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150. Others-Focused Leadership with Vera Quinn

This episode features Vera Quinn, the CEO of Cydcor, who shares her journey from a door-to-door salesperson to running the company. Vera provides valuable insights on her personal journey, challenges faced by female leaders, and the importance of fostering a people-first atmosphere in organizations. She gives practical advice for upcoming leaders, emphasizing the need to be interested in others, valuing clear communication, and believing in people's potential to thrive when given opportunities to do big things.


About Vera:

Vera Quinn headshot
Vera Quinn

As CEO and President of Cydcor, Vera Quinn has been a driving force behind the company’s success. Vera is primarily accountable for cultivating strong client relationships and ensuring sustained revenue growth. She also heads Cydcor’s retail, residential, and business-to-business divisions and is responsible for broadening Cydcor’s reach through strategic business development and new client acquisition. Vera embodies the power of Cydcor’s opportunity-based business, having risen up from within the ranks all the way to the C-suite, tapping into her strong leadership skills, drive for growth, and commitment to having a positive impact on others.


While it's not perfect, we offer this transcription by Castmagic for those who prefer to read or who are hearing impaired.

Teri Schmidt [00:00:00]:

If you need some career inspiration, today's episode is for you. Our guest, Vera Quinn, started out as a door to door salesperson at the company she now leads as the CEO of Cydcor. Vera provides incredibly valuable insights not only about her personal journey, but also on fostering an empowering and people first atmosphere that fuels growth and success. Having experienced firsthand the unique challenges and opportunities that female leaders can face, Vera shares invaluable advice for current and aspiring female leaders. Her story emphasizes the value for you as a leader of surrounding yourself with people who have different strengths from you and of challenging and empowering those you lead. But perhaps my favorite bit of wisdom from our conversation is that when you become a leader, you need to focus on transitioning from being interesting to interested. Think about that for a minute. Okay.

Teri Schmidt [00:01:01]:

Let's get into the conversation. I'm Teri Schmidt, your host and a leadership coach who is focused on helping you grow. I believe that leadership is about courageously using your talents to make a way for others to courageously use theirs. And this is the Strong Leaders Serve podcast. Well, welcome, Vera, to the Strong Leaders Serve podcast. It's great to have you on today, and I can't wait to talk about your experience because I know a lot of women in our audience will benefit from hearing it.

Vera Quinn [00:01:47]:

I really appreciate that. Thank you for having me.

Teri Schmidt [00:01:50]:

Yeah. So why don't we start right there? I'd love for you to tell us a little but about your journey to where you are today and kind of those pivotal points in that journey that got you to the seat that you have now.

Vera Quinn [00:02:04]:

Yeah. I you know, it's interesting. People think about where you get to based on your career, and I I'm probably gonna start at the beginning. I come from immigrants. I'm 1st generation to Canada. My parents are from former Yugoslavia. And I think that what like, when I think about why I am where I am, the way that they raised me, I think, had a big Part to

Teri Schmidt [00:02:28]:


Vera Quinn [00:02:28]:

Really big part to play. So we grew up in Canada. I didn't know English when I Went to school. My parents didn't speak English. And from a very, very young age, we had very intense messaging about We came to this country to make sure that you had a better life, and so you better take advantage of that. And a better life In whatever way you wanted to describe it, my parents weren't very prescriptive in that way. But the responsibility, the onus was always You will do better than we have. Mhmm.

Vera Quinn [00:03:04]:

And and I think when you have that kind of background or that messaging or that foundation. And I look at myself and my 2 sisters and my brother. We all we kinda have pretty great lives. Mhmm. Right? My dad was an entrepreneur. The one skill he had was fixing cars, so he opened up his shop in Toronto. And I was very attuned to that life, Entrepreneurial lifestyle. My father worked really, really long hours to provide for us, and my mom, pretty traditional, stayed at home to take care of us.

Vera Quinn [00:03:37]:

But I was really exposed to what it took to be successful and be an entrepreneur. Yeah. It was a massive risk, obviously. My father, funny enough, would go out on the weekends to areas that were Yugoslavian, where Yugoslavian people lived in Toronto, and he would go and solicit business for his business, which I just think is pretty funny since, you know, I sell for a living. Right. Right? I just think it's I

Teri Schmidt [00:04:02]:

wonder where that came from.

