Mihaela Tudor: „I think women have learned not to try to be men anymore”

Mihaela Raluca Tudor is a journalist and specialist in PR and communication with 16 years of experience, mother of three children and three companies (TUDOR Communications, 2value.ro and TUDOR Media Productions). She is a serial entrepreneur, country leader EWA (European Women’s Association) Romania, founder of Feminism For Real media international platform and passionate about everything that performance-based communication means.

I invite her to talk about the strength of female leadership put in the service of other women, about women’s solidarity, about promoting and supporting businesswomen worldwide and her new hat as country leader EWA Romania.

Dear Mihaela, welcome to the Backstage Production Group studios, our host who helps us broadcast these interviews. It’s a joy to finally have you on set and to talk about your very brave idea we’ve been developing together for some time. It’s called Feminism For Real, it’s an international media platform that talks about the values ​​of female leadership and entrepreneurship. But we also talk about feminism, in an attempt to demystify all the myths that are circulating about this concept. I could say that feminism is a rather uncomfortable label to wear, even in these times when we are talking about diversity, inclusion, gender equity, about the promotion of women in all areas of social and professional life. First of all, I would like to talk about the latest hat you wear in your professional life. It is about the European Women’s Association, whose Country Leader for Romania you have just been appointed. Please tell us about this new role of yours in building bridges between women entrepreneurs from all over the world.

It is very difficult, not only as a woman, to succeed in developing internationally

I am very excited about this new beginning and once launched on the market, I hope to build an even more active network of women leaders, women-managers, women-entrepreneurs, women who inspire and build communities around them – more beautiful, more empathetic, more inspiring communities, to do nice things, not only in Romania, but internationally. Regarding my position for EWA, my decision to join and build this network in Romania came naturally, because I realized that without a structure including women, without people who believe in the same values, without you benefit from the credibility of an association that has a history behind it, it is very difficult, not only as a woman, to succeed in developing internationally. Considering that I have been in the entrepreneurial market for over 10 years and because during the already famous Covid period I realized that in any crisis there is an opportunity. Basically, I realized that what I want – to grow after 10 years of growing up beautifully and healthy – other women will want too. And we need a structure that I discovered in EWA – beautiful, effective, results-oriented, which can really guide you to the highest peaks, with the support of women like you.

I am sure that this approach is based on some values ​​of female leadership, which you have not learned and practiced since yesterday, but always. I invite you to tell us about the female models who inspired you throughout your life – from childhood, to youth, about your mentors.

It’s difficult for me to name a certain model, either male or female, because I liked to learn from others, but not necessarily to follow someone. As a child, I was the kind of person who learns a lesson in life, a way of being and doing things, and adapting it to my own way of life. I was a stubborn child, but not in an extreme way, very strong, who always wanted to reach a position that would allow me to build something with others. I can’t say I followed anyone in particular. I can say that if we talk about the main values ​ I identify myself with and define me as a human being, the main ones are determination and here I always say to those around me – if you want something in life, it must feel it with all your heart and mind. And I think there is no way but believe in what you want and work for it. And I still believe in passion. If you don’t feel it in your guts, if you don’t like what you do, if you don’t love – with good and bad – you can’t have extraordinary results. That is why I believe that ticking certain functions or certain roles in life cannot be the road to success. And I still believe in one important thing that defines me – that positive energy. We all have better or worse moments, we all have challenges every day, but most of all it matters how you look at them. If you want to see everything as difficult, complicated, and you can’t handle the many hats you have to wear. If you want to mobilize yourself and think that you will succeed, no matter what obstacles you want to overcome, you will surely end up having a smoother journey, with a smile on your face, projecting in the Universe your thought, your positive desire and I can tell you that after 17 years of career, everything I’ve designed so far has happened to me.

Because we talked about values, they don’t just exist in your business and life plans. They are concretely reflected in the platforms you have built: 2 value – the application that connects journalists with entrepreneurs -, the 2valuereporters community, which we have dedicated to Romanian journalists and the lifelong learning we promote in everything we do. Tell us about these value-based initiatives. How important it is to focus on professional projects that are based on values.

I think you need to define certain values ​​and go through experiences that will help you understand that without values ​​to share with a partner, or a client, you can’t go very far. After working with hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the world, after hundreds of interviews in the last year, I hired many specialists in communication-related fields (marketing, technology), I discovered that everything has developed beautifully, healthily, and long-lasting It happened when I had people by my side and we shared common, basic values, and who act the same way as we do.

Why 2value? We started from the idea that a partnership can be successful only if you share the same values, but you are concerned with producing value for the other and vice versa. I said that 2value is the most appropriate name for the international application platform I am currently developing. Because we will always be concerned to show that we have a set of values, eager to attract people in the same way and to produce mutual value for all those who use the platform. It started with a dream that I realized in a discussion with other entrepreneurs that there are many entrepreneurs who have a business, but there are few who understand that a business involves investing in communication and marketing. And the sooner you understand this, the better and better you will be able to develop. Being an entrepreneur myself, I empathized with and understood why this is happening. There is still no education, it is difficult to choose from a huge range of agencies and companies that offer communication services if you do not understand the phenomenon, you have to keep an eye on every leu or euro in the company. That’s why I wanted to create a tool to help them grow and not feel financially or informally constrained to make a choice in the area of ​​communication and marketing. I didn’t want to make a low-cost division of Tudor Communications, but I wanted to find a real solution that would help them in the long run and be able to innovate. I wanted to be the first in this big world to build a virtual assistant of PR for companies in Romania and worldwide.

