Speaker says confidence drives success

By loquitur
October 7, 2010

An author and entrepreneur said that professional women must make time for themselves and embrace personal branding.

Sara Canuso, president of A Suitable Solution and author, spoke to over 150 women At Cabrini College about how to create a positive, confident image.   She stressed the importance of how taking the time to look confident could make you more successful at your profession.

“Confidence looks good on everyone,” Canuso said to her diverse audience of women during her presentation at the second annual women’s leadership conference in the Grace Hall Atrium on Oct. 2.

According the Canuso, we do not spend enough time listening to ourselves and our desires.  She gave the example of getting on an airplane and listening to the stewardess. “She says, ‘in the event of an emergency, place the oxygen mask on yourself first.  You will then begin to help others.’” Canuso said.

In implementing this, women need to ask themselves if they are living their life to the fullest and if they are working towards the goals that will make them more successful.  They should be taking everyday as an opportunity.

According to Canuso, women need to begin with the image that they have of themselves first.  The image that they see in themselves is ultimately what others will see in them and if they see themselves in a positive light, then others will feel the confidence they have.  It is apparent by what a woman looks like if she is happy in her position and if she is goal oriented.

“It’s really all about taking pride in yourself and it’s not a matter of the amount of money you have,” Heather Cardimon, director of administrative services and graduate of the master in science and leadership program at Cabrini.  “Her philosophy was really that you need to look good and when you look good, you feel good.”

For a woman to create a positive image in herself, it is as easy as knowing what looks the best on her and creating illusions with her body.  Wearing colors that bring out her skin tones or standing up straight will create the illusion that she is more confident.  According to Canuso, once women correct their posture, they immediately look more confidant and 10 pounds slimmer.

“Something as small as ironing your shirt, she put that in the forefront and they were all very attainable changes,” Cardimon said.

Canuso focused on the importance of women to brand an image and keep to that image.  That image that they create for themselves becomes their own personal logo that people will begin to know them as.  All professional women need to know what their brand is and know what works best for them.

“Here’s the bottom line, when you brand your image you have to figure out what is your image and what is your body style or type,” Canuso said.

Branding an image has to do with a woman knowing what works best for her and building an illusion.  According to Canuso, women need to know what their haves and have-nots are and to use these to create illusions.  Every woman has a different set of haves and have-nots and in learning how to extenuate their positive assets and hide their flaws, they come across more confident.

“If you carry that with you, you can’t help but be successful,” Francis (Brig) Bowe, program supervisor for the master in science and leadership program and leadership conference coordinator, said.

An example of image branding is Hilary Clinton and her famous pantsuits.  She is an older woman and she is not confident about her legs.  She also speaks primarily in arenas where men, as well as women, are listening to her speak; therefore the pantsuit works well for her.

But wearing a suit is not always the best bet for everyone.  Women in the professional field must think about what their job is and what their personality is.  Though a female lawyer should be wearing a suit and skirt, someone in a more liberal or artistic career might fit better into something a little less professional.

“I would not put a web designer in a suit. I would have a web designer in a more funky, creative brand,” Canuso said.

When a woman creates a consistent personal brand for herself, they tell others who they are and what they stand for.  It communicates trust and creates relationship capital between them and the people they come in contact with everyday.  This personal branding presents a consistent picture of they are and communicates their reputation.

“You may be the smartest person, well qualified but someone may look at you and immediately check you off the list because they don’t see you as professional,” Cardimon said.

Canuso also stressed the importance a first impression really is for women trying to create a personal, professional image for themselves.  According to Canuso, 90 percent of communication is nonverbal and everyone uses their eyes to develop the first impression of another person.

“It’s a strong message to remember that your appearance is really what everyone sees, so their judging you on your appearance before you even open your mouth,” Cardimon said.

Canuso used the example of her own personal successes to drive her message home.

“We speak about going out and doing something extraordinary with your life,” Bowe said.  “Well here’s a women who at age 55 decides to go out on her own and now she is a successful author and businesswomen.  It speaks to believing in yourself, which we preach.”

Canuso is also an executive coach that helps develop young women into successful professional.  At age 55, Canuso decided to “shed the shackles of corporate America” and start to create her own path in the world.  She decided to start her own business and hasn’t looked back since.

“I knew I would fly, I just never dreamed I would fly as high as I did,” Canuso said.

Her presentation was well received by her audience and the Cabrini community that was involved in the leadership conference and complemented the other speakers and workshops in the conference.  According to Bowe, many women said they would begin to implement some of the things they heard into their professional lives.

“(She) helped other women find tools and other skills, which they didn’t know they had, and helped them make a development to move forward,” Bowe said.

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