She Works

with Rachel Braun Scherl

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Using your voice

Rachel Braun Scherl

Founder, Fundraising Heavy Hitter, Public Speaker and Market Strategist

Lessons Learned

The only way to develop your voice is to use it.

Find your voice by following your interest. What strikes you, and what do you want to talk about?

Use the expertise and passion you develop in your startup to become a thought leader in your field.


Lesson: She Works with Rachel Braun Scherl

Step #3 Vagipreneur: Using your voice

When I was working on Zestra, because of the strategy that we chose with PR, I became a spokesperson for the business and a face for the brand. I always thought I'd like to present, but this was like a whole other world. I mean the hair and makeup was really fun, when someone does that for you, and then they set up the lights and put you on TV. I was really taken by how powerful I felt that my voice was, or our voice was, for the company.

In that role, because I started doing more interviews and because we started doing more TV, I started getting asked to speak at different universities or at different trade conferences and often the hook was, female sexual health is really interesting. But it also became an opportunity to talk about, how do you present a topic that is very difficult to talk about. How do you create a voice? How do I create my voice, not just as business person, but as a female business person?

That experience of interacting with students and starting to write for the "Huffington Post" really gave me a lot of positive energy in terms of the reaction I got. I found it cathartic, I loved the back and forth of the conversation, and I wish I had been smart enough to do that earlier in my career because, I think one of the ways to develop your voice is to actually use your voice. This particular political or cultural issue we had, this discomfort with female sexual health was my catalyst to really develop my voice in a very specific way.

As a result of that, I've had the opportunity to meet tons of students, male and female, lots of entrepreneurs and it gave me an understanding of how hard that experience is. I think it gave me some tools and tips and battle scars that I can share with people and they can share their stories with me. Ultimately it's all about, "What is your story?" and this became part of my story.

I started writing for "Huffington Post" in June 2012 and it was this well thought out. I said I'd like to submit a blog to Huffington Post. So I emailed a friend who I thought would know about it and she said write to this editor. I wrote to that editor with my story, I had a full article written. She sent me to someone else and they published it.

Next thing I know, they send you a link where it's a totally impersonal, anonymous process where I would write things, I would upload them to my particular "Huffington Post" link and they would review it and then publish it. What was so exciting to me was, One, I got to write about whatever I wanted to. I started originally writing about female sexual health and issues associated with the business. But when I saw that I was able to publish more frequently, it gave me the freedom and still gives me the freedom, to identify things that interest me in the world. There're often related to business, they are often related to communication style, they are often related to women, and often I just pull something out of the news that I find striking.

So for instance I saw ads for Liquid-Plumr recently that had such strong sexual overtones that I said, "Oh, I think I'm going to write about that, I think I'm going to write about what this is trying to communicate and why this works and what's my feeling about whether or not this is a good idea." There's a lot in the media about the hook-up culture. I saw an article in the New York Times one Sunday and so I said, "This is something that interests me. I want to understand this".

The premise of the article was that because relationships were so passé at this point, and I'm talking about college-age kids, and hooking up was more the norm that one of the things that young women had started to think about was, "I don't have time for a relationship. I have time for hooking up but I don't have time for a relationship." So I just started to ask questions. Are these things mutually exclusive? Can you only focus on your career or can you only focus on having a relationship?

I've read a lot about this, I don't think anyone's come up with the answer, but I think the discussion is really interesting, and I don't think it just applies to women. But that's what I do, I take things that catch my attention and I write about them and I love the interaction with the people I know who read them and the people I don't know who read them, and it's led to a lot of other opportunities, which is a whole other part of my business that gives me a lot of credibility when I'm standing in front of large companies.

Working with large companies gives me the credibility to speak, being an entrepreneur gives me the credibility to speak and all the speaking then funnels back. So I think they all become self-reinforcing activities.

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