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We Did the Legwork, Now Listen Up: Michelle Shemilt Shares Her Best Business Advice

As women, we’re given a lot of advice. We’re told to take our makeup off before bedtime, to never say “I love you” first, to admit when “he’s just not that into me,” to never wear white after Labor Day and a whole slew of other tidbits on almost any subject you can ever think of. With all of this information floating around our beautiful heads, how are we supposed to know which pieces of advice we should follow? Well, we can learn from the trial and error of other women of course! Michelle Shemilt is a woman who has done the legwork and she’s sharing the best business advice she’s ever gotten with us.

So who’s Michelle Shemilt? Well, besides being a beautiful, confident and charismatic alpha female, she’s the owner of her own business. She has bravely left her corporate job in search of her true passion. As a former model, Michelle has always had a passion for clothing and fashion design. Nudy Patooty started when Michelle was working her desk job at RBC. During the scorching summer months, she found herself avoiding wearing her favourite clothes because they were prone to causing embarrassing odor and unsightly perspiration stains. She felt that ruining her clothes due to perspiration or spending countless dollars getting them dry-cleaned was not an option. Therefore, instead of banishing her favorite clothes to the back of her closet, she created Nudy Patooty. Nudy Patooty is a line of undershirts that are expertly tailored to fit snuggly on the body. I know what you’re thinking. Why would I want to put on another layer to avoid perspiration? Well, these undershirts are made from 95% bamboo fabric which has natural antibacterial properties that prevent odor. Its porous nature regulates body temperature and the absorbent fabric wicks moisture away from your body to keep you and your clothes dry and comfortable.

So how did Michelle go from sitting behind a desk and worrying about the way that the scorching heat is ruining her favourite clothes, to quitting that job and following her dreams to solve that problem? Well first off, a large dose of bravery, and secondly, some good advice. We know good advice is hard to come by and that’s why we’ve let Michelle do the leg work for us and present it to us on a silver platter. She’s done the research and now it’s time for you to reap her rewards.

1. Get your product on the market so you can get customer feedback

Before we send something into the world, we want it to be perfect. When we create a product, especially our first, it becomes an extension of who we are and what we can do. If it becomes a failure, we may see ourselves as the same. We can tweak our product until the cows come home, but until you get your product into the market you’ll never get any customer feedback. By receiving customer feedback, you can get an objective opinion on what works and what doesn’t. True perfection will come from combining your vision with the opinions of others. Only then, will you get a truly comprehensive and fully functioning product.

2. Focus on building your team

Michelle highly stresses the importance of networking and building your team. You cannot build a business on your own. Even the most stubborn and determined woman will need help along the way. If you truly want to be successful, Michelle says that you need to assess your strengths and weaknesses and team up with people who can complement your skill set. Look, I know that we’re all capable and amazing women, but that doesn’t make us Superwoman! We do have weaknesses and if we find someone who can bring our business to the next level, then we should welcome them with open arms. Michelle is quick to praise those who have helped her along her path to success. Therefore, we should also look for others who can take us to that next level of excellence.

3. Attach yourself to your brand

Remember how I said that your product becomes a reflection of who you are and of what you can do? Well that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be wonderful! You can take your charismatic, gorgeous self and give your brand a face. Michelle says that you want people to see you when they think of the brand. They want to see you as a person, and not just as a corporate entity. You can let your personality shine! Instead of living your life confined by the rules of the corporate world, you should let yourself be a person, rather than a worker. When you attach yourself to your brand, you’re allowing yourself to stay true to the person that you are and you are giving the customer a person to relate to.

Besides giving us the best advice that she has ever gotten, Michelle shares some of her own advice with us. That’s right ladies, we’re offering you more bang for your buck.

Michelle adds that:

4. You will always have to ask for advice

Successful people are always very happy to share their knowledge, but you have to ask. They often won’t give out unsolicited advice because they don’t want to step on your toes. Lucky for you ladies, we’ve asked for you! Michelle’s message holds true in so many aspects. We need to ask for help, for advice and for clarity. Who cares if we ask a “dumb” question? In fact, past advice would say there’s no such thing as “dumb” questions. If we don’t ask, we’ll never know and we could send ourselves down the wrong path just because we were too afraid to get the answers we needed. Ask the questions, be brave and set yourself on the path of success.

