Women Of The Channel: Advice For The Next Generation10:00 AM EST Tue. Jun. 18, 2013
What advice would you give to young women aspiring to succeed in the workplace? A simple question that elicited a variety of responses from this year's Women of the Channel. The following 25 executives used their years of experience to impart wisdom to the next generation of female channel leaders.
As cliche as it sounds, don’t give up. In a fast-paced world, with a volatile economic climate, you have to “lean in” and take on the working world full force. It’s taboo to discuss a work life balance, but sometimes, you have to over achieve and work to excess, to truly appreciate the personal wins in life. There’s nothing more rewarding then being able to relax and say, “I’m blessed to have it all personally and professionally – and continue to aspire for greatness.”
I would say, first and foremost, always have goals – know what you want. Second, create a plan to accomplish those goals. You have to know how you are going to get to where you want to go. Third, always be true to yourself. Lastly, create yourself a network – i.e. know the unwritten rules. Understand that it is not only about what you know.
No matter what, it’s important to raise your hand and say "yes" to the big challenges and opportunities. Go for it and do it your own way. Use your resources and deliver the results. 1) Pick your passion and go for it! 2) Be the best – hone your craft 3) Results matter – understand how the money flows 4) Communicate often and persuasively 5) Call upon your supporters … and support others 6) Don’t underestimate the impact you have on others and on the business
Follow your passion, take risks that follow high growth trends and show promise. Get on the train early and make a difference. Build relationships with everyone that can add value to your career as well be certain you add value to them. You have a personal portfolio today and are building one for tomorrow. Keep growing your skills by reaching out, trying new things and listening to others with diverse perspectives. Hold yourself accountable for your own success and know that you are empowered. Give back and enjoy the ride.
A good first impression, which can take as little as seven seconds to form, is the best way to start a great relationship. Think about the impact and difference you can make and always prepare and extend your reach across the organization. Making connections and engaging in meaningful conversations results in lasting relationships that you can link back to throughout your career.
Sit down and imagine how you want to your life to play out for the next five to15 years. I got married in my 30s and started having kids at 36. My previous corporate life allowed me to travel and see a lot so I was not unhappy when all of that stopped. Now, I have three kids and constantly struggle to balance family (including laundry), work (I’m the owner) and community (Rotary and synagogue). Understand that it’s OK to struggle as long as it doesn’t adversely affect your quality of life. Take a deep breath regardless.
In my experience, the opportunity to succeed exists regardless of gender, but women have an opportunity to demonstrate how potential inherent differences make them better leaders. There is no substitute for hard work, determination, focus, drive, and integrity but I see that people do respond when women act like their natural selves versus assuming they need to change anything about themselves to be successful in business.
Always operate with the utmost integrity. Communicate directly and honestly with those around you. Be open to new opportunities. Don‘t be afraid to build new skills or to fail. Seek out mentors in all types of people both leaders as well as peers. And have fun along the way. Every business is in the people business so stay close to your customers.
I often tell young women (and many of our interns), don't hold back. Stand your ground, and tell people what you need to be successful. Millennials are finding their way differently than we did years ago, and they need to let us know how to enable and support them.
Spend your early days in your career observing and listening to market requirements by collecting information from as many external sources as possible e.g. industry publications, government sources, customer feedback, and academia. It’s important to avoid mapping requirements to your product instead of adapting your product to real requirements.
Look for role models and seek out mentors of all kinds -- work, life, etc. Don’t be afraid to reach a bit out of your comfort zone even if it means short-term sacrifices like extra travel or a lower salary. Ultimately, the path is not a straight line and often doubles back on itself. Don't spend too much time thinking about what "could”"be, but focus on "what is"and what will be.
Throughout my career, I've had colleagues and supervisors tell me that my expectations were too high or that my earning potential was limited. If you were to come to me for advice, no matter your gender, whether in the workplace or in my everyday life, I will always tell you to set your goals high, stay true to those goals and don’t give up or be discouraged. Most importantly, do not gravitate towards female stereotypes. If one day you are told something different, then I would say those individuals are intimidated by your potential and determination, so keep pushing forward.
