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Claiming Your Seat at the Table & Finding a Mentor with Linda Taliaferro

March 17, 2020

This episode of the Joy to Lead Podcast is a powerful one, thanks to my guest Linda Taliaferro. Linda is a career advisor who helps professionals to get unstuck, strengthen key interpersonal relationship skills, and establish executive presence so they can get a seat at the table. 

This is my FAVORITE episode of this podcast ever. 

I’ve been following Linda Taliaferro for several months, and I’m so excited for her to share her wisdom with us. 

Linda was in manufacturing for over 30 years in the commercial vehicle industry. She began her career in the 80s when there weren’t many women with engineering degrees in the manufacturing industry. While broadening her career and climbing the ladder, she noticed there wasn’t anyone who looked like her that she could emulate. Women and people of color were hard to find. 

Somewhere around her mid-career stage, she realized that even though she didn’t want to play the corporate politics game, she needed to understand it to thrive. And so she did. She found the right people to align with to ask questions and be a champion for her. She discovered that building relationships and having the “secret sauce” is what gets people to the top. 

Linda Taliaferro

Listen to the episode now!

Linda’s Why…

Linda started her own business in 2017 to shorten the curve for people like her. She didn’t want women or people of color to have the same challenges that she had, and most importantly, want them to know that success is possible for them. 

What does it mean to have a seat at the table? Is it a mindset or something physical? 

Having a seat at the table is being fully present and having a voice that is heard. It doesn’t mean you have to be in business for 50 years or have a fancy title. It’s about being present and exercising your voice, knowing what you’re talking about, and bringing value to the conversation. 

“It’s understanding the value you bring, that it is necessary and needed, and you have to be able to show up and exercise and walk in that worth and that value.” — Linda

Community is a critical part of this. It is not wise to surround yourself with people who are not like-minded. My success has been because I have been intentional about who I have surrounded myself with. My business coach and I, we have the same thought process, integrity, and belief system. 

Mind you, there is value in not having everyone around the table look like you. Diversity of thought is important, and inclusion is important. But foundationally, your belief systems should be the same. 

“The table represents the purpose and the mission and where we’re going from here. It doesn’t matter where you came from or what room led you to this table. But you have to be on the same page and be willing to focus on where we’re going together.” — Kaylan 

What are the ingredients of that “secret sauce” you mentioned?

The secret sauce is the “it factor.” There are a couple of ingredients. One is executive presence. It’s hard to put your finger on what it is exactly. When someone commands a room when they walk in. When a speaker takes the stage, and everyone automatically gets quiet to listen. That’s executive presence or gravitas. 

It’s also grace under pressure, and how you handle things when they don’t go just right. It’s hard to develop, but not impossible. You simply fine-tune, and fine-tune, over time. 

Another ingredient is communication and relationships. You need to be likable. When people say they don’t come to work to make friends, I know that’s part of the secret sauce that’s missing for them. I can not tell you how important relationships are. Think about who you’re following, who you’re learning from. Be intentional about who they are. 

Emotional intelligence is part of it. That’s about being self-aware and knowing who you are personally and professionally. Can you self manage? How are you socially? Can you read a room and engage with people? 

Appearance is another ingredient. I don’t mean wearing labels and being blinged out. I’m talking about looking put together. It’s also your body language. 

You put all of those together, and you are focused on leveraging your strengths within those, understanding your weaknesses and bridging them, you then have the secret sauce. 

How can we find the right mentors in our lives? 

It’s important to realize that mentors usually do rise naturally. You can find them at destiny intersections and through divine intervention. They’ll happen naturally through networking, connecting with people, and building relationships. 

Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Conversations will be light and airy in the beginning, and if there’s a connection, it will blossom into a relationship. Then you can ask, “Can you be my mentor?”

I can’t express enough how simple it is, but people get in their heads and make it more than it needs to be. We mak it too complicated and prescriptive. 

There needs to be a give and take, though. One of my mottos is “to whom much is given, much is required.” The mentoring that you receive from someone, you will give to another. 

“When you enter into this space of entrepreneurship from serving rather than selling, I think the world just opens to you.” — Linda

What other wisdom does Linda share in this episode? 

This episode is jammed packed with wisdom, and there’s just too much to share here. Grab your notebook and listen to the full episode to get the full impact. 

Reading about that secret sauce that Linda talked about may have you thinking, “Man, I’ve got some work to do!” In the episode, Linda shares with us some steps to take to get there. 

She also describes her experience is making her first hire and how her process has changed over time. 

For even more of Linda’s advice, you can download 10 Ways to Build Your Self Confidence as an added resource. 

You’re going to want to follow Linda. She’s definitely someone who you can learn from and align with. Below are all the ways you can connect with her. 

Connect with Linda!

Learn more about Linda at Lindataliaferro.com 

Download Linda’s 10 Ways to Build Your Self-Confidence

Connect with Linda on LinkedIn

Follow Linda on Facebook 

DM Linda on Instagram!

I'm Kaylan, leadership educator, podcaster & speaker

What are you searching for?

Reading suggestions

Crafting a 90-Day Onboarding Plan

Job Postings that Attract Top Talent

Mapping Your Leadership Style