5. Listen and absorb all of the advice you are given, but stay true to your instincts and your vision

We can give you a book with the best business advice in the world. You can model your entire career off of it, but that may not give you the best product that you could make because the key element that is missing here is your own advice. You know what you want, you know what feels right for you and above all, you should follow that. You may regret following someone else’s advice but you cannot hold it against yourself for doing what you thought was right at the time. You were born with that famous women’s intuition so you should use it!

Whether we’re following our own advice or the advice of others, there will always be countless opinions. Yours is the only one that matters. So take our advice, pair it with your intuition and go forth! And take our advice: you can do it!

If you want to learn more about Michelle, Nudy Patooty and when you can get your own, visit: nudypatooty.com

Margaret Thatcher’s Reign: Eulogy or Roast?

Margaret Thatcher: A Role Model by Default? Dos and Don’ts as a Woman with Power

When a powerful woman dies, her status as a woman is still the big issue.

Of course having a female Prime Minister in Britain was, symbolically, a huge step for women. Yet making her an insta-role model skips the most important idea behind that symbol: that women are worthy of success, not because they’re women or in spite of it, but for the value of the work they do. While her tenure as Britain’s PM is considered an important step for women, it’s also being criticised – and rightly so – for her anti-feminist sentiments and harsh social policies. Thatcher called the very movement that made women voting and holding office possible “poison” and opposed social programs. That women who value the idea of women in power (a.k.a. feminists) are willing to criticise someone who succeeded isn’t just sour grapes; it’s a sign that women can and should be evaluated for their individual strengths and weaknesses, rather than the stereotypes they are expected to fulfill. This, if nothing else, Thatcher could probably agree with.

Here are some tips on how to get ahead as a woman and stay there on your own merit:

1. Do support other women. Don’t support poor decisions. Siding with someone based purely on their sex is both unprofessional and unhelpful in equalising the work world. If a woman is making bad business decisions, supporting that woman’s mistakes only weakens the argument that women are “just as good as men.” Favouring women because men favour men is reactionary, not proactive. While being supportive in a largely male-dominant work world is important, so is maintaining the integrity of your support. If you want to show support for those who have made mistakes (all of us), help them rectify the situation. If you support other women who make decisions as well as you do, you make stronger business connections and improve the chances of women being taken seriously.

2. You’ve heard this a million times, and that’s because it works. Do make strong connections, and lots of them. Learn and remember people’s names. Make a point of keeping track of who has what useful skills, and who might need yours. Don’t limit yourself to the people at the top of your industry. You never know what new, promising talent you could make use of or what new, exciting things they might be in on, and if you remember who helped you out and gave you your chance at success, chances are they will too. Do expand your connections beyond your immediate industry – you never know who you might need or who might need you. Maybe there’s some cross-sector partnership you could miss out on if you only talk to those directly in your field. Don’t, however, get so caught up in pleasing people that you never make the tough decisions. Not everyone will agree with your work ethics or your social stance as a businessperson, but hopefully the ones you want to do business with will. 3. Do be confident about your skills. It’s hard at weak moments to think your skills are worth the money, the promotion, the recognition. Women seem to struggle with this more than men, perhaps because the list of areas in which we are encouraged to succeed doesn’t start with “career.” However, the likelihood is that you know how to do something that could be very valuable to others, but if others can’t see it, it might as well not exist. If you’re not sure what sets you apart, sit down and think about it. Look at your resume and remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished. Instead of taking criticism as a sign of personal failure, evaluate it for helpful growth points and act on them; discard the rest. Don’t be intimidated by other people’s success—learn from it, be inspired by it. Don’t settle for something below your education and skill set just because you think it’s all you can get. Do be proactive about maintaining and updating skills. Pick up a book on the subject, check out continuing education (though don’t get so focussed on the need for more knowledge that you stop focussing on your end goal), or even try a quick Google search to see if the gaps in your knowledge are as big as you thought. Everyone can use a little inspiration sometimes, and learning something new might give you some even if you’re doing fine with the skills you have. The Cliffnotes version: know your skills, know their value, and act on your knowledge. Go big or stay home. 4. Do know and value your market. Don’t forget that you are serving real people with real concerns. There’s a community of people in your town, city, country – out there in the world – who could benefit from whatever you’re working on. Believing you can make a difference in others’ lives also helps with #5 on our list.

