Lately I’ve been on a role -- attending conferences and reading books that empower women to be better advocates for themselves. Call it sequestered feminism, but along the way I’ve gathered enough information to pick out several underlying issues. When it comes to becoming the baddest bitch (the term Sheryl Sandberg was called after a keynote speech), I’ve been able to compose a list on how to do so. Although this list might seem like a paraphrase of the book Lean In, it was mostly devised after attending panels such as: Elevating the role of Women in Architecture, the missing 32% symposium, and a synopses of Tara Mohrs practices on coaching brilliant women. In conclusion, I’m going to save you hours of reading and panel discussions. The following list were the overlapping key topics within each talk.
10 Rules Amazing Women follow:
1- Letting go of self doubt and self-deprecation:
We’ve all heard that inner voice that tells us we suck. The one that nags at us and shouts out 24/7, we’re ugly, fat and stupid -- to this voice we must learn to tell it to go to hell. Of course that’s easier said than done. Writers such as Tara Mohr, agree that with practice, you can tame your inner critic and learn to identify when it’s being a nuisance. Just as Ayra from the Game of Thrones would tell death, “not today”, we can say “what is the one thing we say to the inner critic?, not today inner critic, not today.”
2- Know your stuff without sounding like Mrs. Bossypants:
At my last firm I accompanied the project manager to several meetings for Apple Corp. From the very beginning, I felt like an outcast. It was usually my coworker and I in a room of 6-8 men. Although we were always outnumbered, I was constantly impressed by how my coworker (also a woman), was able to facilitate these meetings. You could tell that by her being uber prepared, and answering questions quickly, she’d gained the respect of all men in the room. Knowing her stuff, or as known in a colloquial sense “having her shit together”, made her voice at the round table matter. So in conclusion, if you're a woman in a room of men, set the tone from the very beginning. Let it be known you know your stuff, and you're not just there to look pretty. In addition, never forget the essence that makes you a women. Being tactful and approachable will take you further than being a know it all. My mother calls this tactic, being the Nicest Bitch ever. Since you probably don’t have the sailor mouth of my mother, you can use Sheryl Sandberg's term, being “relentlessly pleasant”. Now remember, to be authentically nice and not fake. People can read when you're being a hypocrite.
3- Don’t wait to start a family until conditions are perfect:
Somewhere between 25-35 many women contemplate having children. They’re waiting for the right moment, the right guy and the list goes on. I’ve come to a conclusion after listening to numerous women talk, when it came to balancing work and homelife -- Breast pumping in a bathroom stall will never be appealing! So...you might as well let go of the notion that there will be a perfect time, a perfect place, a perfect anything. Regardless, if a company really loves and values you, they will make motherhood possible. Furthermore, who want’s to work for a company who deprives you of a chance to have a family? That should be a red flag within itself.
4- Learn to take criticism:
If there’s one thing I do appreciate from the architecture profession and education, is that I can withstand my fair amount of criticism. We hear criticism all day long; from our boss, our clients, and even our inner mentor. Being criticized just comes with the territory. However, not all people are as lucky as me ( if you can call this being lucky). Learning to put your ego aside, and listen to the bad and the ugly, will optimally make you a better person -- a better professional. In addition, learning to ask the question “how could I’ve done better”, will not only help you see yourself through others eyes, but also let others know, you want to improve. Consequently, this will help you get further along in your profession.
5- Step out of your comfort zone, embrace change and challenges:
Being afraid to try new things, for example change jobs, is one of my biggest weakness. I’ve eventually worked up enough courage to do so (although getting there is quite the psychological process). Being afraid of change and challenge has most importantly set me back professional. However, just as I’m ready to stop beating myself up for it, I believe many women should also try and take a chance on themselves. Go out and challenge yourself! If it doesn’t work out you can at least say, you tried. Never lay in a stagnant position, always move forward. Set timelines and goals, while visualizing yourself completing each one. Now. Tell me how great does that feel? I’m personally fond of 2-do list’s.
6- Bring in New Business:
Trudi Hummel a partner at Gould Evans stated in the last symposium for the missing 32% (an AIA sponsored talk), that the ability to bring in new business is what could potentially make you, an indispensable employee. If you can fine tune your communication skills, and use your caregiving and communal charm to woo people, your a golden girl. Instantaneous, you’ll become a leader and one of your company's most valuable asset’s. Whatever you do, try to stay away from the methods used by Jones on Mad Men -- we all see how bad that turned out. Don’t use those types of charms. Keep it classy ladies!
7- Stop comparing yourself:
If you’re thinking, yeah right? Who are you kidding? That’s okay, it’s only human to compare ourselves to others. But first ask yourself if their position is well deserved? How did they get to where they are? If you’ve not worked just as hard, why should you expect to have their same luxuries and position? Instead stop being a hater and learn from them. If anything they should be your inspiration, maybe even your mentor. Once you have performed just as well as your mentee, whatever you do, never use them to compare to. If you’re looking for a raise and storm into HR, always use examples of your accomplishments to convince them. Again, never compare yourself to others!
8- Being a problem solver is the most valuable asset in any profession:
Thinking back at all my previous bosses and work experiences, one underlying factor sticks out the most. Your superiors do not have all the answers. Sometimes they don’t even know what’s going on. No matter where you fall in the line of command, your ability to act quickly and solve problems, is the only thing that will gain your respect and recognition. Being a problem solver is the one aspect in your career that will take you all the way to the top. In addition, volunteering to do things that no one else wants to, can help make you indispensable -- even if that means filling the coffee pot with water before anyone else.
9- Face it, perfection is never happening:
I’ve always joked around with my friends that perfection was just around the corner. After a decade of chasing it, it’s fair to say it will never happen. As women we try to hard to please everyone, and feel great sadness when we can’t give our hundred percent. Within our juggling act of family, work and friends, something often falls. Men are much more equipped at saying no, and not pleasing everyone. What makes it worst is they hardly feel any guilt afterwards. Face it friends, 80% is okay. The remainder 20% we can leave to those unexpected curve-balls.
10- No one likes you get over it!
Okay so that sounded a bit harsh, but recently I learned about the Howard/Heidi Harvard study (thanks again Sandberg). A professor gave out a class assignment to analysis an entrepreneur. The catch was, he changed the sex of the subject for half the class. When he asked the students to access the entrepreneurs personalities, they all agreed that they wouldn’t want to work for the women. Even though she was just as competent as the man. Why? Well...society frowns upon assertive women. So bottom line...if you’re a women, and display leadership skills, you will not be everyone's cup of tea, and that’s just human Psychology. So keep on truckin, not everyone is going to like you. Nevertheless, always try to embrace the spirit of Lincoln; be humble, be kind, do not condemn, complain or criticize. Surely if you practice a few of these, like my momma saids "you'll be the nicest bitch ever", and you'll have an easier time having people embrace you and your ideas.
So there you have it folks, the holy grail for becoming the Baddest Bitch. Not every women want’s to be a Leader and this is fine, but for those who do, I hope this list motivates you to become a more assertive and confident women. For now I’m just happy I was able to finally summarize all those wonderful talks.