You have talked about innovation. How much do you relate to everything that is new? As you said, this application is the first that brings together entrepreneurs and journalists, two camps that are harder to reconcile, and you used technology in the service of communication, which is not easy at all. I am sure that it is not the only innovative project of Tudor Communication and I am sure that you are thinking of new ones in the same paradigm of innovation. I invite you to talk about the international media platform Feminism For Real, which contains, beyond the novelty, this courage that I mention every time I talk to my interlocutors. It’s a brave project. Why? Because “feminism” contains a dose of reluctance, “wait and think, I don’t seem to relate, I don’t identify with”, or “I’d rather be a feminine than a feminist” – it’s a cleavage often hear it in conversations. And yet you had the audacity to go further because one of the values ​​that you care about is women’s solidarity. Something we talk about often. I invite you to talk about this female solidarity, a concept that you promote not only socially and professionally, but also personally.

Women bring a lot of energy, empathy and complexity

Feminism is perceived as a movement that has evolved over time in various ways, but which sometimes, as we have come to discover together, has come to provoke reactions such as “I find it a little aggressive, it doesn’t suit me, it doesn’t represent myself completely ”. Of course, not everyone should find themselves in a different movement that we are building now, but I would like to understand it as it is.

Feminism For Real does not contain an ideological position, it does not contain anything in contradiction with men, on the contrary. My husband is my biggest supporter. Feminism For Real is a place, a community, a hub that gives women more courage to stand out and speak out.

To accept that they can have more hats and that they can handle them, without feeling guilty about it, that it is important to continuously develop personally and professionally. And if we get a little closer together, if we stand together in all the challenges we face, maybe the world and life would look different. Because women bring a lot of energy, empathy and complexity. Because we are used to always doing several things at the same time. Why not bring these ingredients to the forefront and inspire the younger generation (my youngest daughter is a year and a half old) to dream the impossible and aim for whatever she wants, to be in solidarity with other women who do not have the same chance, luck or context in which they are encouraged to dream. Feminism is also a way of pointing out that in our social circle things are in a certain balance. But if we come out of our social circle, people who have the chance to talk to educated people, who have access to information, we see that things are different. If we get out of our social circle in a smaller city, in the countryside or in other parts of the world, we see that women have little chance of education, voting, driving or being promoted, forced to remain in the status of wives and mothers.

 I vote for the freedom to choose to be exclusively a mother, to be exclusively a wife, or to be exclusively an astronaut. I believe that we are and will always be equal and we must have a chance anywhere in this world to express ourselves, woman or man, what we can do. This equal opportunities goal is not achieved through aggressive actions – even if history has shown us that sometimes we need, unfortunately, such moments, but especially building constructive work, solidarity, balance, trust and people who mobilize to work and participate in this transformation that still requires effort.

As you said, there is no impossible, the word itself contains the particle “possible” and it is obvious that in every problem we find a solution, an answer to what is happening. For me, feminism has taught me not to compete with other women. Because in our country, we start learning it from childhood in a competitive environment, then we compete for the attention of an employer, a partner, a husband. The moment I read more about feminism, I learned that it was the missing part of classical humanism. And I understood that this false fight, competition, only takes us away from the true values ​​of feminism. We promote women’s solidarity and not only in our home, in the personal environment, but also in the environments in which we express ourselves socially and professionally. That is why I say that I was lucky to reach environments / organizations that understand this and promote it authentically, not only in slogans displayed on the organization or company’s walls. And that’s why I think we are lucky to think and work on this project together, just to encourage other women to promote these values, and to offer men models to recommend to their daughters, partners, and women in their lives. And, by the way, feminism is not a movement against men, you and I have husbands in our lives and we are also mothers of boys and girls, so we have gender equity at home so it would be a paradox to believe in a kind of feminism that it is against men.

If we were talking about what happening at home, I was saying at the beginning that you are the mother of three children and three companies, I would like you to tell us how much “poetry” there is in this description that represents you very well.

Work-life balance for a young entrepreneur with 3 children and 3 companies

I am constantly asked how I manage to have 3 children and 3 companies and how I manage everything in my daily life. Intense activity defines me. I can’t really stay idle. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that balance is definitely subjective, and it’s up to you to define it. Companies have developed over time, also have children, and both areas are my balance in life. I always take positive energy from my children and the determination that whatever happens, I will move on. I want to be able to give them a model in life and the necessary landmarks to develop in life. As for the companies, it is obvious that things did not happen overnight. In time, I went from an employee to 26 and without all the people I have in my team, each being special, things would not have worked out. As for the children, I have my husband, who is my main supporter, my main fan and the man who, any crazy dream I had, encouraged me “you can, you will succeed, let’s see how we do to solve everything ”. I’ve built a support system to help everyone get what they need every day. And I try to make sure that the time I spend with my children, which I admit is not always enough, is not as much as they would like to spend with me, to be quality time. It’s very hard when I go for a week – to Dubai, to Brussels or another part of the world – and I talk to them for an hour every evening, but I can’t hug them. And I get the question, “Mommy, when are you coming home?” But as long as I’m with my kids, except for the days when I’m gone, I make sure I dedicate them quality time – not sitting on the phone, being nervous or agitated, watching TV – I am present and dedicating myself to them 150% of me.