Vera Quinn [00:04:04]:

Right. So so that whole upbringing, again, very deep messaging. I, traditionally, went you know, what kind of job are you gonna have? I went a different route. I answered an ad in a newspaper, which probably tells you how old I am. And the the ad was have fun, make money. That was the ad, and I thought, great.

Teri Schmidt [00:04:22]:

Sounds pretty good.

Vera Quinn [00:04:24]:

I can do that at 20 years old. And I walked into a business in Toronto, And it was a, you know, direct sales business where you are going to talk to customers at their door. You're going to talk to them about this product and service, And you were gonna get paid a commission. And so I think that was a really pivotal point in my life. I'm gonna take a risk. I'm going to bet on myself. I'm gonna learn the Skills I need to learn to be able to interact with customers and sell, so that was pivotal. Another pivotal time in my life, maybe 6 or 7 years later, I'm in Toronto.

Vera Quinn [00:04:56]:

Our corporate head office was moving from Toronto to California. I had just had my child, And the CEO said, we'd love for you to come. We'd love for you to help us get this set up. You have deep knowledge of our field and, you know, the sales piece of the business. Would you come and make sure that whatever we're setting up, we're setting up, And it's gonna work for them.

Teri Schmidt [00:05:22]:

Oh, wow.

Vera Quinn [00:05:23]:

You know, I'm 26. I have a 6 month old baby.

Teri Schmidt [00:05:27]:


Vera Quinn [00:05:28]:

And I said, I have probably less than 0 formal business training. This person, Gary, he is very successful, Entrepreneur, just human.

Teri Schmidt [00:05:40]:


Vera Quinn [00:05:41]:

And I thought, if I'm gonna go spend 3 years somewhere, I'm probably not gonna get a better education than what I'm gonna get And I said, okay. Let's go. Another big risk.

Teri Schmidt [00:05:51]:

Yeah. Definitely.

Vera Quinn [00:05:53]:

And I thought 3 years later, I'm out. I'm gonna go home. It's where my family is, and we're Eastern European. They all live within 2 blocks of one another in Toronto.

Teri Schmidt [00:06:02]:

Oh my gosh.

Vera Quinn [00:06:03]:

Right. So It's like my big fat Greek wedding. So I said I'm gonna go back. I'm going back. Another pivotal point, Again, talking to Gary, who's pretty big mentor of mine, actually, probably the most influential person in my life. He said, hey. You staying? Where are you going? I said, I'm out. I gotta go, my family, blah blah blah.

Vera Quinn [00:06:22]:

And he said, just you ever thought one day you could run this place? And And I said no. The thought actually never crossed my mind. But it was a seed, and I thought and what you said earlier about your Ironman, if I'm willing to work Hard enough, for long enough, and acquire the skills, and get the experience, and teach, and learn, and be super open and curious. I can do anything I want. And, yeah, those are my pivotal moments. Now, of course, during that time period, Teri, I mean, you know, I could tell you Hundreds of stories.

Teri Schmidt [00:07:00]:

Yeah. Yeah. I can imagine. And, you know, a couple of things are sticking out to me. Just I've heard, particularly for 1st generation immigrants, that pressure to make something of yourself, to earn yourself a better life than your parents had. Sometimes can go either direction. Either it can be Incredibly motivating like it sounds like it was for you, or it can be just too much. I've I've gotta just kinda rebel against that.

Teri Schmidt [00:07:30]:

What do you think was the difference in your life? Why why was it? What circumstances surrounded you or Port was there for you that helped you to use that as motivation as opposed to something to rebel against.

Vera Quinn [00:07:46]:

What a great question. So I did rebel. I I think in my teenage years, Harry, I mean, I was probably Whatever a nightmare is for a parent as a teenage girl, I was that human. Mhmm. Because there were a lot of rules. There were a lot of traditions. My father's extremely old school, extremely you know, maybe I will tell a couple stories, like nuts. Like, we had wife class On Saturdays, my sisters and I, wife class.

Vera Quinn [00:08:15]:

Like, think about that. You're just what? Yeah. I mean, we're not talking about the 19 fifties.

Teri Schmidt [00:08:20]:


Vera Quinn [00:08:21]:

Right? And so, I mean, they were hardcore. So I did. I had my moment of rebellion. I definitely did. There's no doubt about it. And then thank god, I guess. It was like, hey. I gotta you know, you can't continue down this path.

