Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk

May 27, 2019 | Gin with a Genius

Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk have seen it all – together.  As the co-founders of Swim – a creative leadership consultancy and training lab – the pair combine their passion for mentorship with their wealth of industry experience to “give ambitious people tools and insights to have maximum impact.”

During their 13 year tenure as Co Chief Creative Officers at Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto, Janet and Nancy directed world-renowned campaigns for brands including Kraft, Unilever, and Dove – their Campaign for Real Beauty being a Cannes Grand Prix-Winner.

The team also co-authored Pick Me and Darling, You Can’t Do Both (and other noise to ignore on your way up) – a book that Fast Company’s Co Founder Alan Webber calls “The how-to follow-up to Lean In.”

We love Janet and Nancy because they understand people. With expertise in building leaders, mentors, and partnerships, they have become influencers in one of the most nuanced (and important) aspects of business. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to sit down and learn more about their view on building strong teams and employees.

What is the biggest misconception about leadership?

“People don’t think of leadership skills as something you acquire, they assume you are born with it. As companies get leaner, there is no time for training, especially for leadership skills.”

“Companies need to view leadership training through a new lens – as a way to equip people and make shifts in mindsets and behaviours.”

What is the most important aspect of creating magnetic partnerships?

“It’s all about trust. If you find the team or partner who you really trust, great things happen. You have to want the same things and have the same values.”

Tell us more about your view on mentorship.

“I think of mentoring as any way you are sharing wisdom with someone.”

“In modern business life, mentoring is often seen as something ‘nice’ people do, or akin to an act of charity. But in reality, it pays back the mentor a hundred times over; it helps to develop leadership skills that can ultimately build your career.”

What is the best book you’ve read lately?

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril by Margaret Heffernan


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