5. Do remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. In the midst of deadlines and bills it can be easy to forget why you started out on the career path you’ve chosen, but remembering what interested you in the first place will help you to commit to your work. Another benefit is that when your customers/client base see how much you value their needs, they’ll value you more in return. If things are starting to feel stale work-wise, see if there’s something you can do to rejuvenate your enthusiasm. If you are resenting work because it’s taking up your family, social, or personal time, try to see if you can balance things out. Leaving work on the dot at the end of your Tuesday or Friday and taking the time to relax will make you feel less harried and improve your productivity.

Sometimes thinking about your status as a woman is important. Equally important is remembering that you should feel valuable because you’ve earned the right to feel that way. The whole point of the women’s movement has been to try to give women the opportunity to be valued for themselves rather than the sum of their physical parts. So value yourself and your work because you and it are useful. Really believe in the movement’s message. Then go out and do something with that belief!


Women And Antidepressants In English Speaking Countries

Not to be a “Debbie Downer” but let’s talk about depression. Recently there has been an increase in the volume of anti-depressant medications being prescribed to women. This is not just a local trend but rather a global trend particularly in English speaking countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Women’s mental health has become a topic of discussion and doctors, in the above mentioned countries, follow similar instructional backgrounds while practicing in similar medical environments, where pharmaceutical industries and governmental regulatory agencies impact the prescriptions that doctors write. So, are you more at risk to be depressed because of your country of residence and language? Or rather is this a question of diagnosis and treatment due to similar medical mindsets? See the linked infographic to find the statistics of women and antidepressants. Just Click on the PNG image below or Click here for the Women And Antidepressants In English Speaking Countries – PDF version. Share it with the your friends and loved ones!

 Women And Antidepressants In English Speaking Countries – PNG

Special Thanks to Julija Burcar for the design and Christiane Kuehn for the research. Enter The Ultimate Sweepstakes From Women Who Run It! for chance to win an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite with Dr. Sara Gottfried’s book The Hormone Cure and 5 other great titles.

Remember the Ladies – Famous Firsts In Law

Abigail Adams is famously known for writing to her husband John Adams during the Continental Congress in 1776: “I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.” It seems that Mr. Adams did not listen to his wife and it was not until 1920 that American women were given the right to vote. However, this did not stop women from expressing themselves in other ways by becoming lawyers and running for various positions in office. Below are some famous firsts in representation for women beginning in 1869. Just Click on the PNG image below or Click here for the link to Famous First by American Women In Law – PDF Version. Share it with your friends!

 Famous First by American Women In Law

  Special Thanks to Julija Burcar for the design Enter The Ultimate Sweepstakes From Women Who Run It! for chance to win an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite with six books and other great prizes.

Why Are There Too Few Women Leaders?

It is a fact that men hold the majority of leadership positions, especially in government and business. Just like last week’s look at women in Supreme Courts across the world, women in leadership are a prized few. In the link provided please explore several interesting statistics about women in leadership today. However, I believe these figures will change as today more women are attending college and earning higher degrees. Just imagine what this up-and-coming bunch will do! They are motivated and have been well advised by those such as Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In. Sandberg urges women to take charge of their careers. Many times women come to a point when they put their careers on hold to start a family. Sandberg urges women to keep working full speed ahead right up to the end rather than slowing down. Think of a race, one runner does not slow down before the finish line, but rather fully runs through the finish…before taking her victory lap. As the women who run it, remember to run smart ladies! Just Click on the PNG image below or Click here for the Why Are There Too Few Women Leaders? – PDF. Share it with your friends!  

Why Are There Too Few Women Leaders?

Special Thanks to Julija Burcar for the design and Christiane Kuehn for the research.

Enter The Ultimate Sweepstakes From Women Who Run It! for chance to win an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite with Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and 5 other great titles.

You Are Being Lied To

Does this really surprise you?

At this point in your life do you actually still believe that people are telling you the truth? Please!

Business writers and success gurus are not telling you the truth about what it really takes to be successful. They don’t care whether you are successful or not. They want to sell books or programs or whatever and will say what it takes to do it – even when what they are saying makes no sense at all.

There are simply no secrets to being successful. When you see the word “secret” you should run! And when you hear that someone has a brand new concept for how to be successful, beware.

You don’t need anything brand new; you need to go back to the old and simple stuff that makes sense. Instead of 500 books about the secrets of customer service, try this: Be nice. Sadly, that seems to be the biggest secret in customer service.

Instead of 600 books on the secrets of selling, try this: Ask. Just ask people to buy. Ask, ask, ask, ask, and ask. Become a master asker.

