Earlier this month, Business Insider published an "Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man" that has since been ricocheting around the inboxes of Blankfein-worshipping bros at record speed. But what about us women? Don't we count for anything? The BI guide troubled me on several accounts, including its thin veil of sarcasm and its blatantly misogynistic recommendations such as "always carry cash in your front pocket," and "hookers aren't cool, but remember, the free ones are a lot more expensive." (Really, Business Insider?) After considering an appropriate response, I sent the following email asking the BI editors to consider publishing a counter list for female young professionals:
To Whom It May Concern,
I was dismayed to read Tuesday's article, "The Unofficial Goldman Sachs Guide to Being a Man." Is this really the type of content your male or female readership feels comfortable with and supports?
I hope you will consider publishing my response, which includes what I hope will be a productive counter list for young professional women. As my brilliant, motivated and savvy female young professional peers ascend the ranks of American business, I at least recommend that you consider producing content (yes, even satirical content) that is more responsive to changing cultural mores -- particularly regarding gender. If you do not, you will certainly face some serious growing pains and critique in the future.
All the best,
While BI declined to publish my response, I still believe that aspiring female young professionals like myself have a lot of wisdom to share with each other. Moreover, I think our increasing willingness to aid and support one another will ultimately help us to break down gender barriers in the work place. My hope is that the following list will encourage positive, introspective, kind and yes, ambitious decision-making to support personal satisfaction and professional success.
Many of the items on this list are pearls of wisdom I have received from mentors and fellow female young professionals. My hope is that this list will inspire further conversation, thought and contribution towards an even more evolved list of tips or guiding principles for young women. So, without further ado:
- Always seek out the tenuous balance between humility and confidence
- Practice having difficult conversations about the small things at work, so that you feel more comfortable having difficult conversations about more important topics
- Ask your relatives for advice -- it makes them feel happy and engaged in your life, and it's often pretty helpful
- Find a new activity that you like and stick with it until you get good at it -- no need to shoot for Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000-hour mark
- Read voraciously and omnivorously -- you never know when something you read will help you contribute in a meeting
- Start a book club -- it can enrich your mind, deepen your friendships and open you to new ideas. And it's fun!
- Be mindful about how and when you assert yourself -- the reality is that women don't always have the luxury of asserting themselves and receiving the same positive responses that men always do. Don't hold back, but be thoughtful about how and when you do so
- Ask for feedback at work -- even when you're most afraid of getting it
- Schedule one-on-one networking meetings with men you admire -- even if it might make you feel a little uncomfortable
- Schedule one-on-one networking meetings with women you admire -- even if it might feel a little intimidating
- Engage the men in your life in meaningful conversations about gender -- you'll be surprised to find how open many of them are to this topic
- Make the first move -- not only in romance, but in friendships as well
- Perform random acts of kindness for strangers or new friends
- Pig out with your girlfriends late at night -- rarely can something make you feel closer to them than drenching yourself in delicious burrito grease
- Challenge your self-discipline in small ways by giving up alcohol or limiting your Internet exposure for a month
- When your job is getting you down, seek fulfillment and self-approbation through outside activities, such as writing or volunteering
- Find a younger woman or a peer to mentor
- Seek out and follow up with older women and men that you respect for their career achievements and for their personal achievements
- Learn something from someone who is totally different than yourself
- GET YOUR BONUS: Ask for what you want in work and in life, even when it's hard -- because if you don't, you almost certainly won't get it