How Professional Business Women of California are Setting A New Standard For Working Women

This week, I attended The Professional Business Women of California yearly conference. With nearly 3300 attendees and several high profile speakers, I arrived with an empty mind, waiting to be filled with inspiration, direction and power. I hoped the women who have branded themselves to be our leaders would give me just what I needed in understanding how to tackle the multiple ventures I have thrown myself into. As a woman could I do it all. Is it really possible to do it ALL?

I took my seat in the back of the auditorium, a mental note for quick escape route incase the speakers failed to inspire me, dropped my overstuffed bag on my chair and went to grab the vegetarian lunch provided for the attendees.   The greens and a few chick peas for protein were boring from first sight, I complained silently while the women at my table marveled at the insight of the person who thought a room full of women would love a salad. Not me. Now the speakers were a target, since the food was a miss, the speakers had to be extra good to compensate.

Chomping down my salad for nearly 10 minutes, I barely noticed the first speaker- salad takes forever to eat- as you know and if you don't pay attention, only half it seems to land in your mouth. I put down the hard work of eating my salad when Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook walked onto the stage. Her dark shoulder length hair and blue dress with sensible kitten heels got my attention. "Now whose this woman who knows the power of a good dress?" was my first thought. My second thought was, "please tell me something I can take away- something that makes me think you understand us here in the crowd, the normal women who are not top COO's of the most powerful company on the Earth right now. Please say something I care about". I leaned into my seat, as if Sheryl was right in front of me and we were having a heart to heart. I listened.

Sheryl started off by giving me the problem, yes, we all the know problem. Women get paid less. Women work harder than men because even in this day in age where we think things are equal, men don't share equal work in the home. Women have to sacrifice, their careers, their dreams and their desires for their partners careers. Yes, all of us know the problem. Most of live the problems day in and day out. What we needed was a solution.

Sheryl offered a new perspective which is really the solution to the problem. We all know that we cannot solve the problem with the same mind the problem was created. So to solve it, we must have the beginners mind.   She offered many ways to change our thoughts but the one that stuck with me was to "not leave before you leave'.   At first listen this seems a little confusing- but it made sense as she went on further. She said a lot of women will make room for things before they happen. A marriage, a baby ect. Women will not take opportunities because they fear they may not fulfill their maternal needs or their marital needs. They will try to make things fit before there is anything to fit. I have to be honest, I have done this before as well. I have not done things because of what my husband may need. Really? Yes. Really.

Her advice was to alway stay. Take the job even if you think you're going to get pregnant soon because if you like your job you'll want to come back after you've had your baby. Stay long enough to move up, and try to move up. Speak up and believe in what you can do.

Not taking that job, not asking for that raise, being complacent, accommodating is what we are really good at. I can't help but think of Kate Middleton who didn't take a proper job so she could be available at a moments notice   for   her then Prince boyfriend(To be honest, I'd probably wait around for a Prince who was going to be King one day too) I am sure we have all acted like this at some point for some one - be it our children, families or our husbands/boyfriends/lovers/bootycalls- whatever.

Not leaving before we leave sincerely resonated with me. I thought of all the times I could have gone for something but didn't. Missed opportunities because I wanted to make room for potential. Sheryl reminded me that things always find their space. Everything moves into the places it needs to. She also reminded me to allow myself the privilege of knowing that I have the power to ask. Not asking for things I need not only keeps me from having the things that should be mine but also keeps me from changing the system. We cannot complain about a system that we are not willing to make efforts to change. At the end of the day the onus is on us. We must embrace our power and speak up.

And, for the take-away. Sheryl gave me a great quote-  "A world where half of our countries and half of our companies were run by women would be a better world."   I truly believe this to be true- and to get to that stage, we as women are going to need to step up to the table and 'not leave before we leave'.

Have a beautiful powerful day!

M.