We need to be the best versions of who we are, in any media and group we are representing. Social media is not an exclusion of our core values – it is the grand inclusion of everything we visibly represent. We can make our world and values sustainable – one word, image, and action at a time.
~ Maria Lehtman
Are you wondering how to make it as an entrepreneur and succeed in the digital age? Do you know how to navigate the social media ecosystems and deepen your field of influence with genuine engagements? What do you need to stand up for a holistic environmental methodology in creating business sustainability?
In my 2019 interview series, we focus on how digital transformation impacts the social and business life of international entrepreneurs. At the heart of a successful social media business, you always find a hard-working digital innovator.
For this article, I had the pleasure of interviewing a power-woman with a Nordic heritage and a global presence: Anne-Maria Yritys, MBA, an influencer, business owner for the Yritys Executive Services and a sustainable entrepreneur with a purpose of making this world a better place. She is also a featured contributor for the award-winning business, culture, and lifestyle multimedia digest BIZCATALYST 360°.
Let’s learn more about the powerhouse called Anne-Maria Yritys.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
The well-being of the environment should be at the center of every business today, or at least the effort to minimize the impact on the environment through different kinds of business activities.
~ Anne-Maria Yritys
- Question: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Anne-Maria Yritys. It is always wonderful to meet successful women in the international business arena. Would you like to share a few key points of your business concept as an entrepreneur and a visionary leader – what areas do you specialize in? And what inspired you to build your own business?
Answer : Thank you for wanting to interview me, Maria Lehtman. It was a pleasant surprise to receive your inquiry, and I am very happy to find people through social media who are actually brave enough and who focus on building real relationships by expressing interest in other people. Bravo!
My path to becoming an entrepreneur has been quite long and rocky. I dreamed about entrepreneurship since the age of 21, inspired by an old friend of mine who started his own business when he was only 19. By the age of 21, I had already been working for small business owners in the hospitality industry, so I guess their lifestyle kind of inspired me as well. It took me about two decades to have the courage to actually to start my own business.
Until then, I gained work and life experience by working for different kinds of businesses in the hospitality and banking sectors, both in Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland. After having accomplished my MBA in 2012 and at the age of 35, I realized that my banking/investment career was not giving me the fulfillment I wanted. I have always had an interest in the third sector as well, and a longing for improving the world. I thought I would have so much more to give elsewhere than by selling loans or investments to clients.
Nevertheless, I am very grateful for my experience from the retail banking and investment sectors – those years taught me a lot about not only the economy but also about my core values. I have always been studying other entrepreneurs and businesses. During my years in banking, I was working with SME ́s, so I learned a lot about entrepreneurship before jumping into it personally. When I left my role as an investment manager, I started networking heavily on social media: first on LinkedIn, and then on Twitter. It took me many years and a lot of sweat to build the social media networks I have today.
At times I asked myself, what sense does this make? Perhaps no sense at all, but at least I have learned a lot throughout this journey. I have also been inspired by so many people through social media and connected with tons of people that I would never have met otherwise.
- Question: You obviously care about the well-being of the environment and living in balance with nature. As Digital Transformation is at the heart of every business model today – what opportunities do you see, it offers for the preservation of the environment?
Answer : Oh, yes! I think it all really started when I was living in Switzerland and went biking and hiking regularly in the mountains. Nature is essential for my well-being today. I do not know if I could ever imagine myself living in a huge metropole like New York or Tokyo. I remember getting a headache when first living in Helsinki as well in 1998, although Helsinki is a small city on a global scale. I have visited cities like Bangkok, Paris, and Istanbul but do prefer living closer to nature.
I think digital transformation offers plenty of opportunities to help preserve the environment: less need for actual travel since many business meetings can be held online, online education, and spreading awareness about important topics such as climate change through digital platforms and social media, just to mention a couple of examples.
- Question: How do you create a foundation in your daily business to help your customers to understand the value of a sustainable business also from an environmental point of view?
Answer : I do this through the experience and knowledge that I have gained throughout the years. Today, we should rather ask which kind of a business can survive NOT considering or implementing sustainable business practices. The well-being of the environment should be at the center of every business today, or at least the effort to minimize the impact on the environment through different kinds of business activities. We have no other option if we actually want to save our planet. Sustainability should be at the heart of every business. It is possible to create and to run sustainable businesses.
- Question: Being born in Finland has given me a very different viewpoint of nature, enjoying the clean and beautiful surroundings, and seeking a healthier life-work balance in leadership positions. Has your nationality helped you in your approach and values, and if so, how?
Answer : I think so, yes. I was born in Sweden and moved to Finland at the age of 15. Later, I worked in Germany and Switzerland for many years before returning to Finland. I have also traveled quite a lot around the world, something that has been an eye-opener for me. It taught me how to value our Nordic environment and nature here, including all our forests! It cannot be taken for granted. Our Nordic educational system also places a lot of value on ethics and morals in general.
My MBA program taught me how to become a responsible business person. Achieving a healthy life-work balance can be quite challenging these days, but I think experience is a great teacher here as well.
Too many people suffer from depression or burnout these days. I think it becomes a whole lot less expensive for businesses and societies to make sure that their employees and people are working less and feeling healthier rather than the other way around. Our Finnish and Scandinavian system supports a healthy life-work balance, at least on paper. How this works, in reality, is another question.
