A half a dozen years ago I sat in classes at a conference and listened to amazing female speakers from around the county and thought “Yes. This is what I want to do. I want to be the best there is. I want to be an expert in my field and I want to teach others.”
I took notes. I listened to what they had to say and then I did it. I hustled. I put in the hours.
I put aside my pride and my fear and I asked those incredible women to befriend me and mentor me. I let them speak into my life and critique how I introduced myself and how I shook their hands and how I dressed and how I spoke to groups. I let them challenge me about what I was charging and how much of myself I was giving and what I perceived my own value and worth to be. I asked them to help me be the best version of myself. And they did. They still do.
I am so thankful that those same people I saw on stage have not only become colleagues but true friends.
Now I am in a similar position to where they were when I first sat in their classes. Now women come to me and ask for professional and personal advice. They ask to be mentored. My heart as a businesswoman is to continually encourage women in their careers regardless of what they do or who they are. I think it is important we empower one another. This is what I tell them.
These days we put cute little sayings like “hustle” and “#girlboss” and “slay” on our social media and on coffee cups and on little signs we hang around our offices. As a mentor, I would remind women that a coffee cup does not make you a boss and a hashtag is not the equivalent of hustling.
No one is going to give you anything that you don’t work for. But more importantly, no one is going to give you anything you don’t ask for. Not a raise. Not a promotion. Not a sale. Not a recommendation or reference. Ask.
If you want to do big things you need to be willing to take big risks. You need to face rejection and failure and still pick yourself up and keep climbing.
Hustling cost something.
Hustling is nights away from your loved ones. It’s long hours with little pay. It’s wanting something more than your fear. It’s introducing yourself and reintroducing yourself and reintroducing yourself until you no longer have to.
Hustling is starting small. It is getting dirty. It is never being too good or too big to work hard. It is rejection after rejection until someone takes a chance on you. It’s failing and owning up to your failure and learning from it and moving on.
Hustling is finding mentors and actually letting them speak into your life and critique what you wear and what you do and what you say and then being bold enough to change.
Slaying costs something.
Slaying is crying in the bathroom at work and then walking into the office with your head held high. It practicing your pitch and your introduction in the mirror until you can say it with confidence.
It’s learning to be kind and gracious and still be bold and fearless.
Being a #girlboss costs something.
Being a #girlboss is realizing that although that and #bossbabe are cute hashtags, in real life you just are a boss.
Being a #girlboss is learning that as a boss you can’t always do what everybody else is doing. It’s learning that there’s a different standard that you are held to. There is a higher expectation. It means you act like a woman with class.
Being a #girlboss means making really hard decisions. Really really hard decisions that keep you up at night. It’s understanding that sometimes it really is business and not personal even when it breaks your heart. It’s about keeping your integrity in all things and being able to look in the mirror.
It means saying “Actually I can” when everyone says “you can’t”
And then I tell women who asked to be mentored that if they can hear all of that and keep fighting I will be their biggest fan and even buy the cute coffee cup. Just like the amazing women in my life did for me and continue to do for me.
We are stronger together.