Last week I spoke on a panel about issues women are facing in male-dominated industries and what responsibilities men and women have to change the status quo. We had a lively and passionate discussion with the audience and I could fill multiple pages with this topic.
Here is a phenomenon that a lot of women and men raised across the different countries I’ve lived in…
Where are our female role models?
It usually goes like this: “When I look up the career ladder, there are very few female role models. The more senior I get, the harder it is to find any women.”
What I truly believe is: We are all role models for each other! No matter where you are on your career ladder, you can always learn from each other.
Look at your peers and more junior folks in your company or across industries. What can you learn from them? Role models are all around you. It doesn’t mean you can only learn from more senior people.
We need to stop any unnecessary competition and instead think about ways we can all lift each other up. Whether we are in the corporate world, public sector or entrepreneurial world, there are always ways to help each other.
For instance, I love taking on projects outside my day-to-day responsibilities, that challenge me and provide visibility. When I led a diversity initiative, I had the opportunity to select passionate individuals, who would be a great fit for the initiative and at the same time benefit from the extra visibility.
Check-in: What is something you can do today so that women see themselves succeed?
As a leader in your personal life, your work environment and your community, are you doing enough to ensure that women see themselves succeed? Having relocated twice, I know how it feels to build your network and essentially your life from scratch. I mentor other expatriates...
Over the weekend, I hosted the brunch mixer on the topic of “Meaningful Work & Influence”. We were a diverse group of professionals from all over the world, spread across diverse industries and passions. No matter how accomplished we all are, at some point each and every one of us felt like they were off purpose and had to / have to re-calibrate.
Extremely proud of the openness, generosity and wisdom of our participants, I want to share the stories with the biggest ‘Aha’ moments:
See yourself as an influencer
One of the participants was thinking of influence as this huge concept, meaning that you have to be 10x more successful and done it all before you can influence anybody. Meanwhile they had been successful in a client facing role for the past 10 years, but never made the connection that they are actually influencing people on a day to day basis.
Build a diverse board of advisors
Another participant has been strongly influenced by the people closest to them: what to do, what not to do, what career to pursue etc. They feel like they lost themselves and forgot what makes them happy. Whilst sharing their vision of combining two different professions, they lightened up and got a lot of encouragement from the group to keep pursuing their dream.
The topic of our brunch mixer I hosted was “Meaningful Work & Courage: Contribute your talents in a meaningful way and act courageously in chasing your dreams”.
When I get asked: “How do I gain more courage in my life?” I always tell people the answer lies not only in moments of crises when we have to step up but in HOW WE LIVE our lives EACH DAY.
My MISSION of our events are (1) to bring selected individuals together, who care about their personal growth and (2) to BUILD a COMMUNITY OF ROLE MODELS, who lift each other up.
Blown away by the creativity and courage of our wonderful participants, I want to share a few stories:
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to meet Brian Smith, founder of UGG Boots. His story about entrepreneurship and growing his business really hit home. Often times we only see the glamorous side of success, but forget what it takes to get there. And even when Brian sold his company for millions, he didn’t feel successful. Most people feel there’s always something more we could’ve done or should’ve done, and don’t spend enough time looking at what we have achieved to be where we are today.
Have a vision
For Brian it all started with his vision: “To provide comfortable footwear to active people who have a passion for doing things they love.”
Having a vision is so important, not only to keep yourself moving forward but also to bring other people onboard. Personally, I love asking the question: What do you truly care about? What is it you’re so passionate about, that if I wake you up in the middle of your night, you would say, let’s go do that…?
Turn disappointment around
Brian was saying how his greatest disappointments often became his greatest blessings. When something goes wrong, he goes: “Damn, that’s good” and thinks about what good comes out of it.
As you make choices every day, you might get disappointed by the outcome. In these situations, try to look for the lessons. What is it that you can take away from that situation? And you come up with ideas or solutions that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought about.
Brian founded UGG Imports with $500 of start-up money. He was telling the story of a challenging time building his business. He was lying on his living room floor watching TV. After the movie ended he was crawling on the floor over to his bedroom, when his wife yelled at him to get up. This was a big...
As I was sitting on top of Machu Picchu, looking at the mountains around me, I was thinking about the question what does success mean?
