Advice From Women Who Get Shit Done

Last week I had the opportunity to attend an event through Robb Report to celebrate the launch of their new bi-annual, female focused magazine: Muse. If you've never heard of Robb Report, don't worry, you're not alone. I had no idea this publication even existed before I started working on my current client. Probably because Robb Reports audience comprises of c-suite businessmen who can afford a closet full of Rolex's. Clearly not me. But as we all know, women are kicking ass and taking names and Robb Report wanted to branch out and speak to an audience of C-suite level businesswomen or women with more money to invest than I'll ever seen in a lifetime. Again, clearly not me.

Now as you can image, the attendee list for this event was too rich for my blood, but I did my best to try and blend in. I have to say you guys, the event was hella inspiring. The kind of inspiring that fills your head with the false presumption that you can just waltz into your bosses office and demand a promotion in addition to a seat at the board room table. But in all seriousness, these women were dolling out SUCH. GOOD. ADVICE. The panel consisted of Debra Lee, the CEO of BET Network, Niki Leondakis, the CEO of Equinox, and Sherry Paul, the Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Adviser at UBS Wealth Mangement. Can I just say, a shrine to Niki Leondakis is in the works. All of the women's stories were inspiring but Niki was dolling out the cold hard truth and I was eating it up like it was my third bag of Robin's Eggs from the Easter clearance sales.

Most of the women didn't start out in their field expecting to do what they do now. Debra Lee was a law school graduate with a passion for politics. Sherry was a philosophy major. Debra lead BET's legal group and eventually moved into a COO role before inheriting the CEO title. Sherry sort of stumbled into her niche after discovering that older women's husbands were dying and they were so far removed from the finances of the household that they didn't know what their husbands had invested in or how to mange it. Sherry learned the important role women play with wealth management and grew her career from it. Nikki started in the hospitality and hotel management side of things and clawed her way to a CEO position by learning the language of men. And since this little 'ol blog is a diary of sorts, I feel as though I need to write down their words of wisdom in the likely event that my memory will inevitably fails me:

1. Learn to speak the language. Niki told a story from her time at her previous position with the hospitality corporation. She said that she would walk into the boardroom with her male counterpart, whom had a role and title at the same level as her and when it came time to talk about her respective teams performance, Niki would accept responsibility her teams mistakes while calling out individual team members successes. Her male counterpart, however, would take credit for his teams successes and use the word "they" to describe his teams failures, in an effort to distance himself. Niki went further to clarify that she would never be able to act the way her male counterpart did, its just not who she is, but she did learn the importance of "I". When you do good work, take credit for it. Show your value. Which leads me to my second point...

2. When you talk about performance, use cold hard numbers. When Niki looks at her teams self-reviews, she notices that most women used descriptors or adjectives to describe their performance, while most men use numbers. And when management is looking at those two types of reviews, which do you think they're more likely to reward? You betcha, the one that will grow their revenue stream. Its awesome that you called out your management style in your self-review, but be sure to also quantify your work.

3. Women now control more than half of U.S. personal wealth, which is only likely to increase in years to come. Sherry stressed the importance that as women, we learn about the markets. Its great to have savings, but stocks is what will make your retirement fund grow by leaps and bounds. Sherry emphasized that in your 20's you should work on learning about debt. How you get debt, how you get rid of debt and why debt is important. In your 30's, you should work on gaining equity. Buying a home would be the most common route. In your 40's and on, you should focus on your buildinga nd managing your portfolio. If your company can offer you stock options, take it. Pay attention to your 401k. Pay attention to the market.

Even if that is all I can remember from the event, I feel like its a strong foundation to grow my career as a women. I feel pretty lucky to be working during a time where women have started to pave the way women have left a giant crater in the misogynistic biases and prejudices of our past. A time where there is still a ton of room to grow and make your mark. A time where women are lifting each other up; spreading their knowledge and supporting each other. Just look around! The Women's March's, Times Up, #MeToo and Equal Pay Day are just the spark to the dynamite that will reshape the dialogue and enact policy changes.

And when I say all of that, I'm not blind to the shaming we as women endure. Body shaming, mom shaming, to name a few. Its like every which way you turn, someone doesn't agree with a choice you've made. And what's pitiful is that most of the time its women doing it to other women! But at this stage in the game, I choose to focus on progress (while also doing my part to contribute to the shaming).

Man, I'm getting all worked up against just writing this post! And since I'm not the worlds best networker (yes I know its important and I'm taking it one day at a time) I decided to carry on with my "I am women, hear me roar" vibes and take myself to dinner alone. I've had a goal for probably 10 years at this point to go to a restaurant, sit at a table for one and enjoy my own company without feeling judged or awkward. Sure I've gone to fast casual spots many a time alone. Or sat at a bar. Or sat at a table in the corner with my head buried in the comfortable familiarity of a book. This time I wanted to do it right. You know what they say, the first time is the hardest.

I got the jalapeno margarita, even though I'd already had a glass of rose at the event and I had previously made a deal with myself to limit drinking to the weekends. I got the chips and salsa appetizer, because it was free thanks to a Yelp coupon and why the hell not. I ordered the tacos AND the brussel sprouts, because they both sounded banging and I could always bring the leftovers to lunch the next day (needless to say, there were no leftovers). And I've got to admit, I have never been so proud of myself. I've always maintained the assertion that I'm independent. That I love alone time. But I recognize the mental wall that goes up at the thought of eating alone in an environment where everyone else is sharing an enjoyable experience with company. All in all, it was a great meal and I enjoyed the liberation I felt from making decisions without considering the opinion of someone else.


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