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Power Your Progress

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For Women & Co., by Cassandra Pare

Alli Webb has had her "Aha moment." That moment when it hit her that the small idea which had been lingering in her head was actually kind of brilliant. Instead of keeping it up there percolating -- where so many great ideas eventually die -- she acted on it. And thus, Drybar was born.

The same goes for Rachel Sklar, who founded Change the Ratio and the -- a networking group for women in tech. And then there is Renie Anderson, Senior Vice president, Business development, Sponsorship and Media sales for the NFL, who as a woman running the show in the National Football League, has already broken the mold. Each brilliant in their own unique ways, this group of women came together on September 17th for a Power Your Progress event sponsored by Citi and Marie Claire and made up largely of Connect: Professional Women's Network members.

In a panel moderated by Marie Claire's Features & Special Projects Director Lea Goldman and introduced by Citi's Linda Descano, these women shared their unique journeys and invaluable career insights. Their words ignited the room with the inspiration and energy to move our careers forward, and perhaps also gave birth to the next generation of "aha moments." Here are some of the highlights of this inspiring conversation:

On "faking it": All of the panelists agreed that to some degree or another they adopted a "fake until you make it approach." Their inspiration? Realizing that all of the men around them had beaten them to the punch on this. "Fake it until you make it" as Rachel Sklar explained simply means "have a lot of confidence" -- there will always be moments in your career when you don't know the answer to everything; in those moments, get creative and wing it a bit, after all, many of your male colleagues are probably already doing just that.

On hard work: There really are no short cuts -- each of the panelists lauded their work ethic as one of the irrefutable keys to their success. Renie Anderson said, "I took a unique path and I followed every opportunity that I received." And Alli Webb admitted, "I am not the smartest woman in this room... I worked REALLY hard."

On mentorship: All of the women agreed that having a mentor was an invaluable asset. But don't make the mistake of thinking mentorship is a one-sided process: you can get just as much from your mentee as they get from you. Renie Anderson put it this way, "I want to mentor people that want to be great. If they're better, that makes me better. You grow as a business by growing your people." Low on time? Rachel Sklar says, "you can self-mentor through your twitter feed."

On asking for that raise or promotion: Rachel Sklar's biggest career regret was not asking for a raise she deserved. When she consulted a colleague on whether or not to ask for a raise during a bad economy, he told her not to -- that she was "lucky to have a job at all." In retrospect, she said, "that company was actually lucky to have me." Estimate the value that you bring to your company, think about what you're worth and ASK for it. No one will hand it to you -- you have to be your own biggest advocate.

On networking: Lea Goldman rather accurately declared, "networking IS the new resume." In today's crowded marketplace it isn't just about what you know, it's also very much about WHO you know. One mistake she said she sees so many women make is when traveling for business, they go back to their rooms and order room service in the evenings. "Don't do this!" she advises. Every major VP of every company is downstairs at the hotel bar -- do not miss this opportunity, go down there and be present.

Need another place to build your network, find a mentor or simply discuss topics about personal and professional success? Join Citi's Connect: Professional Women's Network. And for more great insights from the Power Your Progress event, follow the hashtag #profwomen.

For more from the speakers, check out the links below:

•Alli Webb - @thedrybar
•Rachel Sklar - @rachelsklar
•Renie Anderson - @nfl
•Lea Goldman - @leagoldman
•Linda Descano - @LindaDescano
•Cassandra Paré - @CassandraPare

Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.