Vera Quinn [00:08:36]:

And it could've just been a moment in time. And I have great parents. I have a great support system. And then it was like, okay. You You got that out of your system. What do you wanna do and be when you grow up? And I think, actually, I have a massive sense of responsibility. It's a driver for me.

Teri Schmidt [00:08:55]:


Vera Quinn [00:08:55]:

When you're young, I was responsible to myself. As I got older, That responsibility, I think, kicked in on a different level, and then that may have straightened me out a bit.

Teri Schmidt [00:09:06]:


Vera Quinn [00:09:06]:

I think 14 to 17. Woah.

Teri Schmidt [00:09:12]:

Woah. Didn't wanna be around you.

Vera Quinn [00:09:14]:

No. No. And just hard like, Hard. But, again, I under I understand why. There were just too many constraints.

Teri Schmidt [00:09:21]:


Vera Quinn [00:09:22]:

Too many Just cons this is how you have to be, and this is what we think. And and I was like, nope.

Teri Schmidt [00:09:28]:

Yeah. Yeah. And developmentally, that's just a time where that's very common. Right. And and not unhealthy in any way, can be actually be very healthy.

Vera Quinn [00:09:40]:

And I think it did. I think I got a lot of that out. And so as I okay. Well, now what do I wanna do? What do I wanna be? I didn't feel that need. As I got older, obviously, their constraints and what they thought was good for us, that influence, it's not there with you every day.

Teri Schmidt [00:09:56]:

Right. Right. Right.

Vera Quinn [00:09:58]:

But even till today, Teri I mean, my father will come to my house. My husband and I get home from work, and he'll ask me, What did you make for your husband for dinner? And I'm like, what? What did he make for me? Right? It's wild. It's just wild.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:14]:

Yep. Yep. Yep. It is. I mean and but you can understand it, I imagine, because that's That's the culture that he lived in, and those were at the expectations that were in operation around him.

Vera Quinn [00:10:30]:

Right. Right. And so at 17, that felt different than today. I just left. Okay, dad.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:36]:

Right. Right.

Vera Quinn [00:10:37]:

We're both gonna cook, dad. Yeah.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:41]:

And I'm so happy that I live now as opposed then, but I'm I'm sure there

Vera Quinn [00:10:45]:

I'm I'm with you too.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:46]:

Benefits and drawbacks.

Vera Quinn [00:10:48]:

I am with you.

Teri Schmidt [00:10:49]:

Yeah. So the the other thing that jumped out in your story was Gary and and those 2 points where he just showed Such confidence in your skills and abilities. I'm curious how you find yourself mentoring people that work for you in that same way.

Vera Quinn [00:11:10]:

It's when you see something, you do something. Right? So when I look at how I've been coached, he has been my predominant business coach. He is potentially one of the best examples I've ever seen about how to believe in people, Build their confidence. How do you put people in situations so that they can test their skill And succeed or fail, actually. He was really good with that too. He was really good with that. I'm gonna put you in situations. 100%.

Vera Quinn [00:11:43]:

You are not gonna win every time, And I am totally okay with that, putting you in the situation, giving you the role that's bigger than you. So when you see that, I have a tendency. Hey. Work for me. I'm gonna copy that. Mhmm. Right? So I have a I look at my people and the people that I coach and develop. I really believe people can do anything.

Vera Quinn [00:12:07]:

Anything. Now I don't know if you have the ambition to do it. You gotta choose. K? But I operate from the perspective of if you tell me you want this thing, this goal, This outcome, this role, this responsibility, I operate from the place. Okay. No problem, Teri. How do we get you the tools, The resources, the experience, the mindset to get you ready for that thing.

Teri Schmidt [00:12:33]:


Vera Quinn [00:12:34]:

Right? Now How did I learn how to do that? I think that's just what I saw.

Teri Schmidt [00:12:38]:

It's wonderful when you have an example that you saw all the way through. You know, you you saw the action that he took. You knew the impact that it had on you, and you knew how it enabled your success.

Vera Quinn [00:12:52]:

Yeah. It's one of the biggest leadership lessons I've ever learned is lead by example. Right? Just who are you? What do you want people to be? Do that. You have to do it first. And if you do it first, then what I find is most people, they they will do it.

Teri Schmidt [00:13:10]:

Yeah. That's great. And and just touching on one point there, you talked about how, you know, he knew you weren't gonna win at every Project that he gave you that was bigger than you. How did he support you through those times that you didn't win, or how do you support those who you mentor and coach through those times where they may not win.

