Rising To The Top: Vera Quinn’s Inspiring Journey To Leadership

Brave Women at Work | Vera Quinn | Leadership Journey

 

Quick personal update here. This year, I have been telling people that I am living my best life. During COVID and even beyond, I feel like I was holding back just a little bit and not really going for it. By going for it, I mean take the trip, eat the gelato, make the call, take the action. Yes, I was making an effort, but a little bit of my magic was missing, and I felt like I needed to get it back.

Well, as we are coming to mid-year in 2024, I’ve got my mojo back, baby! And I’m going for it. I’m taking trips I’ve always wanted to take. I’m taking bolder and braver action, just like I teach my coaching clients. And you know what? It feels so good!

So, it feels appropriate that today’s guest is just as motivating and inspirational. When I met Vera Quinn, my guest today, I felt like a fire was lit underneath me. I love Vera’s energy, grit, and perseverance. She is a woman who achieves her goals, but also gives back, which is inspiring to see. I’m sure you will be inspired by Vera’s personal story of her road to CEO, just like I was.

During our conversation, Vera and I chatted about:

  1. Why perseverance and drive are the backbone of who Vera is
  2. Vera’s personal and professional values and why they are the underpinning of everything she has done in her career
  3. What strategic and people-centered leadership are and how Vera has used these principles to become the CEO of Cydcor
  4. The book that Vera has been reading for 23 years in a row and why
  5. We also touched on the foundation that she runs called the MyTQuinn Foundation, which is an amazing story in and of itself

 

Listen to the podcast here

 

Rising To The Top: Vera Quinn’s Inspiring Journey To Leadership

I’m so glad you’re here. Everyone, how are you doing out there? Here’s a quick personal update. I have been telling people that I am living my best life. I’m living my best life during COVID and even beyond. I felt like I was holding back just a little bit and not going for it. By going forward, I mean taking the trip, eating the gelato and PS, I’ve eaten a lot of gelato so far, making the call, and taking the action.

I was making effort. I was putting out the show, putting out social posts, and working with coaching clients, but there just seemed to be a little bit of magic missing. I felt like I needed to get it back. As we’re coming to mid-year in 2024, I am pleased to announce that I’ve got my Mojo back and I am going for it. I’m taking trips I’ve always wanted to take. I had the beautiful opportunity, if you haven’t read with a dear friend, Jenny, to Croatia, Montenegro, Lisbon, Portugal, and Dublin, Ireland.

I’ve been all over and I feel so grateful. I’m taking boulder and braver action like I teach my coaching clients and on this show. Do you know what? It feels so darn good. It feels appropriate that our guest is just as motivating and inspirational. When I met Vera Quinn, my guest, I felt like a fire was lit underneath me. I love Vera’s energy, her grit and perseverance.

She is a woman that achieves her goals. Let me just tell you, but she also gives back, which is inspiring to see. I’m sure you’re going to be inspired by Vera’s personal story of her road to CEO like I was. During our conversation, Vera and I chatted about why perseverance and drive are the backbone of who Vera is, personal and professional values and why they are the underpinning of everything she has done in her career. What strategic and people centered leadership are and how Vera has used these principles to become the CEO of Cydcor, and the book that Vera has been reading for many years and why.

We also touch on the foundation that she runs called the MyTQuinn Foundation, which is an amazing story in and of itself and ties in everything so beautifully around her people-centered leadership. Before we get started, here is more about Vera. Over her many years and counting with Cydcor, Vera Quinn has been a driving force behind the company’s growth. Vera was named CEO in 2020 and continues to be a faithful custodian of the business, honing the mission, and vision of the company while supporting the advancement of the team around her.

As CEO, Vera sets the strategic direction of the business. She understands that in an increasingly automated world, Cydcor exists to unleash the power and uniqueness of people to create generational growth and opportunities. This is a vision that has been with her from the start. As Vera’s rise to the company C-suite, is a testament to the power of Cydcor as an opportunity-based business.

Vera’s focus on creating long -term value for the business while she is CEO. She is a champion of Cydcor’s mission to relentlessly create growth and opportunity for aspiring individuals, entrepreneurs, brands, and customers. In addition to her current role as CEO and President, Vera has served as COO, VP of Operations and VP of Sales Operation. Vera studied Political Science and History at the University of Toronto.

Before we get started, if you’re enjoying Brave Women at Work, please make sure to leave a rating and review an Apple Podcast and/or Spotify. If the show has made any type of impact on you, please also share it with a friend, family member, or colleague. As you know, your ratings and reviews help the show continue to gain traction and grow. We have been well into 30 countries and the show has been spread far and wide.

