Power Women: Brittany Bettini On How To Successfully Navigate Work, Love and Life As A Powerful Woman

An Interview With Ming Zhao

Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine

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A virtual assistant. This was the game changer for me. When I realized I could hire someone affordably who could do the things that were sucking all the time out of my day, I grew tenfold as a business owner. My VA has essentially become part of the family. She even planned and coordinated our honeymoon. I never forget a meeting, a call, an email, or a deadline with my VA being behind the scenes making it all work. She makes me look 100 times better than I am at my job. You aren’t burnt out, you just need help.

How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Brittany Bettini.

Brittany Bettini is an award-winning entrepreneur, writer, and philanthropist. Born and raised in Western North Carolina Brittany took root in her hometown after college where she raises her three children with her husband Bryson. Named one of just 21 in the 2021 small business trailblazers by Business North Carolina Magazine, Brittany has written numerous educational articles for Entrepreneur magazine, as well as being the subject for articles for Forbes, Yahoo Finance, and many other publications. In 2021 Brittany was nominated for the prestigious Athena award, which she says is her biggest honor. Brittany has found success in building multiple businesses as well as rebuilding her family’s janitorial company. Brittany’s determination to rebuild her life after surviving domestic violence has led to her creating the life of her dreams for herself and her entire family.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. Everyone I knew was the boss of something. I watched my grandparents, and parents juggling all the tasks that being a business owner entails, while also trying to hold our family together. My grandfather passed away on a construction site, and my grandmother still runs the business today at over 80 years old. I went to college because I didn’t want to be a business owner. I had watched everyone I love struggle with the balance. I watched them having to work longer and harder than everyone else because they chose the life of entrepreneurship. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be able to clock out and enjoy my life at the end of the day.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

Obviously now it’s pretty clear I ended up becoming an entrepreneur anyway. I tell people all the time it was just in my blood. In 2017 I was at the end of a horrific domestic violence situation. I had no recent work experience, no money, and my hope was running on fumes. I went to my parents for a job working night shift cleaning office buildings, and doctors offices. My dream was not to become a janitor, but as I speak about now, every single crisis creates an opportunity. After working for my parents for a short time, I was asked to take over operations of our mountain region. Eventually my hard work and determination secured my position as a partner in the company, and I was able to retire my parents from the business.

My thirst for entrepreneurship cannot be quenched. I now have multiple businesses across all sorts of industries. I love being a powerful woman, especially in the industries normally ruled by men.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

During the pandemic I opened a company to help individuals with rebuilding their finances and repairing their credit. I was passionate about this field because after my divorce I was in a situation that needed this service myself. I understood how important a second chance was when you were trying to rebuild your life. While building that company I started to follow some of the most successful coaches in the industry. I hung on every word they shared. I watched and mimicked how they ran their businesses. I wanted to be in their space and create that type of lifestyle for my family.

Recently I was asked to speak at an event called the “Time Freedom Summit” I was asked to discuss how using virtual assistants had helped me to rebuild and scale the family janitorial company to a crowd of entrepreneurs. When I checked the lineup of speakers I couldn’t believe it. It had been two years since starting my financial company and now I would be standing on a stage speaking alongside those people I had been following, and looking up to online.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

The first word I would use to describe me in business would be dedicated. There are days when being an entrepreneur is hard. A lot of people opt to go back to punching a time clock for someone else because the pressure is too much. You have employees who depend on you to eat. You have clients who expect the best experience. Some days you just don’t feel motivated to keep going. On those days I was lucky because my dedication outweighed my motivation. I found something inside myself that allows me to get the job done even when I just want to crawl in the bed and cry.

The next word that describes me is eager. I’m excited all the time about the ideas that run through my head. No matter what any person around me thinks, I stay eager and excited. I get up, and I want to do what I’m doing. I love the thrills that come with my different businesses and the responsibility that rests on my shoulders. I love using the resources my company has afforded me to help others, give to my favorite charities, and grow new business endeavors. When I learn something new, I immediately want to figure out how to use that information to grow what I have built.

Another word that describes me well isn’t a word you hear a lot in business and I think it’s why I stand out in a crowd of powerful people. I am empathetic. I have been through some of the scariest troubled waters. I have made life changing mistakes that have cost me everything. I have started over on several occasions. I’m not scared of business because I use everything I’ve learned in the turmoil of life to make my decisions, and I know if I mess up, I can start again. I treat my employees with empathy, and all of my clients with compassion. In a world where everyone is a number, I make people feel important. I think that is special, and it’s definitely helped me in business.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?

I saw a social media post the other day that said, “he isn’t intimidated by your success, he just wants a feminine woman.”

Honestly it’s this way of thinking that continues the stereotype that women can’t be strong, beautiful, feminine, delicate, and successful at the same time. We are hundreds of years inside of men being powerful and successful, and 100 years into women even having the right to vote. The more the world sees power and success with a woman’s face attached to it, the easier it will be to swallow. We are the trailblazers, the stereotype breakers, and that is so exciting. Honestly I am never bothered by people who are bothered by my power. I let them carry that load, and I just continue being fabulous.

Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?

My experience in the construction and janitorial industry is where I have faced the most adversity as a woman. I remember after meeting my husband Bryson I asked him to tag along with me to a janitorial conference in Las Vegas as a work / romantic getaway. Bryson has absolutely zero knowledge of the janitorial industry at this point, but every single person working the event spoke directly to him. They always introduced themselves to him first, asked him about “his company” and offered their sales pitches to him. It was an exhilarating day of telling 1000 men at vendor booths that I was the person they needed to convince to write a check.

What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?

