Lessons learned from a room full of amazing women
We had a fabulous time at She Runs It SF’s inaugural event, Breakfast with the Best of Badass Bosses a few weeks ago. Our event was held in the breathtaking surroundings of the Presidio, where you could look out and see the sparkling blue waters of the bay framed by the historic buildings of the former military post. And even more impressive than the outside view, the room was full of amazing women supporting this great organization which helps pave the way for women to lead at every step of their careers.
The panel was moderated by Lynn Branigan, President + CEO, She Runs It and featured top executives from Reddit, Charles Schwab, and Carbon discussing what it takes to be a badass boss and how to encourage more women to become one. The women also talked about how they created a philosophy for both work and life that works best for them.
Your value zone
Dara Treseder, the CMO of Carbon, said that she felt powerless when she first started her career—she wasn’t sure if she should be ambitious or not. “Success is intentional,” she said, “Women can support each other and men can be great allies.”
Dara continued with great advice, suggesting that you understand your value zone: what are the unique talents that you have, what does the world need, and how do those two areas intersect right now? “You’re in charge. You have agency in how your career goes.”
Becky Saeger is on the board of E*TRADE and Okta in addition to being the former CMO of Charles Schwab. Her wisdom was distilled into several nuggets, including “When you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself if you are waiting for something.” She also recommends hiring the right people who can do parts of the job better than you can do, to not try and to it all on your own. “As a leader, it takes strength to hire people who speak their minds and bring fresh perspectives to my team.”
Diversity is a must
When the topic of diversity came up, Dara was all over it. “You need to hire people who are NOT like you,” she said. When you build your team, make sure you have the right person in the right role and make sure they are all rockstars. “You need to have diversity around the table, people of color, all genders, on both the client and the agency side.”
Handling tough situations
Becky tackled the question of knowing when you have to let someone go and how to have that hard conversation. “You get judged on the result of the whole team. If you have someone in the room who is not as capable as the others, it will bring the whole group down.” And don’t forget that sometimes people are phenomenal individual contributors but they are not effective as managers. You’ve got to tap into each person’s unique talents.
Porter Gale, the CMO for Personal Capital, mentioned that when she first started at her current job, she had to transform her leadership team, and she ended up letting 80% of the people in her team go. She was recently congratulated by the CEO for bringing in the right people to get the right work done. “People skills are very important.”
The entire room was nodding their heads in agreement with Lynn as she brought up the imposter syndrome. This is where men feel they only need about 60% of the skills necessary in order to apply for a particular job but women feel they need 90% or 100% of the skills before they consider themselves ready to apply.
Becky mentioned how important it is to have drummers who are constantly drumming up our success. Social media is useful in this respect, and the more of us who remind ourselves that we can do it, the more you’re helping other people.
“Absolutely,” Porter chimed in. “You have to have your own posse of those drummers who are shouting about what you are doing. It’s the importance of networking and the way most positions and jobs are filled. Your network is your net worth.”
Juggling work + children
Porter knows that “raising kids goes lightning fast.” She sets clear boundaries between work and home, and her team knows not to set meetings after a certain hour with her. “I am very vocal with my team— we can create a better culture where we know we are working hard but also love living our life.” And she advises parents to be up front about future commitments for travel. “I always tell them in advance that next week I’m going on a business trip.”
All in all this was a highly successful kickoff event for the West Coast branch of She Runs It. We’ve got lots of exciting events coming up, so stay tuned!