Instead of reading 700 books about the secrets of leadership, try this: Lead. Get out in front of people and give them something to follow.

“So, Larry, are you an expert? How do we know you are telling us the truth? Aren’t you just trying to sell us a book, too?”

All I really am expert at is being stupid and learning from it. In fact, I could be the poster child for stupidity. The key is that I learn from my stupidity. I pay attention to my mistakes. I have become an expert at not making the same mistake twice, and learning from every stupid thing I have ever done. And I have become pretty good at communicating it.

And of course I want to sell you a book.  Hopefully, lots of books.  I am a businessman.  I do this to make money. I wrote this article to eventually make money because of it.  Everything I do is to make money. I don’t do this out of some overwhelming need to change the world or to change people’s lives. Everything I do is to make money. The world doesn’t want to change or it already would have changed all on its own and without any help from me. People change their lives when they want to, not because I want them to. No book ever changed a life and no speaker ever did, either. People have the power to change their own lives and no author or speaker should take the credit for it. That statement alone should answer your second question: Am I telling you the truth?

In fact, I am totally addicted to the truth. The cold, hard, ugly, ‘like-it-or-not truth’! At least the truth as I see it. That’s all any of us can really do: Tell the truth as we see it from our own experience, our personal perspective and in our own style. So I will tell you the truth – my truth.

Here are my truths about business. See if they make sense to you. If they do, give them a try. If they don’t, give them a try anyway. Chances are what you are doing might not be working, so give my ideas a try. After trying them, if they don’t work then move on and try what someone else has to say. And know that you are a little closer to discovering your own truth. If they do work, throw yourself a little party because you have learned something that works.

Larry’s Truths About Business:

Apathy is killing business. Employees don’t care whether they serve the customer well or even if they serve the customer at all. Managers don’t care enough to make sure employees are serving customers or doing their job. And customers don’t care enough to complain because they are confident not much will change even when they do. Want things to change? Care.

Attitude doesn’t matter. Motivational gurus have made trillions of dollars telling us that having a positive attitude is the key to success. Wrong! You can be positive all you want and still be positively wrong, positively lazy and positively stupid. I don’t always have a great attitude. In fact, many times I have a really crappy attitude. That makes me a real human being. Things go wrong and affect my attitude. Luckily, I am not paid to be positive. You aren’t paid for your great attitude either. You are paid to do your job. I’ll take Mr. Crappy Attitude who gets the work done, and you can have Mr. Positive who believes that there are no problems, only opportunities.

Who cares if your employees are happy? I have employees and I don’t care whether they are happy or not. I don’t pay them to be happy. I pay them to do the job. Know what?  They don’t care if I am happy, either. They just want me to do my job so they can get paid.  It’s not about being happy. It’s about getting the job done. Besides, I learned a long time ago that I couldn’t make another person happy. I can’t be happy enough to make them happy.

You don’t have to love your job – but it helps. Too much has been said about loving your job. Even I used to fall into this trap. You don’t have to love your job to be good at it – but it helps. I don’t love what I do. Oh wait, you think speaking and writing is what I do? It isn’t.  I only spend about 100 hours a year on stage. That’s two weeks work if you put it all together – barely enough to count. That stage time is the part of my business that I love and it is the payoff for what I really do for a living. I travel for a living. I pack my crap, go the airport, put up with the security stupidity, and the abuse of the don’t-give-a-damn flight attendants, only to get there and wait an hour for my bag that statistics say has probably been pilfered, then get in a cab that smells like crap driven by a guy who can’t speak English and drives out of the way to pad his bill, then check into a hotel where they can’t find my reservation so I can order up some room service that will be late and cold and wrong. Then I go on stage, love my hour I’m up there and start over again. That is the reality of what I do for a living. I don’t love what I do most of the time. I put up with it because I love those hundred hours. And I’m not complaining – the hundred hours is worth the trouble or I wouldn’t do it.

The good news is that none of us are paid to love our jobs. You aren’t. You never got a check notated in the notes section, “Because he loves his job.” You got your check because you did your job, not because you loved your job. If you love your job, that is a bonus.

Not firing people is a cancer on your business.  People don’t do their jobs. You see it every day.  I know I do. I go into businesses where I have to beg people to answer a question or pay any attention to me. I have to break up conversations between workers in order to get them to take my order and my money. And they don’t get fired. Why? Why do we let people by with not doing their job? Fear. We are afraid. We spend so much time and money worrying about the rights of the employee that we forget about the rights of the business. If an employee isn’t doing his job – isn’t earning his money – isn’t doing what he is paid to do – he has no rights. Fire him.

