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Women Play Catch-Up Their Entire Careers

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Women Play Catch-Up Their Entire Careers

Author: Vivian Blade


“Women get less access to the people and opportunities that advance their careers and are disadvantaged in many of their daily interactions.”

 LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, 2016 Women in the Workplace Report

In my coaching practice, I run across a number of female professionals who are frustrated with their career progression. They feel like they are committed to the company, working endless hours and doing what it takes to get the job done. They feel like they’re pushing through this journey on their own.  In fact, it’s not just a feeling.  Studies on the progress of professional women show this to be true for so many.

The 2016 Women in the Workplace study by and McKinsey also found that, “Women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to management—so far fewer end up on the path to leadership—and are less likely to be hired into more senior positions. Women also get less access to the people, input, and opportunities that accelerate careers. As a result, the higher you look in companies, the fewer women you see.”

Women Are Missing Critical Relationships

Professional women are missing critical relationships, such as mentors, coaches, advocates and sponsors. These people help to enable success in their careers.  Why has this situation not improved? Companies don't realize or appreciate the importance of these relationships and don't provide a supporting environment for these relationships to occur. Women lack awareness that they need those important relationships, so they fail to seek them out.

Women also make a number of mistakes that suppress their progress. 

Mistake #1: You lack an awareness of the types of relationships that advance careers

Career success takes a team approach because of the complexity of the corporate environment, with formal and informal processes and networks, and an abundance of office politics. You need people in your network to help you navigate this environment. Allies as mentors and Advocates as sponsors are important relationships in your career. Each has a different role, and may come in and out of the career journey at different points in time. 

Mistake #2: You wait for HR or your boss to give you access to the people and opportunities that advance careers. 

A challenge for women is strategically building and leveraging the types of relationships that act as a support system throughout your career.  You wait for permission or wait to see if you’ll be selected for the official ‘mentoring program’. Stop waiting! You don’t need permission. You are accountable for your own career and for being prepared for each successive step you wish to achieve.  Take the initiative to seek and maintain meaningful relationships throughout your career. 

Ally as Mentor

Allies often are great resources as mentors. Work with mentors to understand the types of skills and experiences you’ll need, and to help you grow in those areas.  They also can help you understand how things really work in the office and help you avoid landmines in your career.  A mentor may be within or outside of your employer, and can be at any level – senior to you, a peer, or a subordinate.

Advocate as Sponsor

An Advocate, or sponsor, is an ambassador who can enable progression in your career by speaking up about your track record and the capabilities they see in your potential. You need to promote your value in order to grow awareness of you and your capabilities among decision makers who could be instrumental as sponsors. 

Mistake #3: You don't manage the mentoring relationship and fail to get the outcomes you need. 

A good mentoring experience doesn’t just happen without planning and care throughout the process. There are four stages of a mentoring relationship that define your progress:


  • Selecting

  • Engaging

  • Progressing

  • Closing


Each stage has its own set of objectives and tasks. 

Mentoring relationships often fail because of the mistakes in the very first stage, Selecting Your Mentor.

Women Select the Wrong Mentor

Selecting the wrong mentor can be a waste of everybody's time, as well as detrimental to your self-confidence and career progression. 

When I worked for Humana in the early stages of my career, I was fortunate enough to be part of the Management Intern Program.  Though that program came with a formal mentoring relationship, being matched with the right mentor was just as important as selecting my own mentors in other stages of my career. I learned that being thoughtful about and carefully outlining my needs was one of the most important first steps to a successful mentoring relationship.

Before selecting a mentor, know your development areas and the skills you need to build for your career path. Seek a mentor who is knowledgeable about the skills you need to enhance or roles you’re considering on your career path. Find someone who has common personal or professional interests and aligns with your expertise.

Influence Your Own Access

You’ll continue to be left behind until you step up to take more ownership in gaining access to important relationships and opportunities.  Take a deep breath, and make it a priority to take the first steps of learning more about these relationships and engaging with a mentor who can be instrumental in helping you Fuel Your Career Forward.

