I’ve worked with my share of “Mad Men” in my career. They say whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger and I guess in this case it’s pretty much true. Fortunately I now work in a place where I’ve even been given the opportunity to build this mom/women-focused division and I basically have carte blanche to do so my way. But in getting here I’ve dealt with my share of Mad Men.
But the things I’ve had to deal with over the years have only made me stronger and more determined to succeed. And I have learned many things from working with men.
• Make decisions. I had a boss who told me one day what was wrong with women in business in a sexist way. He said, “Women don’t make decisions. Right or wrong make a decision. If you’re right…great, and if you’re wrong just apologize, but don’t ever not make a decision.” And I agree with him on this one with the exception that this is gender reference. Any boss needs to be capable of making decisions. And have the humility to admit when they were wrong.
• It’s not what you know, but who you know. Networking is so important, and making the time for it is hard when you are a working mom. But men tend to be really good at this: scheduling power breakfasts, lunches, and drinks after work. Often it’s not how smart you are, but how connected.
• Act like a woman, think like a man. I love this title from Jennifer Hudson’s new song. It’s so true. Women are uniquely equipped in business to bring both their nurturing skills and their business skills together to create collaborative, engaging workplaces. My first boss, when I arrived fresh-faced and naive in New York, would listen to my phone calls and tell me I wasn’t tough enough. He definitely contributed a few layers of thicker skin. It’s just a matter of finding the right balance of toughness and caring.
• You need to be your own PR machine. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked into a room to find a man had taken credit for work I’d done. I’ve learned you need to do a bit of blatant self-promotion. Updates on what you are working are important to share every once in a while so the right people know what you are doing and your weekly accomplishments. Men are very good at making sure key people are aware of their “doings.” It is not in a woman’s nature to be out there self-promoting. We excel at getting recognition for others, but I believe it’s so important you find the right time to toot your own horn.
So if social media existed back in the days of Mad Men, would women have brought these situations to light? Now we can form Facebook groups and create blog sites where women can support, empathize, and share strategies for handling various situations with each other. As a matter of fact, I’ve been invited by one such group to speak at one of their events next week. SheSays is a global creative network for women. They’re creative women who want to see more creative women a the top. They rally together online, and learn from each other offline. How do they do this? Well, they often hold thought leadership events where special guests from all over the industry talk about their areas of expertise. Next week’s event, The Mother of Invention, is about the modern mom – what has changed and how advertising can connect and engage with them in a meaningful and relevant way. And yours truly is a guest speaker!
The next generation of young women needs to know our voices are powerful and can be used to affect change in so many ways. They need to know that through social media and the power of our words, we can create a better world for women in terms of treatment, salaries, and breaking the glass ceiling. Through blogs and social networks, we can learn from each other and support each other, and share our stories so we can keep moving forward. Don’t you think it’s about time to stop “the madness”?