Vera Quinn [00:13:31]:

Right. Or they're doing something new Or or they don't have the skill or they're not fully developed. For me, preparation is number 1. K. How are we gonna prepare? Can we get clear on what the outcomes are? Then I'm a big proponatory. I am not the end all, be all answer giver, knower of all things. I I I know I'm not that. Okay.

Vera Quinn [00:13:50]:

So if we have this outcome, what are the tools that are available to us? Okay. We opened up a call center in Arizona a few years back. I know nothing about a call center. Okay. Are there groups that we can join? Yes. Are there experts that we can reach out to that run call centers? Yes. Are there classes that we can go to about KPIs of what call center? Yes. Okay.

Vera Quinn [00:14:17]:

Well, that person running that call center, let's go get you exposed to those things.

Teri Schmidt [00:14:21]:


Vera Quinn [00:14:22]:

Let let's go find the tools and resources. Now I'm not a 100% sure that we're gonna win at the call center, but we are gonna get prepared. We are gonna give you all the tools you need. We have constant coaching, mentoring Conversations like weekly check ins. How are we doing? How's it going? Do we have to change our strategy? Yes. No. Okay. Oh, do we have the right talent around us? Yes, no, because we've had to change that a few times.

Vera Quinn [00:14:47]:

And then win or lose, we've done everything we can

Teri Schmidt [00:14:51]:


Vera Quinn [00:14:51]:

To set it up for success. Right. But not everything you do in business or in life is a win. Yeah. Yeah. Actually, the bigger the things you do, the more you lose.

Teri Schmidt [00:15:00]:

Right. Right. I know Amy Edmonson has a book out about, you know, intelligent failures, And it it sounds like the process that you have kinda sets you up for those. You know, the you're trying something that's outside of the comfort zone, outside of the norm, but you find all the resources you can that are already available, and then you set up the processes for, okay, how are we gonna set up. So going through it, we're gonna learn from the experience. Like, you were talking about those, you know, regular check ins on how is this going, do we have the right Talent, what do we need to change? So you you get that foundation of getting access to the tools and support that's that are already in existence, but then still adding on to it that process for how we're gonna learn from this experience regardless of how it plays out.

Vera Quinn [00:15:48]:

Right. And I I think, Teri, I think one of the the saddest things in business is where is the space to make mistakes? Mhmm. And if there is no space to make mistakes, then you're not doing big things. You're not pushing.

Teri Schmidt [00:16:05]:


Vera Quinn [00:16:06]:

Right. If we never make any mistakes, then we probably always know what we're doing. If we always know what we're doing, then we're not doing anything new.

Teri Schmidt [00:16:13]:

Yeah. Yeah.

Vera Quinn [00:16:14]:

How do you grow?

Teri Schmidt [00:16:15]:


Vera Quinn [00:16:16]:

How do you innovate? How do you do new things? And you gotta make it safe for your really great people because, otherwise, You'll lose the innovators. You lose the entrepreneurial spirit. You lose the people that wanna try new things if all you measure is Win. Win. Mhmm. Or revenue, profit. Yeah. Then who's gonna wanna risk anything?

Teri Schmidt [00:16:39]:

Exactly. Exactly. And without that risk, without that growth, eventually, you'd become stale and and die.

Vera Quinn [00:16:46]:

Yep. Yeah. That's yeah. That's 100% true. Yeah.

Teri Schmidt [00:16:49]:

Yeah. Well, speaking of your journey back to that, I know you like you mentioned, you started off answering that newspaper ad at the same, you know, company that you now run and are CEO. What have been some of the most important leadership Chip lessons that you've learned along the way beyond those that we've just discussed.

Vera Quinn [00:17:09]:

I think the first thing For me is you gotta master the voice in your head. At any given time in my career, I could have talked myself into it, Or I coulda talked myself out of it. At any given time in my career, my bad habits, I could have figured out a way to Replace my habits, or I could've figured out a way to double down on those bad habits. So so there is this mechanism in your mind that It's constantly talking to you, whatever that is, okay, the voice, and that is either serving you or it's not serving you. So all through and I could give you hundreds of examples where it's like, this voice is nothing good is happening here.

