Pearls of Wisdom

A friend of mine was recently promoted to a high-powered position. She gathered her female colleagues to thank us for providing the advice that had gotten her through good times and bad. It occurred to me that, while I have often lamented having had neither mentor nor sponsor in my career, I, too, am grateful for the various “pearls of wisdom” collected from friends and foes alike that have helped in my professional journey. Here is a sampling:

  • Dress for success: Wear business casual and people may confuse you for a secretary or staff. I quickly found that never happened when I wore suits. Conclusion: it’s always better to dress up than dress down.
  • Fear can be a great motivator: Fear can be paralyzing, but if you learn to fear the right things, it can be an effective tool to push you forward. For me, the fear of working for jerks trumped the fear of getting my own clients.
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger: There have been points in my career when I just didn’t think I was going to make it. Whether it was my having to navigate a boys’ club at work, juggling being a new mom while taking care of elderly parents, or just dealing with a downright difficult client, the challenges have been disheartening at times. I stuck it out and eventually realized that, while things might not always get easier, you do get better at figuring them out.
  • Women CAN have it all: Maybe it’s because I was raised by immigrant parents who worked long hours for little pay, yet were positive people who blissfully pursued the American dream, that I feel my life is cushy by comparison. I am not sure what “all” means, but I love my work, I’m handsomely compensated, and I’ve been married for twenty years with two well-adjusted kids. While my job can be stressful and demanding, I cannot imagine changing a single thing. There are certainly times when the work-life balance might weigh more heavily on the wrong side, but the notion that women can’t have it all just does not reflect today’s professional woman.