I’d love to break into 40 countries. If you can help me with that, I would be so appreciative. All of your ratings and reviews make a difference. If you can take five minutes to do that, I would appreciate it. If you’ve already left a rating and review, I thank you so much. Also, if you haven’t yet downloaded my freebies for my website, check them out at BraveWomenAtWork.com. I’ve created three just for you. Twenty-four career and leadership affirmations because we deal a lot with my clients with a mindset.

Five ways to manage your imposter syndrome which is more of that very important mindset work. One of our most popular ten negotiation tips because I want all women to get paid more. I want you guys all to get more in pay period and all of those beautiful things, so get ten negotiation tips. These are all workbook style guides so you can complete them on your own time. Again, go to BraveWomenAtWork.com to learn more. Let’s welcome Vera to the show.

Vera, welcome to the show. How are you?

I’m great. How are you?

I am so good. I forgot to ask, where are you hailing from, Vera?

I am in Southern California. This is where Cydcor is located. I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada.

We are still hovering around 50 degrees. How’s the weather now?

We’re a little overcast and we’re not used to all this rain and overcast. It’s been a year for us. We’ve mudslides. You can’t complain about California weather.

Vera’s Story

Probably like, do you want to trade. You’re like, “No.” Anyway, let’s kick off. I love women’s stories as people who read the show. I would love to hear your backstory and know a little bit more about you and how you’ve gotten to where you are.

I’ll start career-wise. I was twenty years old. I answered an ad in a newspaper in Toronto, Canada for a sales job and I fell in love with this business and this industry. I did the sales route for a few years. I went into recruiting. I ran my own business for a while and Cydor was moving its headquarters from Toronto to California. I thought I would come here for three years.

The gentleman that was running the business, the CEO, Gary Paulson, incredible businessman. I just knew I didn’t grow up around people that ran businesses and had that success. I thought, I’ll come down here for three years and learn something about how to operate in a business and a corporation then I’ll move back. That didn’t happen. I’m still here and I was lucky enough.

I was very fortunate. He’s an incredible human but an incredible leader. It was time to either renew the visa or leave. I remember Gary asking me at one point, “Have you ever thought that you could run a business like this?” I said, “No. The thought has never crossed my mind that I could do something like this.” I spent the next fifteen years collecting the skill that I needed to become a CEO. That’s my career journey on how I got here.

The reason I am who I am, everything starts in childhood. I was born to immigrants, Eastern European immigrants. There’s a whole way of life there. They moved to Toronto. I saw my dad run his small business, be an entrepreneur in a country that was a second language. My mom was a homemaker. There were four kids at home. I learned a ton about what it takes to raise a family and be successful. A country like Canada, how do you grow up with a different culture, try to integrate and assimilate. The Genesis story, I believe, like when I think about my traits and who I am or why I am what I am. I think about my parents and how I was raised.

I love that. One of the things on your site says that you’re known for your unwavering perseverance and drive. Does that also come from your upbringing and your parents?

In a lot of ways, it was hardcore. There was no other option. You were going to be a great person and take care of yourself. You were going to show up for your family. You were going to have a good life and be an incredible spouse, if that’s the path you take. You were going to be an incredible parent. There was no other option for them. Everything was, if you’re good at something, how do you become better? If you’re not so good at something, how do you become better? If you’re great at something, how do you become better?

I’m just driven in that way. I feel like my debt to pay is becoming the best version of me when it’s all said and done. That’s an evolution. I’m not the best version of me now. Ten years from now, I’m going to be better at a lot of things. The way they are and what they had to go through, perseverance was part of life. My dad started a business and he didn’t speak English. It’s like, “What?”

He started a business in the US and didn’t even speak English while he was starting a business.

In Canada.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter. A different culture. He starts a business. Why didn’t he go and find a 9:00 to 5:00 or a job at a mill?

His trade was fixing cars. He was a car mech. When he moved to Toronto, he started working with a German gentleman. My dad could speak German because he drove a truck through Europe before he immigrated. He was like, “I could just go find people who speak the language as I speak and they can be my customers.” Funny story, he played the lottery and won $10,000 and opened up his own shop.

He won the lottery.

$10,000 at that time, which was a massive amount and how cliche is that? It’s cliche. That’s how he started his business.

That’s so cool. How long did that business run?

Easily 25 years.

How amazing. I don’t know if there was a moment where you decided you were going to become a president of a company, it was like you were going to do it come hell or high water. That’s where that perseverance and drive comes in.

