What do 21-years-old women just entering the workforce want? Answer: a guarantee that they can have it all.
This past Saturday, I spoke to 500 graduating seniors from five Midwestern colleges who are about to enter the work force this September. I spent 25 minutes speaking to them about the benefits of having a positive reputation and taught them how to establish a good reputation and the pointers to fix a bad reputation in case it's damaged during the course of a job. I carefully laid out that a reputation is in fact, more important than a resume. Painstakingly, I offered up all the different types of reputations one can consciously create and even unconsciously score if you aren't careful. No matter where you go on Planet Earth, people always ask questions about you and repeat what they know about to you to other people.
As humans do, once they meet someone, they attempt to connect you to other people that may know you because of where you went to school or where you live or shared interests. I told them that each of us is our own private Public Relations expert. What you say about yourself and how you present yourself is what is perceived. Translation: Be conscious of what you say about yourself. Most people talk in snipits and will repeat almost exactly what you say about yourself to others.
Staying positive things about yourself is tough to do if you don't have an innate predisposition to do so. f you can't primarily be positive, it takes practice and even coaching to learn to be consistently positive about yourself. I had to learn it. Self-deprecation was and still is the lead behavior in my household. Growing up, we all "abused" each other and then found it funny when we made fun of ourselves. The definition of abuse was and still is making fun of other people's faults and mistakes. It always stirred a laugh in a household of four children, multiple friends, parents and babysitters. The challenge with this type of crappy behavior in the work place is that it can be a reputation killer because, and I will speak for myself here, it can dampen a relationship that needs to be cared for and nurtured.
Someone may say "nice tie," and really mean it's ugly. The other person becomes confused as to the sincerity of the statement, and thus puts that person's integrity into question. Backfire.
I gave many examples and concluded the speech to a rounding applause and I felt great.
I opened the floor to questions and the floodgates opened.
"I intend to open my own company and I want to have it all, how do I accomplish that?"
"When interviewing, should I present myself as being honored to being included in the process, or tell them that I am the best person for the job?"
"How can I have a family and run a company?"
"How can I trust a woman to be my boss since most women are bitches at work?"
"Do you think Sheryl Sandberg has a leg to stand on since she's so rich and can hire anyone to do anything for her and got lucky getting her job at Google?"
"Are women bosses more fair in the workplace then men?"
One person asked me about her reputation and that was tied into if it will hinder her when she's running a company. They wanted to know how to avoid the women who would hold them back. Women are afraid of other women. They want desperately to move forward in their careers, have families and figure out a way to do it all. I believe we can have it all -- just not at one time. Focusing on what we can do to help each other move forward as a family, a group and a united team will take us further. It's critical to know that "having it all" is really a mental state and not an accumulation of products or having the right nanny, house, partner and income. It's juggling all of those things with the right support from the people who are in your world personally and professionally. It's weeding out the negative and forcing the positive. It's understanding that the promotion will come, the children will come, the money will follow and bills will be paid. Recognition will be hers... if patience, understanding and giving back is applied to your life.
As a national speaker, mentor and President of my own company, I will be dedicating my life to ensure these young women are equipped with the tools to understand each other, help each other and then command the respect in which they deserve.
I can be reached at Jocelyn@SiderRoad.com