About the Author Vivian Blade

A professional speaker, author and talent management expert, Vivian works with the world's top companies to fuel incredible leadership, and with professionals to fuel incredible careers. Vivian is a prolific writer whose articles, featured in professional, industry, and business publications, and published books, “FuelForward”, and "Find Your Fit", a collaboration with the Association for Talent Development, have helped thousands of professionals succeed.

Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  management  MBA Women  Mentorship  NAWMBA  negotiate  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA  WomenSupportingWomen 

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Wonder Woman Only Lives In Comic Books: Tips to Maximize Your Not-So Super Human Powers

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Friday, September 22, 2017


Wonder Woman Only Lives In Comic Books: Tips to  Maximize Your Not-So Super Human Powers

By Amaris Johnson


During a recent conference keynote speaker Amy K Hutchens, made a fleeting joke to make a larger point, stating “Wonder Woman Only Lives In Comic Books”. For me it was an instantaneous “Aha Moment” and articulated a single phrase that encapsulated many of the concepts I have been sharing with mentees and other women over the last few years.

Since making her grand debut in 1941 Wonder Woman has captivated girls across generations. As a young girl, I too was fascinated by the beauty, self-confidence and girl-power she projected. My parents indulged my fascination and I was outfitted with a Wonder Woman lunchbox, Halloween costume and allowed to watch her syndicated shows. In my eight year old eyes, I too was Wonder Woman, fearless, bold, brave and could do anything with the aid of my super-human powers.

Fast forward ten years to the age of 18 and I quickly realized the superpower I longed for was not coming to help balance homework, extracurricular activities, applying for college and the small semblance of a social-calendar. My powers were limited to self-energy without the aid of magic bracelets, boomerang tiaras or the gift of human flight.

The official DC Comic Wonder Woman website describes her as, “The most famous heroine of all time. The full package of beauty, brains, and brawn; a feminist icon since her debut. Her Super Powers are listed as super human strength, speed, invulnerability, flight, combat skills, superhuman agility, healing factor, durability and longevity.

Even the alter ego of Wonder Woman, Diana Prince, which is more resembling of an “everyday” woman perpetuates the concept of I can do it all as demonstrated by her numerous careers including Army nurse, military intelligence officer, businesswoman, astronaut and staff member at the United Nations.

No wonder so many women feel overwhelmed and under accomplished in their daily goals. For many of us the standard is to live up to the unrealistic expectations set forth by the mythical comic book character Wonder Woman.

Like many women, I had become the master of creating elaborate well organized “to-do” list.  At the end of the day no matter how many check marks of completion are on this ever growing list many never escape the feeling of not feeling accomplished. Personally, I would lay in bed at night mentally adding more to the list, questioning how I prioritized my day.

One day while indulging in my favorite past time, college football, the sports commentator made mention of  the Power Five athletic conferences. For those a little less astute in the structure of college football, the Power Five conferences are generally regarded as those with the best teams in the country. After hearing this, I began to ask what are my “personal power-five”. I quickly realized there was connectivity between my uncompleted task, my wonder woman mentality and the concept of the Power Five. The incomplete items on my to do-list that most exposed my inability to live up to my Wonder Woman expectations fell into five broad categories: Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances and Future. These five areas would transform into what I now refer to as my Personal Power Five (PP5).  This keen focus on PP5 would help elevate me to the best me.

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that my time will forever be limited to 24/7 and not the  27/7 I desire. We typically allocate eight hours per day for career work, eight hours for sleep and the remaining eight hours to accomplish the number of things on our ever-growing to-do list.

