1. Tell me a bit about your business – when it started and what are your main services?
The Red Shoe Movement is a leadership development company powered by a global community of women (and men who support women) who support each other for career success. Our mission is to accelerate the representation of women at the highest levels of decision-making. We achieve it with a two-pronged approach. We offer leadership development to female talent that works in large corporations and we run initiatives like #RedShoeTuesday that aim towards a global leap of consciousness. Every Tuesday we all wear red shoes and ties to work to show support for women’s career growth. And to keep alive the conversation around how we can change culture together to level the playing field for 100% of the talent. Along these lines, we create marketing communications initiatives to help organizations that are doing great things for gender inclusion to reach an audience of professional women. The business started in 2012 when I published my book “Find your inner red shoe” (Penguin).
2. What was the main driver for starting your own business?
After years of helping Latinos connect the dots for success in the US, I realized we needed to have a separate conversation with women as they were being impacted by a different set of predeterminations that were getting in the way of their professional success. I didn’t think having only a book (my seventh) or a series of programs targeted to large corporations was going to be enough to move the needle. I wanted women to own their careers and help each other succeed. So I created a movement that is supported by 7 RSM Principles that when you follow them, they contribute to a quick culture change within organizations.
3. What gets you up in the morning?
I usually don’t have trouble getting up. I do what I love and each of my days is so different that it keeps things interesting and exciting. I particularly love to get up on days when I’m doing a presentation. There’s great, contagious energy that invigorates me and renews my passion for what I do.
4. If you could change one thing about your first year (or first few years) in business, what would it be?
I would’ve started first with the English platform alone until the business was solid before creating the parallel Spanish platform. Creating everything (every program, every podcast, every post…) in both languages from the get go required double the investment and the effort. It was very, very tough. Now of course, that’s exactly one of the main reasons we work with so many Fortune 500 companies: Because they have talent across English and Spanish speaking countries and we can provide the same quality training with the cultural nuances of each region.
5. What is your biggest achievement to date?
Having become (as the Red Shoe Movement) the #1 contributor on Twitter to the worldwide hashtag for International Women’s Day for two years in a row is pretty exciting. Being on People magazine’s list of 25 Most Powerful Women was also a great honour. But meeting people whose lives have changed because of the work we do is the biggest achievement of all.
6. What has been your biggest challenge?
The mission I set for my company is pretty hard to achieve. Some days it seems that we walk one step forward and two steps back. It can feel pretty frustrating. So the biggest challenge is to continue to find powerful partners who help us move the needle faster on gender inclusion at the top. Partners who help us reach a tipping point with #RedShoeTuesday.
7. What would be your number one tip for other entrepreneurs who want to develop their personal brand (related to their industry / specialism)?
Start small. Reach small successes. Build on them. Repeat. It’s easier to succeed in your backyard and build from there than it is to start with a large reach and feel that your successes amount to that much at all.
8. What advice would you give to other women thinking of starting their own business?
Partner with other businesses that are good in the areas that are not your strengths. You can’t be great at everything but you can find others who are. Nowadays it doesn’t even matter where you are located as the talent is super mobile.
9. Lastly, which social media platform has helped you get the most customers to date and why?
I’d say Twitter. We can connect with leaders who are interested in what we do and we can start a conversation that when everyone’s ready can be easily moved offline.
A force to be reckoned with when it comes to leveraging the playing field for women & diverse employees at the corporate level, international speaker, award-winning author, Mariela Dabbah is one of the most sought-after and respected leaders in the country.
FOUNDER & CEO
CEO of the Red Shoe Movement (www.RedShoeMovement.com, www.RedShoeMovement.es) a career and leadership development company powered by a global community of women who support each other for career success. The RSM uses a proprietary methodology to help corporations engage and promote multicultural women with a sustainable approach. Through awareness and communication initiatives such as #RedShoeTuesday, and its Hall of Fame the company fosters an ongoing conversation about benefits of having women in executive positions. The RSM has fans in over 160 countries.
CORPORATE CONSULTANT & SPEAKER
A renowned international speaker, and corporate consultant Mariela’s clients include Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Celebrity Cruises, McGraw Hill Financial, Microsoft, Novartis, MetLife, Verizon, Sodexo, and Colgate-Palmolive. She presents regularly at professional conferences and associations such as The College Board, The Conference Board, Vital Voices, National Society of Hispanic MBAs, Hispanic Retail 360, and at universities such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, among many others.
Always present in the media for her expertise in leadership, overcoming barriers to success, education, and women empowerment, Mariela contributes with CNN, Forbes.com, Univision, Telemundo, Cala Presenta, Yahoo, and many other networks.
AUTHOR & AWARD-WINNER
A best seller on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Nielsen, her award-wining books include Find Your Inner Red Shoes, The Latino Advantage in the Workplace, Latinos in College: Your Guide to Success, and many others. In 2018 she won the “Visionary of the Year Award” by Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce along with Proclamations by NY State Senate and NY Governor for her leadership. In 2017 she won the “Business Leadership and D&I” award by LNC, a coalition of ERGs from Fortune 500 businesses. In 2016 she won the “Damas de Lincoln” award by Ford to trailblazing women. In 2015 she’s on Time Inc.’s People en Español magazine “25 Most Powerful Women” list. In 2013 she received the Women and Society Award by LULAC and Cervantes Institute for her contributions to the advancement of the Hispanic community.
This interview was conducted by Jennifer Corcoran, LinkedIn Consultant & Trainer, Founder and CEO of My Super Connector and Host of LinkedIn Local Croydon. Jennifer regularly writes and speaks on the topics of social media, personal branding, networking and being an introverted entrepreneur. If you need help with any of your profiles mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @SuperConnector.