Keeping a bad employee destroys your credibility with your other employees. This is inexcusable because ultimately the person who suffers most is the person who should suffer least: the customer.

Do the right thing no matter what.  Ethics is a matter of black and white – not grey.  It’s either right or wrong, good or bad, hello or goodbye, you are either in the way or on the way. How will you know whether something is the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do?  If you have to ask, it’s the wrong thing.

Larry’s all time best advice for business success:

Do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it, in exactly the way you said you were going to do it. You won’t ever get any better business advice than that.

Be there when you said you would be there. Deliver when you said you would deliver. Call when you said you would call. Be a person who can be counted on by keeping his word every time.

“If I do all of this, Larry, will I be successful?”

Beats me. Success is a funny thing. Sometimes you can do everything right and it still all goes wrong. If you don’t understand that, then you are naïve. So I can’t guarantee your success. However, don’t do any of these things and I can guarantee your failure.

5 Humble Admissions from Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor has a lot to brag about. She was the first Hispanic and the third woman ever to be appointed to the United States Supreme court. She overcame a troubled childhood to achieve highest honours at Princeton and Yale. She was appointed to the Federal District Court by age 38 and has become an American Icon in the process. In spite of all of this Sonia Sotomayor has remained true to herself. In her book My Beloved World she reveals the blessings in her life and does not hide the ugly bits either.

There is a lot to be learned from Sonia Sotomayor’s  overwhelming ability to stay grounded. The struggle to stay true to herself in spite of all of her success is what prompted her to write My Beloved World. “I wrote this book right after my nomination because I wanted to hold on to the real Sonia,” she explained.  The true Sonia definitely shines through in her memoir.

In My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor admits five candid truths that show her humility and inspire others around her to show such poise in the face of success.

1       I’m just like you and I still made it

Sotomayor has never considered herself as anything extraordinary. Rather, she sees herself as a normal person who was able to achieve great things. She said that “I think to move people beyond just dreaming and into doing; they have to be able to see that you’re just like them and you still made it.” That may be one of the most inspiring things about Sotomayor, the fact that there was no special moment of extreme luck that took her to where she is now. Her secret to success is hard work and perseverance.  She admitted to spending hours at the library as a child devouring anything she could get her hands on. She failed at her first job as a summer associate in a New York firm. Her path to success has included hard work, successes and even failures. While some may find that to be a boring way to climb the ladder to success, it’s actually more inspiring because it’s a path that anyone can take.

Not only does Sotomayor thank hard work for her success, but also everyone around her. She stresses that she is not self-made.  Once again Sotomayor’s humility shines through. Sometimes when we get to the top of a mountain we just want to scream “I did it!” but not Sonia; she thanks and acknowledges everyone around her. This not only teaches us all a lesson in appreciation, but also shows us that there is no problem with having help from those around you in order to reach your goals.

2       Sonia Sotomayor candidly shares her troubled home life in My Beloved World

The child of an alcoholic father, who died when Sonia was nine, and the child of a distant, even neglectful, mother, Sotomayor was faced with obstacles from the moment she was born. She grew up in a working class home in the Bronx, where she found solace in the arms of her grandmother. She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age eight and after hearing her parents fight about giving her the needle, she learned how to give it to herself. This was one of the driving forces in her life. She believed that because of her diabetes that she would not live as long as most. Her disease gave her a sense of urgency the never faded away, even after her fear of a shorter life proved unfounded.

Sonia Sotomayor is not a woman who grew up in a life of privilege and wealth. Like most of us, she lived a middle class life and had to struggle to overcome her own issues. One of her biggest issues being her relationship with her mother, a struggle that persisted well into her adulthood.  She shared that “the mother I grew up with is not the mother I know now.” She explains in My Beloved World that she rarely saw her mother, and when she did, she was angry. It took looking back on her childhood to realize that her mother was just mourning over the loss of her husband and trying to support the family on her own. With time Sonia has been able to understand her mother and learn with her. “In watching my mother grow and develop herself, I grew and developed myself.”

3       “Everybody has a little ego.”

