Alisa Choi Darcy, President of Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy, knows a thing or two about leadership. What she has to say might surprise you.
Alisa Choi Darcy’s long-term experience in the advertising and marketing industry not only earned her the tools and training to succeed, but helped to form her unique perspective on leadership and what was missing from the industry.
Discovering a Need
Darcy’s background with Channel M Television (now OMNI TV) and her experience in both advertising and media sales revealed to Darcy that a major niche remained unfilled: there were no existing companies providing cross-cultural marketing to client bases across multiple ethnic communities. Darcy found this surprising, considering that multicultural groups are an underserved and quickly growing segment of Canada’s population.
The fact that few marketing agencies had risen to open this niche impressed on Darcy. Basing a marketing strategy on cultural insight and sensitivity seemed not only natural, but also beneficial to the bottom line. In other words, a more inclusive approach—in which representatives showed familiarity with clients’ language, habits, and customs—would benefit not only the clients’ community, but also the company.
Trusting her gut was risky, Darcy says, but ultimately she chose to follow the entrepreneurial path and meet the need she had found for cross-cultural marketing services. In the beginning there were challenges, like having to do everything on her own and managing the costs of starting up. Despite these initial hurdles, Darcy continued to push for success. During her recent presentation at Greystone College, Darcy shared her strong belief that confident leadership is not an inherent personality trait, but a state of mind.
The Leadership Mentality
Darcy emphasized that extroversion and outward confidence are not necessarily core traits of a leader; instead, she explained, a leader is someone who seeks to improve systems and speaks up for new ideas—who constantly asks questions and motivates team members to look for innovative solutions. More than anything, a leader strives to take advantage of resources and growth opportunities while maintaining a strong sense of curiosity.
Leadership and Entrepreneurial Advice from Alisa Choi Darcy:
- Attend as many free networking events as possible; a strong network is essential.
- Find the right mentors by talking to people and building connections with them.
- Work to establish trust by listening to your clients’ needs and getting to know them.
- Remember the personal touch! Even with the rise of digital industries, a friendly and helpful representative makes all the difference.
- Constantly seek ways to grow, diversify, and improve your craft.
To graduates, Darcy offers two key pieces of advice:
Be a leader
Leadership does not mean extroversion; it simply means not being a follower. Think about how things are done and be willing to question them. Whether speaking up as a consumer or innovating in business, it takes only one person to make a change.
Being curious allows you to notice trends and opportunities around you, perhaps in places you never imagined. Being able to imagine what people might want and to think ahead is essential in marketing. Similarly, pursuing interests and passions in fields outside your own industry will help you think outside the box and make new connections.
Remember the leadership state of mind: everything you do is an opportunity to learn, and everything you learn can be applied to your craft! This attitude will drive growth and prepare you for the opportunities that emerge.
Photo Credit: Flickr User Steven Depolo