Mona Pearl, Founder & COO – BeyondAStrategy.Inc
Coined by clients as the “The Task Force”, Mona Pearl helps companies with entrepreneurial mindsets — build-fix and grow– companies that face complex challenges across borders. She charts & coordinates programs and actions that help them become competitive and sustainable internationally. (www.monapearl.com)
Mona speaks 6 languages, has lived on 3 continents and has been involved in over 20 start-ups as well as the expansion of many established companies. She has served as COO/CMO for three companies and helped build and scale ventures in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, while establishing an international network of contacts which helps ease the path in many overseas operations. She has served as an international advisor to many of the world’s leading companies and governments on global strategy, transformation and innovation. She has worked across many different industries ranging from manufacturing and technology to homeland security, hospitality and transportation.
Mona is a true believer in education and broadening the horizons and she makes it a point to mentor the young generation and share from her experiences either through teaching at the university level globally, or through private sessions. Throughout her life, she has fostered a love for intellectual curiosity and ongoing learning. With each new experience on her journey, whether good or bad, positive or negative, she adds another dimension to her understanding of people, cultures and how to best penetrate the global marketplace. Mona uses these experiences and knowledge to impart insight and wisdom for the benefit of her clients, her students and her work.
She cites an example when she started a technology manufacturing business. Mona says she learnt how to negotiate across borders to deliver the best possible product for markets in both North America and Asia. She maximized the value of a global supply chain by sourcing abroad and working collaboratively with other business people from around the world. Ultimately, the product was developed in Germany (German top engineering), designed by Italians (Italian top design and style), and made in the USA (American quality). She also learned the importance of protecting products and intellectual property in the global arena the hard way when her high tech product was reverse engineered.
Mona says, Life, fully lived and engaged in, provides the best education and skills and she considers herself fortunate to have experienced and explored a multi-cultural life, having lived on three different continents with frequent travels to many international destinations.
She shares her success mantras with AsiaBizToday on TrailBlazers.
About your entrepreneurial journey
“Only the ignorant try to imitate the behavior of others. Intelligent men don’t waste their time over such things: they develop their own abilities. They know that in the forest of a hundred thousand trees there are no two leaves alike and that no two journeys along the same road are the same.” Paulo Coelho, my favorite author from Brazil.”
My entrepreneurial journey wasn’t planned and looking back I truly believe it had to do with my life experiences and outlook on life. I was introduced to a high-tech advertising and promotion product at the time that most still didn’t see the potential of the digital world and manufacturing. I saw an opportunity to build a business around it and jumped right into it. I assume this was my inflection point in life which turned me into the life of entrepreneurship. I could “see” the future and how this can revolutionize the industry. I didn’t focus the risks or challenges, only the opportunities and had the ‘get it done’ attitude and fearless approach. This approach and attitude of “what can we do”, as opposed to “why not do it or what are the risks” has been a major driver in my life. It is about building and creating, and not focusing on the risk and failure, and always looking for a way to make things happen, improve and accelerate.
The lessons I learn in each company I get involved in can be applied to the next company and therefore, have a more panoramic view, creative approach and be on the innovative edge in terms of product and process.
I since then started companies, managed companies and have been in an advisory capacity, sharing from my experience and help make the right business decisions.”
Most challenging assignment
“My entrepreneurial career focused on hard to solve challenges, creative solutions and a get it done attitude. I was coined by one of my clients “the task force”. This all means that each and every assignment has been unique it its aspects and required skill-sets and approach, so in many ways, all assignments have been challenging, in a positive way, and stretching my abilities, capabilities, level of comfort and skill-set.
For example, when engaged on a project with a global trucking company trying to enter the Asian market, I had to develop creative strategies and in this case some craft of socially responsible tactics while engaging several stakeholders from the private sector, government, not-for-profit and other international organizations. This was an exciting project with an end result that benefited all parties involved.