Unlike my childhood hero Wonder Woman, I was not built to be invincible, save the world nor look like a supermodel in my attempt to have it all. With the introduction of my Personal Power Five I now accomplish at least one thing on my to-do list per day in the aforementioned areas. For example a typical PP5 day includes:

  1. Faith:       30 minutes for Prayer, Meditation, Reflection, etc.

  2. Fitness:    30 minutes of exercise

  3. Family:     15 minutes making a personal reconnection

  4. Future:     30 minutes self-improvement that are aligned with future goals

  5. Finances:  15 minutes personal financial education and growth

The implementation of the Personal Power Five has helped subdue the overwhelming feeling of daily underachievement. I now have the balance I was desperately seeking. The remainder of my list could now be organized into what many call crystal ball priorities and bouncy ball priorities. My A –List priorities are crystal balls, if dropped, they can never be restored. In contrast my B-List priorities are bouncy balls, if dropped they live to bounce another day.  While I often play musical chairs on what becomes a crystal ball and bouncy ball, the implementation of the PP5 has helped remedy the tremendous amount of stress and pressure I was placing on myself. I no longer feel like I have to be “Wonder Woman” and make it all happen with my non-super human powers. While I don’t wear red thigh-high boots, I do favor my red stiletto pumps and just like Wonder Woman I plan to walk my path with a tremendous amount of fierceness, self-confidence and kick-azz winning attitude!

So while she will always be my ultimate warrior and  favorite superhero, I no longer try to live up to her mythical prowess. Instead I am throwing my human powers into be an amazingly Wonderful Woman, maximizing my efforts through my Personal Power Five!

About the Author:

Amaris L . Johnson is an accomplished business professional with 10+ years of experience working for Fortune 100 companies. She works in the capacity of District Operations Manager with Eaton Corporation. Her responsibilities include leading an experienced team of power and energy engineers that provide life cycle support to our customers power distribution systems. Before joining Eaton in 2015, Amaris spent 10 years with GE in a diversity of roles, including B2B Sales and Business Development. Her account portfolios ranged from $12M to $40M in annual sales. Amaris varied background in sales, business development and operations provided a solid foundation for a role now focused in operations for a $10M portfolio. In 2016, tED Magazine, selected Amaris as one of the Top 30 Under 35 Rising Stars in the Electrical Industry. She is a magna cum laude graduate from Tennessee State University (TSU) B.B.A and earned her MBA from the University of Florida (UF). Amaris holds a Green Belt Certification in Six Sigma Methodology. She serves as a member of the TSU, College of Business Alumni Board of Directors and UF MBA Alumni Board of Directors. Previous Board appointments include the Gadsden County Community and Economic Development Organization from 2009-2014. When asked, about some of her guiding philosophy towards business and managing a team , Amaris reflects on the old African proverb “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” She encourages her teams and peers to refocus their time and energy on what we can control so together we can all go far!

See her in person at our 2017 Conference and Career Fair! Register now!

Tags:  Business  Career  leadership  management  Mentorship  NAWMBA  NAWMBA2017  women  WomeninBusiness  WomenMBA  WomenSupportingWomen 

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For Career Advice, Nothing Is More Valuable Than a Mentor

Posted By Julie McReynolds, Monday, May 15, 2017
Updated: Sunday, May 14, 2017

One of my favorite quotes is this one of Zig Ziglar’s: “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”

I’m a huge proponent of having a mentor. I have several, both male and female. All my mentors are people I have worked with or volunteered for at some point in my life. They understand my strengths and weakness and help to guide me in the right direction. When a new business opportunity arises, they are the ones I always consult with because I know they won’t hesitate to tell me whether I will sink — or rise to the occasion.

What makes a mentor?

A good mentor-mentee relationship isn’t something that is forced. It forms naturally. Mentors take a vested interest in your career and helping you succeed. They are wonderful because they use their experience to help guide you to your fullest potential. They can help you handle everything from office politics to deciding on that next degree to moving on from an employer because you have grown as much as you can in that position.

I am now a mentor to several young ladies and it is exciting when they call or email me with questions and to share successes. I can see myself in their eyes and now know what it feels like for my mentors when I call them.

One of my mentees calls me her “career cheerleader.” I never asked any of my mentors if they would assume that role; they just did, naturally. Chances are there is someone from your day-to-day routine that you are not shy about talking to for career advice. That person is your mentor — and your career cheerleader.

The NAWMBA Mentorship program is open to all members. I hope that you will join it and commit to changing someone's life either as a mentor or a mentee. Click here to learn more! 


This article was originally published by Media Planet. 

Tags:  Mentee  Mentor  Mentoring  Mentorship  NAWMBA 

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