No More Bossy!

After reading Sheryl’s book, watching her on 60 minutes, Jon Stewart, and TED, and then meeting her in person (I’ve obviously become quite the fan…), I have realized how much I feel she is speaking to me. As someone who is constantly referred to as “bossy” and “dominating” with a negative connotation attached to it, it was nice to hear that I am not alone in feeling this way. I never truly realized how much of my thinking stems as a direct result of socialization. For example I attribute getting good grades to working really hard. I almost never call myself “smart,” and I usually downplay what I get on tests. I can’t even explain why I do this. Is it because I am embarrassed? Is it because I don’t know how to feel proud or admit I’m smart? These thoughts have always been at the back of my mind, though I have rarely discussed them with anyone. Until now.

I think the conversation needs to be had not only at a business level, but at a personal level as well if we want to see results. She inspired me to talk about this with my parents, my friends, and even my boyfriend. The more people that realize that there remains a large divide between the sexes, the more we can slowly eradicate it. By taking this advice to a personal level, we will inadvertently use it in the business world as well.  Hopefully with this continued conversation, in the future women will earn the same as men for equal work—and they won’t be afraid to ask for a raise if they deserve it.

I understand some people may think her points are unrealistic for the majority of the population. However, the elimination of the sex divide needs to occur from the top down—so she is speaking to the right people! As someone who has taken sociology courses and has learned how much this message is only talking to those who are fortunate enough to attend collegiate universities, I realize why she is sometimes viewed controversially. There is really not much fluidity in regards to class lines, but that is a whole different issue that would take a whole other book to address. She is speaking to our generation of highly educated women who have the ability to make a real difference.

I hope she continues to advocate as she does, because I know she really touched a lot of women. I also hope that men will listen as well; we cannot do it without them!

Oh, and one more thing: let’s take bossy out of the dictionary.

–Abigail Sickinger, 2014

Leaning In with Sheryl Sandberg at Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend

Sheryl Sandberg was the star act for Colgate’s Entrepreneur Weekend this year. As the COO of Facebook, mother of two and now published author, she spoke to an impressive audience about the challenges that females face as they climb the career ladder. Her book, Lean In, explores these issues as well as provides proactive solutions through which women can achieve greater and more rewarding success.

Key Points

Leaders get to create the rules – it’s a simple fact of being in charge. If more women are leaders, more women will be making crucial decisions which both impact their business directly and speak for women around the globe.

Sandberg wants to ban the word “bossy” from the playground and replace it with the phrase “executive leadership skills”. Bossy is most commonly associated with little girls rather than boys. She explained this phenemonen to be an outdated concept: it’s no longer natural for boys (and men) to lead while their women watch passively. Sandberg believes that all women possess the capabilities to lead if only they choose to lean in and take more risks, whether those risks be professional or personal.

Taking credit and attributing one’s skills to the success of a project is key. Men are more likely to claim personal involvement in a successful situation whereas women will call on the powers of luck and the help from others. Sandberg understands that assertiveness can be a major factor in selecting employees for promotions and profitable project proposals, and shyness will prevent women from reaching top leadership positions.

A final point, one which received both criticism and applause, was that Sandberg advised choosing the right life partner to be the most crucial decision of one’s career. It’s understood that the right person, not just any husband or wife, will appreciate and understand each other’s goals, strengths and weaknesses. At this point a tangible sense of discomfort and dissension rose from the crowd. Many young women, including myself, feel enough pressure to find the right job, choose the right partner and attempt to complete these “Herculean Efforts” before the age of 30. Hearing one of the most current successful females in business mention this further emphasized the competitve pressures all female Colgate students face. Although I stand in agreement with Sandberg on this issue and am aware that my choice of husband will affect my career and parenting future, it’s clearly a touchy subject to address with so young women who are dedicated to their academic and career pursuits while also striving to uphold a bustling social agenda. 

We are all facing the bottom of the food chain upon graduation. Entry-level jobs redefined as “Associate”, “Assistant”, or “Intern” do not erase the likelihood of acquiring responsibilities and tasks similar to those of Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. Yet Sandberg cautioned against women who enter the workplace looking for an exit. Heeding Sandberg’s advice means making instinctual, sound decisions and to lean in, in whichever arena you may call the playing field.

The Importance of First Impressions: A Psychological Perspective

As we all know, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. A strong handshake, eye contact and appropriate attire can attribute to one’s success in both the professional and personal realm. When Professor Keating spoke to CWIB prior to our spring break vacation she focused on the first impression, namely when meeting a potential employer for the first time. We discussed key factors such as physical appearance, nonverbal expression and emotional perception when preparing for or during an interview.

Keating studies the psychology of leadership among other areas. She discussed how to grab the attention and interest of your interviewer or someone you’re meeting for the first time. She noted how dominance and comfort can be expressed by leaning forward, using your hands and smiling. Humans innately read and interpret body language and posture in order to understand the environment and attitude of the person they’re with. A strong, warm handshake is crucial; not only does looking someone in the eye while shaking hands matter but also ensuring that one’s hands are not clammy or wet. These are negative circumstances and can suggest discomfort, nervousness and insecurity. These nonverbal communication signs all contribute to the perception others form and create.

Outside the direct realm of the interview Keating called attention to the Facial-Feedback Hypothesis and how women are perceived in the workplace. We are expected to smile, to speak with a higher pitch, and to have warm personalities. Women who do not portray these qualities are considered abnormal and therefore cold. Simple things to remember like a friendly nod, leaning forward, making eye contact and speaking at the same speed and tone as your partner can combat signs of discomfort or awkwardness in a first meeting.

