At Tina Brown's Women in the World Summit held in New York in April, I was overtaken by the generosity and inspiration of the visionaries in attendance. Hillary Clinton, Barbara Streisand, Meryl Streep, Jon Stewart, Katie Couric and the CEOs & CMOs of many major brands spoke on the importance of empowering women in every corner of the world to understand what we can do together.
I am a global speaker at conferences around the world, and I have never been as nervous as I was when I stood up to speak before this group. I am someone who has been described, and more than once, not as a chief executive -- but as a "chief troublemaker." I am a business leader who has broken the rules that made no sense and ultimately created new ones to change the game. When I started out in market research, I was often the only woman in the room, and I learned a lot by watching and actually feeling the dynamics around the table. Counter to everything I had been taught, I came to understand that there is something different that I brought to the boardroom. That something is passion. And it often requires breaking the rules!
My passion has most recently manifested in the creation of The Girls' Lounge. It has become a destination at industry conferences where women can put their feet up, let their guard down, share stories, do business, and most importantly - learn from each other.
Here are the Top 10 lessons I've learned from our daring pack in The Girls' Lounge that I shared at the Women in the World Summit:
1. Dare to collaborate. If we could have done it alone, we would have by now. There is power in the pack. When you share your challenges and ideas with like-minded women, you no longer feel like a minority. It's empowering and you act like a majority.
2. Dare to break some rules. When you become a leader, lead with generosity. Change the rules that never made sense when you were rising the ranks and create new ones. As Katharine Hepburn said, "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun."
3. Dare to be passionate. When purpose meets passion, you'll be unstoppable. If you don't like what you do, it's called stress. When you love what you do, it's called passion.
4. Dare to be better than perfect. Perfection is unachievable and boring. What is better than perfect for you?
5. Dare to be authentic...for real. Own who you are and just be you. As Oscar Wilde said, "Be yourself, everyone else is taken."
6. Dare to be brave. Take risks. Try something new. The worst thing that happens is you're wrong...but you may also be right. Learning from failure leads to success.
7. Dare to focus on you. You have one life with many dimensions -family, career, community, friends and your own needs and desires. There is no such thing as balance. It's all about choice and integration. Never lose focus on what YOU want.
8. Dare to embrace the tension of diversity. Diversity makes the table better and is good for business. Sarah Jessica Parker nailed it in I Don't Know How She Does It when she said, "Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman."
9. Dare to be confident. Confidence is beautiful. Don't just have a seat at the table - have a voice at the table. Speak up!
10. Dare to make a difference...together. Gender equality is not a female issue. It's an economic and social issue. It's time to embrace modern feMENism and redefine roles for both men and women.