About Freda: Speaker, Broadcaster, Writer, Moderator, Working with BFM89.9, Malaysia’s leading business station, Freda has conducted over 5,000 interviews with prominent names which include author Stephen Covey, motivational speaker Nick Vijucic, former GE CEO Jack Welch, the Duke of York HRH Prince Andrew and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Covering the gamut of communications, she previously worked for Edelman PR and IBM Asia Pacific and also as a news presenter on national radio TV. Award-winning Freda is highly sought after for moderating corporate events and training.
She has authored five books called “PR Yourself” and “Shake Spear Your Business: The Romeo Juliet Way,” and “Everybody Loves Ray” (biography). Her latest book is called “Bursting Fixed Mindsets-How 15 Women Broke the Million Ringgit Mark” as she’s passionate to take women entrepreneurship to the next level. She also hosts a show called Her Vantage which talks about women of leadership and influence to showcase women representation in all strata of society from sports, the arts sciences to entrepreneurship.
In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Ms Freda Liu speaks about how this is the time for women to level up and become excellent entrepreneurs with the help of advanced technology. She also speaks on the need for being mindful, leading to empathizing with one another in one’s personal and professional life.
Your book ‘Bursting Fixed Mindsets’, reflects your passion for taking women entrepreneurship to the next level. Where do you see are a few hurdles challenges women facing in becoming an entrepreneur in the next five years?
When I wrote this book, I didn’t want to position it as a book about women’s issues but more general. I tried to turn the book as a subject of positive change brought about by women who have broken and then rebuilt themselves from ground level. It was about bringing in positive thinking, being a game changer etc. I think the biggest hurdle for a woman as an entrepreneur is to change the mindset of the world when it comes to defining a women’s job roles. Women are still viewed to be domestic workers when, in reality, they are taking care of both their professional and personal life with all of its struggles. It will ease some of the load off the women if both partners share it. Apart from breastfeeding, there is nothing that a man cannot do at home. It is the women who are modest, taking on everything upon themselves and multitasking their duties.
The other major hurdle that I have seen from my experience is speaking up for oneself. To speak about your issues, fearlessly is one hurdle that we are yet to cross off completely. I came across a study that mentioned that a woman would only take up a role if she is 100% sure whereas a man will take up a role if he is 50% sure. This also applies to business scenarios.
I believe this is an excellent time for women because technology has evened out the playing field. This can help women to become better entrepreneurs by working from home, using it to leverage their time etc. However, access to the internet is different in different countries which could prove to be a setback. One of the factors that are still taken for granted is the safety of women. This is a factor that is yet to be taken care of around the world, and we are hoping that technology can help it in some way.
What are the stepping stones that should be supporting women entrepreneurs to rise and shine?
One of the things I believe is a stepping stone is being bold and not being afraid to tell your story. This is not limited to gender roles. I do not know if it is an Asian thing, but if one has something good to tell about themselves, then they should share it. Sometimes, it is important to blow your own trumpet if it means you have to market something crucial about yourself. Most individuals, mostly Asians, shy away from it. It is crucial to get better at marketing-whether it is for our product or ourselves.
One of your books talks about Mindfulness, share with us your ideas on Mindfulness in the professional world. What can it mean to the leaders from the Corporate world how they can be benefited from it?
One of the women I interviewed for the book, Dr Jessie Tan is someone who makes time to meditate. As you climb up the corporate ladder, you may find yourself being too busy and unable to afford to give time to yourself. This needs to change by giving oneself the required time. For me it is making time to exercise, then I go to the sauna to detox etc. Even then there are occasions when I miss out on giving myself this much-needed me-time. It is, therefore, important to be mindful about the kind of personality you have and how do you make time to know more about yourself. It is the time to stop and reflect on your actions. Being mindful also means to be able to empathize because gone are the days when organizations did not give a second thought about the employee’s welfare in terms of mindset. Millennials, especially, are attracted to such companies.
What are a few brand strategies you recommend to startups SME’s they should practice raising their brand above the noise and clutter of the competitive landscape?
The biggest thing that both startups and SME’s can follow is positioning themselves as the subject matter experts, whether it is through speaking or through articles. This is the basis on which you can claim to know your business. It is not always about funding. I definitely think that being visible is important. Some individuals I know do not like to speak in public, but then in today’s day and age, you don’t always have to. You can always resort to writing articles on LinkedIn or being visible in your space by giving out thoughts on subject matters about your arena.
If you are a CEO or the founder, then the position helps leverage what you have to say. At the same time, it also sheds light on the culture you follow and what will happen of it once you leave. This refers to succession planning.
What are the hygiene factors SME’s should be cautiously implementing in their communication strategy?
I believe that communicating regularly is important, irrespective of the topic at hand. Social media teaches us the same thing. Different media platforms, too, want us to display the variety of things that we are into whether we do it singularly or in partnership. Therefore, communicating effectively and understanding different platforms is always a part of the PR plan. Back in the day, I was only print, radio and TV. Today, there are multiple avenues of communication. It has also been seen that companies who don’t communicate well with their employees face the consequences. Thus, it is always better when communications are smooth and is a two-way street.
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