The fastest way to power is to follow the advice and examples set by other powerful women. Women who run large corporations, started their own companies, and worked their way up to leadership positions, share a lot of advice and their personal experiences in order to help other women achieve what they have done. All we have to do is listen and learn.
In fact, listening is one of the lessons taught by many women in high positions. News anchor Diane Sawyer said, "I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention." Stephen R. Covey, the author of the timeless self-help book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, tells us to, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." First we must listen, and then we can branch out and act on what we have learned.
When looking for the best advice from powerful women, we find that almost all of the women are saying the same thing: find your passion, set a goal, and follow your passion no matter what. Follow these steps with perseverance and determination and you can reach your dreams and, perhaps, even beyond them.
15 Don’t Waste Time Getting Everyone to Like You
Billionaire and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has a lot to say about women in the workforce and reaching high goals. When it comes to working for Facebook, she says, “When I joined Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg told me my desire to be liked by everyone would hold me back. He was 23 at the time and it was the most astute career advice I’d been given. It means we women undersell ourselves.”
Zuckerberg is right. While we all want to be liked, we should not devote all our energy to pleasing everyone. Instead we should focus our energy on what we want to achieve.
14 Ask for What You Want
The President and CEO of Lebenthal & Company, Alexandra Lebenthal, knows what she is talking about when she says, "Ask and she shall receive! Women often find it hard to ask for things, whether it's a business opportunity or a salary raise. We simply expect others to recognize our value and hard work. Asking for what you want in a gracious, thoughtful way often results in getting what you want, so put your fears aside and ask for what you want. You might just get it!"
Madonna shared similar words: “A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.”
13 Don’t Give Up
Martha Stewart hardly needs any introduction. Here is a woman who built an empire out of home DIY projects. When it comes to your ideas, she tells us to, “"Stick with it. Don’t give up. Defend your ideas, but be flexible. Success seldom comes in exactly the form you imagine it will."
Helene Gayle, the president and CEO of CARE, takes it a step further. She tells us to be passionate and to hang on to that passion. She says, "Great breakthroughs don’t happen when you’re half-hearted. They require people who are emotionally and intellectually invested in what they’re doing. Find your passion and hang on to it. Never forget what motivated you to get to where you are today."
12 Start Your Day Early
If you read self-help books, you have probably read before that waking up early can increase your productivity and basically change your entire life for the better. The founder and former CEO of the Oxygen channel, Geraldine Laybourne, wakes up every morning at 6 am and is out of her house 30 minutes later. She says, "Once or twice a week, I go for a walk in Central Park with a young person seeking my advice. This is my way of helping bringing along the next generation. And if someone is up early in the morning, then they are serious about life. I can't take time at the office to do this, but doing it in the morning allows me to get exercise and stay connected with young people at the same time." She is not the only woman of power getting up early. Padmasree Warrior, Cisco CTO, gets up at 4:30 am to check email, the news, and workout while Vogue’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, gets up every morning at 5:45 am to play tennis.
11 Delegate Tasks
As women, we all think that if something is going to get done, then we have to do it ourselves. One of our biggest mistakes is taking on too many things at once. We need to learn how to delegate those tasks so that we can focus on what is important. Jessica Jackley, entrepreneur and co-founder of Kiva, sums it up best when she says, “As all entrepreneurs know, you live and die by your ability to prioritize. You must focus on the most important mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay or skip the rest.”
10 Be a Role Model
Many women use their kids as an excuse for not pursuing their dreams or a career. According to some, these women are thinking about the experience all wrong. Instead of feeling guilty about leaving the kids, we should be presenting ourselves as role models. Becky Carr, the CMO of Foxwoods ® Resort Casino, says, "The key to balancing work and family is to be present and focus on what is in front of you—be it a conversation with your kids or husband, or working on a business case. Don't feel guilty about enjoying your work—your kids are getting a great role model in shaping their future happiness." If the kids see their mom working hard and working upwards and onwards, they will be inspired to follow in her footsteps.