It was like, “What’s the next thing? What do I need to do?” It was never guaranteed. It wasn’t like somebody said, “This is what’s going to happen after twenty-something years.” It was, “I want to challenge myself. I want to see how far I can go.” I remember going to classes here, process classes at Pepperdine, going to finance class at UCLA, and learning negotiation.

I want to challenge myself. I want to see how far I can go. Share on X

These were all skills I didn’t have, and I thought, “Keep working on it. What do you need to do to be a president CEO? What do you need to do to manage clients? What do you need to do to support this entrepreneurial network that’s associated with Cydcor?” Even now, there are a lot of things I don’t know how to do. As the business grows and evolves, it’s my responsibility to go get those tools or those people around me that can help me go get the most important things I need to get done.

Cydcor

Only so we understand because then everyone knows about the company. Can you give us a little bit about the company profile? How big is it? Is it multinational just so people understand a little bit more about what you’re running?

We’re in Canada and the US. We’re an outsourced sales firm. Companies hire us to acquire customers or information. We do it in three channels. We do it face to face at the door, at a business, and in a retailer. We work with a lot of major brands, Fortune 100 and 500 brands. We’re like their outsource sales arm. We’re the client broker. We have a network of independently owned and operated ICLs, we call them and they run sales offices all over Canada and the US. The business is over $300 million and growing.

How many employees are in the company?

Cydcor has over 170 employees. Between all the independently owned and operated sales offices, there are probably 3,300 to 3,400 sales reps.

What has your experience been like? I know this is cliché but it still applies. You broke the glass ceiling to become the first female president of Cydcor. What was that experience like?

I don’t know. This was an interesting question for me. I don’t look at it that way and I don’t know why I don’t look at it that way. I felt like I’m in a place. This place is all about growth, opportunity and development and it doesn’t matter my gender. I have the opportunity to become as big, as successful, and as influential as I want. That’s how I operated.

This was a more male dominated business when I started. I look at my business and half my leadership team is female, and half my leadership team is male. The demographic of the business changed. Anybody who achieves anything, it’s about what’s my plan? How hard am I willing to work? Am I okay with failing because I have a lot. There are a lot of things I’m not good at. Am I okay with that or is that going to kill my confidence and my ego? How do I set myself up with the people around me? Am I okay with bringing people in who have bigger strengths than I do in certain areas? Again, a lot of breaking or getting to this level was about getting through and over my own personal crap.

I want to highlight something. That is admirable. Sheryl Sandberg who is the former COO of Facebook now called Meta. She had a quote and I’m paraphrasing it. It says, “In one day there will not be female or male leaders. There will just be leaders.” Your comment rings true and reminds me of what Sheryl said with it doesn’t matter about breaking the glass ceiling. Although, that resonates to a lot of women. Some women see beyond that and say, “I earned it. I worked hard to get to this spot.” Male or female, it does not matter.

I would say this, too. Every human being has their own particular set of circumstances and situations. Everybody. Becoming successful at anything, you’ve got to get through your own stuff to get there. Am I talking myself into this or am I talking myself out of it? Am I proactively learning the things I need to learn? Am I being reactive? Am I willing to take the risk? Those things are similar. Whether a male or female. It doesn’t matter. I’ve got to get through them. Now, where I do think women are a little bit less set up is we don’t have as many examples. What does that look like for somebody that looks like me?

Brave Women at Work | Vera Quinn | Leadership Journey
Leadership Journey: Everyone has their own unique set of challenges to overcome. Becoming successful at anything, you have to get through your own stuff to get there.

 

That makes sense. You may have broken the mold if you will or there weren’t many people that came before you that were female. You are the first one at your company. Now you’ve broken that mold and other women can follow you.

There’s an example. If you think about what you’re doing with your business. Maybe many years ago, that example didn’t exist. If women wanted to do that, they’re like, “What does that look like for someone like me?” Now there is that example. I can go learn, find a mentor, and find a coach. Somebody who, again, more represents who I am and what I have to go through.

Do you mind, if we can go back to your personal crap? Can we go there for a minute?

Sure.

Getting Over Personal Crap

If you don’t mind sharing, what was some of the personal crap because we dig deep into all these topics. What is some of the personal crap or maybe mindset stuff that you had to get over so that you were like, “No, I can do this. I’m going to own this role as president?”

To me, it’s like, am I good enough? What if I’m not? Do I want to be exposed in that way? I had a lot of work to do in my own self-talk. I’m pretty tough. I’m pretty like, “Go.” Not necessarily the kindest person in my own head. I’ve done a lot of work through therapy around, “Does it serve me? Is that helping me? Is that propelling me forward or is it holding me back?” A big one for me was the fear of what if I can’t? I reframe that question to, how will you feel if you don’t try?

