One of the best ways for women to get ahead professionally is to create community and lift each other up, rather than competitively tear each other down.
That was the message at the Wide Awake conference for female founders in New York earlier this month, where panels and workshops led by successful women founders advised women looking to get ahead with their own careers and companies.
Here, some of those leaders share key pieces of advice for women eager to get ahead in the workplace:
“The right time to start investing is yesterday”–Sallie Krawcheck, cofounder and CEO, Ellevest
“Women live on average six to eight years longer than men,” Krawcheck explained. “Whether we want to or not, women will be responsible for their own finances at some point in life, and we need to be prepared for that so that we’re not stuck eating cat food in old age while men die with money in the bank. Here’s my rule of thumb: 50% of your income goes to needs–rent, bills, food–30% goes to fun, because life is short–and 20% to future you–401(k), savings, funding a business.”
When approaching someone you admire, be prepared–Rebecca Minkoff, founder, Rebecca Minkoff
If you have the chance to talk to a professional whose work you’ve always admired, Minkoff says to approach them armed with smart questions. Be prepared, especially if you know in advance that you’ll see them at an event or networking mixer.
“Just go up to those people, introduce yourself, and ask that question that has been burning. Not a ‘will you mentor me’ question . . . or, ‘Do you have any advice for me?’ Don’t do that,” she says. Instead, she says to briefly ask about a specific problem or situation that they can give an advisable call to action on.
Don’t be afraid to fail or be less than perfect–Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code
“Women want something but our insecurities talk us out of it,” she explained, “and then we watch someone else do it . . . and then we have regret. I painstakingly lost my race for Congress in 2010, but I see the 42 women in the congressional class of 2019, and I feel joy, because [even though I didn’t win], at least I tried.”
Saujani also wants women to be brave outside of the office in order to build overall confidence. “Every man I know does something he sucks at–basketball, golf . . . They’re not good at golf! Go do something you enjoy and be mediocre at it.”