A wonderful way to spend Saturday night is to share good food, good wine and good conversation with my long-time friend Julie.
This past Saturday the conversation started over my gourmet pizza “recipe“. We drifted into brainstorming some specific issues we are tackling as entrepreneurs – who, also, happen to be women.
The conversation shifted to our reactions toward the shrill feminism that’s become so fashionable this year. That’s fashionable as in “fad”.
When Julie and I met at Price Waterhouse Management Consulting Services 20 years ago, we were in the early vanguard of senior women managers. Baby Boomers – members of the first generation of women who were successfully challenging in career fields traditionally considered male bastions: Engineering, technology, law, manufacturing, and politics.
The conversation turned to Julie’s daughter, Clare. She’s just graduated with honors from Georgetown University.
We are not naïve about the challenges she’ll confront pursuing a successful professional life while maintaining a strong identity as a woman. We’ve done it.
As a kind-of graduation gift we boiled-it-down to five critical pieces of advice that will help her to thrive as she enters the work force.
Be Prepared: There is Gender Bias in the Work Place
Let’s not pretend that gender bias does not still exist because it does. The good news: it’s becoming an artifact of history
There’s no bad news: There are increasing numbers of powerful women rising through the ranks in every segment of the economy.
Don’t perpetuate the myth of gender bias by perceiving malevolent intent at every turn. Your father, brother, boyfriend, or husband is, in fact, a man. Do you really believe he can dominate you or that he wants to?
The best way to overcome gender bias is to be a contributing team player. Don’t make your male colleagues regret asking you to join the team. But do let them know that you came to play, to compete – be confident
You have to give respect to get respect. While giving your male colleagues credit for their work, you have to clearly and uncompromisingly take credit for your work.
Don’t assume that if you do a good job the boss will know it. You have to show it.
Self-Confidence is Sexy
Demonstrate your value to your colleagues and bosses. Not only will it build your self-confidence, it will increase your self-sufficiency. By the way, there’s not a man alive who can resist that combination – not even George Clooney!
The more secure you feel professionally, the more confident you’ll be in your judgment and decision making. Ultimately this leads to self-sufficiency.
Self-sufficiency comes from independence. Don’t depend on the government or on a man — not even for a movie date on Saturday night.
You’ve got brains, judgment, courage and some money. Use them to explore, expand your horizons and enjoy every day of your life.
If self-sufficiency makes a beau uncomfortable today – wash that man right out of your hair!
Marry Your Best Friend
The 21st century two-income family doesn’t work without trust. You will work late, he will work late. You will travel, he will travel. Doubt will fracture a marriage.
If you’re ambitious, make sure the man you marry is a true friend. A true friend is a partner who coaxes you to be the best you can be. A true friend celebrates your accomplishments without envy.
A true friend sometimes sacrifices personal ambition for the good of the partnership.
Children Can Be a Blessing
Parenting in the two-income 21st century family is a partnership. Both of you have to be committed to maintaining the balance between career and family – 24/7/365.
Achieving the balance is near impossible. There’s no formula – it’s a daily challenge.
You’ll never be a perfect mom or perfect working mom. It’s okay.
Your child needs your time and attention more than stuff – every day!
Unlike stock options, the love shared between mother and child never loses value.
Women are natural born networkers. We know relationships are not like breathing. Relationships don’t exist on autopilot – they need to be nurtured.
Make sure self-sufficiency doesn’t become self-imposed isolation. It’s too easy to come home at the end of the day and make excuses not to reach out to your network of friends – you are too tired or you don’t want to impose.
When you blow-off the lecture that sounded interesting enough to put on your calendar, you are missing an opportunity to make an important new business contact.
Foster relationships you value. Nurturing is not Facebooking – it’s talking, visiting, sharing, doing.
People are drawn to people who are happy to be alive – people who greet each new day with energy, purpose, and spontaneity. Be one of those people.
Photo Credit: Fernando Alfonso III
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