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Just ask “why”, one more time

March 1, 2018

Today a young man asked me how I became a leader.  I told him I asked “why” one more time than everyone else.  Sounds simple but it takes courage, a commitment to learning and the willingness to be relentless in your quest to answer “why”.


3 things I no longer fear:

February 27, 2018
  1. Speaking up when I am the only woman in the room. I don’t let the fact I am a woman dictate how I handle myself, my ideas and my contributions in a business environment. Most importantly I am not trying to compensate for the fact I am different, I have learned to celebrate it.
  2. Protecting women in the workplace who are demonstrating poor leadership just because they are female. There have been many times where I have been expected to support and advocate for a woman who have demonstrated poor leadership solely based on their gender. I find that hypocritical. I want to be judged on my merits and that is how I measure others. I work tirelessly in my personal time to support educate and sponsor gender equality and diversity in corporate America, but I expect those women who want and those that have leadership positions to earn them through their actions and their words.
  3. Worrying about what is said about me behind closed doors. It doesn’t matter who “they” are, I am simply no longer concerned. Now I have to get over the fact that I lost so much sleep worrying about what people were saying. This took a lot of intentional work and maturity but I feel so free!

Fostering Inclusiveness

February 20, 2018


Getting to the table is important but being accepted as a key contributor is what matters. We all want to be included but if you look or act different from the core group and those differences are not embraced we often disengage, derail or walk away. We have focused our time and attention on getting women to take a seat at the table but are we equipping them with the tools to stay, contribute and sit up tall?

So, whose responsibility is it to foster inclusiveness in the workplace? How much can we accomplish on our own? How long can we be the outsider before we throw in the towel? Our mentors and our sponsors coach and guide us to leadership positions and often walk away believing their job is done but for us it’s just begun.

Most women I know, even at the highest leadership positions grapple with the issue of feeling included and accepted. They talk about not being invited to the happy hour but when they are they feel out-of-place. They struggle with being the only women in the room and then argue with their inner voice that says, “this is what you wanted!” They feel guilty that they even have these thoughts, so they often suppress them, push them down and don’t talk about the isolation until it affects their ability to be effective.  We build communities where we talk about these issues and that makes us feel marginally better but often the groups we go to for support are not inclusive to the broader audience that is the source of the struggle. As a society we need to develop tools sets and venues that address diversity and inclusiveness, it’s not enough to get a seat at the table.

The Sky is the limit…too bad the incremental gains have been so few…

November 28, 2016


Motivating Associates

Click the link below and check out the statistics for Women in Executive Roles at S&P 500 Companies.  Do they realize what they are missing?

One Way to Cope with Imposter Syndrome

June 10, 2016

Why am I sitting up here instead of in the audience? It seems like yesterday that I was new on the job and shaking as I a rode the construction elevator to the top of the Bank of America building to see potentially defective product and today I am on an expert panel and being referred to as a trailblazer.  When did I go from the mentee to the mentor?  When did I become the person young girls sought out for advice on how to navigate their way through a male dominated occupation?  Who decided I deserve any recognition and was worthy to give advice that could shape a career?

This is imposter syndrome and I am a sufferer.  Don’t get me wrong I get over it.  I have learned coping mechanisms.  These days the bouts of self-doubt and panic are fewer and shorter but, they are still there and recently I have decided that it’s ok and in fact they make me stronger.  One of the ways I cope is by re-evaluating how I got to where I am at, including the mistakes I have made and the setbacks I encountered.  For a good hour I map out the timeline in my head, imagine the journey and even think about what I would have done differently   This process forces me to take ownership of my success and reminds me of the different people who have accompanied me, supported me and coached me along the way.  The process serves as a validation and an ego check all at the same time.  It re-invigorates my drive.

5 Habits That Can Derail Women in Male Dominated Industries

June 3, 2016
  1.  All you can think about is your the only woman in the room.

If your gender is your biggest concern you shouldn’t be in the room.  You are there because you add value, you have skills, you have something to share.  In reality you are the person most likely putting the spotlight on yourself and by doing so you lose effectiveness.  Its ok to recognize you are the minority in the room however you can’t use that as a crutch and you can’t let it debilitate you. To be effective you need to work on communication techniques that help you navigate the room successfully, but shouldn’t you do that with all audiences not just male dominated ones?  Aren’t you the most effective when you know the concerns and characteristics of your environment and audience?  Concentrate on your value, know your audience and act accordingly.

2.  You think you have to speak up often in order to assert your authority.

Successful Leaders listen, period.  Sometimes it is difficult to get a word in edgewise especially in a room full of men.  Men communicate differently and in some cases it can feel like they dismiss our ideas or input and in fact sometimes it may be a conscience dismissal. However that is a tactic employed by individuals not exclusively by men.  Most people have watched a person in a group pontificating or pointing out the obvious while everyone else tunes out or rolls their eyes.  If you speak just to speak, the audience will be rolling their eyes at you but if you speak when you have something to contribute you will be known for adding value, despite the gender composition of the room.

 3.  You constantly have to “sacrifice” because if you ask to do things differently it will hurt your career.

You are no longer alone, Millennials are your new best friends. They don’t think twice about asking employers to accommodate their lifestyle and they are in high demand. The Human Resource industry is obsessed with how to recruit and retain them. Follow the millennials lead, know your value and tell your employer your ideas about the best way to deliver that value. Have an open conversation about what motivates you and how you can deliver the best results. The conversation should demonstrate how, given the right work environment, you can contribute more to the bottom line.

4.  You have to master your current job or have every single qualification needed to apply for a new position.

Women liked to be liked. We don’t like rejection and we often don’t lead with our strengths but there is a way to turn that around. First you have to conduct a grown up conversation with yourself. You need to tell the inner voice that feeds your paranoia that it is ok to take chances, its ok if it doesn’t work out every time and its ok to try again. Second, you have to spend some time really understanding what your strengths are versus what you want them to be. There are many tools to help you figure out what you are really good at but the best one I have found is honest dialog with friends and colleagues asking for unvarnished feedback.

5.  You attribute your success to the fact that you are a woman versus a skilled, competent Leader.

We have all heard about “imposter syndrome” but I believe there is a deeper issues especially with female Gen X’ers. We question ourselves about how we got to where we are. We ask ourselves if we checked a box for the corporation just because we are female. In some cases we may have had people come right out as say that to us. Have you considered that maybe a company’s search for a specific gender was a proactive tactic to encourage diversity of thought? Since you walked in the door you earned everything.   If you feel that you are there simply because you checked a diversity box for the company you need to work somewhere else. In well run companies it’s not about diversity of gender but about diversity of thought, new points of view from people who have had different life experiences which lead the company to innovate. You have earned your place, once you admit that to yourself you will confidently sail on to bigger and better journey’s.

Good advice….

January 18, 2016