There is this amazing women's movement in the works. I see it everywhere I go. From Silicon Valley to the board-rooms of corporate America, women are rising above the obstacles to success by creating amazing communities.
Communities where much-needed support and resources are available. Where competition has been replaced by collaboration.
Women are finding that becoming a part of like-minded communities results in a whole new level of opportunities for career and life fulfillment.
Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling (SOTCG) is one such community. Founded by women's empowerment advocate, Marney Reid, SOTCG was created to empower, support, and promote women.
Marney stops by today to share how you can rise up the corporate ladder as an "intrapreneur" and why collaboration is the new competition.
JB: "Intrapreneur" seems to be the new buzzword. What is an intrapreneur and how can women utilize this to further their career?
MR: An intrapreneur is someone who thinks, acts, and creates much like an entrepreneur, but within the structures and guidelines of the corporate environment. The beauty of being an intrapreneur is that you get to function in a similar manner as an entrepreneur and have the creative license (within some boundaries) that the founder of a company would have, but with the safety net of a regular paycheck, healthcare and benefits.
Women make GREAT intrapreneurs because we have that innate sense of efficiency and finding solutions for existing problems that can positively affect the bottom line. The way most corporate employees can transition into an intrapreneur position is by watching how the business is run and the outcomes of that model. Then coming up with a program, initiative, or revised process that can help boost revenue and potentially lowers costs, and then working with their manager to implement that program (or a portion of that program) while doing their current job. Once they show some success, and if they have done the right networking and lobbying, they could get an opportunity to do that role full time.
How can this help your career? When you're doing something new that has the potential to help make the business more profitably and efficient, EVERYONE is watching. If that program or initiative is successful under your direction, then you can basically write your own ticket to what you want to work on next. We all crave autonomy in our jobs, to have earned the right to work on what we think will help the company, and what we enjoy doing. Being a successful intrapreneur is a great way to earn it.
JB: You have a very successful corporate career as the National Program Manager for Teaching Institutions in the Medical Education department at Medtronic Advance Energy. How has intrapreneurship helped you rise up the ranks?
MR: The funny thing is that I started in sales, which is an informal intrapreneurship. Every salesperson in the Advanced Energy division is working to build up their territory and establish growth and stability based on their efforts. While in my sales role I found an inefficiency in the system, and I lobbied for them to create a program that would solve it. It took me a couple years to realize I needed to work on my leadership skills in order to have a shot at making it a full time role. But once I showed the necessary progress needed in my professional development, the executive leadership team gave me the honor of building up that initiative as a full time job, and in essence created a position that hadn't currently existed in my division.
The biggest thing to remember if you are looking to become an intrapreneur is that even if you have all the talent, accolades, and skills to run it in your own role or department; you must also show the leadership and teamwork skills for your company to make it a full time position. Had I figured that out and worked on what I needed to fix sooner, I might have been able to start this initiative one or two years earlier.
JB: It's so exciting to see how women are doing away with the "men's" way of doing business where everything seems to be a competition -- by creating empowering, collaborative environments to achieve success. What are some ways women can collaborate?
MR: I think the easiest thing women can do no matter what your job or position may be, is to be understanding and supportive of each other. Instead of talking about each other and the mistakes we make behind each others' backs, how about communicate with them openly? Conversely, when someone has the courage to approach you to let you know what effect your actions, attitude, or demeanor have on the other employees, be open to hearing that constructive feedback KNOWING that it's 10 times harder for someone to share that with you and that they're most likely doing it for your own good.
What I've found in the couple years of running SOTGC and becoming more involved with my female co-workers is that NOTHING is too great a feat to accomplish when you have a team of women who are working together, openly and positively communicating, and supporting each other through the process. Women haven't united yet to support each other to the fullest...but once we see that change...wow...amazing things will start to happen for this "women in business movement" we're seeing.
JB: Tell us about SOTCG and why you created this powerful global community for women.
SOTGC was created in a time of great change, pain, and adversity for me personally and professionally. I wanted to get more involved in the "women in business movement" and what I found was a lot of negative statistics, blaming others, and a lack of unity among women even though our ultimate goal is something that can only be accomplished once we unite and collaborate. So I created SOTGC. We are very strict about allowing only positive messages, sharing best practices, or lessons learned with sage advice for others who might find themselves in those same situations.
Our contributors are dynamic women who have all overcome adversity and they're stronger for it. They're women who have the courage to share their authentic self with the world and know that as long as they stay true to themselves and never give up, that they'll overcome any hurdle that pops up along this journey of life.
One day I want to be able to look across a room, no matter what city or country I'm in, and see a woman wearing some symbol of SOTGC (be that clothing, accessories, jewelry etc) and know that I could approach her and extend my hand with a smile and she would KNOW that I stand by her in her career and personal choices and applaud the decisions she's made and the adversity she has overcome. I want the female silhouette in our name, and the letters SOTGC to become synonymous with women empowerment and unity.
JB: Your early childhood wasn't the easiest. You were abandoned at 7 months of age on the steps of a police station in Seoul, Korea. How did this shape the person you are today?
MR: Yes. I was abandoned at seven months and then adopted from an orphanage in Korean when I was 14 months. My adoptive parents are amazing and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better outcome. However my childhood was very...interesting. I was constantly pushing boundaries, questioning the rules, and trying to set my own. So needless to say I was in trouble ALL the time. My middle name could have been "time out" because I spent so much time in a chair. I was told over and over again by most of the adults that I came into contact with that I was a bad child and would never amount to anything because of how precocious I was (they used a different word than that). However, all the things that got me in trouble back then make me very successful now.
I think I'm a stronger person for the adversity I faced against adults who didn't understand me. It taught me to have confidence in myself as a good person and as someone who simply wanted to "understand why." Through this experience, I found that you need to embrace and accept who you REALLY are instead of who others feel you should be, to find true professional, or even personal, happiness.
JB: So many women let life experiences define them and keep them from success. How can women use their story to empower themselves for success?
MR: We had the privilege of having Carla Harris as our keynote speaker at our Global Sales Meeting one year. She has a great book called Expect To Win and in it she gives the readers "Carla's Pearls" for success. One of the things she said that REALLY resonated with me then and today was: "Your authenticity is your DISTINCT competitive advantage. NO ONE can be you, like you can."
Your authenticity knows no previous hurts, slights, or unfairness. It will continue to exist, thrive, and be your competitive advantage for as long as you nurture it. In a corporate environment we are almost groomed to think we need to fit in and conform to what everyone else dresses, acts, and even looks like. In doing this we lose the one thing that we are given that can set us apart from our peers. Where can you find your "competitive advantage?" Most likely in your personal life. What are you known for? What three words would you closest friends and family use to describe you? Take what makes you stand out in your personal life, and find a way to make that a business trait and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the outcomes you start to see.
JB: Congratulations on the rapid growth of SOTCG. What exciting things do you have coming up for your community?
MR: That is the question of the year. My marketing manager and I had a great strategy and ideation session up in NorCal in mid July with some powerhouse women in the branding/business development world. There are going to be some BIG changes coming in the future and a more focused approach to the website. One of the things we are doing is looking to get funding so we can bring on our marketing ladies full time and take this community to the next level. I'm really excited for the changes and am taking time right now to look back at where we started and what we've done because something tells me we are about to hit "warp speed" once we get the strategy clearly defined. For everyone who has been a part of SOTGC from the beginning, I want to thank you for believing in this mission and for supporting us along the way. For those of you just hearing about us, please join the community. We look forward to your support and in turn, supporting you.