What made Sonia Sotomayor want to become a judge? She wanted to become the most important woman in the room, of course! When watching an episode of Perry Mason she remembers seeing Perry turn to the judge after a guilty verdict. “At that moment I realized that the most important person in that room was the judge and I wanted to be that person.”  This ego is exactly what took her out of the Bronx and into American History. If Sotomayor’s ego tells us anything it’s that sometimes we have to see ourselves as the most important person in the room. We have to see that we are deserving of greatness in order to even take the first steps to achieve that greatness.

4       Sotomayor admits to feeling the occasional tug of regret over never having children

Successful women are not supposed to apologize for their successes, or so we are told. Most taboo of all would be talking about what we had to give up for our success but sometimes it’s the truth. Sotomayor’s candor about her lack of a family comes as refreshing. She never tries to pretend that success does not come with costs. While she does live a very fulfilling life, Sotomayor tells us truthfully of what she had to do to achieve her goals.

“I knew that I wanted to be an independent woman with my own career and successful in whatever I chose to do. Could I have had that and had children? Many women do. Can you have it all every minute of the day? No.” That’s one of Sotomayor’s best qualities;  she’s not afraid to share the reality of it all. She shares her harsh childhood, her excruciating work to get her to where she is and even her regrets. We don’t feel sorry for Sotomayor, we feel overwhelmingly inspired by her.

5       Sotomayor doesn’t feel sorry for herself either. She still feels hopeful for love.

Another part of her life that Sotomayor shares with us is her failed marriage. She divorced her high school sweetheart in 1983 but she has not given up hope for finding her next great love. Her mother fell in love again late in life and Sotomayor admits to wondering if that will happen to her, but the man will have to wait. “To have a romance you have to have time. The guy’s gonna have to wait until I’m a little bit freer.”

What may be the most beautiful thing about Sotomayor is that she never limits herself. “I haven’t finished growing yet…I’m young at heart, young in spirit and I’m still adventurous.” This woman, who has never let anything hold her back, isn’t going to start now. Her story is one of candid truthfulness, struggle, success and hope. If we learn anything from her it should be to never give up, no matter what the obstacle so that maybe we too could find that we’ve “gone further than any dream you ever had.”

To win Sonia Sotomayor’s book My Beloved World, along with five other books by inspiring leaders on an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, visit Women Who Run It’s page on Facebook to enter our Facebook Sweepstakes for Women Who Run It!

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5 Reasons Why Sheryl Sandberg Is The Lightening Rod That Women Need Today

Far too often we see women giving up one part of their lives for success in another part. I’m sure you could easily think of many inspiring women who have given up the chance to start a family because they were busy “focusing on their careers.” I’m sure you could think of even more women, many that you probably know, that have given up their careers to focus on their family. Well we say “no more!” We are alpha females, ladies. If we want to have an inspiring career we most definitely can! If we want to have a family too, that is our right, and we can do both successfully.

Sheryl Sandberg is just the woman to help us realize these goals. The wildly successful alpha lady has focused her career on helping women make it to the top in a male-dominated world of boardrooms and corner offices. She does so with inspiring advice, great determination and makes no apologies for her motivation. Sheryl Sandberg is the lightening rod that women need today and we have five reasons why. Prepare to be electrified.

  1. Sheryl Sandberg understands the issues and isn’t afraid to speak about them.

What do I mean by issues? Well, let me rattle off a few statistics for you. The business world of today still holds an unfair advantage toward men. In the corporate world, women at the top of the corporate ladder tops out at 16%. Out of the 190 heads of state, only 9 are women, and only 13% of the people in parliament in the world are women.  Women are wildly underrepresented in leadership positions in the business world and no one knows this better than Sheryl Sandberg. On the same token, arguably no one has been able to overcome these statistics as impressively as Sheryl Sandberg. Sandberg takes issue with the inequality in the workplace for women to rise to the top and believes that the key to helping women make it to the top of the workplace is to keep them in the workplace. Her book Lean In is a self-described “manifesto” for women in the workplace. Not only does Sandberg address the lack of female faces at the heads of businesses, but she empowers women to do something about it.

Now, writing a book isn’t exactly speaking, but she does that too! Sandberg’s TED Talks speech in the “For All Womankind” conference has been viewed over two million times and features one of the most inspiring speeches of the day. Sandberg speaks with confidence, determination and grace, leaving the listener inspired to go out and change the world at the end of her fifteen- minute declaration for female empowerment.