The pain of not trying became bigger than not trying at all.

What did they say, “On your deathbed.” I do not want to be the person that thinks, “What if I’d done that? I didn’t try that.” Try. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay. No big deal. You’ll figure it out then, I built my own confidence that way. I was like, “Take the next step. I wasn’t good at it. I’ve gotten good at it. Take the next step, whatever that next step is.”

Dealing With Failure

When I work with clients, there are women that have, maybe they did fail. I’m sure there’ve been little setbacks in your journey as well. How did you deal with failure along the way as you were taking those little steps?

We have a lot of young people in our business and I ask them, “What’s the other option?” I’ll give you an example, a massive setback. Somebody could say, “I got married very young. I had a child at 26. I was divorced when my son was six months old.” Somebody could say, “Life’s over. What a terror. What is she going to do?”

What’s my option? I need to come through for this child. I need to create a great life for him. I need to fix whatever made me pick my ex-husband. I need to go do something there because I picked him. We’re two parts of this. I need to go do that work because I know that eventually, I want to have a great relationship and I want to be with somebody. Now, I look back and I’m like, “The other option would have been what? Don’t do those things?” When I ask myself that question, “What’s your other option? You either go through it, persevere, make it happen, set the goal, reset the goal, learn the skill, or don’t.” It doesn’t sound good.

When you put it that way, it’s like, “There’s no choice here.” You’re going to go through the fire.

You go through it and I believe that. Again, great therapy. I reframed that. What’s the other option, don’t get married again? That doesn’t sound smart.

There are people that do that. There are people that are so afraid, but they get stuck there. You did have some good therapy and some good tools in there that you were like, “That’s not the healthy way to be, to live in fear and stay stuck.” You wanted to keep moving.

At least try and do the work. It wasn’t good enough to just say, “You’re going to curl up here and cry.” You got to figure this out. You want to be in a relationship with somebody so you have to go figure out what you need to do to prepare for that. The fear of never experiencing that again was a bigger fear to me.

Spoiler alert, not getting too deep into your personal life. Did you end up achieving that goal?

They can write a fairy tale about this guy. He’s amazing.

That’s awesome. Congratulations. That’s great to hear. When you were on your way to the pinnacle, I’d say that you’re at the pinnacle. If maybe you tell me there’s more because I know that you have that drive. What were a few obstacles in your way because you talked about the fairy tale story. You seem open enough where you’re like, “Here were some of the pitfalls. Here were some of the challenges to get to the top of the mountain.” Do you have any examples you’d like to share because it’s real. I want people to know that sometimes those setbacks and those things occur.

I had those so many times. It was always in the, am I going to put myself in the new thing and be exposed? Those were always where I was the most hesitant. I’m running operations at Cydcor. Now, it’s about clients, managing clients, and asking for things. While I did sales, it’s a different pitch. You’re talking to Fortune 100 clients. You need to get an outcome.

I remember the first client meeting I went to. I was like, “I can’t do this.” I didn’t get the outcome. I remember leaving that meeting saying, “I didn’t get done what I needed to get done. I wasn’t persuasive enough. The words I used didn’t work. They didn’t like me.” Whatever the hell I thought at that time. There’s another client of mine, what are you going to do to prepare? How do you prepare differently? What do you need to learn in order to get better at that?

I remember we did our first bank meeting. I remember saying to Gary, “I’m not presenting to the bank. What?” He’s like, “You are. This is going to be your piece. This is how we’re going to practice.” My first bank meeting was terrible. Now I’ve done maybe 50 of them and it’s great. As I was learning new things and that’s the way I always felt. I’m a high performer and high achiever. I like doing well at what I’m doing.

Now I’m going to jump into this thing where I’m exposed. I’m not so great at it. I’m going to do everything I can do to prepare but I may not be perfect or the best. Am I willing to work through that? Those were probably my biggest setbacks and obstacles. I will tell you, we’re a face-to-face sales company. COVID was something.

While I enjoy excelling at familiar tasks, I'm also willing to jump into this new thing, even if I'm exposed and not so great at it yet. I'm going to prepare as best I can, knowing I may not be perfect or the best, but I'm willing to work through that. Share on X

How did that impact the business COVID?

We shut down, depending on different geographies between three months to a year.

Was there ever a time that you thought that might be curtains for your company?

