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Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with

Leesa Soulodre

helps you in your leadership.

Leesa Soulodre

Leesa Soulodre

Name: Leesa Soulodre

Title: General Partner

Organisation: R3i Capital

Leesa Soulodre is the founding General Partner of R3i Group and the Managing Partner of R3i Capital, a deeptech cross-border venture capital firm focused on sustainable development. She is a Clinical Professor of Practice at SMU Cox Business School in Complex Problem Solving and Entrepreneurship and an adjunct faculty member at Singapore Management University and IE Business School. She serves on the advisory board of the Think Tank, The AI Asia Pacific Institute, an independent, interdisciplinary research institute examining the implications of artificial intelligence. Leesa holds a Global Executive MBA from TRIUM (NYU Stern, HEC Paris and the London School of Economics and Political Science) and a Masters in Management (Marketing) from the University of Southern Queensland.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is navigating the many shades of grey on the bleeding edge of entrepreneurship. Being at the forefront of innovation and leading in a rapidly changing regulatory, geopolitical, and technological landscape can present numerous complexities and uncertainties. Entrepreneurial leadership often involves making decisions in situations where there are no clear-cut answers or established precedents.

Leaders must navigate ambiguity, weigh competing priorities, and assess risks in an environment where the path forward is not always clear. In the realm of entrepreneurship, leaders must embrace uncertainty and take calculated risks. They face the challenge of making decisions that can have significant consequences for their organizations, employees, and stakeholders. Balancing the need for innovation and growth with practical considerations such as resource allocation, market dynamics, and customer demands can be a delicate and challenging task.

Additionally, leaders in entrepreneurship must manage dynamic and diverse teams, each with their own perspectives, skills, and motivations. Building and maintaining a cohesive team, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, and aligning individual goals with organizational objectives can be demanding. Furthermore, leaders in the entrepreneurial space must constantly adapt to changing market conditions, technological advancements, and competitive landscapes.

They must stay ahead of the curve, continuously learn and evolve their strategies, and anticipate and respond to emerging trends. As a leader on the bleeding edge of entrepreneurship, the challenge lies in navigating the complex and ever-changing landscape, making tough decisions in the face of uncertainty, managing diverse teams, and staying ahead of the curve. It requires a combination of strategic thinking, adaptability, resilience, and the ability to embrace ambiguity and take calculated risks.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

From the moment I entered this world, it was evident that I possessed a natural inclination for leadership. While many consider leadership to be a skill that develops over time, I was one of those individuals who was born with leadership qualities. Throughout my life, I have consistently demonstrated purpose, vision, emotional intelligence, and empathy in all that I do.

From leading school fundraisers to supporting the elderly in my community, and taking on various roles of responsibility at school and in my family life - even running my own company with my brother at a young age. I don't remember a time when I did not lead. Early Signs of Leadership: As the oldest girl in my family, I instinctively assumed the role of a leader. Even at a young age, I took charge and displayed a sense of responsibility beyond my years. Whether organizing activities with my siblings or taking the lead in school and community initiatives, I always found myself in leadership positions.

A Sense of Purpose and Vision - I have possessed a deep sense of purpose and vision throughout my life. I understood my strengths, passions, and values, allowing me to set clear goals and inspire others to join me. My unwavering commitment to making a positive impact has been the driving force behind my passion for healthcare and my own community and industry leadership efforts. Emotional Intelligence and Empathy - One of the cornerstones of my leadership journey has been my exceptional emotional intelligence and empathy, honed initially as a palliative care and Alzheimer's and dementia nurse. I have a natural ability to understand and connect with the emotions and needs of others.

This has enabled me to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and create inclusive environments that foster collaboration and growth. Learning and Growth - While I displayed innate leadership qualities, I recognized the importance of continuous learning and growth. I actively sought opportunities to develop my skills, embraced challenges, and learned from successes and failures. Each experience became a stepping stone, shaping my leadership style and enhancing my abilities. Inspiring and Influencing Others - A significant aspect of my leadership journey has been my ability to inspire and influence others as both an Adjunct Professor, an Entrepreneur in Residence in the startup ecosystem, and as a leader in my Alumni flying the flag for TRIUM Women and TRIUM Angels.

Through excellent communication skills, a persuasive nature, and a genuine desire to uplift others, I have been able to motivate and guide individuals toward achieving common goals. Leaving a lasting impact on those I encounter has been a fulfilling part of my leadership role. Embracing Opportunities and Entrepreneurship - Throughout my journey, I have fearlessly embraced opportunities and demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit. From leading school fundraisers to taking on captaincy roles in academics, sports, and my community, I have consistently sought avenues to contribute and make a difference.

