Conviction has always been incredibly important to me throughout my career. It takes you to another level. Whether it’s being able to speak with conviction myself or see it in others, it’s been a “red thread” in my work and also my personal life.
Do you believe we should really do this? Is this really important? – even on an almost philosophical level, do you believe this is the right thing? Doing the right thing whilst still being able to make good money is a perfect balance that we should all aim to strike!
Let me take you back to the earlier stages of my career, when I launched a well-known coconut water brand in Europe. We grew exponentially from 60k to 30million during my tenure, after which I exited. This company was quite well funded and unfortunately, started telling lies about the product, even in the ingredients list which led to them getting sued in the USA.
This experience led me to leave the brand and also gave me the inspiration to start my own! I wanted to do things differently. Coconut water is incredibly healthy, but to make it a healthy product, it has to be fresh, and no sugar added. So, to achieve this, we used a cold preservation technology (no heat-treatment), among other techniques to make it a high-quality product.
This enabled us to launch a healthy product in the market with no smoke and mirrors around what was in it. We sourced coconuts from small islands in The Philippines, which enabled us to support local suppliers, even subsistence farmers, instead of big plantation owners.
Our brand and ethos had profound meaning. Our suppliers saw that we wanted to operate honestly and with integrity, and that helped us with the first of many breakthroughs. We got a complex logistical operation going with the brilliance and support of the local community, in particular the fishermen.
What I was told later by people in the industry across the world, is that one of the reasons they took the risk to put us in their warehouses and on their shelves, was because they could see that we really believed in our own brand.
We were convinced that what we did was right and that this story should be told to everyone, and that our company and product should become a big success; For the consumer, nature, and all the way through to the farmer. They also believed in our product, we all had conviction because we genuinely believed in what we were doing.
We had conviction in and with everything that we said.
What is my advice to be more convicting and climb the corporate ladder?
To have conviction, you have to be of high integrity in the first instance. You have to be genuine and completely convinced that what you are doing is right, as that will be your main way of influencing others and getting buy-in from stakeholders. Some things that have helped me are as follows…
1. There is no wrong answer!
Although technically, there are wrong answers and ultimately, room for error, telling yourself that there is no wrong answer before going into a meeting can help. The fact that you are convinced and have the right reasons for being so, makes it the right answer on a philosophical level; you will be more compelling. But first, you have to be a conviction seller/investor/etc. In the end, execution is everything!
2. Data and research is your friend
Be prepared and do the work. If you still struggle to speak with conviction due to confidence, nervousness, or another reason, look at the resources and steps you’ve applied to get to where you are, and the bigger picture where it all fits in. Ensure the data and research fit with your beliefs and you’ll come across as a compelling speaker. Research and data are great to back up what you’re saying – it will shine through when you speak.
3. There is power in saying “I don’t know”
It can be tempting to pretend to know everything in a bid to seem knowledgeable, when in reality there is power in vulnerability and being honest when you don’t know something. This enables you to build better relationships with others, as humility and honesty when genuine, are always respected. If not, you work for the wrong company!
About the Author
Vincent Heilbron is a seasoned entrepreneur and CEO in the F&B, renewable energy, and future mobility space. He started 2 FMCG businesses, exiting one with a 42x multiple and now working on disrupting the B2B and B2C electric vehicle buying experience. He loves strategizing new businesses, developing products, and being a thought-leader in his space.
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