Halla Tomasdottir: Leading with a sense of purpose

SOURCEby Matt Villano
Halla Tomasdottir speaks at TEDWomen 2016 - It's About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED
Halla Tomasdottir speaks at TEDWomen 2016 – It’s About Time, October 26-28, 2016, Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco, California. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

After years in the corporate world of her native Iceland, Halla Tomasdottir noticed something about the other decision-makers: Most of them were men.

So in 2008 Tomasdottir set out to change the playing field, launching an investment firm based on “feminine values” and principle-based leadership that focuses on sincerity and openness. The resulting company, Audur Capital, was one of the only financial services firms to survive the country’s subsequent financial crisis. Bolstered by this success, Tomasdottir seized the opportunity to take her approach nationwide, and ran for president in 2016.

At first, nobody expected her to have an impact in the presidential race, predicting she’d barely garner more than 1 or 2 percent of the vote. In the end, she nearly won, coming in second with almost 29 percent.

Since then, Tomasdottir founded Sisters Capital and has emerged as a vocal catalyst for change. She runs interactive workshops on gender-based leadership. She coaches entrepreneurs at home and abroad. She also speaks regularly about the importance of cultivating an atmosphere of trust so everyone in the room feels safe enough to be themselves.

As part of this platform, Tomasdottir champions that truly creative thinking is unlocked by working through self-doubt and embracing the sense that we all can do better and serve a greater good.

“Creativity starts by being bold and challenging the status quo,” says Tomasdottir, now 49. “We must break free from the tyranny of the critical mind, and with openness tap into a child-like and natural state that embraces joy, welcomes mistakes as lessons, and asks questions such as, ‘Why?’ and, ‘What if?”