Teri Schmidt [00:17:56]:


Vera Quinn [00:17:56]:

It's telling me I can't. It's telling me I won't. We're not gonna get through this. You're not good enough. I'm like, woah. Woah. Woah. This is no good for me.

Vera Quinn [00:18:04]:

Now a lot of people don't hear the voice, and they have those feelings. They don't know where those feelings are coming from, and then they lean out of whatever they're doing versus leaning into whatever they're doing, which I think is a problem. So that's, like, number 1. Number 2, I think You have to have to have to get great talent around you. If you are the best person in the room, no.

Teri Schmidt [00:18:29]:

No wonder. True.

Vera Quinn [00:18:30]:

And that was really hard for me when I was younger because I wanted to be the best. I wanted to be the bright shining star. I wanted to be the The hottest thing in the room.

Teri Schmidt [00:18:40]:


Vera Quinn [00:18:41]:

And I heard this from a coach I had. He said, you now need to transition from being interesting To being interested.

Teri Schmidt [00:18:50]:

What a great statement.

Vera Quinn [00:18:52]:

I was like, what? I don't wanna do that. Okay. And it changed my paradigm of being a leader. It actually changed my paradigm, I think, of being a spouse and a mother as well and just a friend in Society. So that was a massive lesson for me. And then I think the bigger your goals, the more you have to learn, grow, develop, And get the skill and the right mindset. Those are probably the top ones for me.

Teri Schmidt [00:19:20]:

Yeah. I'm curious. How did you Get past your own resistance toward going from interesting to interested.

Vera Quinn [00:19:29]:

Your podcast, I think, is the essence. Right? Strong leaders serve. Leadership isn't about you. Leadership is about others.

Teri Schmidt [00:19:39]:


Vera Quinn [00:19:40]:

Right? So if I'm the most interesting person, then it's about me. If I'm The most interested person. It's about

Teri Schmidt [00:19:48]:

you. Mhmm.

Vera Quinn [00:19:49]:

And I realized, well, if I'm the best person in the room, we're probably not gonna hit our goals. If I'm the best person in the room, we're probably not gonna get really big things done.

Teri Schmidt [00:20:02]:


Vera Quinn [00:20:03]:

Right? At some point in time, my lid is gonna show up. Okay. I wanna run an incredible business. I wanna have an incredible life. I wanna be an incredible mother. I wanna be an incredible contributor to society. While it starts with me, It actually isn't about me. So, you know, you hear something.

Vera Quinn [00:20:23]:

You start seeing that you're not getting the results you want, Then you start saying maybe they're right. Then I had and I'm a I'm a learner, so I I had things I did every 30 days. Okay. So there was a period of time for 30 days I would not speak in a meeting except to say hello so they didn't think I was rude. Say goodbye so they didn't think I was rude. Now if somebody asked me a question, I may say something, but I wouldn't speak.

Teri Schmidt [00:20:47]:

What an interesting Habit to, you know, get into temporarily.

Vera Quinn [00:20:52]:

Right. So it's 30 days. Okay. You can't talk. Alright. The next 30 days, you can only ask questions. The next 30 days, you facilitate other people and their thoughts. So I had a plan on how I was gonna be more interested.

Teri Schmidt [00:21:09]:

Yeah. So it sounds like you, you know, may have had that resistance, then you started to see results that started to convince you that maybe it was at least worth if it made more sense to be interested as opposed to focus on being interesting, and then you had specific steps and tactics that you put yourself through in order to play with that, to try it out, to see how it would work.

Vera Quinn [00:21:35]:

Right. And implement it. Because we hear we hear incredibly in things all the time, the great quote or the great thing, the learning. Well, to me, everything is, how do I put this in practice? And the and he wasn't telling me this because he was trying to hurt my feelings. He's just like, Hey. You wanna run a business. It can't if it's about you.

Teri Schmidt [00:21:58]:

And I was like, yeah. I guess you're right. Wow. I I would say he was probably doing that not to hurt your feelings, but because he cared about you and your success.

Vera Quinn [00:22:08]:


Teri Schmidt [00:22:09]:


Vera Quinn [00:22:09]:

Right. And he saw, hey. This is gonna be something that holds you back from from the big things you wanna get done. Okay. Let me listen.

Teri Schmidt [00:22:16]:

I love that 30 day example too. We recently had Alex Budak on our podcast, Becoming a Changemaker. It's his book and his class at UC Berkeley, and he talked about the idea of micro changes and how to really get yourself used to how to, you know, kind of harness change by putting yourself through these small changes in your life to feel what it feels like.