One of the more profound topics Keating discussed was laughter and humor as a social bond. Laughter is a common expression of comfort, joy, happiness and friendship and it serves as a common identity to which everyone can relate. As I mentioned earlier both a warm, an inviting smile and infectious laughter are generally expected of women and those who are more introverted may find they experience the negative outcomes from this perceived “coldness”. Furthermore people respond to laughter regardless of age, sex and status. Laughter can simply create positive vibes which are always helpful in new environments.

Keating concluded her discussion by reminding the women of CWIB that a strong introduction and a little self-deception of one’s emotions can be helpful in an interview. Feigning confidence is not always a good thing, however it can be a crucial aspect of the job-search as well as navigating a new environment.

Biz 101: Introduction to Business School

Our next coffee hour (11/27) will focus primarily on the topic of business school. We are lucky to have a Colgate alumna Skype into our meeting and elaborate on her experiences, but we must prepare ourselves for her virtual visit! We’ve put together a crash-course called ‘Biz 101: Introduction to Business School.’ Your first assignment is to take a look at the sources below.
  • Wikipedia offers a great overview of what business school is, with regards to types of degrees offered, courses, and a history of the field.
  • The Princeton Review delves further, breaking down the B-school curriculum into years one and two. This source has other useful features, including articles about types of MBA programs, finding which program is right for you, and GMAT/GRE testing.
  • Bloomberg is another excellent source! It features more B-school admission tips, program rankings, and financial aid information.
  • Out last source is a thought-provoking post from the Harvard Business Review Blog that questions the role of B-school and business ethics.
Happy reading, CWIB!

ISP Lecture Reflection: Julie Kelly ’04

On Wednesday night, Julie Kelly generously donated her time and advice to an eager group of Colgate students. Both at the dinner and lecture itself, Kelly shed light on everything from getting your first job to maintaining and growing investments for retirement. As others have mentioned, she made everything simple enough to understand, even for those of us who didn’t know what IRA stood for. It was refreshing to listen to a lecturer who knew her audience, and moved at a comfortable pace. On so many occasions, career advice can be well-meaning but not catered to a given audience. I’d like to thank her for taking time out of her enormously busy schedule to give back to Colgate and let us soak up some of her vast financial and career knowledge.

What Julie Kelly Taught an English Major

The stock market, Economics 101, graphing calculators and Julie Kelly were four things that made a lover of words, books and open discussion nervous on Wednesday night. The Investment Studies Program brought Colgate alumna Julie Kelly (’04) to speak to students about the basic terminology of finance and explain the importance of understanding these terms. She aimed to enlighten students on how to prepare and handle their own finances once they’ve graduated from Colgate, and for some that date is rapidly approaching. Kelly lectured at a slow pace, ensuring that those who had never taken an economics course could understand what a bond was and how to buy, use and redeem it. She also spoke about mutual investments, which are her specialty, and how one person can invest in a portfolio of different companies that share a common theme. Above all, there were two lessons that stuck out from the rest. First, we need to start thinking about retirement. Although a daunting and faraway place, Kelly urged that it is never too early to begin saving. Second, emotion must be absent when investing in the stock market because those companies that appear to do well one day can change the next. Kelly suggested that it’s much safer and smarter to invest in a company with a history of steady growth and productivity in order to gain, not lose.

Along with a handful of other students, I was additionally lucky to attend a welcome dinner before Kelly’s lecture where she spoke informally about her experiences since 2004. Kelly’s biggest weakness is her intensity, she told us, and she cannot relax and sit back easily. It was obvious that Kelly worked for every dollar and promotion she has earned with both ferocious tenacity and a strong background with her liberal arts education.

During this dinner conversation, Kelly mentioned the most important thing we, as current students and future graduates, can do right now is to set up informational interviews. She understands what it feels like be lost and confused when facing the job market. Kelly suggested sending e-mails, making phone calls and mailing notes to employers of potential interest. Whether they can schedule a lunch date or coffee break, it’s useful to ask questions and get a sense of what people actually do from 8am-5pm every day.

I took many new points of information away from Julie Kelly’s lecture this past Wednesday. Nevertheless, Kelly reaffirmed my confidence in a Colgate education and the tireless work ethic that is born and bred on this campus as two things that will take me far in the career I choose.

Julie Kelly ’04 Shares Practical Financial Knowledge

Julie Kelly ’04 exceeded all of my expectations on Wednesday night at the Investment Studies Program lecture.  Her teaching style resonated with students of all interests.  She not only educated us about financial terms that are often hard to fully grasp, but also provided us with practical advice about how to invest our money at different stages of our lives.

To be able to explain in layman terms what certain financial concepts mean is extremely challenging. To have your audience actually absorb what you are saying is a whole different ball game.  The thorough training I received as a Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual provided me with the tools I needed to guide individuals towards greater financial security.  I’ve seen some of the best at Northwestern Mutual master this advising approach and language, but I must say that Julie Kelly amazed me.  She not only reaffirmed my knowledge of financial planning, but also expanded it.

It was particularly rewarding for me to meet another successful female in the financial services industry.  I enjoyed getting to know Julie better after the conclusion of the lecture and appreciated her openness and willingness to help.  I look forward to staying in contact with Julie as I already see this Colgate alumna as someone who could be a female mentor in the industry.  Thank you, Julie!  It was a pleasure meeting you!