Doing Business | Personal Effectiveness

January 05, 2013

A View From The Top: Advice From The Super Successful

From interviews with the past, present and potential members of the Forbers list of the world's most powerful women, these are the 10 top tips for women's career success.

Wake Up Early

Starbucks' President Michelle Gass wakes up at 4:30 every morning to go running. Avon chairman Andrea Jung wakes up at 5. Longtime Vogue editor Anna Wintour is on the tennis court by 6 every morning before work. These women have realized that success comes easier when you have a jump on the day.

Negotiate Early And Often

Research shows that women don't negotiate as often or as successfully as men, which may contribute to the lingering gender wage gap. In most developed countries, women still earn 80 to 85 cents for every dollar earned by men. The gap widens with age. A 20-something woman makes 90% of what a 20-something man makes. Thirty years later, she makes 75% as much as him.

Delegate

Katie Taylor, the CEO of hotel brand Four Seasons, recently admitted that she is a bit of a "control freak," but for the good of her and everyone around her, she tries to delegate. If you think of your career as a juggling act of various balls, ask yourself which of those balls are made of glass and would shatter if dropped, and which are made of rubber and would bounce back. Give away the rubber balls.

Adopt Mentors And Leverage Them

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says one thing you don’t want to do is ask someone, "Will you be my mentor?" It's unnatural. Instead, you have to adopt them. After meeting, follow up with an email. Send an interesting article or connect them with someone who might be helpful. Then maintain the relationship over time. And when an opportunity arises where they can really help you, ask: Will you recommend me for this job? Would you make the introduction?

Stay Ever-Curious

Today, the lightning pace of change means you have to be ever-curious, always ready to learn and adapt to the new environment around you. Anne Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, describes herself as "driven by curiosity" because "it gets people excited" and "leads to new ideas, new jobs, new industries." She says, “The smartest thing you can ever do is to constantly ask questions."

Listen

Hire people who are smarter than you, give them the tools to do their jobs and then listen carefully. If you're able to be open to all different kinds of information, your conclusions will be that much better formed. Claire Watts, the U.S. CEO of retail and media company QVC, actually schedules open door times every Tuesday, so that anyone in the company who wants to come talk to her, ask her a question or share something they’ve noticed can do it then.

Set Career Goals

Denise Morrison, the CEO of Campbell's Soup, knew from a very young age she wanted to eventually run a company. She learned that just like you need to set goals to accomplish a business project, you need to set goals in your life, both short-term and long-term, and come up with a plan to achieve them. She always looked at her career as, "Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going, and what are the right assignments to get there?" If her current company would work with her to deliver those assignments, she was all-in. But if it didn't, she knew she needed to move on.

Be Courageous

First you have to pinpoint what you want, and then you have to stand up and go after it. That takes courage. Beth Mooney, the CEO of KeyCorp, got her start in banking two years after she graduated from college by knocking on the door of every big bank in Dallas, Texas, and asking for a spot in their management training programs. At the Republic Bank of Dallas, she refused to leave the manager's office until he offered her a job. So she waited. For three hours. And finally he said okay, he’d give her a chance if she earned an MBA by night. Raise your hand for the big opportunities.

Get Comfortable With The Word 'No'

Cozy up to the word "no." Sometimes you’ll hear it. Sometimes you’ll need to say it. Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme, says it's one of the most difficult phrases for women to utter. Practice. It will get easier.

Be Persistent

As the story goes, Thomas Edison failed thousands of times while inventing the light bulb. "I have found 10,000 ways something won't work," he said. But he wasn't discouraged, "because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." Most women reach the top after three decades plugging away. Success takes persistence, stamina and patience.

 

Text by Forbes
 

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