way. It was just not like something that I believed was not possible for me and it was really, I'm very thankful that I've got a very encouraging husband who said, of course you can do this. What makes you think you can't do this. I mean, you're passionate about it. You've had results doing it at work, so why can't you do it yourself?
And it really, it took maybe about six months for me to come around to the idea to actually entertain it as something that might be possible for me. So, yeah, absolutely. It's a journey of growing in courage and thinking bigger than what you think is possible.
"Starting a business is a journey of growing in courage and thinking bigger than what you think is possible." Tiffany Dawson
What do you think are the biggest things from your experience that you pass on to your STEM clients?
[00:21:42]Tiffany Dawson: In my career, I really had to get over my princess syndrome. By that I mean that I used to believe that if I did a good job, everyone would notice and then throw opportunities at me. I'd sit pretty at the top and wait for people to notice. It's not like that at all in business or in the corporate world...or in anything you do.You really have to learn to self-promote. And I think that's something women generally struggle with more than men. This is due to all sorts of things that we get taught in society and how we get brought up, but I think the world is changing and it is becoming, safe and okay for women to step up and really tell people, 'Hey, I'm doing this for a purpose and why don't you join me?' You can do all of this as well.
“You really have to learn to self promote. Whether you have a business or a career." Tiffany Dawson
Melitta: That is such a great story and such a powerful lesson. It can feel awkward asking for what you want. And it's same with referrals. People think happy clients will go away and instantly tell everybody about you, but they don't. People don't often think that way. You have to ask them and and not worry about asking more than once either because it might not have registered with them the first time. Everyone is so busy these days, they often forget.
Tiffany Dawson: That's definitely something that I teach my clients, especially when it comes to asking for promotions or pay raises.You can't just sit back and wait until someone notices you. You really have to go out there and ask for what you want. Ask for the dollar amount that you actually want to get because people won't know. You know, they're not mind readers. They can't tell what you want unless you ask for it.
Tiffany Dawson is a speaker, coach and founder of Tiffany Dawson Coaching.She gives women in STEM, who are playing small, the vision and confidence to create wildly fulfilling careers without compromising their family or social lives.
Having overcome her own battles with imposter syndrome, poor work-life balance and loss of passion for her job, she’s determined to help as many women as possible to do the same.
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