Listen Up, Young Ladies! (Millennial Mania: Chapter 5)
Sorry if this sounds all preachy and school-marmy. I can’t help myself.
As a mentor of young women and women business owners, a mom/grandmom of girls, long-time boss-lady, and consultant, I sometimes go there. But it comes from a place of love. I truly want the next generation of young women to prosper, find balance, and most important be valued — professionally and personally. Although the pay gap is closing for millennial women, it still exists. These women are also leaving jobs at a high rate. Read more about that.
Unlike my generation, you women value work/life balance and have technology to help you achieve more of it. You have more choices. I grew up in an era when I had to take sewing and child care in 7th grade. Woodworking, auto repair, and electrical shop classes were reserved for the dudes. Although a lot of things have changed over the past 40+ years, we still have a ways to go.
Here’s my challenge to millennial women who are reading this…fast-forward yourself to age 60. What would you want to be writing as YOUR life story and wisdom at that age? What do you want to do over the next four decades?
A few years back, I wrote a book for 20-something women. Here are 10 more tips. Some are new and some are timeless. They are based on my own experiences and observations, as well as hours of conversation with my company’s millennial wingwomen — Bridget and Audrey.
- Be a woman of strength and integrity. Watch the uptalking and vocal fry. You are making a statement…not asking a question. Show up and follow-up when you say you will…not when it’s convenient.
- Pay attention to the real world. Practice eye contact and a firm handshake. They never go out of style. Say please and thank you. Ditch the earbuds and take your eyes off your phone sometimes. Observe, listen and learn. Although I love SnapChat and Instagram as much as the next girl, respect technology but also learn how to network, speaking on the phone and put a coherent and compelling sentence together. The real world is still important.
- Know your stuff. This one is timeless. Whether you’re asking for a raise, interviewing for a job, or pitching your investors, do your homework. Knowledge = confidence. While you’re at it, master public speaking and Prezi or other cool tool. You need to be the leading lady when making a pitch.
- Fear not math and science and learn to code. The future is all about STEM. Every business woman also needs to know that P&L doesn’t stand for purses and lipstick.
- Speaking of knowledge and technology, become the queen of Google. I’m shocked at how many millennials (of both genders) don’t know how to research or don’t take the time to do it. All answers live online.
- Don’t be a bitch. Collaborate and support other women. Celebrate your “sisters'” successes and offer help to women just starting out. Help a Boomer learn technology. We didn’t grow up with it, so you need to be patient sometimes. Resist the urge to gossip and trash-talk.
- Business is business. If someone criticizes your work or fires you, it’s not personal. Learn how to suck it up and move on. Similarly, learn how to coach and lead…not whine, pout, or be bossy.
- Know your worth. Get paid fairly for the work you do (and do your homework so you know what that is…see #4).
- Find a mentor (or more than one). Be sure that she is a good one. Not like Quinn on UnREAL, a controlling and co-dependent older woman who claims to be doing great things to protect her protegee while actually ruining her life. A great mentor can be any age or gender but should be able to teach your things, introduce you to new people and experiences, and serve as an honest and rational sounding board.
- Above all, be fearless, patient, loyal, and humble. You have lots of years ahead of you — successes, failures, experiences, and adventures. You know a lot, but not everything. On the other hand, don’t beat yourself up too hard when you screw up. Apologize, reflect and move on.
Again, I hope some of you will accept my challenge. What will you be saying as a mentor at 60? What do you hope to learn? How will you change the business world for your daughters and granddaughters?