No, we were well prepared from a financial standpoint. Our people were in it. We all did the right things to make sure that the business was taken care of during that time. I’m impressed with the network of our independently owned ICLs. We’re talking. They can’t talk to customers, but they’re doing training and Zoom calls. Everybody focused on, “What can we get done to get better?” The business is better now than it was pre-covid. Even that obstacle or even that thing, at the end of the day, I’m like, “We’re better for it.”

300% Growth

Let’s pivot there. One of the things I wanted to talk to you about is that you’ve had this remarkable 300% growth. I don’t know if this is post-covid, but you can tell me what term this was. When I see a 300% growth, I’m like, “This is amazing.” I wanted to see how your personal principles of leadership played into this so that you could help steer the ships or the company to that level of growth.

I don’t think anything happens with one person. I do not believe that. I’m not that leader. I do not want to be a hero. I am the custodian of this business for a period of time. This business will go to another leader that has a team where they come up with a strategy. What do we want to accomplish? What does the next 3 to 5 years look like? What are the vital things that need to get done? We have a saying in our business, creating opportunity for generations. This isn’t a business that was started to be sold and everybody gets rich.

This is the business that we want to last for a very long time so a lot of people can have an opportunity to run their own business, make a lot of money, and find their growth in their career. That’s the principle of the business. That’s the founding principle. If you’re not into that, you probably can never leave here because that’s going to be a mismatch. When I think about how we got the growth, even past COVID, we just came together and said, “In the next 3 to 5 years, what do we need to accomplish? How do we wow our clients?”

Saying NO

We have this phrase at Cydcor, wowing the clients. You must take care of the clients. How do you serve the ICL network so that they are the healthiest and most profitable that they can be? Who’s the right team to get that done then go line up the resources and time to go make those things happen. Now one of the things we’ve learned in the last few years is you have to say no to some things too because if you’re focused on a 3 to 5-year strategy, what happens in business good things come up all the time. They’re not the best things to do for the business in the long term.

Brave Women at Work | Vera Quinn | Leadership Journey
Leadership Journey: One of the things we’ve learned in the last few years is you have to say no to some things.

 

Has that been hard for you to say no? For me, I’m still struggling. You can teach me something you’re saying no. I know that you’re making me think of all the quotes, Warren Buffett says, “It’s what you say no to. Successful people say no as much as possible.” Has that been a struggle for you or it just comes pretty naturally?

It’s a struggle. A little bit of it is shiny object syndrome. It’s so cool. We could do this and we could do it. We could probably do it well. It’s just when I stack up those things against the 3 to 5-year strategy, then it’s not the shiniest object then let’s go back to our strategic initiatives. Let’s go back to the company’s key result areas. It’s much easier to say no when you have that plan that you can compare.

That makes total sense.

It’s not easy. It’s not even easy in my day to day. When it comes to my schedule, it’s hard. If somebody needs something, I want to come through for people. It depends on how you’re wired. I love people. I have great relationships with a lot of people in my business. I need fifteen minutes. I want to say yes and I’m like, “The most important thing is this other project that I’m working on with this team,” and that’s the highest and best use of my time.

I have to be able to delegate or eliminate certain things. Otherwise, I’m not working to my highest potential. I’m not doing the right things for the business. That’s another reframe. What’s the best thing for me in my role to do for this business? Not, what do I love doing because those are two different things.

That makes you like, “I may not like this, but this is what’s right for the business. This is what I got to do next.”

It is the right thing to do for the business and I am uniquely skilled at doing it. It’s the thing that I bring the most value to. I would be the chief fund officer. I love hanging out with people. I love laughing but that’s not what the business needs for me.

Vera’s Personal Values

That’s the tough medicine that you swallow as the president, as the leader. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your personal values? How do they impact your work and your whole life?

Family. It’s a big one for me. Not just family or my direct family or people that are related to me. I love people. I love getting to know them. I love their stories. I’m curious. That’s another one of my values, curiosity. I want to know about people. Family, to me, means my direct family, but also the people that I have gathered in my life. It is a big driver for me. My other value is responsibility. You’ll hear this throughout my story and everything I say. I feel like I have a responsibility for and to people. It drives my behavior and freedom. Freedom to me means free of fear, free of judgment.

Not necessarily time and money. Although they’re important, but freedom to me is there’s nothing holding me like my soul, like keeping me from doing or trying or being. Energy and passion, I’m just like a super energetic and passionate person. I feel like if I’m going to do something, I might as well have a big smile on my face or be competing like a crazy person. I have a ton of let’s go, energy and passion then pay it forward. I have a great life. I feel responsible again. I got to pay it forward. I have to help other people have a great life in whatever way is meaningful to them.