Just be yourself. You have nothing to prove. You do not need to explain your power or influence to anyone who can’t see it. Carry yourself with grace and confidence, and never let your ego get in the way of your purpose and assignment. I honestly don’t focus on being a “woman” I am focused on the job, the company, the title of CEO, I just happened to also be a gorgeous woman to top it all off.

What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?

We need more women who are not afraid to be powerful. We need more time seeing women own their roles as powerful women. We can’t expect for norms to change overnight, but we can be a part of a movement that changes the world forever. I am a firm believer that women are capable of anything and everything, the shift is already happening, we just have to keep going.

In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?

I am a survivor of domestic violence, and a powerful woman. I have thousands of stories where I was ridiculed, and even assaulted for trying to step into my power. I ultimately had to leave my marriage to be able to become the woman I am today. I think it’s important for women to also know that anyone who isn’t supportive of them being successful in any area of their life should be given walking papers. A man who is intimidated by a woman will often use the only tools he knows to keep her on the level he is comfortable with her occupying. Find another route. You never have to degrade yourself to get where you’re destined to go.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

The gender roles that previous generations established for women are the biggest issue we face. The motherhood guilt, and shame is hard. The idea that all housework, childcare is a woman’s responsibility, while changing in society is still ever present. Most men in a powerful position aren’t also expected to come home and cook a 3 course meal, and give the baby a bath. Women who choose to have powerful careers and also raise children are some of the most torn, and conflicted.

I am so blessed to be married to a man who doesn’t believe in those gender roles. Don’t get me wrong, he doesn’t like to cook or clean, buy he is completely fine with me building empires while I pay a house keeper to sweep the floors.

Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?

I spent many years in survival mode after leaving my abusive husband. I had to figure out how to feed the kids, and pay the rent. Once I found success, that didn’t just turn off. I was working myself to death. I felt like I never saw my family, and when I did I was still thinking about work.

I have now become a master of delegation. Everything can run without me if needed. I am able to devote time where I need it. If I need a spa day, that is what Thursdays are blocked out for. If the kids have an event, I’m there. My husband wants to take a weekend getaway? I’m there with the sexy lingerie and the champagne packed.

I have a virtual executive assistant and all of my businesses are fully staffed. I cannot do it all and trying to do so was making me sick.

What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?

In the beginning of our interview I talked about how my grandfather died on a job site. I realized one day when I was laying in my kitchen floor with dizziness that I was going to be the next one that worked myself to death if I didn't figure out how to do it differently. My mentor Derrick Harper told me that I needed to learn to Build, Organize, Document, then Delegate every part of my businesses. This changed my life forever. I hired my assistant, then another assistant, then a nanny, a housekeeper, and I took everything that didn’t bring me joy, or make me money off of my calendar.

I hired a therapist to help me work through my trauma, and my attachment to survival mode. I learned that I couldn’t do everything I loved to do, and everything that needed to get done. So I built out a system to help me.

When I’m able to do the tasks that bring in more money to my businesses, I am able to pay other people to do the things I can’t or don’t want to do.

I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?

I used to think that beauty was tied to success very tightly, and in a lot of industries it is. I think my appearance has helped me get through doors, but I’m also a big woman so where I thought that would hinder me it hasn’t. I have also found that some of the women who are powerhouse giants aren’t focused on beauty at all. They aren’t always what society’s standard of beauty would pick, but they bring so much knowledge and value to the table none of that matters.

How is this similar or different for men?

I think looking good it connected to feeling good. Feeling good breeds confidence an confidence fuels success. You want to take care of yourself and put your best foot forward. If you walk into a boardroom in sweats you’re not going to get taken seriously. Just be yourself, bring value, and no matter if your man or woman, ugly or beautiful, you will grow.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

1.Confidence. Confidence has gotten me in more rooms than my resume. Sometimes when you’re not feeling confident, you just have to fake it. My mom used to say, “Never let them see you sweat.”

My first speaking event I was not confident. I was petrified. I did it anyway! I carried myself as if I had done this a thousand times. You build confidence by doing things that make you feel uncomfortable.

2. Support. A real support system will completely change your life in business. When I was surrounded by small thinkers my growth was stifled. When I met my husband Bryson and learned what it was like to have a partner who was my biggest cheerleader I was able to do things I had never dreamed. A good support system will tell you to keep going when you are frustrated and unmotivated. That is so important when the negativity of the world is raining down on you.

3. A virtual assistant. This was the game changer for me. When I realized I could hire someone affordably who could do the things that were sucking all the time out of my day, I grew tenfold as a business owner. My VA has essentially become part of the family. She even planned and coordinated our honeymoon. I never forget a meeting, a call, an email, or a deadline with my VA being behind the scenes making it all work. She makes me look 100 times better than I am at my job. You aren’t burnt out, you just need help.

4. Compassion. This is going to sound so cliché but I’m going to say it anyway. Just treat people how you want to be treated. Put yourself in their position or their shoes. If they aren’t making the right moves, ask them for permission to give them some advice. If you own your own business, create your business plan around what type of experience you would want to have if you were a customer. Have compassion for your family. If you see someone on your team struggling, give them extra love and support. This world is cruel, you don’t have to be.

5. A power suit. Find the suit that makes you feel like a billion dollar CEO even when you only have 10 dollars in your bank account, and BUY IT! Keep it pressed and ready for any opportunity that comes knocking. Imagine turning down a huge windfall opportunity because you didn’t have anything to wear. Get your professional pictures taken in them, and envision yourself in the position you want, and living the life you want to have. It’s so much easier to feel the confidence when you look the part.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine

Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. Ming is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host.