RiseUp and be counted! Miriam visits the U.S. for Money20/20

Treasury Spring - Miriam Smetten

Miriam Smetten

Head of Community
Wednesday, Jan, 11, 2023
3mins

There’s no mistaking the fact that Money20/20 is always an experience in and of itself. That being said, nothing surpassed playing a part in RiseUp – a program specifically created to help empower women in Fintech – it was a different level altogether.

As I was applying for the RiseUp program last summer, it was clear that such a positive initiative would be heavily subscribed, so I never truly believed that I would be invited to join the Las Vegas cohort as part of Money20/20. I was thrilled when the invitation came through and prepared as best as I could without really knowing quite what to expect. Fortunately, I am the type of person that can easily go with the flow.

The RiseUp group comprised of 30 women, all ambitious, highly motivated, and ready to make a positive impact within the Fintech industry. RiseUp does not concern itself with what company you work for or where you come from – it’s about the individual and creating opportunities to learn and hear from others; to listen and to adapt accordingly, to ask questions and to share experiences – it’s about you and it captures this spirit in the phrase, Do. Better. Together.

Over the course of 4 days together at Money20/20, our cohort got to know each other well and we were privileged to hear from an amazing list of speakers and mentors. We had 30+ sessions, each unique and highly valuable. Once back in London, I sat down to take stock and review what I had learned. I quickly realised that I had numerous takeaways from the trip.

Here are 7 top tips I’d like to share:

1. Network for yourself, not just the business!
Everything is about networking at Money20/20! Meeting new companies, speaking to potential investors, looking for the next hire, the list goes on. Networking is second nature to me, so I’m always ready to represent TreasurySpring in the best possible way. RiseUp represented something very different. This time I was expected to network for myself and the emphasis was on people speaking to each other about themselves and learning more about those around you. This was the essence of RiseUp – an initiative designed around individuals and helping people understand who you are. Sharing personal experiences, from what your favourite book is to how many children you have. This was an alien networking experience – designed around the individual with an emphasis on building your personal network – not your business relationships (at least in the first instance as most of those businesses could be our clients).

2. There is more than one leadership style and yes – it can be unique to you!
There are many books, courses and other learning material out there about leadership styles. Some of them are very helpful. Some are contradictory. But the key is to understand which leadership style you can truly identify with and there is really only one way to find out. The greatest lesson for me was that it is fine to adapt your leadership style, as long as you remain yourself. Every leadership style can be personal. It’s important not to feel pressured in to leading like someone else or to copy other leaders we admire – the greatest value is in finding your own style! We just need to ensure we’re open to learning from others and inviting feedback. Reach out for constructive criticism and advice. Absorb those points and use them to guide you on your own path. It’s fairly straightforward and doesn’t always require a book.

3. Good communication traverses all languages – whichever you speak it’s vital to remember you always have a voice
As a German who is living in the UK, it was often a struggle to communicate at first. My approach is very direct and that can sometimes surprise people. One of the sessions centred on the fact that many people around the world are not native speakers. As we know globalisation has seen people change country and sometimes more than once. The most important thing in communication is (i) do actually communicate! And (ii) it often doesn’t matter what you say, it’s more about how you say it. Different people have different ways of communicating and as well as different languages and tones. Whatever we aim to communicate, we should bear in mind that the other person will stand a greater chance of understanding us if we are respectful, clear and importantly leave room for questions.

4. Selfcare beyond chocolate or a new pair of shoes – consistency is the key!
Don’t get me wrong, I love treating myself to new shoes (could do so every week!), but it can be a distraction when we are struggling to balance work, healthy parenting and relationships, achieve fitness goals and that ever growing reading list. In reality, selfcare is about truly understanding your daily life and finding a way to manage all your personal requirements without being completely overwhelmed. Life is not binary and there really is no right or wrong way – it’s usually a very personal thing. Many women (and I am sure also men) can find their daily tasks a struggle. Often because there are so many of them. Planning our week ahead can help us plan all of those tasks in order of priority. Importantly, take the pressure off. We don’t need to do everything, every day. If you want to prioritise a long walk on a Sunday rather than have a 2 hour gym session, that is absolutely fine. There are also tasks you can combine. Have a long walk on Sunday while listening to a book. But it’s okay to not listen to anything while you just walk by yourself. Understand that those things are up to you – and no one else. I also learned that asking for help is absolutely fine and in fact we should ask for help. Asking for help can be difficult in our world, but are there really any good reasons why we shouldn’t do it!? When you ask for help, you are asking because you want to do something good or even better. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness. Keep that in mind!

5. Good negotiation skills are brilliant – but we rarely use them for ourselves
Would you say that you are a good negotiator? Think about the last time you did it, was it for you or for someone else? How often have you tried to negotiate something for others and how often did you do it for yourself? Women can be great negotiators, but they are tempted to use their skills more often for others rather than themselves, while men are more likely to use their skills to negotiate for themselves. I can really identify with this concept. I believe I’m a good negotiator – at least when I’m doing it for others! So I gave myself a little homework; focus on negotiating for myself more often!

6. Imposter syndrome – we have it all!
It was the first time that I’d heard about imposter syndrome. Of course, I now know exactly what it is – because I have experienced it first hand and will continue to do so. This was a key discovery during the session and it quickly became clear that almost all of us had at least experienced imposter syndrome in some form. Why are we so self-doubting when someone says ‘well done’? Why do we struggle to believe we achieved something that wasn’t pure luck? There doesn’t seem to be a single and clear answer, but we can find a better way, choosing to accept ourselves rather than doubt.

7. It’s okay to struggle – and it is normal to!
Yes, I struggle sometimes. Some days are more of a struggle than others when it comes to achieving all the goals I set myself. Through the RiseUp community I discovered that I am not alone, that everybody struggles sometimes and that is completely normal. The most important takeaway was to admit where you are struggling and how best to deal with it. It’s not about being the best in everything, it’s about bringing out the best version of yourself. It’s fine if this takes time.

We discussed many topics over the course of those 4 days. RiseUp USA 2022 was an incredible experience and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of it and make connections with an amazing cohort in the process. If you’d like to hear about any of the topics raised here or the the RiseUp program and how it can positively impact you I would be happy to share more information.

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