This innate drive and initiative culminated in running my own company alongside my brother at a young age. For some individuals, leadership is not just a skill that develops over time but a trait ingrained within them from birth. My journey serves as a testament to the power of innate leadership qualities and their profound impact on personal and professional endeavors. From early signs of leadership to a lifelong commitment to growth, I have embraced my role as a leader with passion and dedication. My journey stands as an inspiration to recognize and nurture leadership potential, acknowledging that leadership can be a fundamental part of one's inner being right from the very start.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Morning Routine: Start the day with intention and energy on my rowing machine every other day.
Prioritize and Plan: Review goals and tasks, create a to-do list, and allocate time blocks.
Focus and Deep Work: Set aside uninterrupted time for focused work on important tasks.
Breaks and Mindfulness: Take regular breaks to recharge and maintain mental clarity.
Collaboration and Communication: Schedule meetings and interactions with team members or stakeholders.
Learning and Personal Development: Invest time in continuous learning and acquiring new skills.
Reflect and Evaluate: Assess accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned at the end of the day using my High-Performance Diary.
Evening Routine and Rest: Work through the night in Asia, and at 3am, wind down with a structured evening routine and prioritize restful sleep.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

A recent leadership lesson I've been reminded of is the importance of active and deep listening. While it may seem like a basic skill, truly listening to others and understanding their perspectives can profoundly impact leadership effectiveness. By being fully present in conversations, valuing team members' input, waiting for the end of their sentences, and seeking to understand before being understood, I've realized that I can foster stronger relationships, enhance collaboration, and make more informed decisions. Active listening not only shows respect and empathy but also opens the door to new ideas and insights that can drive positive change.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One book that has had a profound impact on my leadership is "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. This book explores the concept of leadership based on the principles of trust, collaboration, and putting the needs of others before our own. Reading this book was a transformative experience for me. It made me reflect on my leadership style and the importance of creating a supportive and inclusive environment for my team. The book emphasizes the role of leaders in fostering a sense of safety and belonging, where individuals feel valued and empowered to contribute their best.

The story that resonated with me the most was the tale of a Marine Corps general who always ensured that his subordinates were fed before he ate. This simple act of selflessness demonstrated the essence of servant leadership and the power of prioritizing the well-being of others. This book reinforced the idea that true leadership is not about authority or control, but about inspiring and serving others. It made me realize that as a leader, my primary responsibility is to create an environment where my team members feel safe, supported, and motivated to excel. Since reading "Leaders Eat Last," I have made a conscious effort to prioritize the well-being and growth of my team. I have focused on fostering a culture of trust, open communication, and collaboration.

I strive to lead by example, demonstrating empathy, and actively listening to the needs and concerns of my team members. The impact of this book on my leadership has been profound. It has shifted my mindset from a focus on personal achievements to a focus on enabling the success of those around me. By embracing the principles shared in "Leaders Eat Last," I have seen increased engagement, improved teamwork, and a more positive work environment overall.

In summary, "Leaders Eat Last" has shaped my leadership philosophy by highlighting the importance of selflessness, trust, and creating a supportive culture. It has taught me that true leadership is about inspiring and empowering others, and it has significantly influenced the way I approach my role as a leader.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Always remember your L.E.A.D.S and 2 globally responsible leadership questions:

Is the decision you are about to take take legal - both by the letter and spirit of the law.
Is it ethical, based on international standards
Is it acceptable, based on those stakeholders who matter most.
Is it defendable, if it was to be pasted on the front page of the Financial Times
Is it sensible? Sometimes its legal, ethical, acceptable and defendable, just not sensible.

Does this decision you are about to take, change who you are as a company? Does it change who you are as a person?

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

🌟 The Power of an Impactful Conversation 🌟

As a #VC or a #founder, it's easy to underestimate our conversations' impact on others. But let me share a story that reminded me of our words' tremendous #power.

I had a seemingly insignificant conversation with a student about his career #aspirations a decade ago. Little did I know that this conversation would shape the trajectory of his life and lead him to a fulfilling #career as a journalist.

Recently, I received a #heartfelt note from that same individual, expressing #gratitude for our conversation. It was a powerful reminder that as VCs and founders, our words can truly set the path for someone's life and contribute to their happiness and success.

This experience taught me the importance of being fully present in every conversation, whether with aspiring entrepreneurs or fellow investors. It reminded me of the potential we have to inspire, uplift, and make a lasting impact on the lives of others.

So, let's embrace the power of an impactful conversation. Whether you're a VC providing guidance to founders or a founder seeking advice and #mentorship, remember that your words have the ability to create ripples of positive change in the lives of those around you. Choose your words wisely, be #present, and uplift others with your guidance and support.

Together, we can shape the future and contribute to the success stories of countless #entrepreneurs. But for every #founder, no conversation is as important as the ones they have with themselves. Join our #iamremarkable workshops this week at R3I CAPITAL and learn how to build those muscles to articulate what makes you special.

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