“It’s a lot of heavy lifting but we have to ready to grab the keys of the kingdom and be the relentless architects of our career, “said Kate White, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Gutsy Girl on Wednesday, April 10th at the Hampton Roads Chamber Professional Women’s Leadership Lunch. As the 2019 Keynote Speaker, White welcomed a conference room full of the communities’ professional women to discuss her latest career book and provide tools to push women’s careers even further. The Gusty Girl focuses on a new generation of women entering the modern workplace and the challenges faced including the glass ceiling and gender pay gaps. She said, “I vowed to take a gutsy approach to my career. I started asking for what I wanted. I eventually became the Editor-in-Chief of five major national magazines and a bestselling author.”
The day began with an introduction from the Presenting Sponsor, Cox Communications. Regional Vice President, Government and Public Affairs of Cox Communications. Nneka Chiazor said, “With all of these powerful leaders here today, who is leading Hampton Roads right now?” Chiazor spoke on why it is important and relevant for the women of the community to come to gather for events like this. “It is important to be here today not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it is a matter of business.” She also shared some interesting statistics stating, about 60 percent of earned degrees are obtained from women and that women make $20 trillion worth of buying decisions in a professional setting. “If women are learning, earning, and spending more, then women need to lead business,” said Chiazor.
White spoke directly to the audience during her Keynote Address giving each women vital advice and suggestions based on her own career trials and triumphs. She said, “You may have your own career frustrations, maybe you’re not where you want to be professionally, or you’re not getting paid for what you deserve, don’t have the title you want to have, you’re envious of another people who have everything you don’t. I’m going to drop a truth bomb, maybe what is standing between you and the success you want is the fear of stepping forward and raising your hand. It can really hold you back.”
White also took the time to speak on the systemic gender bias that is present in the workplace. She said, “Since the playing field isn’t equal and won’t be anytime soon, give yourself an advantage by being gutsier.” She encouraged the new generation of women in their mid-20s not to hesitate in negotiating salary early in a role because those small differences add up and make a huge impact over the course of a career. She said, “Tap into your natural fearlessness, which may have been tapped down before, let it propel you to be gutsier, being gutsier will take you farther and it will feel really good.”
White presented the attendees with three invaluable principals to use as tools for success in any field. Number one, “Fearless is not buying into the idea that you have to be 100 percent ready. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself that you’re not ready. How do you prevent a fear of ungreediness from holding you back? No one ever said you have to be 100 ready, figure it out along the way. The next time you’re handed an opportunity or see one on the horizon, ask yourself how much you want it. We are smart enough not to go after things we know we can’t do,” she said.
The second principle is that being fearless is going big without asking for permission. White noted that hard work, passion, and grit are all factors in success, however, it always comes down to going big or going home. She said, “It’s not enough to do what you’ve been told and do it well. She urged the audience to contribute ideas to the workplace that drive professionalism, sets them apart, and makes the boss say ‘wow’. “I realized I had to stop playing it safe and go big because I damn well didn’t want to go home.” White also encouraged women to ask themselves the four B’s within their professional lives; can it be better, bigger, bolder, or more badass? These are tools that all women can use in their pursuit of a more rewarding career.
Fearless is knowing that you have to ask even if you can come up with a really good reason why you shouldn’t. This is the third principal that White implored women to utilize. She said, “Don’t talk yourself out of asking. Ask for promotions and opportunities that will strengthen your strengths, grab people’s attention, and set yourself up for a promotion.”
In concluding her address, White recommended that everyone spend time out of the office to reflect on their careers, ask themselves if they are happy, and break down the steps needed to get to that next phase of a role whether it be a promotion, raise, or building your own career. She left the audience with a challenge to take back to the office and everyday careers. She said, “I challenge you to complete one gutsy thing. Pitch an idea to your boss, raise your hand, or take a mentor out for coffee. When you do that one gutsy thing and it pays off, you’ll do it again and again. Being gutsy is a constant form of being you and seeing the world of possibilities open to you.”
The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and works as a powerful economic partner, inspiring ignitor and impactful advocate for our diverse and inclusive business community.
Thank you to our series sponsors for participating in the Professional Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series: Presenting Sponsor: Cox Communications, Speaking Sponsor: Old Point National Bank, Member Spotlight Sponsor: Bon Secours, Luncheon Sponsors: Exterior Source, Tidewater Home Funding, Union Bank and Trust, Virginia Eye Consultants, Airline Sponsor: Southwest, Décor Sponsor: Premier Events.