by: Minda Harts, Founder, The Memo
They say everything is bigger in Texas. While, I don’t know if that’s true, here's what I do know: I had the pleasure of being a speaker this weekend at one of the biggest conferences of the year in Austin, Texas: SXSW.
About 10 years ago, I was working at a fundraising consulting firm and was living in Austin. Our client was UT Austin and I worked on site for several months. I loved the BBQ and the live music, but I would break out in hives every other day, due to having severe allergies (I'm blowing my nose as I type this from Texas).
When I left Texas all those years ago, I never would’ve imagined coming back to this city as an entrepreneur. Funny how life works out! I had two speaking engagements and one was to lead a roundtable discussion on women and our career development. We had a diverse group of women attend the session (age, race, and years of experiences), and even had one man (God bless his heart).
A couple common themes came out of our discussions this weekend:
The Power of a Champion: The idea that we all need access to good advice is golden and mentors can serve in that capacity, but how are we championing other women in the workplace? Are we? And who is championing us so we can move to our next career milestone? It’s important that we think about our careers holistically. In addition to advocating for ourselves, we should always be mindful of how we can advocate for other women as well. Recently, I was asked to speak on a panel regarding workplace culture and I asked if I could invite two women to join me on stage. I asked two women I didn’t know well, yet. I follow them on social media and I like the work they do for other women. They are building their platforms as well and I knew this would be a wonderful audience for them to engage. So I reached out and asked--no strings attached! One woman was so surprised that I would create an opportunity for someone I had never met. I told her, I don’t have to know someone to help someone--but, that I followed her work and I was impressed by what she was doing. And we had one of the best panel discussions!
Confidence is Queen: As I facilitated the dialogue around advocating for yourself, I noticed a lot of women had a hard time being their best advocates and being confident in what they brought to the table. They were still on their journey to find their voice. Regardless of age or experience, I think each of us is constantly battling with being confident and not selling ourselves short. It all boils down to knowing our worth. If we don’t know our worth, it’s hard for anyone else to recognize it. A good friend of mine once said, “If you never ask, it will always be a no.” And from that day forward, that phrase always comes to mind when I am in a position to advocate for more money or go after something I want! I shake through the nerves, because I know that I am WORTH IT!
As we continue down our path to furthering our career development, don’t forget that each of us is responsible for our own success. And as we are building and growing, let’s also think about who we can bring along with us.
There aren’t enough seats at the table and it’s time we pull up our chairs and add on to the table.
I put together a short video to remind us to always #SECURETHESEAT