Takeaway #1: By now, even the most critical minds challenging climate change have taken a second look into the mirror. According to Space.com, a few scientists decided to create a 3D map of the entire world, especially the most vulnerable places, before they disappear. Nothing goes unseen or untouched when businesses and societies are built-up with the speed they are today. We should take great heed to influencers like Anne-Maria, who is outspoken about the environment and passionate about coaching enterprises on sustainability.
Being social media savvy today makes a significant difference in how well influencers are connected and making a difference in their ecosystems. Let’s have a closer look at how Anne-Maria has leveraged the complicated business networking platforms.
What does it take for an entrepreneur to move to the influencer level?
Do not fear failure. Grow and learn through experiences, and even through mistakes. Be authentic. Be yourself. Be real. Create a digital/social media strategy that works for you/your business.
~ Anne-Maria Yritys
- Question: When I first came across your profile via BizCatalyst 360°, I was very impressed by how expansive your social media network was (600k contacts across 200 countries). How did you build your social media empire, and what do you consider as critical values and offerings to retain your contacts?
Answer : It all started with LinkedIn in 2013, and shortly after that, Twitter. I have been a member on LinkedIn since 2008 and on Twitter since 2011. At some point, I even planned to shut my Twitter profile. That was before I started networking on the platform. I guess it grew to some kind of an addiction at some point. On LinkedIn, I joined all possible Open Networker groups and even established my own group for networking (Around Online Media in 180 Days). I shared my email address with other open networkers, and both received and sent invitations to people.
On Twitter, it was all a bit different, but it took a lot of effort and work to build the networks I have on Twitter today. I do not know if I could do it once more, at least not in the way I did it a few years ago. I took quite a lot of risks and also felt some of the consequences. In general, I think most people on social media like the feeling of being connected to other people, even if there is not always active interaction between contacts.
Today, many people follow and unfollow me on Twitter on a regular basis. It is something you have to live with on social media. LinkedIn is different since it is more about building long-lasting business relationships and less about following / unfollowing. For some people, I think social media has become a stress tool.
Unfortunately. I think critical values are something that everyone has to define for themselves. If someone thinks I am of no value to their network, they are free to disconnect or to unfollow me. I am also curious by nature and interested in different kinds of people and cultures. It has all been a huge learning experience for me.
- Question: What advice would you give to initiate influencers, social media experts, and entrepreneurs who are looking to build a robust engagement in social media?
Answer : I would like to quote Gary Vaynerchuk here: “The best marketing strategy ever: CARE!”
Focus on delivering high-quality content, including videos. Find your own style, create your own brand and your own content. Do not fear failure. Grow and learn through experiences, and even through mistakes. Be authentic. Be yourself. Be real. Create a digital/social media strategy that works for you/your business. Whatever you do, you cannot please everyone. Do not try to be perfect; rather, try to be of value! Always stay true to your values, and never ever forget about ethics, morals, and integrity.
- Question: Women today have a challenge finding role models in different industries, especially in the STEM fields. What advice would you like to give to young women wanting to follow their passion?
Answer : I have found many female role models through social media. I would strongly empower and support young women to follow their passion, regardless of what anyone may feel, think, or say. Girls and women today can achieve anything they want to! At least, that is how I want to see the world and the future on this planet. Unfortunately, still, in many parts of the world girls, and women are not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
Despite challenges and obstacles, I would advise young women to pursue their dreams and passions! My advice for young women is also to invest in career planning and finding a mentor or several mentors. You rarely get anything given to you without asking, so learn how to ask (for help). Believe in yourself and your dreams! :)
Thank you for the interview Maria Lehtman :)
Takeaway #2: Social media has become the most critical foundation for all business influencers. A credible digital footprint is also a necessity for any expert in any field across the world. The digital age is far from perfect and has a vast digital divide between cultures and countries. There is room for a dramatic change in how we value each other, our expertise, and our humanity and respect each other when our digital worlds collide and merge. Let us make it a good experience and reach out to those who are not yet on-board with innovation and new solutions and ideas. Let’s act like the digital humans that we are and respect the longevity of the environment.
Thank you, Anne-Maria Yritys! I am inspired by how much you care about the well-being of people and the environment. And how much you have invested in building your know-how and creating ecosystems of transversal networking with real people and real engagement. It takes true business networking skills to understand and create value through social media
If you are keen to learn more about Anne-Maria’s approach, methodology, and executive consulting – please follow her on the provided links!
If you are interested in previous influencer interviews – please have a look at the following links:
- Personal Branding Success As A Key Person Of Trust (KPT)
- Business Networking Success – What Can You Learn From A Stellar Solopreneur?
- What Can You Learn From A STEM Specialist Pursuing A Creative Path?
- BIZCATALYST360° ǀ https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/
- Space.com ǀ Scientists Want to Make a 3D Map of the Entire World Before Climate Change Ruins It ǀ https://www.space.com/map-the-earth-with-lasers.html
- BIZCATALYST360° ǀ Profile Anne-Maria Yritys ǀ https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/author/annemariayritys/
- Yritys Executive Services ǀ https://www.yritysexecutiveservices.org
- LinkedIn Profile ǀ Anne-Maria Yritys ǀ www.linkedin.com/in/annemariayritys
- Twitter ǀ @annemariayritys ǀ https://twitter.com/annemariayritys
- Twitter ǀ @GCCThinkActTank ǀ https://twitter.com/GCCThinkActTank