Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate once said, “We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
In honor of International Women’s Day, we wanted to recognize how far equal rights for women has come. And although there’s still work to be done in this arena, there’s no doubt that progress continues to be on the horizon.
Therefore, we can’t forget the many who have forged this path for us in the past, and how we can all play a part in continuing to do so in the present and future. Here are some great tips from powerful women to inspire all other women in redefining gender roles.
1. Wake Up Early
Vogue editor Anna Wintour plays tennis at 6am every morning, and MIchelle Gass, President of Starbucks, goes running at 4:30am. These women know that success is inevitable when you get a jump start on the day.
2. Negotiate Early and Often
The wage gap between men and women is still a huge factor today. Research shows that the gap widens with age. So it’s important for women to negotiate their wages at the onset of their career and continue to do so throughout.
The CEO of Four Seasons, Katie Taylor, understands the importance of delegating jobs and responsibilities that don’t require her direct attention. She says to think of your career as a juggling act of various balls. Ask yourself which balls are made of glass and would shatter if dropped; and which ones are made of rubber and would bounce back. Give away the rubber balls.
4. Leverage Mentors
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talks about the importance of leveraging positive, influential people in your life. Maintain these relationships over time and interact with them often because they may be the ones to give you a job or open a door of opportunity for you down the road.
5. Don’t Get Complacent
Anne Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney-ABC Television Group is always driven by curiosity. She states that this type of curiosity gets people excited, leads to new ideas, jobs, and industries. The smartest thing you can do is constantly ask questions.”
Claire Watts, the U.S. CEO of retail and media company QVC, schedules open door times every Tuesday so that anyone in the company can come in and talk to her about anything. Listening to what others have to say is an important factor to personal and professional growth.
7. Set Career Goals
Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell’s Soup, always knew she wanted to run a company at a young age. She set short and long term goals to get to where she wanted in her career path. She asked herself, “Where have I been? Where am I now? Where am I going? What are the right assignments to get there?” If her current company gave her an opportunity to move forward in her path, she stayed. If it didn’t, she moved on.
8. Be Courageous
Beth Mooney, CEO of KeyCorp, knocked on every door of every big bank in Dallas, Texas, looking for a spot in their management training programs. She refused to leave one manager’s office for 3 hours until he gave her a job–which he eventually did. Don’t be afraid to chase down big opportunities. You’ll never know unless you try.
9. Get Comfortable with the Word ‘No’
Sometimes you’ll hear it. Sometimes you’ll say it. Ertharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme, describes it as one of the most difficult phrases for women to say. But, as with anything, practice will make it easier.
10. Be Persistent
Thomas Edison once said, “Every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” So be persistent. Success is a combination of stamina, patience, confidence, and always striving to move forward. Where one door closes, another one opens, and it’s important to always find the right opportunities to take you where you want to go–or else create that opportunity for yourself.