Natalie MacNeil is an Emmy Award-winning media entrepreneur, author of The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs, and creator of SheTakesOnTheWorld.com which was listed by Forbes on "100 Best Sites for Entrepreneurs."
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
The experiences that have had the biggest impact on the leader I am today are my travels around the globe. I have seen how things can be, and I've seen how things should never be. Most importantly, I have met total strangers that have broken my mind and heart wide open. Because of these experiences I navigate my life and business with purpose and intent, and I encourage my fellow leaders to find causes to champion around the world.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at She Takes on the World?
I started my own business right out of university so I have never had a "real" full time job. I worked part time at Toyota as a student and that taught me some great lessons about management, systems, and continual improvement of processes. Before I committed to running She Takes on the World Inc. full time, I had a media and production company with a business partner. We produced online experiences and interactive documentaries, which is how I won my Emmy. While the business model driving She Takes on the World is totally different, my production experience definitely comes into play since our content is mostly video. We are always complimented on the high quality of our live, online productions and weekly videos, and that quality is definitely the result of what I learned producing with some of the most talented people in digital media.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at She Takes on the World?
The highlight for me was getting to help build The Conquer Academy in Tanzania with profits from our flagship incubator for women entrepreneurs, The Conquer Club. Having a business that can allocate profits toward making a difference in the lives of others is one of the things that drives me most. I got to visit the school and meet the students in 2015, and it put everything into perspective.
The biggest challenge for me is always patience. I want everything done yesterday, and when I know what I want to do next it is hard for me to patiently await all the pieces coming together. Even with The Conquer Academy, there are so many things that we need to do to support the students and there's only so much I can do with the resources I have.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Connect with others through industry events. I can't stress enough the power of networking events when you're starting down a new career path. Attending events and conferences have led to many of my biggest opportunities. There were definitely times when I questioned the cost of an event and whether it was the best way to spend my money, and I can look back and say many of those events brought me to this moment. "It's about who you know" is a phrase you will hear again and again for a reason.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Always, always, always trust your intuition, even if every single person around you tells you to do the opposite.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
As a meditation and mudra teacher, I turn to these tools throughout the day to keep me calm and grounded. I start each day with meditation, some yoga or other form of exercise, and a huge glass of green juice. I set alarms that go off during the day on my iPhone to queue me to close my eyes and take a few deep breaths to re-center. In our busy lives, the most valuable thing we can do is put ourselves on our calendars.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I have mentored and worked with thousands of women now, and I want to see more women asking for what they want and what they deserve. A woman is less likely to negotiate her starting salary or ask for a raise or tell her boss about a promotion she's eyeing. I want to see more women stand in their worth, and as my friends at Levo League always say, "#ASK4MORE."
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I think sometimes people think mentorship means you're meeting with "your mentor" for weekly lunch dates to discuss all things happening in your life. If you need that much support, you need a coach. I have had many people who have offered to provide advice in snippets, or given me their contact info to reach out with my most important questions. It's actually these shorter interactions that have provided me with the most support.
For example, I was given the opportunity to meet with Arianna Huffington when I was just getting started with She Takes on the World, and she probably gave me a lifetime of advice in 20 minutes! One of my biggest takeaways from that day was to recognize my feminine power as my most valuable asset, and to never feel like I had to "act like a man" to succeed. We talked about what feminine leadership means in the world, and it was just a conversation I will never forget.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire a lot of female leaders from all over the world, from women I've met in Kenya and Tanzania who support their communities through entrepreneurship, to women like Sara Blakely who uses her wealth to make a different in the lives of others and change the world.
What do you want to accomplish in the next year?
First up is the launch of The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs, and getting this book into the hands of as many women as I can. At She Takes on the World Inc. we are focused on doubling our business yet again, and I'm also moving from Canada to the U.S. right now. Lots of big changes!