Learning From Everyone You Meet

Life has always been filled with people who want to be better than the next person, who think they can only get ahead if someone else is pushed down. I do not think it’s about being better than the next person, I think its about being a better person. I have been blessed with knowing and working with talented individuals throughout my life and I have learned something from every one of them. How to do something better, learn something new, do something differently and just as important learning not to repeat some of their mistakes. I found that self improvement, learning, evolving and growing was my personal challenge. That someone else could set a higher bar for me to achieve because there will always be someone better than me in some aspect but the only person I needed to better than, was the person I was yesterday.   Competing against another team member can be destructive because someone has to lose, but competing against myself, allows me to be a team member that can encourage growth in the full team.



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Valuing All My Role Models

I often get asked the question “Isn’t hard to be a female executive without any significant female role models to support you”.  I have to admit, I am always surprised by the question because it never occurred to me that I didn’t have role models in my career.  As I look through my career, it has mainly been men who have made me see that I could do more, achieve more, and contribute more. They have helped me by believing in me, creating opportunities for me, giving me expanded experiences and by teaching me.  They have taken chances on me, supported me, led me and followed me. They have taken me aside and given me great coaching advice. They have let me lean on them when I have made mistakes. While, there are experiences that I have shared and learned from other female executives, I have had lots to learn, and I have been blessed by having strong roles models – regardless of gender.

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Key Strategies for Networking as an Introvert


I have a confession, I am an introvert. Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily make someone shy, it refers to how one generates energy. An introvert gathers energy by being alone and has their energy drained by social and large settings. I call it being “on”, when I have to have on my best face, give talks and speeches, ensure conversation is flowing and create connections.  Extroverts on the other hand, are the opposite, they gather energy when interacting with others and find alone-time to be draining. This state of being, can make introverts hesitant to network because you know you are going to have to gear up to foster energy and in the end, you will be depleted.  Just the thought of networking can start the depletion of energy.


Strategy One: Focus on Smaller Events

I have found that I am able to help create my own ease of mind by being selective of which events I attend and what my goals are for the event.   For me, the smaller the setting the more comfortable I am in the setting. There is an added and significant bonus at networking at smaller events because there is a greater opportunity for more in-depth conversations where you can build a relationship rather than just conduct small talk.  If your goal of networking is to get enough people to know who you and your company are so that if they hear of something within their company you come top of mind, than focusing on building a connection is vital. Unless you are trying to hit some quota, a goal of the one who goes home with the most business cards wins, is not a valuable strategy. People need to know more than just your business card to be effective, your image needs to be invoked when a need is recognized.  Smaller events foster not just building a high value network but also don’t seem as daunting.


Strategy Two: Set Small, Achievable Goals

My second key strategy is to establish a small, achievable and non-scary goal of  meeting 2 new people per event. For me, meeting someone can look like being introduced to someone by someone else or  gathering the courage to just  walk up to someone and say “hi, my name is….”. It is helpful to have a clear thread on some current events, sports, news or otherwise so that you have a lead in for a conversation. After a few events, you will find you know one person at the event and they can introduce you to the one person they know and it gets easier.  Networking was a learned skill for me, it was really hard at first but it got easier with time. I have now increased my goal to go beyond meeting 2 new individuals per event, to making a connection with at least one of them. I will continue to work my way through a stepped process. I have found as I get more comfortable at each stage, my energy levels are no longer as depleted as they were in the beginning. I now look forward to seeing my friends at these events.

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Close-up of woman hand holding credit card in payment terminal

Investing in Women is Investing in the Economy

Ignoring the financial value of women on our economy has influenced the continuing viewpoint by certain individuals that women do not have a large enough voice in the purchasing decisions and availability of the wallet of a household , that women do not contribute as much as men and therefore should not be paid as much as men and that women can not be as strategic and influential as men in leadership roles. However, there is clear evidence that this viewpoint is based on faulty rationale.

Woman Drive Purchasing Decisions

Women drive 80% of the purchases in the United States and 70% of purchase decisions by consumers in the European Union based on a study conducted by Lois Joy, Nancy Carter, Harvey M. Wagner, and Sriram Narayanan. If women are driving these financial decisions,this would led to a hypotheses that if women were paid more for their equal contributions that more money would flow back into the economy. This is further supported by studies and the results of micro lender to women, Opportunity International, whose CEO, Vicki Escarra has stated, “More than their male counterparts, women have proven to be great credit risks for lenders. Of the more than $515 million in our loan portfolio the repayment rate is at a healthy 98%”. This is largely in part because women grow businesses to invest back into their families and their communities.

Woman on Boards Drive Financial Health

Adding further weight to this data, there have been numerous studies that have proven diversity on boards is critical to a company’s sustained performance and higher returns. The “Mining the Metrics of Board Diversity” study by Thomson Reuters in July 2013, found that companies with no women on their boards underperformed, on average, relative to gender-diverse boards. In fact, when Fortune-500 companies were ranked by the number of women directors on their boards, those in the highest quartile in 2009 reported a 42% greater return on sales and a 53% higher return on equity than the rest. The financial return of a diverse board was further validated in a separate study where an analysis of FTSE-listed boards found that operational performance and share prices were both higher in the case of companies where women made up over 20% of board members than those with lower female representation.

Women make up approximately 50% of the population and depending on the area of study women can graduate at higher rates than men from universities. The market reality is that our labor markets are becoming constrained with insufficient labor to meet market demands as the current workforce ages and retires. Companies can significantly increase their recruiting pool by attracting more women to their ranks through greater pay and growth opportunities..

The data is clear, woman matter.

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