Ten commandments for women in business

It’s hard not to overhear conversations on public transport. Sometimes they make you laugh, make you sad, or make you think. Travelling on the 431 bus into the city this week this is what I heard:

She says “It’s such a great role, and I think I can do most of it but there are some areas which I haven’t had experience of, so I don’t think I am ready…what about you? What time is your interview?”

He says “9am”

“Do you think you have a chance of getting it?

“Yeah, I haven’t done half of what they are looking for but I’ll just wing it, no problem”

And there it was; the classic, the text book, the cliché… The guy pushes himself forward with confidence, she holds back till – well, who knows? Cue scream!

We have all read the stats, painfully aware of the work that still needs to be done in a highly complex, socially engrained world, where the first step to change is awareness. The challenge is universal, it’s not discriminating from the largest corporates through to scaleups and startups.

Quite frankly I am too impatient for this. So this is about what you can you do. If you are a guy, then you too play an essential role, so tell your sister, daughter or work colleague:

Ten commandments

  1. Thou will never be ‘qualified’ for a job – Work changes all the time, there are always new skills, new situations, so be prepared to be constantly scared shitless, that way you keep learning. If you know what you are doing, you are standing still.
  2. That fear doesn’t change as you go up the ladder – We don’t suddenly become CEO’s and know it all. The same as an individual starting a business. So don’t let that fear stop you and don’t go through a life of comparison. Be an entrepreneur, work in the task economy. Follow your own path.
  3. You shall move roles – Look at a horizontal or vertical move. Worked in sports marketing but need a change? Opt for marketing but a different industry. Want to move from marketing to sales? Stay in the same industry vertical but move careers. With big role changes moving internally is often easiest as hirers look to de-risk decisions. The majority of roles are offered internally first before external recruiting is used. If you kick off in startup land even better, the chances are you are doing multiple jobs anyway!
  4. You shall back yourself – No one else is going to do it for you. It’s not your manager’s job, investor, your team or a factor of timing. If there is something you want; work for it, reach for it and above all go for it.
  5. You shall not be afraid of failure – It’s an opportunity for learning. We rarely analyse success in the way that we beat ourselves up about failure. Australians get stuck in the washing machine of mediocrity. Tall Poppies are cut down and failure is derided. Take a risk, make it a calculated and do it better next time.
  6. You shall build a Personal Board of Directors (PBD) – Invest in relationships with talented people and make sure it’s a diverse bunch of thinking. Include people who rarely agree with you (yep annoying!) but they will improve your decision making.
  7. You shall pay it forward – Create a value exchange with your PBD. Senior leaders are often extremely giving with their time, but don’t suck the life blood from them – build a reciprocal relationship which is lasting.
  8. You shall embrace your inner child – When did we suddenly lose that mind blowing ability as a child to be a knock out sales person? Schools don’t teach sales (which is ridiculous considering that it’s a skill everyone needs). Be resourceful, creative and understanding to create winning outcomes.
  9. You shall not be silent – If you hear another female saying she can’t, creating reasons why not, not fighting for her value. Call her on it. Call it out loudly and encourage her to roar.
  10. You shall roar – It’s good. But don’t roar so loud, pounce so fast, that you knock everyone down on your way to success. I have worked with amazing women and she-beasts. We must all do better to be role models to another generation. More importantly be your authentic self. The best build relationships, seek feedback, alter course, acquire knowledge and are memorable for all the right reasons.

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