I loved this NYT Blog by Sandra Lee. In particular the line, “This ‘needs to not be about being put down or at a disadvantage, because you’re not,” she told the audience. “The women are at an advantage — we represent the buying power in this country.’ ”
For the last three years I have been a coach for high-achieving women in mid-career. Before that I managed my own career in a very female intensive industry — luxury cosmetics and fragrance marketing.
This weekend I saw The Barber of Seville at the Met. It was fantastic! I loved it! And as I was reading about Rossini’s operas, I also realized that I love comic operas, not tragedies. In the Barber of Seville, there is a moment where Rosina doubts the intention of her beloved, Count Almaviva, and almost marries the old Dr. Bartolo. Luckily the moment passes.
One of the things I see consistently in my new clients is that we, women, don’t know the value of our contribution. We take our impact at the office for granted and don’t know how to articulate it, let alone get the proper compensation and acknowledgement for it. It is so heartbreaking to see women during a review process, who only ever get into talking about their improvement goals, without ever really discussing their wins and considerable contributions.
Today I went to the matinee of “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” Yes, I went to see a movie about an overworked working mom on a Monday, right after drop-off. And yes, the movie got one tomato on Rotten Tomatoes.
For those who missed this New Yorker article about Sheryl Sandberg, I wanted to send it along. Her opinions are powerful and I am fascinated to see women articulating thoughts about the realities for companies when women slow down to care for families.
An article in today’s NYT Magazine caught my eye. It featured the successful screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada) and talked about how she has captured what today’s women really want; Prince Charming is no longer enough. What women want is the mojo that lands them the man and the job:
“McKenna’s take on the fairytale has more in common with classic superhero stories in which the protagonists have secret powers and are waiting for their moment to shine. Cinderella, she said, is ‘ultimately about that feeling people have that if only someone would give them a chance, they would see what they really could do.’ “
I can’t tell you how this resonated with the work I do with my clients. 30-45 year old women in 21st century America are faced with powerful messages about who they should be. These are messages generated by Baby Boomers (women and men), men full stop, and some very old mythologies that drive the American Dream. The end result is confusion, near debilitating pressure, and often quiet depression.
It seems that so many women today have the nagging feeling that there is something else out there, another way, but they don’t know what it is. Powering through to the Corner Office doesn’t seem quite right. Being home with kids and being the perfect wife and mother doesn’t seem quite right. To me, women like Angelina Jolie are heroines to our generation because they have wrestled with their identiy and ultimately carved their own way. Hilary Clinton, as incredible as she is, feels like someone whose values were limited by a still rigid idea of what was possible.
The heroine, the fully actualized beneficiary of the women’s movement, is the woman who knows herself and is unapologetic about having her own pleasure as an end goal. Not because it gives her the wherewithal to take care of husband, children and parents, but just for her.
With my clients, I find that they become incredibly powerful, not when they follow the model of their predecessors or of men, but when they take the time to find out who they really are, what drives them, and what they want their impact on the world to be. When they hit this sweet spot, it opens them up to enormous possibility. They are more successful at work, in dating, and in friendship. It is hard work, but the results are impressive.
The other day I was on a crowded subway. Two attractive women were standing in front of me, chatting, headed home from work. A young 30-something man was next to me, legs splayed out so he took up two seats. Suddenly (I was surprised and impressed), he looked around, noticed the women and popped up to give them their seats.