How does she want us to reach for our dreams? Sit at the table! Sandberg noticed women tending to sit at the edges of the boardrooms while the men firmly placed themselves at the table. The problem, according to Sandberg, is that “women systematically underestimate their own abilities.” Women are more likely to attribute their successes to external causes, while men attribute their successes to themselves. Women are also less likely to negotiate for their salaries. Women don’t believe they deserve to sit at the table, while men know that they do. Sandberg wants you to “believe in yourself, negotiate for yourself, own your own success.” Sit at the table.

  1. Sandberg is a living example of her teachings.

Of course it’s all fine and good to tell us what to do to be successful, but what about actually doing it? Well, Sandberg has! She is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. Before that she was a Vice President at Google and previous to that was the Chief of Staff at the US Treasury Department. She was named one of Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women, one of Time’s Most Influential People and the 5th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. She has two Harvard degrees and a personal worth just shy of a billion, and if that’s not enough she has two children and a supportive husband. She is the personification of her teachings and someone we can look to when we feel that a life of personal and professional fulfillment cannot be done. Sandberg is here to not only tell you, but show you, that it can be done!

Sandberg manages to do all this while still being someone that you want to be friends with. She’s warm, funny and charming. Sandberg points out that success and likeability are negatively correlated for women and positively correlated for men; but she doesn’t let this fact hold her back. Sandberg continues to stay true to herself and forgets the prescription of a cold demeanor for success. Her humour and friendly demeanor only make her more of the total package.

  1. She believes in us and wants us to believe in ourselves too.

Sheryl Sandberg knows that we are 50 percent of the population and therefore deserve to occupy 50 percent of the top jobs, and she thinks we deserve to believe that too. We need to believe that we deserve to sit at the table. As mentioned above, we underestimate ourselves and men overestimate themselves. We need to have that same confidence. We need to know that our sex has nothing to do with why we aren’t sitting at the table, it’s our confidence. Screw being humble! If you rocked that presentation, if you have great insights to share, if you think you’re an important part of the team, you should own it! You did the work, you deserve the credit, the promotion and the positive outcome. Remember, if you’re not going to toot your own horn, there’s a man standing right next to you that most definitely will tell you about his accomplishments and will probably get that promotion because of it.

  1. Sheryl Sandberg knows that work is not our only worry.

We can climb to the top of any corporate ladder that we want, but without a fulfilling personal life it’s hard to truly feel like a success. If we want to have a successful life we need to have equality at work and at home.

At home we need to make our partners our partners. “If a woman and a man both work full time and have a child, a woman does twice the amount of housework and three times the amount of child work that the man does,” according to Sandberg. When we place these kinds of pressures on ourselves and create an unequal set of responsibilities at home, we as women are most likely to drop ourselves out of work when someone needs to be home more. Sandberg tells us that households with equal earning and equal responsibility have half the divorce rate, and if you’re not sold on that, better sex lives! Talk about a win-win situation.

  1. Even in the face of adversity, Sandberg comes out unscathed.

Of course, Sandberg’s road hasn’t been completely as charmed as it seems. She has faced a barrage of criticism from everyone including mothers, feminists and the general public for her teachings.  Her status as a wealthy woman has found her distanced from women who feel that they do not have the same ability to make tough work choices and negotiate for themselves as Sandberg does. She is also criticized for trying to be too likeable, a problem she addresses herself. Even her Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, addressed this fact in an anecdote from her book in which he sits her down and tells her that her desire to be liked by everybody will hold her back. Sandberg certainly isn’t liked by everybody and she certainly isn’t being held back either. Even the women who criticize her have admitted that her book is one that they’d like their daughters to read. Of course Sandberg will never win in the eyes of critics. In an NPR interview in which she was being criticized for thanking too many people for her success and not owning it, something Sandberg feels all women should do, the women discussing it also point out that they criticized Sarah Palin in the past for owning her success too much. This shows that the business landscape is harder for women.  We are either too likeable, too cold, too nice, too mean, too…something! All we can do is make ourselves proud.

The thing we can’t argue with is her message, one of strength, truth and empowerment for women. She is just what women today need. She is strong, determined, vivacious and utterly inspiring. Her book “Lean In” is here to help us to live a life of success in all sectors. To win it, along with five other books by inspiring leaders on an Amazon Kindle visit Women Who Run It’s page on Facebook to enter our Facebook Sweepstakes for Women Who Run It!

