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Mentor spotlight: Lisa Ross-Marcus

Lisa Ross Marcus

What is your story, and what led you to join the entrepreneurial world?

I moved to Paris from the United States as a student and eventually settled in Amsterdam. My first career was as a professional dancer and choreographer, creating performances that toured throughout Europe. Later I realized that this was my first entrepreneurial experience. I was an artistic director of my foundation and raised significant money annually to fund my productions through grants, sponsoring, and income from performances.

After leaving the theatre world, I established one of the first wedding planning companies in The Netherlands, ‘Dream Weddings.’ I sold the company 5 years later, after doubling the earnings every consecutive year.  In the interim, I started to work as a corporate communication trainer for multinational companies. The professional development field was a good fit for me, so I expanded my skills as a coach and an intercultural expert. Through my company In-Coaching, I coach and train professionals in leadership, career development, and intercultural communication.

What have you learned in your entrepreneurial career?

I have learned that taking risks is important. If you want to do something that hasn’t been done before, don’t worry about negative scenarios or what other people will think getting in your way. On the contrary, there is strength in presenting new ideas and concepts because it creates curiosity.

What is one thing you still really want to do in your entrepreneurial career?

I want to explore structured ways to help develop female leaders, such as creating a self-assessment model or designing a workshop. I love experiential and creative learning; I would like to find more ways to leverage my artistic/performance background in coaching and training.

Looking back, what is one thing you would do differently?

I would give more compliments and less complaining. I have always set very high standards for myself and expected others to do the same. I have learned that acknowledging what people do well creates the trust and respect you need to address problems and get people to perform better honestly.

What are common challenges women face in the startup world, and how can we tackle them, according to you?

Speaking your mind and holding others accountable can be challenging because of a fear of not being liked or respected. Learning the skill of constructive conversations and framing that with clear intentions – why something is important for you and the company – are empowering habits to cultivate.

What would you advise women to start their journeys in the entrepreneurial space?

Keep your antenna out to connect your ambitions with opportunities. Read the local newspaper, pick up clues about valuable information in your conversations, and share your ambitions with everyone. You never know when a door will open, and you need to be ready when it does. 

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