Vera Quinn [00:22:44]:

And atomic habits kinda have that same. Right? What are the small things that I can implement every day? How do I stack these small changes on my on my current habits so I have better chances for success? But anything. I mean, we just did a class with, Alan Stein junior, and he wrote the book raise your game. And and I just picked one thing. I'm working on it for 30 days. I had a lot of great learnings from just being with them, and I'm gonna pick the next thing. I'm gonna work on it for 30 days. And for me, I find I I have a shot of it Being implemented and it being just a part of my knowledge or the way I work.

Teri Schmidt [00:23:22]:

What a great strategy. You're inspiring me to think about What I wanna try for 30 days, and I'm I'm sure you're inspiring our listeners as well with that. Speaking of those changes and you touched on it a little bit, but I know I've heard you say that women tend to kind of take themselves out of the game at times. Again, you you touched on it a little bit, but I'd love to hear a little bit more about what that means and and kind of what strategies or practices you used to keep yourself in the game.

Vera Quinn [00:23:53]:

Yeah. I'm generalizing. So I'm not You know, I watch men, and then I watch women. Right? And I I have the benefit of, you know, my executive team. We're 5050 What? Right? I just watch how people work. So the men I work with, they want a great career, And they want a great family, and they want fantasy football, and they want what whatever I I wanna work out, and I want it all.

Teri Schmidt [00:24:21]:


Vera Quinn [00:24:22]:

And nowhere in their mind are they saying I can't. This is not even a thought in their head. There is no no you know, just thinking about some of the people I work with Saying, I don't think I can have a great career and a great marriage. I I don't hear people say that. I hear a lot of women say stuff like that. I can't be a parent and have a great career. Why? Who said that? Why? Of course, you can. I can't lead empathetically and hold people accountable.

Vera Quinn [00:24:52]:

What? Of course, you can. Not only you probably do it better that way.

Teri Schmidt [00:24:57]:


Vera Quinn [00:24:58]:

So For me, and, again, I think this was my upbringing, not only can you have it all, you have to have it all. We expect you

Teri Schmidt [00:25:06]:

to have it all.

Vera Quinn [00:25:07]:

100%. There was no, okay. Hey, Vera. You're not gonna get married. You're gonna go have a great career. No. No. All of it.

Vera Quinn [00:25:12]:

I want grandkids, and I want a great son-in-law, And I want you to have a great career. And, oh, by the way, at some point in time, you better give back to people. So I think that helped. Nobody was telling me I couldn't. And so any situation and, again, I don't know if this is good or bad. When I first started my career, there were a lot more men than women Just in my industry, and I'd watch the guys. And I'd be like, why am I saying I can't? Why am I saying I should feel guilty? Why am I they're not? So so I just decided, okay. That dialogue, if it doesn't work for them, why would it work for me? Let me take that out of my head, and let me go find a way to have it all.

Vera Quinn [00:25:53]:

Right. But I I coach and mentor a lot of women. We had about a 183 people here last week. Somebody asked me about, well, how do you have a family and be in a career, and I'm like, there is not 1 man that has asked me that question. Not 1 dude Has said that to me. We are 183 people. Wow. So that's why that is a big piece of advice to women.

Vera Quinn [00:26:17]:

Lean in. Find a way to do it, and find a way to do it on your terms because you can.

Teri Schmidt [00:26:22]:

And I think that's critically important too because it's it's not about burning yourself out. It's about finding an environment that makes that possible for you to thrive in. Thousand percent. Get 2 hours of sleep. But

Vera Quinn [00:26:38]:

And that's not gonna last for any length of time anyway. Exactly. I I talk to people a lot about harmony, not balance, because I I don't actually believe in balance. I believe in harmony in your life, and you are your first responsibility. If you're not taking care of yourself physically, mentally, social, and spiritually, and you neglect that for 2, 3 weeks, you are not gonna feel good. So you can't. You are the thing that moves your life. You have to, and the environment you're in has to come first.

Vera Quinn [00:27:08]:


Teri Schmidt [00:27:09]:

Very important. Very important. So a lot of our listeners are new leaders, maybe in their 1st people leadership role, maybe in their 2nd. I'd love to hear advice that you have, you know, particularly since we're talking about female leaders. Any advice that you have, You know, in general for new leaders, but then also if you were speaking specifically to female leaders.

