This past weekend I attended The Global Power Tour which is a conference put on by Women CEO Project's Kristi Jackson. This conference brought women from different states together to learn new strategies that can take their businesses to a new level. Although this conference is mainly for women entrepreneurs it reminded me of some important lessons that can make or break a women's business or even a woman who works for someone else.
Global Power Tour which so far has had stops in Houston, Louisiana, Dallas, Ghana, Atlanta and soon Washington DC, New York, and Johannesburg always has a VIP night the day before the conference. Those with VIP tickets get to sit down and talk and these three hours allows the women to get to know one another and talk about issues that are important to them. On VIP night there are women of all ages and backgrounds. What makes this significant is that we all could give each other advice because of our experiences. Those who were younger and just starting their journey could see how the future could look and those of us that are a little further on our journey could still learn from those who were just beginning.
No judging, just support. The next day at the conference the learning from Kristi commenced and that is where other principles came into place. Kristi shared her knowledge on what it takes to move your business forward no matter what level you are on. The point of the conference is to help you avoid the landmines that can happen in business. To help you get to the finish line faster with less stress. If you looked around the room you could see pages of notes being written and expressions of "a-ha" on numerous faces including my own. Everyone left the conference with an action plan to execute.
On Sunday once I arrived home I received a notification that Melinda Gates was keynoting at SXSW. Her topic was advancing women in the workplace. Once she completed her keynote portion she sat down with Joanna Coles, Stacy Brown-Philpot, and Nina Shaw to discuss more about the topic. They talked about what companies and this country needed to do to even the playing field for women in the workplace. How hiring practices must change, how salaries must be negotiated, how there needs to be paid family leave, and much more. Their conversation along with Global Power Tour proved that women all need the following:
A Coach: As an entrepreneur you will need a coach. Not really at the beginning when you haven't nailed down a idea for your business, but when you have a direction of where you want to go. Having a coach is like having a fresh set of eyes for your business. As Kristi shared this weekend as entrepreneurs we see our businesses as our babies and we usually don't see the cracks in the foundation. We also don't see the opportunities for growth. A coach can look from a higher level and tell you if you need to continue down the same path, but with adjustments or if you need to completely pivot in order for your business to survive. Having a coach can help you cut out a lot of headaches and avoid dead ends.
A Mentor: There are mentors in entrepreneurship, but it is a word used more in corporate America. A mentor is someone who is there to guide you through your career. They are where you want to be one day. A mentor will show you how to navigate the politics of the office so that you won't get caught up in conversations and situations that could hinder your growth and the upward mobility of your career. Every woman should seek out a mentor when they start working at a company especially if you want to improve at the position that you are and one day get promoted.
A Sponsor: I don't care if you work for someone or if you work for yourself you need a sponsor. You need sponsors! A sponsor is someone who brings up your name in a positive way even when you are not in the room. When promotions are being discussed a sponsor will make sure you are being considered. They will point out all of the great work you have been doing and how much of an asset you are to the organization. The same happens in entrepreneurship, but that sponsor is usually a client that has worked with you and knows the value you bring. Many of the speaking engagements and consulting work that I receive are a result of the words from a sponsor. Sponsors are able to open doors for you throughout your career.
Ladies we all need a coach, mentor, and sponsor. Having all three cuts the learning curve in half. Don't be afraid to seek all three out. Once the person agrees to work with you make sure you do not waste their time. That means you have to do the work! No one wants to coach someone who does not complete assignments. No mentor wants a mentee who goes against the advice being given. No sponsor wants to risk their reputation by attaching their name to someone who is not going to get the job done. As women we can close the gap in the workplace and the wealth gap by having these people in our lives. We can go even further by also being one of these people for someone else.
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