It’s an awesome list. Some of mine resonate with your list, too. You’ve obviously done a lot of personal reflection and work. I’ve worked with my clients on values. Do you think it’s a worthwhile exercise to know those as the fabric of your foundation of the steps that you take professionally and personally?

If you don’t know them, then how do you measure them? Where am I spending my time? Where am I spending my focus? Where am I investing in my growth and development? How do I want to show up for the people around me? Without clear values and thinking about them and being thoughtful of them, I’m not sure how easy it is to live life.

I’ll give you an example. My husband had knee surgery. We had a big meeting with a lot of people. If my value is family, it’s my number one value. My husband is at Cedars-Sinai by himself in a hospital room and this meeting is happening. These people are very important to me. That value helped me clarify where I needed to be. I was in that hospital room playing Gin Rummy with my husband.

How’s he doing, by the way?

He’s great. He’s at home. I thought, “How could I make that choice without that value?”

PS, who won Gin Rummy?

I did but he says it’s because he was on pain meds.

Another competitor.

He’s like, “Not fair. I’m on pain meds. That’s why you won.” The fourth day in a row. Not sure.

Empathy And Compassion At The Workplace

Since you have a love of people and on your site, it says you’re a people centric leader. How does empathy and compassion show up when you’re leading the larger organization and the management staff so that they can lead their teams?

When I was younger, I don’t think I was good at this. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I was like, “Get over your feelings.” My disc disposition is I’m a high D. I’m dominant and just go do what you need to do. I’ve learned people are whole, whether you want them to be or not. I’d like to say that everybody in my business, in the hours of 8:00 to 5:00 or 8:00 to 10:00 or whatever people are working. It’s just business.

People are whole, whether you want them to be or not. There are many parts to us, and our work life is just one part, one we often dedicate the most time to, despite its relative importance. Share on X

We’re whole people. There are many parts to us. Our work life is just one part. In some ways the least important part. The part we spend the most time on. I started to learn. In order for me to be a better leader, I need to not just, “Go, go, go.” I need to understand where this person is in their life today. Where is this person in their cycle of life because we all have different cycles.

If you’re a new parent, I’d like you to focus on work 122% of the time. The likelihood of you doing that is not high. You’re a brand-new parent. You have your fears. You aren’t sleeping well. There are things that are true. The more I started understanding that people are whole, they have their mental, emotional, business, and their spiritual. Where are they, the better I can lead them because this is just one part.

If I don’t understand where people’s emotions are, where they think they’re winning in life, losing in life, or where their emotions are, how could I be a great leader? Through my own therapy, through me understanding myself and becoming more self-aware. I was like, “I’m missing a lot. I’m missing a lot of my people.”

When a child goes to a hospital, let’s say. That person’s going to feel a certain way, whether you want them to or not. If I want to lead you well, if I show you compassion and empathy, that isn’t a bad thing in the workplace. In a lot of ways, it’s even better. The person feels acknowledged and the person feels somebody cares about them. They’re okay dealing with their emotions and what they’re going through, then they can bring their best self to whatever they’re doing at work.

They feel you care and you’re a human. You’re not asking them to divest like all of themselves to be some robot at the job.

I don’t. Maybe the way I came up in business or maybe things are changing. We’re here now three days a week. We come on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, then the Monday and Friday, where we are hybrid people or work from home. I love that people hang out at their desks and they’re talking. They’re connecting like, “How was your weekend? Let’s go have lunch or let’s do something fun together.” I love it. They are whole people. Part of coming to work or being at work is these relationships. Take some time for that. It’s not just go, go, go.

That is so good. Versus, there are some leaders that would say, “So and so, he or she spent 25 minutes at that person’s desk and feel like it’s taking away from their productivity.” I don’t agree with that because they spend time socializing, but they’re going to get the work done. If you’ve hired the right people, then they’ll get the work done.

Many years ago, that was probably me, like, “What is going on? Why isn’t it?” This is building our culture. This is the culture we want. We want people to have deep relationships. That’s what connects people to their work. They want to do a better job. This is how people operate. We have some people at Cydcor who are in certain departments. They’re a lot quieter. They need their space. They’re doing their deep thinking work. Have compassion and empathy for that person, too. They aren’t as extroverted. They’re more introverted. They’re more to themselves. That’s fine. As a leader, you get to meet people where they are.

Brave Women at Work | Vera Quinn | Leadership Journey
Leadership Journey: As a leader, you have to meet people where they are.

 

I’m curious about your DISC. You’re a high D and a high what?

Nothing. It’s a high D.

