Asking for What You Want: Lessons from the NAWMBA Conference
This year’s National Association of Women MBAs (NAWMBA) annual conference was held in Stamford, CT. The official theme was Connecting with Confidence, but the message I took away was much more profound than some well-worn networking tips and tricks.
Jodi Glickman– author, entrepreneur, and professional coach- spoke at one of the sessions during the first day of the conference. She discussed how important it is to believe in yourself and your capabilities, to have conviction when you speak, and to ask for what you want.
“It’s better to be smart and wrong than silent.” – Jodi Glickman
“Be transparent, genuine, honest. Have fortitude,” she encouraged a room full of current MBAs and recent graduates who are trying to navigate the corporate world while also balancing the lifestyle and expectations faced by typical 30-somethings.
At any reputable MBA program around the world, you’ll sit in class and you’ll learn how to crunch the numbers and make strategic decisions to move your company forward. I can write a business plan, assess a cash flow statement, and make a pitch to investors. What I’m less comfortable with is asking for what I want – in work, at home, in life. No one teaches you how to appear in control and self-assured while you’re chasing your dreams. No one tells you how to have it all.
Don’t get me wrong… not one of the speakers at this conference has the magic recipe for a well-balanced life. No one claimed to have a fulfilling career, the perfect family, and a fun social life.
In fact, one of the most eye opening remarks from the conference was that we shouldn’t expect it! Sure, we can be fulfilled in all parts of our lives, but probably not all at the same time. And why do we expect it to be that way?
This conference was filled with smart, passionate, driven women. But none of them have the answers to this seemingly impossible goal. The most humbling and useful piece of advice I got while I was there: Ask for what you want. If you want a raise, go ask for it. If you want to be on a new project, figure out a way to make it happen. If you want your personal life to change in some way, then change it. And have reasons to back up your requests. And if you don’t get what you think you’ve earned, then move on to the next adventure.
There’s no single way to live a fulfilling life as a professional woman in the corporate world. You have to find your own way. And you will never forge that path if you don’t speak up.
Now it’s time for me to go start asking for what I want.
I want to thank the Babson Affinity Scholarship and CWEL for helping me attend this conference as part of their leadership initiatives.