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Women In Supreme Courts

The women who run it in superior courts around the world today are a select few. It has taken these accomplished women years of perseverance to establish their careers and achievements. In the cases of the exemplary women shown in the infographic below they are the minority in a male dominated field. Supreme courts are the highest level of the law and these women on top are right there guiding the legal precedent for their countries and making history! Just Click on the PNG image below or Click here for the  Women in Supreme Courts PDF. Share it with your friends!  


Special Thanks to Julija Burcar for the design and Christiane Kuehn for the research.

The Six Hats of Strategic Leadership

As a woman who runs her own business and a media/publishing company, I spend a LOT of time reading about what I believe you, our audience, would find helpful to make you to the most successful ‘you’. Leadership, and ensuring we are the best leaders we can possibly be, is a big topic for the “women who run it” tribe. We all strive to be not just a “good” leader, but a good strategic leader. A great article in the HBR about strategic leadership really caught my attention and I wanted to share with you what I learned and how I will be applying it to myself and my business. Broken down, there are 6 main components to being an effective strategic leader and I now plan on asking myself every day if I have covered all of these bases. In a nutshell, a strategic leader must: Anticipate….Challenge….Interpret….Decide…Align…Learn* It sounds simple enough but the reality is that every one us as a leader has our strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to examine all six components and make sure that you are improving on those areas where you need the most help. Anticipation is an area that takes quite a lot of persistence and research. For example, I know that I need to keep up with what is happening in my own industry as well as those industries adjacent to mine. I need to find out what direction my competitors are heading in, and beat them to it. As an Editor-In-Chief I can’t be mired only in my own magazine (ie. my “baby”). I need to see what others are covering, where the trends are, and try to anticipate where the trends are going. I need to attend industry conferences and seminars and I need to ASK QUESTIONS – LOTS OF QUESTIONS – both of my team and our readers/audience. I need to know what they like and what they don’t; which subjects seem to be a turnoff and which garner great reactions. From this, I can anticipate what is going to continue to make us successful in the future and therefore allow us to serve our audience at an even higher level. Anticipating is all about keeping your “ear to the ground.” Challenging, on the other hand, is not letting myself get too comfortable with the status quo. It may be working for now (hopefully!), but I know that I have to be open for ways to improve and move forward. The best way to do that can be to open myself up to challenges from my staff, my peers, and my readers. I need to welcome critiques from my staff and as such I have given them a “safe zone” to speak their minds. I also have to find great mentors I trust who are outside of my organization, who are not as intimately involved and who will give me unbiased advice. In turn, I continue to learn to be open-minded and patient with constructive criticism. “Feedback is my friend” is one of the mottos I live by. The ability to Interpret is directly related to the ability to Challenge. If I ask questions, I am  going to get answers and ideas. If I have been doing it right, and seeking a wide range of input, I should be getting back divergent answers which I can then submit to intensive scrutiny. If I find a problem, I, as a strategic leader, should want at least 3 possible detailed and well-researched interpretations of why the problem exists. Then I have several angles I can  work with in order to solve the problem. Decision-making is probably the most important skill of any leader and yet it can be so easy to get yourself into a situation where you are forced to make decisions without all the facts, on the fly, or under-informed. If I am functioning as a strategic leader, this should never be the case. If I have been anticipating, challenging, and interpreting, I should always have multiple scenarios and options when it comes time for a big decision and I should have a team whose opinions I can rely on to give me all of the possible scenarios and outcomes. I should also have the strength of my convictions that when I make a decision, it will be the right one. Alignment can be the trickiest skill to master because it involves dealing with conflict and nipping it in the bud. It means communicating with my  staff and my shareholders, keeping them informed, and addressing disagreement or dissent before it has any time to fester. What I never want to hear as a leader is for a key team member to say “Nobody told me,” or “Nobody asked me.” I need to be vigilant to keep those in the loop who should be in the loop, all the time. This is what keeps shareholders and staff (and clients!) happy and feeling valuable and heard. The last point is probably the most important, and that is to cultivate an environment of Learning. I should always be inquiring and studying my successes and failures in order to learn from them and I want my staff to know that they are encouraged to always be learning as well. I want to reward staff who are thinking of new ideas and taking their own time to learn more about competitors and the industry. I know that I need to “create a culture in which inquiry is valued and mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities”* Do you think you’ve identified your weak spots as well as your strong suits? I know I have… life is never boring! * Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills (article title from Harvard Business Review Jan/Feb 2013)