3 Minutes to read
Victoria Usher, Founder & CEO of GingerMay
Learning Inspiration 🌈 #57
Victoria Usher is the founder and CEO of GingerMay, a multi-award winning global PR B2B agency for blue-chip, technology, advertising, media, and fast-growth disruptive businesses. GingerMay was crowned Best B2B PR Agency at the PRmoment Awards. The PRCA awarded Victoria Industry Leader of the Year
Who is your major inspiration?
My first boss, Michelle Norman, is a brilliant leader – and an incredibly driven woman – in a space dominated by men. When I joined her data business as a graduate, she took me under her wing and nurtured my passion for the technology industry. She also showed me the value of creating a nimble, proactive business that keeps a highly supportive and rewarding environment central to its culture. Even now, I regularly reference the wise guidance I learned from her.
From an international perspective, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg is a phenomenal icon. She created a powerful legacy by championing gender equality in the US Supreme Court, showing how fiercely driven, intelligent, and articulate women can overcome the barriers of a man’s world and hold open the door for others to follow. When she graduated from law school in the 1950s, only 3% of US lawyers were women, but she tore down the ‘norm’ and pioneered women’s rights throughout her life.
My inspiration comes from those who use their empowerment to, in turn, empower others around them.
How do you keep learning on a daily basis? What are your learning routines?
I’m an early-bird and get up at 4:30 am every day. I cherish and fiercely protect this time as a Power Hour (or two) for listening to educational podcasts. The first hour after waking is the time when my mind learns best – and when there are no other distractions, it’s heaven.
Once everyone is up in my household, and the emails start pouring in, there isn’t time to be truly focused and mindful, which is why it’s so important to carve out time in the morning for learning. To quote John Templeton, “A day without learning is a day wasted.”
What are your favorite books and why?
On the business shelf, Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed is my go-to book. It’s about how cultivating a growth mindset and owning our mistakes help us to realize our full potential. In my fiction section, it would have to be Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North. This novel is a breathtaking exploration of human struggle, love, and comradeship, which was recommended to me by my best friend, Georgina Morgan.
What are your favorite podcast and why?
Krista Tippett’s Becoming Wise – I love this podcast because it offers short, concise advice on a diverse range of topics. It’s a ‘snackable’ podcast that engages the mind with so many insightful conversations.
Jason Calacanis’ This Week in Startups also shines a light on the tech industry’s inner workings. Kara Swisher’s Sway is a no-nonsense podcast featuring the movers and shakers of today’s world – whether they come from the tech, political, or entrepreneurial arenas.
If you were left alone on an island and could only bring one item, what would it be?
My black Labrador Retriever, Ginger – she’s our Chief Happiness Officer at GingerMay and part of the family. She would not just keep me company but provide entertainment and lightheartedness with a big dollop of love.
What would you tell the 18 or 25-year-old version of yourself?
Take risks, focus on your goals, be determined, and trust your instincts. Today’s generation is increasingly encouraged to step outside the box and be independent and entrepreneurial. This was not the case when I was that age. I’d share this encouragement with my younger self and say don’t worry about offending people or doing the ‘right’ thing – do the best thing without being fearful, especially when it comes to your career.
It’s also crucial to ensure you choose the right life partner that will support you in your aspirations. As Caitlin Moran warns in her book More than a Woman, “Your partner is your glass ceiling.” As you focus on your career and perhaps choose to have a family, success is often largely determined by your partner’s attitudes and actions, along with how open they are to you potentially being more successful than them.
What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome this year, and how did you do that?
As with most other businesses, GingerMay was impacted by Covid in Q2 2020. Clients didn’t want to be in the spotlight when media narratives were dominated by negativity and panic. We invested time in internal structures during this period and came out the other side stronger and more nimble. Facing these challenges reawakened my entrepreneurial spirit, and as tough as it was, it was one of the most positive learning experiences of my life. We are now enjoying a huge growth trajectory as a result.
If there is anything else you would like to share, please do so
Mentoring is supremely important if you want to help others grow their business or career.
Life is a huge learning experience in itself, and it’s vital to help those earlier in their career move forward as quickly as possible. As soon as you’re an expert in your field, you have a responsibility to pass on your experience to others. Helping other men and women entrepreneurs find the right path, I hope, will be part of my legacy.
Mentoring also helps you focus more deeply on your achievements, breaking down the concepts and learnings you’ve taken on board. It also teaches you how to listen to others – a skill that many unfortunately find difficult to grasp. It makes a refreshing change in a very noisy and opinionated world to listen patiently to another without jumping in to give a solution, instead, coaching them to find the right answer. I couldn’t put it better than Ruth Bader Ginsberg: “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”
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