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Investing in Yourself, Investing in Women

Renea's Shirt from A New Day + Vital Voices Target

Monday Mentorship with Heather Adams was a powerful first for Leading Ladies. She shared interesting and valuable insights regarding her experiences with leading in a demanding industry. I thought it would be valuable to take a look at a few specific points that jumped out at me and to hear readers' perceptions.

The Power of Investing in Yourself

During our initial conversation and again in reviewing it yesterday, the first thing that struck me is Heather's presence and confidence. It's clear that she has spent a great deal of time honing her skills to communicate her messages, both personal and professional, effectively. At one point early in the conversation, she actually checked herself for using limiting language. When describing the move from a large publishing house to private consulting she said of work she was doing: "I was just. . ." and then corrected with, "Not 'just'. . . that was underplaying what I was doing for companies."

This is an essential moment in the conversation for me. I don't want it to be overlooked. Women often limit or excuse or justify our contributions with language*. Some ways of doing that include long prefaces designed to convey that we aren't intentionally presenting ourselves as expert in a conversation or situation, even when we ARE the expert. Heather clearly knows how hard she has worked to be at this place in her career. Even with all of her experience, expertise, and self-confidence, or maybe BECAUSE of those things, she was able to self-correct. That might have been one of my favorite moments in the conversation precisely because I use limiting words and phrases like "just" all of the time. All. Of. The. Time. And I'm working on not doing that.

Heather taught me something so valuable in that moment: when you recognize a limiting behavior, correct it in the moment. That is truly using leadership training to invest in yourself and convey to the listener both (a) what you do know of yourself and the content of your field, and (2) that you have the ability to evolve as a leader and person.

Heather said it best herself when she stated, "The minute that you give up. . . don't challenge yourself, is the minute you stop growing." Learning in your field, continuous learning, has a value that quite literally is incalculable.

The Responsibility to Empower Women

The second thing that struck me about the conversation with Heather is her unwavering commitment to collaboration, and applying that in the working practices at Choice Media and with her work to mentor young women.

When discussing the important elements that contributed to her leadership development, Heather acknowledged significant support from female mentors. In fact, several times she shared that other women "poured into" her and set her on the path to professional success. This leadership was so integral to her development that Heather now views supporting younger women behind her to become "the best version of themselves" as her responsibility. I recall that at one point she claimed, "It's my job as an older woman" to share this learning with younger women.

As such, Heather creates that collaborative culture at Choice Media and in her work with the collegiate women of a local university. She is indeed modeling that women need not compete alone, even in particularly competitive industries such as media and communications. Drawing on her years of leadership development from predecessors, her own hard won expertise, and the work of Shawn Achor's book Big Potential, Heather proves that collaboration and connection yield success AND happiness.

That synopsis was a little longer than I intended. However, as I watched the recording again, there were so many gems that I wanted to reflect on with this audience. So. . .

What do you think are the key takeaways from Heather's message? Is investing in yourself already an integral part of your professional practice? Is collaboration and empowering other women something you're doing now?


*If you're interested in taking a deeper look at the limiting language women inadvertently use, read my current favorite book, Playing Big by Tara Mohr, as recommended in our first Weekend Reads post. Mohr has an entire section on ways in which we "play small" by hiding behind limiting language.

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