I have two amazing nieces. One, Lauren, twenty-seven, is working happily in engineering on the West Coast. The other is Rachel, who is a college senior. Rachel and I have had a tradition over the years of spending an August day shopping for school clothes. This year we began shopping for career clothes too! Yikes! Where did the time go?
She is always full of questions about my work and career, and she shared with me that at her summer internship, working for a brokerage company, she found herself on a few occasions in a room full of guys.
“I didn’t mind it, Aunt Sue. I felt that I could be remembered a bit given it was all guys, and I added good feedback to the topics we were talking about.” I loved hearing her confidence, instead of her feeling intimidated or out of place.
Then I had a flashback: sitting around the table with the start-up team of HGTV, when we were creating the core values that would be emblematic of our culture. As the only woman then, I could argue for all the other women we would hire over the years. We walked away from that meeting with values like compassion, work-life balance, and inclusion.
“Rachel, I know you are going to do great things in your career. I know you, your energy and smarts, and how you are made with a heart of kindness. So when you do make your way, and become a manager and leader, please remember: As women who have “won”, we owe it the women coming after us to pull them up too. To watch for them and to support them. Guys do this all the time with guys. To level our playing field, be there for the other women, especially those coming along after you.”
I watched her, and it was like a million little light bulbs went off in her head, and she said she would do just that.
I wish I would have said one more thing to her. In negotiating with others—one of the potential battlefields of business—we gamers come and meet others where we are. Not arrogantly or submissively. We show up poised and ready to engage. That means listening well, and treating the person with respect. Don’t make your win their loss.
One of the greatest gamers of all time, Lou Holtz–the only college football coach to lead six different schools to bowl games–said this:
“I follow three rules:
Do the right thing.
Do the best you can.
And show people you care.”
Yep Lou, that about covers it.