Seeing the mountaintops covered in clouds reminded me that you don't have to see the whole staircase to take the first step.
Would love to know, what does success mean to you?
Lots of magical energy and love from Machu Picchu,
Little bit about myself….
Hi, my name is Duninha, I’m 32 years old. I’m a Musical Performer, Singer, and Actress. I work in the Hamburg Dungeon and as a singer in Galas in Hamburg, Germany. My hobbies are making music, playing musical instruments, photography, watching documentaries, sports, and having fun with friends. I’m most passionate about: my love for music.
Who has been your role model?
My grandmother has always been a role model to me. She was born in 1933 and is still alive. She survived the war and a lot of other awful things in her life. I have so much love and respect for her! Every time when I think about her or have a phone call with her, she brings me to tears (without letting her know). It breaks my heart when she told me that she wishes so much that I could be with her because she loves me for my helping hand, my open ear, things I fight for in my life and for my heart. She loves me for WHO I AM.
Well, sometimes when I visited her with one of my ex-girlfriends, I had the feeling she loves them more than me…but I guess it was just because they ate a lot more than I did when she was cooking :D But yes, I know she really loves me (and my Mother loves me too).… and I would give my life for her.
Who have you been a role model to?
I really had to think about this question... But there are a few people, who came to me and told me that I am special to them. Not just ex-girlfriends or my grandmother. Friends told me how thankful they are for when I was there for them in times when they just needed to feel to be loved by somebody. And even people, who just knew me from my Musical Shows, or when I taught them about singing, gave guitar and drum lessons, told me that I touched their lives.
I want to inspire others to self-reflect from time to time and learn how to deal...
Erin Bagwell, a feminist blogger and graphic designer from Brooklyn had a big dream. She raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter to produce her first documentary called ‘Dream, Girl’, showcasing the success stories of female entrepreneurs. Erin made her dream come true! Her documentary has since been named#1 feminist documentary to watch by the Huffington Post.
One of the women featured in the film is Clara Villarosa, founder of The Hue-Man Bookstore, which was the largest African American bookstore in the country. She also started a publishing company at the age of 83, because she “loves being an entrepreneur”. She says: “You can’t ever predict what’s going to happen”. Sometimes one door closes and another one opens up with bright new opportunities.
As a huge fan of ‘Dream, Girl’, I was absolutely thrilled to not only spend the evening with Erin and Clara at the film screening, but also moderate a panel discussion with Erin, Clara, and 2 senior leaders in the financial services industry. This definitely felt like one of my dreams coming true!
We talked about how the audience can bring entrepreneurial thinking into their lives and corporations, and how they can dream big & go for it. The panelists have been an absolute inspiration for me personally and everyone in the audience. That night, 120 women left the room fully charged and inspired, ready to dream big.
Here is a summary of the top tips from the panel discussion:
Giving back – a day volunteering at the Young Women’s Leadership Network
“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” – Denzel Washington
The Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN) supports two life-changing programs that empower students to break the cycle of poverty through education: A high-performing network of all-girls public secondary schools and a comprehensive college access program. Their vision is to provide girls growing up in low-income communities with a high-quality college preparatory education modeled upon the finest private schools.
Our group of volunteers spent the day with Peggy Klaus, a sought-after Communication Expert & Bestselling Author, to teach the girls of the YWLN how to effectively and authentically communicate and how to tell their story in a conversational manner that appeals to people’s hearts and minds. The iconic halls of New York’s Columbia University provided the perfect setting.
2018 marked my 4thyear of volunteering. Every time I’m around the students is hugely inspiring for me. I love seeing the girls getting out of their comfort zones, learning and growing. Being there for them, sharing my story of how I made my dream come true and giving them guidance and tips for their future is truly rewarding.
We, as volunteers, want to be the inspiring role models for the girls and show them what’s possible. And, at the same time, share how they can overcome the barriers and myths we grew up with. Doing a good job and waiting for people to notice, is simply not enough in today’s competitive...
As female principal Sue was breaking into the old boy's network. Sue had many male and female mentors along the way and says that your role models don’t all have to have the same sex as you.
In our interview, Sue is sharing how she early on figured out where the leaders were and how to become one.
“We are always role models!” People are always watching and you want to model that you have a value system in your DNA.
Sue changed careers and became the leading expert and author of Clear your Clutter.
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