9 Negotiate for Better Pay
Hillary Clinton reminds us that, "Equal pay is not yet equal. A woman makes 77 cents on a dollar and women of color make 67 cents... We feel so passionately about this because we are not only running for office, but we each, in our own way, have lived it. We have seen it. We have understood the pain and the injustice that has come because of race, because of gender."
Women who have risen to power in large corporations and businesses, have learned how to negotiate for better pay and better jobs. The experts recommend that women start learning how to ask for pay raises and promotions, and that we start asking for them more frequently.
Celebrity attorney and the bestselling author of Think and Swagger, Lisa Bloom tells us that we need to read more books. "The best advice I can give can be summed up in one word: Read. Don't be one of the 80 percent of people who didn't read a book last year. Reading is mental fitness. It is a workout for your brain. You just cannot get enough intelligent information without a steady diet of written articles, commentary, and most importantly, books. Readers do better in school, earn more money, are better citizens, have happier personal lives, and are more actively engaged in the world around us. Books get our minds out there, into the world of ideas, and where our brains go, our bodies follow."
7 Set Goals for Yourself
Read any business book and they will all say the same thing: set goals. As the old saying goes, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Denise Morrison, the CEO of Campbell’s Soup, puts it in realistic terms when she says, “The thing that I learned early on is you really need to set goals in your life, both short-term and long-term, just like you do in business. Having that long-term goal will enable you to have a plan on how to achieve it.”
6 Make Time for Yourself
When it comes to taking care of yourself, Ellen Alemany knows what she is talking about. At age 56, she is the chairman and CEO of RBS Citizens Financial Groups and the Head of RBS Americas. She tells us, "I know many women just like me who have high-stress jobs that include lots of travel. I have always found it important to take time for yourself to relax and stay fit. My favorite stress reliever is to take a long, brisk morning walk through the neighborhood with my dog, Pablo. It's enjoyable and a good workout."
5 Positive Change is Possible
You can change your life, according to April Zangle, the CEO of HydroPeptide. "I tell others that no matter what obstacles you faced growing up, with discipline and a positive attitude, you can create the life of your dreams. I came from a very poor background and worked 70 hours a week as a full-time college student, and now I am a happily married mother of two, marathon runner, and CEO of my own skincare line."
4 Learn Persuasion
Persuasion is the ability to get people to understand what you are saying. It is the ability to eloquently express your point of view. While some women are naturally born with the power of persuasion, the rest of us have to learn it as a skill. The executive director of the World Food Programme, Ertharin Cousin tells us, “I consider myself a persuasive person. With the ability to persuade comes a certain level of power.”
3 Dismiss Naysayers
We all know the type. You come up with a brilliant idea and you eagerly share it with one of your friends. She frowns as you explain your idea and then announces that it would never work. In a few words, she crushes your hopes and dreams. Some friend, huh?
When you are striving to reach the top, you have to carefully choose your friends and learn when to let friends go. Remove negative people from your realm. As Gina D’Ambra, the founder of LuxMobile Group, puts it, "Ignore people who say no to what you feel in your heart is a great idea. The worst that can happen is it doesn't work, but you will have achieved the success of simply trying."
2 Forget Failure
Life is full of what ifs, but that doesn’t mean you have to dwell on the negative side of the possibilities. Instead, stop worrying altogether and take action. As Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television Group, puts it, “It’s amazing what you can do when you stop worrying about failing.”
Stop holding yourself back. There will always be failures along the way, but there will also be successes.
1 Seize Every Opportunity
Never let an opportunity pass you by. Don’t procrastinate. That is how many women rose to their positions of power. Barby K. Siegel, the CEO of the award winning PR firm, Zeno Group, tells us, "Early on, I was told, 'Never say no' and to seize every opportunity. That advice has served me well. Take advantage of all opportunities and step out of your comfort zone.”
Don’t grow into old age wishing you would have done this or that. Instead, do the things you want to do now and actively look for opportunities. When you find them, grab hold, and see where the journey takes you.