Vera Quinn [00:27:33]:

Yeah. So in general, I would say Be be super clear on your outcomes, and be super clear on the outcomes for your team. K? Have conversations about performance and recognition early and often. Switch the way you think of feedback. Feedback happens for you, not to you. Okay. So that's personally and what you do for your people. The best leaders have people who know exactly where they stand on their team, good and bad.

Vera Quinn [00:28:07]:

Now I find men A lot more direct?

Teri Schmidt [00:28:09]:


Vera Quinn [00:28:11]:

Because I think women are a little bit like, maybe I I'm gonna beat around the bush. Maybe I won't say it the right way. Maybe I don't wanna hurt their feelings. Right? So hone the skill of communication. I believe women are better leaders than men. I do. I just I think we think of whole people. I think we're curious.

Vera Quinn [00:28:32]:

We're super empathetic. We listen. And then, again, generalizing. So for the kids listening to this, I'm sorry. I'm not I'm not saying everybody. Right. So lean into those skills. Right? Again, leadership happens for the person, not to the person.

Vera Quinn [00:28:47]:

So I gotta get really good at giving people feedback. They know exactly where they stand. I would also say at new leaders, give people the opportunity to try bigger things. Because I've I've found when I did that, people surprised me. Yeah. Yeah. They really surprised me. That challenge or that project that I thought There's no way Joey could do this.

Vera Quinn [00:29:12]:

Oh, man. He killed it. Mhmm. Or there's no way that Sarah can do that. Woah. So that's another thing as a new leader. It's like give people the opportunity to step up.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:25]:

Yeah. And

Vera Quinn [00:29:25]:

I I find that they will perform. Yeah. And have fun. Have fun. Fun. Fun. So important.

Teri Schmidt [00:29:33]:

And you don't hear that very often.

Vera Quinn [00:29:35]:

Have fun with people. People wanna work with people that they like. Right? Number one reason somebody new in their career leaves is their manager. How incredible is it? As a new manager, you can shape An experience for somebody, and you can make it amazing for them. What did what did, super Spider Man say? The uncle, Peter Parker's on with great power comes great responsibility. I think new managers are the key to any business.

Teri Schmidt [00:30:04]:


Vera Quinn [00:30:05]:

Yeah. They're the key.

Teri Schmidt [00:30:07]:

Tough job. Yeah. So critical to a business's success.

Vera Quinn [00:30:11]:

Yeah. I'm just thinking about some of the managers sitting on my floor here, and I'm like, Man, without Marlise, we don't have these great people here who are smiling, who are into the culture, who are Performing every day who are that has nothing to do with me. That's her. Mhmm. Yeah. That's all her, and she has such an impact and influence over a big Piece of my business. Right. That's awesome.

Vera Quinn [00:30:35]:

Yeah. So, yeah, fun is important or I think fun is important.

Teri Schmidt [00:30:39]:

No. I wholeheartedly agree. And I think just I love seeing your face light up when you're talking about, you know, new leaders and and giving them the big projects, and It just speaks to the potential that a new leader has to have such a significant impact on the business. Yeah.

Vera Quinn [00:31:01]:

We had this quick story. Teri, like, yesterday we're talking. We have this newer manager in our finance department. We do a kickoff meeting every year. Okay? And we're we said to him, hey. We want you to host the evening last year. He's like, what? No way. No way.

Vera Quinn [00:31:20]:

But he's fun. He's got a great personality. If you're in a small group with him, like, he's just awesome. He's like, no. I'm not doing this in front of come on. We're we'll coach you. We'll help you. We'll give you a partner who's who had a little bit more experience and a little bit more confidence.

Vera Quinn [00:31:39]:

Teri, he killed it. We loved that evening show, and and he he just lit up. He just Yeah. He stepped in. Uh-huh. And, like, so much so, we're like, would you like to do it again? And and he this year, he's like, well, do you wanna give somebody else the opportunity? If you don't, yeah. Sure. I'll do it.

Vera Quinn [00:31:57]:

I'm like, yes.

Teri Schmidt [00:31:59]:

That's beautiful. You know, the going from no to, yes, I'll definitely do it to, should we give someone else the opportunity? That's just evidence to to his growing leadership. And I also wanna point out what you said about it wasn't like you just said, Okay. We want you to host this. You're on your own. Have fun. You know? It was no. We're gonna give you we're gonna give you someone who has a little bit more Experience to ask questions of, we're gonna give you some coaching.

