Advice from the Most Powerful Women on Forbes List


Last month, Forbes came out with their Most Powerful Women list. In addition to the statistics and basic information about each woman, Forbes included the advice that these women have for others who want to succeed in the business/professional arena. As I was reading through an article that summarized the advice, I was reminded of another article that talks about the beliefs that hold female coaches back.

What is the correlation? The beliefs that are listed as holding female coaches back point to the overall beliefs that hold women back, regardless if they are entrepreneurs or employees. The advice that was given by the Most Power Women on Forbes' list directly address those beliefs. I would like to talk about a few of them here.

Belief #1

One of the beliefs that holds women back is that starting over is scary. That discomfort from being the top of your game, to being new and having to learn everything. And then, the fear that you will fail. I know this fear all too well. I remember how it felt to switch from cost pricing to financial planning. I had worked 6 years in cost pricing. I was at the top of my game. And now, I started from scratch! I had to learn the systems, the vocabulary, the new people, you name it. That fear is strong enough to keep women from applying to a new job. They often settle for the job they know, than risk some discomfort for a job that might be amazing.

I also felt this fear when I quit my job last year to build my business. Talk about stepping into the complete unknown! Corporate America was all I knew. Entrepreneurship was a whole new world. I had to learn EVERYTHING. I remember it feeling like I was drinking from a fire-house. But I did it.

Why? Because as Mary Barra would say, if you want to succeed, you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Barra made it to the top of Forbes's list for the 3rd year in a row! She advises women to feel that pit in your stomach - that feeling that you might fail - and jump for that opportunity. It's those opportunities that stretch and grow you the most. Dive head first, learn as much as you can, and you'll find yourself going from uncomfortable to comfortable. You'll uncover strength and abilities you didn't know you had.

In order for you muscles to grow, you need to tear them first. Stretch them just a little further than where they are comfortable. If you want to grow, you need to stretch and get uncomfortable.

Belief #2

Another belief that holds women back is that they are being too selfish by wanting more. They look around and reason that they should be happy with what they have. It might not be the life of their dreams, but it is "good enough". I remember when I became unsatisfied with my job and started looking into entrepreneurship. I created a vision board for my life and business. And then the naysayers came. They started verbalizing the thoughts that were in my head.

"Why aren't you happy where you are? You've got a great job!" or "Don't dream about making millions, be happy with what you have." And worse still, "I tried what you're doing, it didn't work. Don't get your hopes up, be realistic."

I pushed forward because I had this feeling deep inside me that I could do more. That I was meant for more. And Sheryl Sandberg would agree. She made it to #5 on Forbes' list. Her advice to women is to not limit yourself. Believe that you can do and have more. Don't focus on how the current paradigm, or the current ways of doing things will hinder you from getting what you want. Focus on what you want, and figure out a way to get there.

Looking back at my time in Corporate America, I remember that I didn't put a limit on what I could do. I entered as a fresh-faced college intern, full of grand expectations and a positive outlook on life. And guess what? I flourished! Looking back, I've realized that the only times I was unable to accomplish what I had wanted is because I didn't believe I could. It was when I limited myself.

Belief #3

The most dangerous of the beliefs is this one - the belief that your worth is determined by others. In essence, you give your power away.

Now, I know that in the marketplace, your value is what your customers determine. What are they willing to pay for your services? The price they pay for your services, or the salary you get, is an indication of your value in the marketplace. So in a sense, yes, your value or worth in the economy is determined by others.

But here is what most people don't realize. You have the power to influence what others perceive your value to be. Why is that two people with equal skills and resumes go for the same interview, and one negotiates a higher salary? It's not because she has more value than the other candidate. She was better able to communicate that value to the interviewer.

In order to communicate that value, you need to recognize it in yourself. That is Abigail Johnson's advice: Don't Doubt Yourself!

Look, it's already common knowledge that women tend to under-value themselves. In a study conducted by Routledge and Global Shape Leader earlier this year, they found that female managers were ranked as "more capable" than their male equivalents in 15 of 19 leadership categories. Yet, those same females, when they evaluated themselves, ranked themselves on average almost 30% lower than their peers/direct reports/bosses. (Men ranked themselves lower, but by only about half.)

Where am I getting with this? Realize that your value comes from within! Don't doubt yourself. Once you own your brilliance and value yourself, others will see it too. You'll have that extra confidence to negotiate a higher salary, or a charge more for your services. You will be better able to justify the value that you bring. And your customer/employer will recognize it.

Which of these beliefs struck a chord with you? Does this advice help you become more confident, daring, and likely to succeed? If so, share it out so others can benefit as well.

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