Her Story, Her Success: An Interview with Marielle Legair
No woman is an island. We need each other to learn, grow, and thrive, especially as small business owners in a crazy world! Her Story, Her Success is a Sunbird blog series that features the stories and advice of female entrepreneurs.
International Speaker, Author and Personal Brand Strategist, Marielle Legair, uses the power of storytelling to increase the visibility of her clients. She has held senior PR positions in London and New York, at some of the largest companies in the world (Deloitte, Experian, Grant Thornton, and Golin just to name a few!). Armed with over a decade of international experience working with global CEOs and more recently entrepreneurs, Marielle supports her clients in going from unknown to known in their industry.
She founded Women Who Influence, a PR and personal branding community for female entrepreneurs worldwide, because she believes she can make a real difference. Originally from London, Marielle recently returned home, after several years in NYC.
We caught up with Marielle to find out how her corporate background led her down the path to entrepreneurship, how she incorporates her personal brand into her business brand, and the role mindset plays in success.
Prior to our interview, I did some snooping on the Women Who Influence website. As I was checking out Marielle’s impressive journey on her way to launching her company, I thought it was interesting how it all started out with an impulsive trip to Brazil in 2010, which Marielle dubbed her “quarter life crisis.”
“The trip to Brazil was so important because up until that point in my life, I had always played it very safe.”
Although a lot happened prior to the trip, Marielle explained, the experience was significantly impactful. She thought that having a “safe job would be enough” for her, but Brazil completely pushed her far out of her comfort zone. Since Brazil, Marielle says she now pushes herself to do things she never thought she could do.
“Brazil really was the tipping point. Two years after that trip, I quit the UK and moved to New York where I didn’t know anyone…”
Once in New York, Marielle got a job in corporate America, which she soon realized was not for her. Ironically, it was this stint in corporate America that ended up setting her up for success within her own business. Marielle explained that having the corporate background instilled a lot in her, in terms of the way she structures and presents herself. She views it as an excellent training ground for working with entrepreneurs who are developing their personal brands.
“I still do some corporate work, such as speaking gigs and one-on-one consulting, but working with female entrepreneurs makes up a large proportion of my work."
Marielle learned how to help female entrepreneurs with their personal brands through the journey of creating her own. Most first-time entrepreneurs struggle with intertwining their personal and business brands, but Marielle knows that these two things go hand-in-hand. She mentions that we live in a world where everything is digital and “you are who Google says you are.”
If you Google Marielle, her business will show up in the first couple of search results, because her business is a part of her and what she represents to the world. So why would you ever separate your personal brand from your business brand?
Marielle states that people that are doing very well in business and in life recognize that success comes from combining your personal brand and reputation with what you do for work. She’s seen people try to launch businesses who stay behind the business. That, she emphasizes, does not work very well.
“People are emotionally driven. They want to form some kind of connection, and you do that by sharing who you are.”
But sharing isn’t always easy for some people – specifically introverts. As a company founded by two introverts, we Sunbirds know the feeling all too well. Marielle refers to herself as “a social introvert,” because she loves to be social, but still needs time alone to decompress.
If you are an introverted entrepreneur, Marielle stresses the importance of getting comfortable sharing who you are and what you do because people do business with people. “That sounds clichéd, but it’s the truth.” It’s important to recognize that sharing is really about promoting your business. Marielle warns that if you want to be an entrepreneur, then you have to get comfortable selling what you’re offering, and exchanging your value in the marketplace.
Once you take your ego out of it “and stop caring what people think” (which tends to be particularly hard for us as women), then Marielle promises “you’ll start to really soar.” After you let all of that go, you’ll just be focused on doing what’s best for your client—and “that’s what it always comes down to.”
The last bit of advice Marielle leaves us with, and what she says is most important to successful entrepreneurship, is having the right mindset.
“We need to be mindful of the stories we tell ourselves.”
She explains that we often tend to just go through the motions, and don’t realize that some of our deep-rooted beliefs could actually be holding us back.
Tony Robbins, (who she listened to to help keep her spirits up while stuck in corporate America), says that entrepreneurship is “80% mindset and 20% mechanics.”
Marielle explains that in her role, she can teach somebody how to pitch themselves to the media or how to prepare for a speaking engagement, but “if you don’t have that belief—that mindset—that you’re going to succeed, then you’re never going to get to where you want to be.” How we speak to ourselves will be foundational to our success in business and in life.
Want to here more about Marielle's approach to personal branding? Check out her book, The Personal Brand Bible for Ambitious Women: Featuring Success Secrets from Six-Figure Trailblazers.