The Power of Speaking Up

Andrea Edwards 

The Digital Conversationalist

There is a cost to speaking up. History has shown, time and again, that speaking up can be life threatening. Iconic heroes, such as Gandhi, Mandela, Frida Kahlo, Malala and many others, shouted and fought for equality, freedom, justice, the truth and suffered for their cause. It requires courage, conviction and emotional strength to give a voice to causes that matter.

We keep silent because the dominant culture may punish in order to remain in power. Punishment can mean loss of job, ostracism, humiliation, imprisonment, torture and possibly death.  We may or may not face such extreme situations in our daily lives. But it used well, a small voice can bring about big changes in the world. 

How can we use our voice to speak about the issues that matter to us? What are the consequences of staying silent? 

 

About Andrea Edwards

  • Started off as a musician in the Australian army
  • Later became aware of Public Relations, and later to the defense forces and the aerospace industry
  • She then moved to London to join the tech industry doing public relation before heading to Boston and New York
  • When she headed back to Australia, she started in what was called marketing services, which today is known as content marketing
  • She professionally enjoys communicating and getting the message across affectively.
  • Andrea’s been one of the drivers in Asia Pacific for content marketing, while blogging both professionally and personally.

Podcast Episode Highlights

How did you become a digital conversationalist?

  • Launched a business in 2006 helping companies tell their stories, about how businesses position themselves.
  • The business failed because it was too early and couldn’t get a company to champion my ideas.
  • Went to Microsoft to understand why they weren’t seeing what I was seeing and to get the confidence in my ideas.
  • I realised that people were thinking in this old paradigm, where things were all about sales, and no value to the customers.
  • Moving on, I went to a content marketing agency where I saw beautiful content being made, but nothing would happen to it.
  • The vital thing missed is bringing the employees on board and making them the champion for the content created by the business.
  • Make employees champions in their own right by making them create content as well.
  • Another important aspect is the ability to drive conversations. When companies talk to me, they’ll look at a community page that has these incredible conversations. But they can’t get that conversation happening around their brand.
  • It’s about creating digital assets where people want to come and be part of the conversation. That may not necessarily happen for brands but it can happen through the people that work with the organisation.

Why is it important to speak up?

  • It is important to define what we want to be known for and then to go out and own that voice in order to create the future that we want.
  • Let’s take a job offer situation as an example. Take someone who has no following on LinkedIn, Twitter, or anywhere else along with another person who has got 50,000 followers and a large audience that respects what they have to say. The company is going to offer the job the person with the large following over the person that’s got no voice.
  • You’ve got to take care of your self and you do so by taking a stand for something,  by going out there and owning that message.
  • If you want to build a career and have a successful future, having a presence is important.
  • It’s about being known for something, having credibility for something, and its about being seen as a person of integrity, and being seen as somebody who delivers value to the audience that they want to reach.
  • Defining who we are, going out there and owning that voice.

What stops people from speaking up?

  • Not everyone is willing to put themselves on the line.
  • Lack of self confidence. They don’t believe that they’ve got anything worth saying, they don’t believe that anyone wants to hear them.
  • A lot of people have a massive fear of looking foolish.
  • Many people just don’t believe in their own value that they can really make a difference.
  • In Asia, many people think that by doing this (speaking up) they come across as arrogant and may be seen so by their friends and family. And that’s something that they don’t want. They do not want to be seen as arrogant.

What happens when people choose not to engage online?

  • Eventually, this will have a serious impact people’s careers.
  • Automation will take a lot of opportunities away.
  • If you’re not participating and building your profile, what are the chances of securing a job with ease?
  • Up to 70% of the workforce won’t be employed anymore, they will be freelancers.
  • The future is going to be a very different place and having a strong and powerful digital voice, is going to be a critical component.

What would you tell someone who is ready to speak up and knows what he or she values, but doesn’t have the courage to do it?

  • The only way to become courageous is to be courageous.
  • The first thing is, what do you want to be known for? Then go out there and have a look at what’s being done in that field. Whatever the hashtag is, search and look at what other people are saying and sharing. 
  • The best place to start is to talk to other people. If someone is writing a great blog that you like, comment on it and follow them.
  • From there, build it up and start sharing.
  • If you have watched an amazing TED Talk, share it.
  • Then when you are ready to do it, start creating your own content. Whether it’s videos, podcasting or writing blogs.
  • Be focused and have a theme.

As an individual, it is difficult to speak about one’s own vulnerability. We fear criticism. Is it a must to always speak of our vulnerability?

  • There are many who don’t want to do so. If that is the case, then don’t.
  • Do what you want to do, and be who you want to be.
  • But if you want to build something that’s different and bonding and deep, the vulnerability of what you’ve spoken or written about could form a connection and that can be something very powerful.

You are an advocate of many things, be it about the environment, climate change, or gender equality. Is there anything else you think we should be focused as a society?

  • A higher level of human consciousness is being the best version of yourself. Rather than operating from a place of anger, we should operate from a place of love.
  • Just put love and kindness out in the world. Our needs are all the same.

Advice

  • The information cycle has been owned by the powers, like politicians, governments, medias, religious leaders and more recently celebrities. That’s now changed and this is a massive opportunity that has come with social media.
  • This is an opportunity to embrace your voice. Stand for something. There is no shortcut to success.
  • If you have a powerful why for doing things, you are going to end up doing it anyway and not just for likes and followers.
  • When you want to drive a change, it could take longer, but it’s more powerful when you get there.
  • Disagreeing with someone is fine, but do it in a nice way or take it offline.
  • When you’re building a world class social leadership presence, it’s not about you. It’s about serving an audience. Workout who that audience is, and what is the change that you’re trying to drive. Be part of the global community that’s going to be trying to drive that together.
  • Find your community, build your community, support other people that you value and just be a decent human being.

Say Hello!

If you would like to get in touch with with Andrea, you may do so via her website or the following social media sites :  

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Your Podcast Host, Ling Ling

Ling Ling is an enthusiastic, engaging and articulate intercultural training, coach and consultant with over 12 years of experience within the Technology and Travel sectors. Her previous roles as a learning and development professional led her to 21 countries across Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe and USA. 

Her multicultural experiences fuels her mission to bridge intercultural differences and build positive, inclusive and thriving organisations that brings out the best of everyone.

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