Category Archives: Thoughts
In my first job out of college, in the late 70s, I was the only woman on the manufacturing floor as a production manager at General Motors. It didn’t take long to realize that I should have asked a few more questions during my job interview. I knew I was in for a challenge the first day I walked into the plant, and everything and everyone stopped. It was like one of those hushed movie moments. Everyone stared at me. At first I thought there was something wrong with my appearance, but soon realized I was the first and only woman who stepped on the production floor for GM who served in a management role. My second day on the job, someone started a fire in my wastebasket. Later that same day, someone sabotaged all the parts that were coming down the assembly line in my area.
I’d taken the job because I knew it would be challenging. But many of the challenges I faced had nothing to do with learning to do my actual job. One of the first things I had to do was prove my worth to people who believed I had no business on a manufacturing floor.
We’ve come a long way since then — or have we? We’ve been talking about how to get more women in leadership roles for, literally, decades. The term “glass ceiling” was coined more than 30 years ago. And yet women still hold less than 20% of the seats on corporate boards at S&P 500 companies. Why?
If you do something remarkable, something new and something important, not everyone will understand it (at first). Your work is for someone, not everyone.
Unless you’re surrounded only by someones, you will almost certainly encounter everyone. And when you do, they will jeer.
That’s how you’ll know you might be onto something.
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Few companies change the day-to-day landscape of commerce. Even fewer do so in their first years of existence. Square has done just that.
Forbes – Leadership
In these days of social media chest-thumping, it seems like everyone is calling themselves an expert. This declaration is often in inverse proportion to how well-known the person is; back in the early days of my consulting career, I, too, clamored to label myself an “expert,” as though that would assuage potential clients who had never heard of me. Not so much.
The first rule of expertise, I’ve learned, is never to call yourself an expert. That’s for others to determine. But becoming a recognized expert in a world of pretenders is increasingly valuable. Here’s what I learned in the course of researching my book Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It.
The first ingredient in becoming a recognized expert is, of course, cultivating true knowledge of your subject matter. Ramit Sethi – the bestselling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich – developed his knowledge of personal finance the hard way, through his personal experience of winning a college scholarship and then almost immediately losing half in the stock market. “Oh, I better learn how money works,” he recalls thinking, leading him to start his blog and master the techniques he now teaches. Nate Silver, the famed presidential prognosticator, similarly taught himself the statistical skills he needed by creating a tool to track baseball players’ performance – techniques he later applied to the Electoral College.