“So much has happened to open the world up for women, and you’re right here to take advantage of that!” began Fawn Germer, the morning keynote speaker at the 2013 Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference. Germer is an author and speaker with a background in journalism. One day at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, she got what she called a “brand-new bosshole.” He told her she’d never be a columnist, would never rise above the ranks of reporter. “You have mentors? I had a tormentor!” she recalled.
“The whole magic of what happens to you in the here-on-out comes in the obstacles,” she went on. Not finding a book that could give her the guidance she needed in a time of crisis, Germer set out to write it herself. Today, she’s the author of several well-known books, including Pearls: Powerful Wisdom from Powerful Women, Hard Won Wisdom, Mustang Sallies, and The NEW Woman Rules: More Than 50 Trailblazers Share Their Wisdom, that include interviews with hundreds of women leaders from Hilary Clinton to Olympic athletes, CEOs, and more.
What did she learn? She learned that even amongst the world’s most established women leaders, self-esteem is a perpetual issue. “If I could hear every negative thing you’ve said to yourselves about yourselves, there would be so much noise in the room!” Germer said to the conference attendees. “What matters most is how you see yourself. You are saying things that are meaner to yourself than you would say to a stranger. Yes or no? If you were a mother, and somebody said those things to your kid, what would you do? Understand that your imperfections are fine. You’re fine as you are. Don’t fixate on the negative. Work what you’ve got. You have everything you need; it’s enough.”
Stand up for yourself. Set boundaries. Don’t settle for a bad relationship, with your work or at home. Own up to your ambition and don’t be afraid to win. Advertise your abilities, skills, and achievements. When you see a need, volunteer to handle it. The promotions and money come as you elevate yourself. Don’t let security be your dangerous anchor. Germer gave a frank rundown of the advice she gleaned from women who have already been there, and the lessons she’s learned firsthand.
“I know a lot of people who spent decades learning that they have the power to end a bad situation and make good choices,” Germer said. Today’s MBA women have the opportunity to learn from each other, and from mentors like Germer, to be their own best version of themselves.