Teri Schmidt [00:32:29]:

We'll be there to support you. And I think that's it with At anytime you're giving someone something challenging, it's not just, here you go. You know? Jump off the cliff, and we'll we'll see if you're able to swim at the bottom or not.

Vera Quinn [00:32:42]:

We have a saying in our business. I do, we do, you do. I do it. You watch me. We do it together. We break it down in pieces. I'll give you feedback Right then and there, you do 1 piece. I'll do another piece.

Vera Quinn [00:32:54]:

We do it together. And then once you have some competence, you do. And then if that doesn't go well, Then we go back to I do. We do. You do.

Teri Schmidt [00:33:03]:

Yeah. Yeah. I've heard a similar strategy before, and I I think that's it's so beautiful in its simplicity And and practicality and the outcomes that can come out of that when you take that approach. That's excellent. Well, We have a question, that we ask many of our guests recently because of the title of the podcast being strong leaders serve. I'm curious what does that Statement mean to you?

Vera Quinn [00:33:29]:

Yeah. Servant leadership is a I think it's a notion that we just naturally gravitate towards. Our whole business is about taking entry level people, going teaching them how to do sales, and then Helping them create teams and then ultimately run their own business, be be become an entrepreneur and run their own business. So The whole process is about people. It isn't about you. Right? And so service means, Especially now, and maybe less so when I was younger, it meant something different. Service to me means you have experience. You have a good life.

Vera Quinn [00:34:09]:

You have a great example. You are responsible for paying that forward.

Teri Schmidt [00:34:14]:


Vera Quinn [00:34:15]:

That's what service means to me. Right? It is you are not here for me. My people and my business are not here for me. I'm here for them. Yeah. And it is it's really interesting to me. A lot of CEOs, we you know, you get Credit for, like, what do I do? I'm responsible for the vision, the mission, the strategy. Right? But it's the people in the business that do the work.

Vera Quinn [00:34:36]:

So I'm here for them in in the ways that I can help, any way I can help. It could be it could be, okay. We need a good strategy because, You know, we employ a lot of people, and we're okay. Then great. I'm here for you because we need a good strategy, and we wanna continue this incredible relationship. It could be Somebody needs some of my experience. We have a 1 on 1. We sit down.

Vera Quinn [00:34:57]:

But I but I I think just as humans, actually, we're not here for ourselves. We're here for others.

Teri Schmidt [00:35:04]:

Yeah. And I think going back to what you said that that coach told you to go from being interesting to being interested, that speaks to that as well in a very simple and easy to remember way.

Vera Quinn [00:35:16]:

Yeah. I mean, yeah, you have to be the best version of you In order to help other people be the best versions of them, that is what we're here to do. I think that's the whole human experience. If we do it right Agreed.

Teri Schmidt [00:35:28]:

Agreed. Frequent listeners of the podcast know that our definition of leadership is courageously using your talents to make a way for others to courageously use theirs. And so very much in alignment with, it sounds like, your approach as well.

Vera Quinn [00:35:43]:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. That's great. I like that. Yeah. Yeah. I like that.

Teri Schmidt [00:35:47]:

Well, excellent. Well, Vera, if people want to connect with you, if they want Want to learn more about your journey and the work that you do, where is the best place for them to go?

Vera Quinn [00:35:58]:

So we have Instagram, obviously, at Vera Quinn. Our company, Instagram, at Cydcor. You can go to the website,, But you could reach out. It's really easy to get in touch with us, and we love hearing from people. So

Teri Schmidt [00:36:11]:

Excellent. Well, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Thank you for being a CEO who leads in the way that you do and and has such a great impact on the people that make up your company and The people in your communities as well. It was wonderful to hear your perspective, hear your journey so that we can learn from it and and implement some of those practices in our own lives. So thank you.

Vera Quinn [00:36:37]:

No. I appreciate it. And, Teri, thanks for making this easy. It was Fun. The questions were awesome. And, again, I'm just triathlon, Ironman. Unbelievable.

Teri Schmidt [00:36:45]:

Well, thank you. Well, that's it. That's our last episode of 2023. I hope you enjoyed it, and it inspires you as we head into twenty 24. And until next time, lead with this quote by Steve Jobs in mind: It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so that they can tell us what to do.


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