I don’t know if I’ve met someone who’s a pure high D.

On the DISC disposition. It’s below the line and my ISC is below the line. My D is high now. It gives you the three profiles. Under stress, I become a high I.

That makes sense because people.

Which is very interesting. When something’s happening, when I’m under stress, I go find people to either help solve the problem. That’s when I showed up. I’ve done work. It doesn’t matter. Who cares that I’m dominant. Nobody in my business cares that I’m dominant. I need to be what you need. If you’re a high I, then you need me to listen. You need me to ask about your family and you talk to you about your feelings. That’s what you need from a good leader. I had to learn to change my style.

That’s good. On the personal development, professional development, you also are a Franklin Covey trainer. I was wondering when you decided to do that? Why?

There’s something about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’ve read the book.

Brave Women at Work | Vera Quinn | Leadership Journey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

That’s the book. It’s the 7 Habits.

There’s something about that book. Every time I read it, every year I read it, something different comes up for me, which makes sense because I’m different every year. Reading that book for me, I was like, “Huh.” When I became a certified trainer for Covey, I was like, “I want to embody this. I would like to live this way.” We have this saying in our business, “The more you teach it, the more you learn it.” If I become a trainer, then I can teach other people, then that holds me accountable to try and live this way. Each habit, for me, is special. That whole book is special to me. If you can live that way, you’re going to have a great life.

Not to take us too off our track, but do you mind because I haven’t read this book in many moons. I’m like making a note, “Read this book again.” Thank you for that. It makes me curious, what about it makes you want to read it for many years in a row, it sounds like. Do you mind going over the 7 Habits? If someone hasn’t read it or if they’re intrigued that they know what they are.

You have been proactive. You have to begin with the end in mind. Put first things first. We thought one would win. Understand them to be understood. Synergy. Sharpen this off.

Do you have a favorite?

It is sharp in the saw. For me, it’s more about who do I need to become to take the business to the next level? Who do I need to become to be a better spouse to Sean? I have an orphanage in Belize. Who do I need to become to be a better leader of that orphanage and help them more? I’m focused on the four components there. Physically, what am I doing for myself? Mentally, what am I doing? How do I sharpen myself, social, emotionally, then spiritually?

Giving Back

Now you need to tell me about this orphanage and beliefs. Did you find it? Are you funding it? What is your role in the orphanage?

I’m funding it. It is a funny story. One of our sales leaders in the field took a couple of gentlemen to a safari in Africa. He took a couple of people then I had a couple of sales leaders, female sales leaders who called me and said, “Why don’t you take us somewhere?” I said, “I’m not going on a safari. I’m not going to go.”

At that time, my son was young. I said, “What if we volunteer somewhere?” They said, “This sounds great. Let’s volunteer.” We want to do something with kids. One of the women that came with us, she was doing her own work and wanted to understand children a little bit better because that was her goal of hers. Let’s go somewhere. We wanted to speak English because I wanted to be able to communicate with the kids. Something not too far because we were like, “Let’s go to Nepal.” That’s far. We went to Belize. We found the orphanage through or the children’s home through an organization called A Broader View.

That organization is amazing. Whatever your passion is, it will connect you to a reputable foundation in a different country. If you’re into farming, they’ll find a safe place for you to go. If you’re into water, they’ll find a safe place for you to go and we just picked children. We went through A Broader View. It was unbelievable. We were there for seven nights and eight days. Unbelievable experience from start to finish.

It was October. As we’re leaving, the kids said, “Will you come back?” The three of us said, “Yes, 100%.” They looked at us and said, “Everybody says that.” We booked our tickets right then and there. You have your little phone. We came the week before Christmas. We have a big organization, so we did a fundraiser here at Cydcor. People brought gifts. For each child, we had five presents, two T-shirts, shorts, a pair of shoes, then a couple of toys.

We haul them all over to Belize and potentially one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I don’t think I’ve cried like that ever as you have a child looking at five gifts saying, “I should pick one.” We’re like, “No, they’re all for you.” They’d never experienced something like that. Either at I. We went back again. Once you go somewhere, you start realizing there were a couple of boys that were my son’s age at the time. For dinner, it was bread and cheese.

I’m thinking, “If Steven ate that for dinner, he’d be starving.” I started digging in with the founder who was a Montessori teacher from the UK. She founded this place when she was 23. Fast forward ten years, now she has her family and she can’t get that funding going. I thought, “Let me take this on. Let me help.” I brought Steven and Sean, my husband, and my son to Liberty and said, “I’d like to use some of our family finances to fund this place and we’ll do some fundraising as well.”