And I think that’s good for me, not only for them. As for the companies, without nice people who feel and breathe the same values, things could not work. And I think people are going through a time they don’t really know what they want out of life. I think the covid pandemic confused us a little bit and made us realize that there are a lot of imbalances, a lot of problems that we need to fix, and that flexibility was always a desire that employees aspired for, but only now have they managed to practice it. I told them that the moment you wake up in the morning and go to work without pleasure, without motivation, it means that you have a problem and that you have to do something. Life is short and it is important to find that place where every day – or almost every day, because we also have bad days – you work enthusiastically, enjoy your colleagues and see the future.

Because you have talked about the pandemic, uncertainty and volatility, I have to say that you are one of the few entrepreneurs in communication, who did not lose anything, did not give up on people, on the contrary, you developed in a spectacular way. What was the impulse, the insight that helped you see further, where others saw only freezing, stop, closure, cost cuts, staff reductions?

After almost six years of television in which I was a special reporter, working for investigations, events, often broadcasting two live shows in an hour, I think I managed to learn how to keep up during the storm, being calm and focused on solutions. This experience trained me and helped me because, for a long time, entrepreneurship did not seem to me a bigger challenge compared to what I had experienced. It helped me realize that in any crisis there is an opportunity. We need to realize that while others are freezing, there are certainly some people who are growing and we need to focus on those people. Moreover, we cannot talk about values, such as solidarity and respect, when in a moment of crisis you give up the people who have been with you and with whom you have built things for years. And I preferred to be „the leader who eats last” so that I could show people that it is not about empty words. I understand that it is a complicated time for everyone and to bring everyone in the context to find solutions together to go further.. For me, everything that happened was the factor that made me realize that we have to grow, we have to develop outside the borders of Romania and that always, with the people who are close to you, you can find solutions to be ahead, to attract the right people together and that’s what happened. We were the first company to launch the communication guide at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, in the first week of the lockdown. That guide has been read in many companies, including the United States, because we were the first ones. No one had thought of that before. We were all scared for our health. The show must go on! But we also need money in our daily lives. And I said, “Let’s see what we can do to help people, according to the imposed rules.” Helping the entrepreneurs in particular, because they produce the most in any civilized state. Here are after two months of lockdown, while our revenue has dropped by 60% overnight, we have succeeded in not only to keep people, but also to grow in different markets around the globe and develop enormously. It is very important to understand the role that you have and to stand out because I tell a lot of people that “in vain you do extraordinary things if no one knows about them or only a few find out about you by recommendation. But it depends on what you want to do. If you want to build communities, if you want to start a civic movement, if you want to have a solid business that resists any storm, you have to find the courage to come forward and tell people about what value you can produce for them, to tell about who you are because people trust people first. And they will come to you. This is the experience of 10 years in entrepreneurship and here we are starting a civic movement. If you talk to people honestly, openly, objectively, and clearly, about who you are and what you want, you attract those who are like you, and half of your mission is done.

Because we are near the end of our conversation, one last thought about how you see the future of female leadership from the perspective of this international kaleidoscope you represent. It is obvious that you have crossed Romania’s borders and you lived different experiences in different cultures. How do you feel, what are the current trends in female leadership?

We need solidarity among women, entrepreneurs, politicians, children

I think women have learned not to try to be men anymore. I think they have more courage to be themselves, they have more courage not to accept anything and in any conditions and to speak openly. We see more and more movements on this topic and we see them at all levels – from the Hollywood scenes to the Romanian ones. And I think we live in very good times. It is the first time in my 36 years that I have visited countries where there is a gender balance in public institutions, in management and where it seems that there is also the political will in many countries around the globe for these things to become a reality. Sure, you must be a little disruptive for things to happen, and I was joking with a friend saying that if things continue this way, we’ll have to defend men in certain situations, but I’m sure they’ll manage. What I want to show is that Romania lacks a lot of solidarity. Not only among women, but among entrepreneurs, politicians, children, because we educate them in this way. Without being united, without being guided by the same goal, values, mission, not many things will happen. That’s what I want for Romania. For the companies we own, for the communities we create, for Feminism For Real, for the European Women’s Association – to bring together people who are the same, feel the same and want the future to look different.

Mihaela Raluca Tudor, the mother of three children and three companies, thank you for the hope, for your optimism and for the signs of normality you bring here and for the fact that together we make the connections between „the normality oases” that, thank God, exist overall; all we have to do is helping them get to know each other and do wonderful things together.

You can follow us on the videopodcast https://youtu.be/Px_9LxMdfH0

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