By: Bethany Hill and Samantha Qualls
Last week, TriplePoint attended “Find Your Fearless: Women, Ambition & Leadership,” a discussion hosted by PRWeek and communications firm Zeno Group. The event was in response to a recent study commissioned by Zeno Group, which found that only fifteen percent of millennial women would want to be the number one leader of a large or prominent organization. Former Cosmopolitan editor Kate White offered a keynote, and panelists – ranging from the associate editor of Entrepreneur.com to the co-founder of Rent the Runway – shared their thoughts on how women can be fearless in the workplace. Below, we’ve compiled our key takeaways:
1. What Would David Bowie Do? Kate White spoke about the importance of making an impact and doing something big and crazy. Why put in the effort to do something if no one is going to remember it? Always try and think outside of the box and imagine how your idea can be bigger. Can your presentation have more punch? Can the event have more pow? Ask yourself what David Bowie would do, and if it’s the opposite, you might want to change your thinking.
2. Stop Thinking You Don’t Deserve to Be There. Ever feel out of place or underqualified in a meeting? IKEA executive Leontyne Green Sykes exemplified this point when she talked about why she decided to wear jeans to the panel. Travelling from Philadelphia into a rain-soaked NYC for the day, Green Skyes realized she would be more physically comfortable presenting in casual clothing. She briefly acknowledged her attire and then continued her discussion, explaining that she knew her words would have more of an impact. She had been invited for a reason, she was meant to be there and her jeans didn’t change that. In the office, it’s important to remember you’re not an imposter. Operating under the feeling that you may not be at your best will only hinder the job you can do.
3. Focus On Your Career And Not Just The Job At Hand. People, not just women, get distracted by the details and ignore the bigger picture. With new assignments and new clients coming in on a constant basis, it is common to think about your day-to-day more than your career. Kate White suggests taking time every week, if only five minutes, to step back and reflect on where you are in your career. How long have you been with the company? How much do you like it? Are you being challenged? How comfortable are you? If the last question is VERY, then it might be time to start looking for a new job. “Comfortable” is where your career becomes stagnant.
4. Use Your Success to Give Yourself a Life That’s Meaningful. So much discussion today is on work and life balance, implying that in any given situation, you have to choose between the two. Yet the very reason we work is to provide for a life we can enjoy. Success is meaningless without the ability to use it to do something you love, whether it’s that trip to Africa you’ve always wanted to take or the introduction to the personal hero (or heroine) you’ve always wanted to meet. Make sure your work contributes to your life, not competes with it.
5. Don’t Always Respond Right Away. With email on our phones, the work day no longer ends at six and frequently leaves us connected to our job 24 hours a day. Christine Osekoski, publisher of Fast Company, says the practice of immediately responding to that late-night email needs to stop. Technology allows people to work when they can, 5-10 minutes after the kids are in bed, or during that train ride home, but that work time is different for everyone. Employees shouldn’t feel a need to respond to every email as it arrives. That 11 p.m. email may be the only time your boss can take a few minutes to catch up on work. Don’t be afraid to wait until the next morning, because more often than not, that late-night email won’t be read until then.
6. Relationships Are Your Greatest Resource. If you’re asked to complete a challenging task, understand that your boss gave it to you because she believes you can do it – and do it well – with others’ support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keeping an open mind and getting input from your coworkers, professional contacts and even friends can help you build a better project. Whether it’s having someone put another pair of eyes on a memo or taking an informal poll about an idea, others’ feedback will often help you create something bigger and better than if you did it alone.
7. Mentors Don’t Have To Be Older Than You. When you say “mentor,” people think of someone who is older, farther along and more established in their career, who can offer guidance. But a mentor shouldn’t have such a strict definition. You can learn from people who are younger than you and the same age. They may be able to guide you through a job transition or give you inspiration. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes: what is important is the relationship you have with them.