That’s amazing. If you’d like to include the organization, please let me know or I can work with someone to get that so if anybody wants to contribute, they can.

We have a foundation. It’s called the MyTQuinn Foundation in the US then, 501 (c)(3).

Thank you for sharing that. It’s a beautiful story.

Thank you.

Ways That Women Can Be Braver At Work

What do you believe are 1 to 2 ways that women can be braver at work?

Bravery for me is not the absence of fear. It’s not that you’re not afraid. It’s that you’re willing to do something about it. You’re willing to overcome it or confront it or move towards it. One thing I see a lot is people taking themselves out of the game. I don’t know why. From a leadership perspective, I could argue that women are, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but better leaders than men.

Bravery is not the absence of fear. It’s not that you're not afraid. It's that you're willing to do something about it, willing to overcome or confront it, and to move towards it. Share on X

That’s okay here. That’s safe here.

Lean in. Don’t find a reason to talk yourself out of something, to find the reasons to talk yourself into those things. There’s always a reason why I can’t, or I shouldn’t, or I won’t, or I couldn’t. What are the two or three things where you’re like, “I can,” and take this step? Now, my business, I see a lot of bravery. I do. I see a lot of people stepping in. If you’re in a safe environment, that plays, too. We have a safe environment but I would say lean in. The other thing, you don’t have to know everything to put your hand up to try.

That is so good. I used to think when I first got into leadership, I had to know everything. Now I’m like, “There is no way.” As soon as I let that go, things got a lot better.

Me too. It was like this persona of perfection. Now I’m like, “I don’t know. Maybe 2% of things.” Am I convinced that I can go find out? Yes, I have a lot of confidence that I can go learn.

I hope everybody was taking notes on those, too. Those are good. The original book, we quoted her at the beginning, Lean In, is the granddaddy of all or the grandma of all those books and tells you not to take yourself out of the game.

 I loved that book. I loved that book when it came out. I learned a lot from it. It changed some of my behavior like any things and stuff. I got a lot out of that. Talk about bravery.

That was early in the game when she did that. That was brave on her part.

On her part, I thought, “Brave.” Let’s talk about some of these things that are different and we own that. I like the book too, because it’s like, “You’re a woman. You’re accountable for that but you don’t have to behave this way. You don’t have to be small in a meeting. You could be big in a meeting.” You don’t have to make sure everybody else is okay and sit in the back. You’re going to sit at the table with everybody else. I learned a lot.

That sounds good. This has been such a fun conversation. Where can women connect with you online?

I have my Instagram at @VeraQuinn and @Cydcor. There’s a lot of good content there. Those are probably the two best places. I will send you the MyTQuinn information if people want to read up on it.

Sounds great. Vera, it was so good to talk with you and to learn from you. It was a joy. Thank you so much for your time.

I appreciate it. Thank you and for the questions and making it super easy. It just flowed.

That’s a wrap on my discussion with Vera. I hope you found our conversation, both valuable and inspiring. Here are a few questions for you to consider until next time. What are your personal and/or professional values? If you haven’t reviewed them in a while or ever, it’s never too late to get started. It’s a great exercise as we are in mid-year as this show airs.

Google values exercise or look up on any internet browser values exercise and you will receive a million hits or more. I personally like Brené Brown’s values worksheet. What is your story? Everyone has their own story and road to their goals. What’s yours? Write it down. You will be amazed at how far you’ve come. As a reminder, please rate, review, and subscribe to the show in Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on any other platform you enjoy. Until next time, show up, chart your road to the top and be brave.

 

Important Links

 

About Vera Quinn

Brave Women at Work | Vera Quinn | Leadership JourneyOver her first 25 years (and counting) with Cydcor, Vera Quinn has been a driving force behind the company’s growth. Vera was named CEO in 2020 and continues to be a faithful custodian of the business, honing the mission and vision of the company while supporting the advancement of the team around her.
 
As CEO, Vera sets the strategic direction of the business. She understands that in an increasingly automated world, Cydcor exists to unleash the power and uniqueness of people to create generational growth and opportunities. This is a vision that has been with her from the start–as Vera’s rise to the company’s C-suite is a testament to the power of Cydcor as an opportunity-based business.
 
Vera’s focus is on creating long-term value for the business while she is CEO. She is a champion of Cydcor’s mission to relentlessly create growth and opportunity for aspiring individuals, entrepreneurs, brands, and customers.
 
In addition to her current role as CEO and President, Vera has served as COO, VP of Operations, and VP of Sales Operations.
 
Vera studied political science and history at the University of Toronto.

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