Each March, International Women’s Day provides us an opportunity to reflect on all of the advances women have made. Even more importantly, it’s an opportunity to look forward to how much more we can all do to accelerate gender equality. This year’s theme of “Choose to Challenge” strikes a chord as it reminds me that each day we can choose progress and inclusion, and rise to the challenge.
While public events, such as International Women’s Day, bring awareness at a macro level, there are things that each of us can do on a daily basis to accelerate our careers. One of the things we can do as professional women is to support each other. And in that spirit, I’d like to share three things that have helped me build a successful career as an executive in technology companies.
Embrace Your Strengths as Your "Super Powers"
The skills and strengths that come naturally to you are exactly what will help you be successful. High performing teams have diverse members who bring different strengths, perspectives, and ideas. The best leaders know this and recruit for it. As a professional, your job is to unleash your superpowers and share them with your team. Don’t hold back—let them be known.
Earlier in my career, I focused a lot of energy trying to conform to a standard of speaking, working, style, and approach that I thought was expected. It was exhausting because it wasn’t me and it actually stifled my contributions. It wasn’t until later that I decided to worry less about being judged. This allowed me to focus my energy on our customers and helping the company achieve our goals. My career propelled from this point on.
Face Your Fears
Seek out opportunities to gain new skills and experiences. If you are feeling 100% comfortable in your job, then you are not in a learning zone. I push myself to try something new that scares me at least once a quarter—that's how I continue to grow. If you don’t understand spreadsheets, then sign up for an Excel class. If you hate public speaking, then volunteer for a presentation and get practice. If a great career opportunity opens up, then raise your hand and say you’re interested.
Let Your Passion Show
I hope you are in a career and field that inspires and fulfills you. My advice is to let what you’re passionate about show through. Share your ideas. Reach out to others who might have similar interests and have real human-to-human conversations. This is how you build a network and real relationships. Make a difference in the world and to the people around you.
Most important of all, remember that you have something to offer. Your unique experience and perspective brings value to your workplace. Embrace that value and use it.
Choose to Challenge!
Special thanks to artist, activist and curator, Karen M. Gutfreund, for allowing us to include her inspiring artwork in this post.