The challenging part was to get everybody around the table, get the ‘out of the box’ idea and plan across and get the ‘buy-in’ of all parties for a successful implementation. This required cross-cultural and diversity skills, global strategic planning, creativity and taking the initiative while believing in the cause and in myself and my capabilities to make this happen.”
Experiences on being a woman entrepreneur
“A lot has to do with our mindset, and if we believe we have a disadvantage, it will become an obstacle. I have always perceived myself as a professional, focused, determined and results oriented person. I never really adapted the “woman” entrepreneur outlook, although with time I noticed that I am usually the only woman in the room. I demand of myself a very high level of performance and execution, and since people believed in me and my abilities, the issue of being a woman didn’t really come up. Maybe it was/is my naÃ¯ve way of seeing the world…
I believe the main challenge I faced was, at the time, my young age and the fact that most people believe that experience comes with age. However, determination, target oriented and authenticity, being true to myself and following my true north were detrimental to my success.”
“The greatest challenge I’ve faced in my career to date has to be the key role I played in helping client and my company survive the recent recession. The challenge was to find possibilities in impossible times not only economically, but when the general sentiment was to do nothing and most wore risk averse. This required tenacity, creativity and the ‘knowhow’ to help those that were ill-prepared for the advent and impact of the recession; engaging in a constant uphill struggle for survival.
Riding the waves of the perfect storm, forcing me to apply cross-industry, the fact that I’ve lived on three continent and have done business cross-border and creative approaches, made all of us more resilient and successful.”
How do you believe in making dreams come true?
“I would phrase it more as having a vision and acting on it. It wasn’t a dream, these were things I strongly believed I had to do, wanted to do and was working on accomplishing. I wasn’t the typical dreamer, and always had the approach of “what is the next big thing?” What can I be part of that is exciting, out-of-the-box and that will either stretch my abilities or help me acquire new skills and perspectives?
Doing more of the same isn’t who I am. It may feel comfortable, but you are not going to go anywhere unless you always work hard and smart. Sometimes luck plays a part, but lazy people rarely get to where they want to be.
There are dreamers and then there are doers. To make a dream/vision come true you need to combine both. I learned not to listen to my self-defeating voice and believing it, while surrender to the belief that I do not need to know everything “now”, it will all come together at the right time.
When I help a client frame and make their dream come true, it is one of the most gratifying feelings. It is basically taking my experience, outlook and toolbox and help them launch and/or grow their business.”
Setbacks faced and lessons learnt
“One of my strengths is not being afraid of trying. People that are afraid may never know how successful they could have become. What can happen? You fall, get a bloody nose and then get up, understand/process what just happened and do things in a better way. Pause and ask for inspiration or guidance either within yourself or from trusted advisors. It is about learning, improving and looking forward while realizing how far we’ve come.
One of the main success factors for entrepreneurship in the US is that it is OK to fail. People share their failure stories and not only their success. We are comfortable with being human and that failure is part of success. As Winston Churchill so wisely remarked: “Failure is seldom fatal, and success never final–it’s courage that counts.”
Of course, like everybody, I faced setbacks, and if I may add, quite a few. These were my best lessons, since we learn from failure and not from success. There is always an answer. It might not hit you straight away. If you suddenly see you have a mountain to climb over, then either find a way to go around it, get the right gear to climb it, or use a plane and fly over it!
Companies don’t have retreats to try and understand why and how they succeed, although they should. Companies have meetings to find out what went wrong. I believe that everything happens for a reason and the biggest lesson I have ever learned is that you should always trust your gut instinct first and foremost.”
“Women are the better halves”. Your views on this.
“It may be a romantic way of looking referring to our partners, which is beautiful and charming. The reality is that we each contribute to our ability, understanding and based on our experiences and points of view. As women make up about half of the world’s population, and in the last years have a growing buying power, decision-making and education, there is a mounting need to listen to what women want, as consumers and decision-makers and take these into account.
We need to work in concert and harmony and learn to accept, respect and relate to what both genders bring to the table.”