Lean In. Stand up. Step forward. Speak out. Be smart and strong, and don’t torpedo your own efforts in the workplace. (If you haven't had a chance to read Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In," I highly recommend it.)
You have to be passionate about what you do. You must surround yourself with excellent people. Do good, do great, but never let your ego rule your decisions. Be open to the things you don’t learn in a book, the things you can only learn from the school of "hard knocks.” Allow yourself to try new things, innovate and present new ideas an" accept and learn from your failures. While life is full of comprises, one does not need to compromise between one’s professional and personal goals. Don’t believe you must "be perfect" to succeed. Successful executives know, we evolve.
The "golden rule" serves me well in life and the workplace. I’ve encountered many situations where someone I might not expect to ever cross my path again, did and because I was helpful to them, or treated them with respect, they returned the kindness. Willingness to take risks is also so important. I often ask myself "What’s the worst that could happen if this doesn’t work out?” Usually the answer is something I can live with, knowing that even failure brings learning and with confidence what may look like initial failure often turns into longer-term success.
Have a dream ... a big dream. I think women suffer from concentrating on the nightmares (work balance, retirement, family pressures) and don't spend enough time dream building. And when we do have dreams, our dreams are not at the same scale as our male counterparts. We tend to view ourselves with a smaller dream or role than we have the capability to achieve and that tends to limit some of our results.
There is no substitute for hard work and being prepared. You will be scrutinized more than your male counterparts, most likely. You will need to always come to the table prepared. You need to remember– always treat others as you would like to be treated. Always be kind, fair and professional. If you are a working mother, and I am, you have to learn to compartmentalize your life. Men do this so much better than we do. But, you can do it.
Be yourself and trust your intuition. You will always be your most effective if you work to your strengths. This is particularly important in male-dominated industries such as IT. Many women feel like they need to emulate the style of their male counterparts, but our strengths lie in our own personalities and that includes our feminine traits also. I always coach young women to trust their knowledge, be clear and direct in their communication and don’t shy away from being assertive when needed.
As I take my own personal journey through my own career, I have learned that taking risks is as equally important as motivation, intelligence and competence. If you don’t put yourself in situations where you feel uneasy and uncomfortable, it means that you are not taking enough risks and not evolving to the next level. It's how you handle and rise out of these uncomfortable and uneasy situations that defines your success.
Have strength, confidence and be courageous. Every part of your career - both good and bad - are experiences and improvements. You can and will always handle each task with grace and humility. Even when the next tough thing that comes along, know you can handle it and always do the thing you think you cannot.
My advice to women in the workplace is first and foremost to remain in the workplace, remain engaged in your career and always invest in growing your expertise and experience. Also, by remaining engaged, we have the opportunity to shape our business environment, the products that are made, the way that business is conducted. Beyond engagement, remember that your goal is to do your best, that does not mean being perfect; just be your best as you define it.
Stand strong and never apologize for wanting it all. So many women feel like they have to choose career, family, education -- we can have it all and shouldn't apologize for changing the priority from time to time. I spend more quality time with my children even though I spend about 200 days a year on the road between countries than most stay- home-moms. My advice - stay honest, driven and always do your personal best and you will always succeed.
Use your voice and don’t be afraid to speak up with questions or opinions. A lot of young women sit back and listen in professional settings but are afraid to raise their hand due to a fear of not being taken seriously. Our young people are usually the ones that are bringing good ideas to table and I would encourage them to push the boundaries and use their voice.
Ask questions. Sit in the front. Raise your hand and don’t put it down until you are satisfied. Spend the time to understand who you are; what you want; and who you think can help you achieve these goals. Having a mentor or a sponsor is really important. Not all companies have formal programs. Seek to help find a person or two that will help you.
My advice to young women would be to focus, focus, focus. Work hard and help motivate others. It is important to not only work within your own organization, but across multiple areas to network and build strong relationships. Also know that no one is entitled to achievement or success. Respect is earned and not given.