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Life is not a pony camp

By Emily Lippens

‘Life is not a pony camp’ and more truths from Emily Lippens on empathetic leadership, aperos to bring people together, recharging by kitesurfing and ‘just being bold.’  

December has just begun. Perhaps it is a bit early to take stock of the year already, but we asked our enthusiastic managing partner for a few pearls of wisdom for your upcoming year. 

Let’s start by briefly introducing yourself.   

I’m Emily Lippens, Managing Partner at BeBold, I chose marketing during my studies and afterwards gained experience mainly in sales, project management and HR. I recently got engaged to Sébastien. Describe me as a mega family person and I draw insane strength and love from my close friendships. In my spare time, I love to travel the world to discover new places and cultures. Also, I am a crazy foodie who can enjoy delicious restaurants immensely. In need of travel or resto tips? You know where to find me! 😉   

2023 is a memorable year. Interesting and challenging on many levels.  
We rebranded but kept our name. That’s saying something. What does BeBold mean to you? The word itself, but also the organization and where is that added value of our company? 

Because of our Bold mindset, we set the bar high and try not only to inspire people, but also to go for it every day. Being bold is in our DNA and that’s why we know what we’re doing. Being bold to me stands for our challenger mindset, our energy and eagerness to grow. We are reliable and approachable and have incredible knowledge as a team. We don’t shy away from any challenge, creating success stories for all our clients every day.   

After several great years of growth, we really felt the need to revamp BeBold. All the features I mentioned earlier were not engraved in the brand anymore. We worked so hard with the whole team to be where we are today, and the outside world was allowed to see that. But mission accomplished, right?   

We know you as an enthusiastic and inspired person and a mood creator in our Antwerp office. What is something typical of you that you have retained from your younger days, which you now still bring to the workplace?  

Bringing people together. During my student days I was an initiator who liked to organize. Activities, drinks, dinners, … to be together and create a group feeling. I’m still like that today, always eager to do fun activities together with colleagues. As a foodie, of course, always preferably with a nice snack and drink .   

The most important thing for me is the human aspect and so I invest a lot of time in that. Which contributes enormously to the close bond we have among colleagues through empathetic leadership.   

Fun fact: I am a very ‘yellow and red’ person. They always say you can punish a ‘yellow’ person the hardest by organizing something and not including them. Just saying it makes me feel bad. Empathetic leadership is all about inclusion and ensuring everyone feels valued and part of the team.

You lead a diverse team with people in their twenties, thirties, and forties. People from different cultural backgrounds. How do you make that work well together?   

Selecting the right profiles is very important. We look for the ‘boldness’ and the ‘drive’ in people. Regardless of their background or seniority, I am convinced that with the right drive and enthusiasm, anyone can achieve an incredible amount as a person. 

So, I am not so ‘traditional’ in my approach and like to give people opportunities. Everyone contributes and I’m just convinced that by bringing many different personalities together we can learn from each other and that is the secret success of our top team. Empathetic leadership is key here; it helps us understand and connect with each other on a deeper level. 

In addition, the key to a successful team remains communication. I find it extremely important that there is an open communication and feedback culture within BeBold. If expressed constructively, I believe everything should be allowed to be said. You must feel good in your job as a person, stay close to your own values and standards and communicate openly about it. It is often a barrier for people to speak things out, I always like to facilitate a safe environment where that is possible and trust me, it always works.  

What is the most valuable entrepreneurial lesson you have ever learned? 

One of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned about leadership is the importance of empathetic leadership. The ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

In leadership, empathetic leadership it means being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their perspectives, emotions, and concerns. This allows you to support your team and create a positive and stimulating work environment every day. It is a powerful tool that not only helps to guide people, but also to create a work culture that values understanding and compassion.

The same goes for our clients. We must be able to really put ourselves in their situation, dive right in to make sure we find those pain points and offer a customized solution, and always with our challenger mindset. This is the only way to build a personal and reliable partnership to grow enormously fast and achieve goals together.  

What did you have to find out the hard way?  

The process of letting go. I think that’s something many managers can relate to – letting go is hard. We grew from a small team to where we are today. At the start, I was in a situation where I was literally doing all the tasks. As your team grows, you must learn to let go and leave it to others. That has been quite a process in which I have challenged myself incredibly hard. I think it’s very important to give others confidence and I think you do that in large part by letting go and saying, “you got this”. 

What are your guilty pleasures when it comes to sweets?   

I am not a sweet tooth at all. My guilty pleasure is rather to come home after a long day and order delicious sushi – my secret addiction – for dinner.  

We want to present you with a dilemma: Would you rather give up kitesurfing and skiing or watching television at home? 

Never watch TV on the couch again, without a doubt! I am someone who likes to be active. I also have to admit that when I go skiing, snowboarding or kitesurfing my batteries get recharged the most. It’s the best way for me to clear my head and get back to it with full energy. I never get that from sitting on the couch, on the contrary. Doing what you love gives people energy and I get that from things like kitesurfing and skiing. 

Where do you get your inspiration/from to keep going after a hard day?  

I get tremendous inspiration and energy from our team and our clients. Those are for me what ensure that I can keep throwing myself into BeBold with all that passion and love. Besides work, of course, my family and friends.  

I draw enormous strength from the people who are close to me. If I still have time and energy, you can find me in the Brick after hours for a good Pilates class and afterwards I prefer to drive home with good music or an interesting podcast. 

What pearls of wisdom would you like to pass on to the next generations of entrepreneurs and marketeers?   

First, hard work always pays off. I grew up in a family where it wasn’t the results that counted but how hard you worked for it. That shaped me into who I am today. I mean “Life is not a pony camp” 😉 and if you work hard, I am convinced you can achieve a lot as a person. I can say that I am a fighter who does not let go easily. When I have a goal in mind, I’ll give 100% to achieve it. If you work hard, at least you can look yourself straight in the mirror, even if the results end up being disappointing.  

In addition, I find it important that you are creative and solution-oriented in life and that you practice empathetic leadership as a team player. Always think critically to solve problems yourself instead of going to someone else to solve them every time. Also, exercise empathetic leadership by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes as much as possible, that is always at the root of good relationships with others. And remember, together you are so much stronger than alone!   

Finally, the people who take care of themselves will receive the resilience to play the long game. In addition to all that hard work, you really need to think of yourself as a human being. It’s sometimes in the little things but think about yourself and your own well-being. I admit, that’s a tricky one that I also must remind myself of from time to time. I am someone who constantly goes at it 110% and must take some breaks here and there. How I do that is no secret by now I guess 😉 

Ready to grow bolder together?

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