Paola Garbini is a badass mom and communications professional who has built a reputation as trusted speaker and connector as the founder of NOI: a private membership for driven and collaborative women. A passionate blogger and speaker, Paola has spent the past two years bringing women together through private events and speaking engagements with a clear focus on women empowering women. We are thrilled to profile this inspiring badass founder and cannot wait to watch our own founder, Brenda Della Casa, speak at the upcoming NOI Xmas in London on December 1, 2016.
What is your idea of success?
Success is doing what you love, what you are born for. It comes in the form of a stream that runs through you and makes you hustle, run, cry and get excited. Success is living your life and not someone else’s.
What is your morning routine? How do you set yourself up for the day?
I am still in the process of finding my morning routine and sticking to it. My mornings can be very different but they have two recurring traits: positive affirmations in the mirror while I get dressed and fun chats with my kids while I drive them to school. I ask them: “What shall we talk about this morning?” and the following ten minutes bring me so much joy!
How do you stay organized throughout the day?
I write down the things I have to do and use tons of post-it notes so I can move items around based on deadlines and importance. In our house, we have a big empty wall by the entrance door and I sometimes cover it with post-its when I am doing the “heavy planning.”
I have also developed the habit of writing the one thing I want to achieve that day and then keep the “I’ve done this” list where, instead of focusing on the to dos and stressing out on what I have not done, I jot down all the things I have done and everything I should be proud of.
What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
I have been raising bilingual children (Italian and English); however, I am not a native English speaker. I believe I gifted them with something unique. I am also very proud of the work I have been doing to create and grow the NOI Club. NOI is helping many women get stronger, achieve their dreams, learn and progress in their life – an immensely important result.
What has been your biggest failure (and how did you overcome it)?
My biggest failure has been not asking for help when I needed it during a difficult period before graduating. Instead, I tried to solve my problems on my own and moved to London in hopes I would leave my issues behind. The result was that I carried all of my problems in my suitcase and in my heart. The healing process lasted much longer than it should have. Thank goodness I am a very stubborn person; my character helped me get through the difficult times and get to where I wanted to be.
What do you feel is the biggest mistake people make when starting a business?
The biggest mistake people make before starting a business is keeping their idea for themselves and not sharing it because they fear someone else will steal it. They do not realize how much they are losing by behaving this way. The biggest mistake people make when they have started is not being generous with others. You may be busy growing your startup but you should always find a way to give back, help and listen. Whatever you are creating is part of a bigger world, made of other people, clients, followers and listeners. You cannot focus on yourself only.
How do you define a great leader?
A great leader is someone who is honest and likes being surrounded by people who positively challenge her/his thinking. In addition, a great leader leads by example.
What qualities do you believe make someone a great team member?
Honesty, emotional intelligence and sense of fun!
What is the trait you most admire in others?
I admire people who are never afraid to say what they think; although, only some of them know how to deliver the message. I recently read about Kim Scott’s “radical candor” and how to deliver feedback in the most effective way. Priceless!
What is your biggest professional pet peeve?
I am allergic to words like “holistic approach” and to signatures in emails that are made of the initial letter and not the full name.
What is your best negotiating tactic?
I always do my best to show the other party that I do value what they say, that I understand their needs and that I am there to help find a solution. I like being able to show flexibility so that people get to trust me.
What’s your best networking secret?
I always try to find time to ask how someone is doing and offer my best smile when meeting face-to-face. Simple words like “thank you,” remembering birthdays or genuinely showing interest in the other person are the best ways to get closer to her/him and gain an ally. These tips can also lead to a friend in the longer term!
When there is a NOI event I am always available at the end of the session to chat and I make sure to follow up with everyone.
What advice would you go back and give your younger self?
Fight more and be less afraid of confronting people when it is for a good reason.
What is the best way to go for the goal?
By being stubborn, working hard and keeping a hand on your heart.
What are you most proud of in your life?
I am proud of the woman I have become and the family I have created with my husband.
What is the fastest way to turn you off in an interview? How does someone impress you on an interview?
I run away from people who show off with a sense of superiority. I am always impressed by people who show that they know and mean what they say.
Where do you get most of your information?
My morning alerts for general info and news come from an app called Mention that tell me what the world is saying about the NOI Club. Oh, and from my husband. He adores being informed at any time of day and it is almost impossible for me to tell him, “did you hear what happened?” without getting a sound, “yes, I did!”!
What apps could you not live without?
Mention, Buffer and the airline apps for e-tickets!
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
I am very lucky and never had bad bosses. The best lesson I learnt from my best boss was: “if you work until 9 pm you are not a hard worker who deserves a prize. You are just someone who is not using her time wisely or too self-centered to ask for help.”
What do think are the three most essential lessons you have learned in business thus far?
1 | Generosity always pays off.
2 | Serendipity exists.
3 | Your mission is to be happy and make others happy too.
What is your professional motto?
Keep going, always.
Who is your business crush?
The escape the city guys who introduced me to the startup world and took good care of me while I was making my first baby steps with NOI!
How do you define happiness?
My status now. Being happy means living a life that is close and true to your values.
Multitasking or single-tasking? Why?
Both. Multitasking for small things for a hustler like me! Single-tasking for big and more difficult tasks where concentration is needed.
What does innovative mean to you?
Open. Fresh. Solving a problem with no frills.
Who is the most badass woman you know and why?
She has many names. It is the woman I want to serve everyday with what I do with NOI. A woman that wants to thrive in her own personal way and generously helps others by getting help, too.
What makes you badass?
Something I cannot really explain, but many say that I do have something that makes me go ahead and try even when it looks rather impossible.
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