Thanks For Everything: 5 Reasons Women Leaders Can Be Thankful
On Thanksgiving Day this week, many friends and family members will go around the table or the room and express what has inspired gratitude this year, and give a shout out to what and who makes them feel grateful. Or many will send emails, texts and leave voice mails of gratitude for those in different parts of the world.
It also can be time to think about what women leaders can be thankful for in their careers, and perhaps what they can build upon in the coming year.
Some women leaders have built companies on gratitude.
Kate Frucher, co-founder and CEO of Imprint, launched this “many-to-one communications platform with a mission to use social technology to spark acts of kindness and real human connection,” Laura Dunn writes in Huffington Post.
Frucher started Axiom Law, increasing company revenue from $10 million to $60 million annually, Dunn writes. “As SVP of E-Commerce at ideeli, she helped grow revenue from $23 million to $145 million in less than three years,” Dunn writes.
That is something investors are surely grateful for, thanks to Frucher. And Frucher says she wanted to launch something new with Imprint, to give back.
“Every day, people all over the country and the world are using our little tool to express more gratitude, more appreciation, more connection,” Frucher says. “That’s the problem I wanted to solve with Imprint – bringing depth back to how we communicate, to our relationships. And drawing on my past experience, I wanted to use technology to solve it. Technology isn’t inherently shallow or snarky. It’s how we’re structuring and using technology in our technological adolescence that’s the problem.”
Several factors inspire gratitude in women leaders, entrepreneurs, and those starting out in the workplace. We narrowed them down to five, gathering advice from women leaders who inspire gratitude.
1. Embracing the chance to learn. None of us prefers to be stuck in a job, company or organization where our time is filled up with rote duties and we do not have the opportunity for personal and professional development. Diana McKenzie, chief information officer of Workday, agrees that learning new skills and new approaches is invigorating. “I have found that one of the best ways to stay engaged and advance in my career is to continue trying to master new skills, and attempt things beyond my comfort zone. Sure, sometimes I’ve failed, but every step along the way was a learning experience. Learning to be less comfortable has also given me more confidence to try new things. In that get-together at the event, we all agreed that women should push ourselves to think differently, attempt new ways of doing things, and challenge ourselves to be aspirational.”
2. Taking risk. Not that everyone needs to be a daredevil all the time, but taking a risk can prove beneficial. Avoiding risk for fear of not doing something perfectly, can lead to stasis. “This quest for perfection is arguably one of the biggest hurdles that many women face as they progress in their careers, writes Lori Bailey, global head of special lines at Zurich Insurance, in Fortune. “It can lead to an avoidance of risk and a lack of confidence, which can put women squarely in the crossroads of advancement and opportunity. Fortunately, though, as I grew both personally and professionally, I came to recognize that this was holding me back. I realized I was too focused on doing something perfectly, rather than just doing something.”
3. Having male allies. If you are lucky to have male partners, allies, customers, clients, bosses, leaders, advisers and employees who got the memo on gender equity in the workplace and see it as their job as well to uplift women in the workplace, perhaps be thankful. Angela Johnson, worldwide managing director at Ogilvy & Mather, writes in BrandChannel, “In a big shift for this year’s 3% Conference, there was a large focus on male involvement, including a special track for ‘manbassadors’— largely male creative directors and agency bosses looking to get a handle on the best ways to act to change the ratio.” One of the first mandates is to “lose the bro culture; stop hiring in your own ilk and instead seek to build a diverse team.”
4. Taking action and creating a movement. This is Power Tool # 7 from Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead. Feldt writes in Time: “Now—when women students outnumber men in universities, reproductive technologies have changed the power balance in relationships and multiple studies show that more women in upper leadership lead to higher profits—is exactly the time for women to seize opportunities in and beyond politics and in order to manifest real change.” Feldt continues, “This is the moment to address the obvious agenda items and to roll out new, creative ones: fair pay; the Equal Rights Amendment at last; addressing child care and caregiving in general so both men and women can take care of their families while earning a living; leadership parity across all sectors to boost profits as well as justice, reproductive justice, health care, and fostering an innovative economy in which all can contribute to their highest abilities and thrive.”
5. Networking. Whether formal or informal, networking within your field or with leaders across many fields, industries and disciplines, it is a chance to gather intel and bounce off ideas, air grievances and learn strategies to cope and move ahead. At the recent 2016 CBRE Women’s Networking Forum, the theme was “Claim Your Seat.” According to EPRRetailNews, “The Women’s Networking Forum has been an important professional development opportunity for our members, for 16 years,” said Lisa Konieczka, Women’s Network chairperson and executive vice president in the company’s Chicago office. The “conference provides an atmosphere to share best practices, explore new ideas and build their business skills.”
Of course, you can be grateful for specifics or you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude in general, and not just this week.
Jewelry designer Samantha Wills tells Forbes that her overnight success was 12 years in the making, and that she is grateful for the hard work that led to earning her first million.
“When you’re putting as much as you do into your own business you’re building from the ground up, be grateful for the successes throughout the journey. It’s important for the morale of your team.” She adds, “One million is a huge milestone and sometimes you can become too focused on what’s next. It’s your vision [the team] are working on, never forget that. I think it’s a very gracious thing for people to work for a founder.”
Wills is so grateful, she is giving back, and founded The Samantha Wills Foundation to help empower other women launching their own businesses.
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com