Throughout my career, I have had to engage (sometimes unwillingly) in some serious thinking and reflecting on what I wanted to do when I grow up. When I entered college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. As an undeclared major halfway through my junior year, I knew I could do anything, but hadn’t a clue as to where my passion (or lack thereof) would lead me.
Post-college I took on a temp job (see above about no idea) at a start-up on the edge of the tech bubble and faced my first career failure. During my first review, I was given the horrible news that I indeed lacked the talents to succeed as a secretary. Looking back, this was a defining moment for me and the relationships I would forge with my male coworkers in the future. It was indicative of the type of luck that would continue to come my way. When my manager delivered the bad news I actually laughed and thanked him for the compliment. I knew I was better than my stereotype and from that moment on I would not compromise, regret, or apologize for being different than expected. Fortunately for me (and my charming personality), I made friends with engineering degrees and was lucky to be able to move over to R&D. This started my career in start-ups and I haven’t looked back.
In the past 20 years, I have been supported by great men and women who have described me as a leader, smart, intelligent, problem solver, collaborator, passionate and supportive. In the same context I have heard bossy, opinionated, Margaret Thatcher (or Iron Lady, my manager couldn’t decide which one fit me better), aggressive, and angry. The negative has helped shape my success and lucky streak, with support from the positive. To the naysayers, I say thank you every day and lucky for me (fast forward to the present) 2 kids, an amazing husband, and countless supportive men and women coworkers later, I have found my passion. I get to support others in following their dreams, be a working mom with purpose, and live a fulfilled life.
In celebration of Women’s History Month and St. Patricks Day, I leave you with 2 things
1) I wouldn’t have made it this far were it not for some amazingly supportive men who understood my worth and fought for me, at home and in conference rooms. Check out this amazing movement called #LEANINTOGETHER. Leanin.org is the brainchild of the COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg and #LEANINTOGETHER highlights that when men lean in for equality, they win and so does everyone else.
2) I am lucky, but it is not purely out of my control. Max Gunther (author of The Luck Factor and How to Get Lucky) wrote “Lucky people are gregarious. They go out of their way to be friendly. They talk to strangers. They are joiners, meters, greeters. If they sit next to somebody on an airplane, they start a conversation. The man who sells them the morning newspaper is more than just a face. They know his name and how many kids he has and where he went on his vacation.” Take a few risks, be gregarious, and go out of your way to be friendly and you will find yourself in a better position to be lucky. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!