Mentoring & Leadership Guiding the Way to Success!


Thirty-two of the largest U.S. companies by revenue on the Fortune 500 list, including PepsiCo, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Oracle and General Dynamics, are run by women. Although this only accounts for a mere 6.4 percent of Fortune 500 companies, it is the highest proportion of female CEOs in the history of the Fortune 500.

It’s an exciting time to be a female entrepreneur with the abundance of opportunities available, including government contracts and diversity and inclusion programs. However, even with all the support, there are still obstacles facing women in the workplace; from lower pay than their male counterparts to sexual harassment and fewer promotion opportunities.

To get a better understanding of why women are still being held back in the business world, I looked at the most successful businesswomen I’ve known over the years. They have all had mentors, including myself. Over the past eight years, I have led mentoring meetings, training sessions and workshops giving me a clearer understanding of the specialized training and mentoring women need as they develop into successful entrepreneurs.

Change Your Mindset

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” – Marie Curie, two-time Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

It starts with your mindset. You need more than just business essentials and marketing to be successful. You need to believe that you can succeed in conquering your fear and embracing your confidence. Interestingly, I find more women have a fear of success than a fear of failure. We reach a certain level, and then we suddenly seize up and get stuck.

When women are ready, willing and able to break through their own glass ceiling and ask for what they’re worth, we will see a huge surge, not only in our economy but also in our community. The key to this and any success is collaboration. Through collaboration, we will change the world for the better.

The Myth of Doing It All

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” –African Proverb

When I held my entrepreneur training workshops, I began by sharing one key point: “Stop doing it alone!” Women have a hard time reaching out and asking for help. Rather, we attempt to learn it all and do it all perfectly.

Women must learn to do what their male counterparts have done for years: build a support team, and then collaborate or delegate the areas in which they are less proficient. With the right partners and support staff you can let go of the tasks that are not your strengths and focus on the ones that are.

I can’t stress enough the importance of building your team. We live in a world where information is fed to us on a regular basis, but without much explanation, supporting facts, or consultation on our level of understanding. To be successful, you need interaction and trusted advisors to guide you along the path.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you find mentors who can best guide you through the challenges.

What is Your Time and Talent Worth?

“You probably don’t know who you are and you never really will, until you discover the parts of yourself that you don’t already know!” – Barbara Daoust

One of the biggest obstacles facing women in business is understanding value!

Women are still not asking for what they are worth. Although we’ve made strides in the equal pay arena, women are still only earning 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. Women who own businesses earn about 25 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, primarily because they aren’t asking for the true value of their products or services. If women’s earnings were equal to men’s, it would add over $11 trillion to the economy.

How do we start to move in the direction of building more wealth, respect and success for women? It takes collaboration. It means bringing together our circles of influence so that we can learn from one another to build best practices.

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that the business sector is moving in a more feminine direction when it comes to strategy. The big question used to be, “Who is your competition?” Today the question is, “Who is your Strategic Alliance Partner?” Building these relationships has helped companies enhance their businesses, and has had a positive effect on their customers and community. Women, who by nature think collaboratively, are helping their companies seek win-win situations or mutually beneficial agreements, rather than using the competitive approach of win-lose. This shift is changing the way businesses service customers. Instead of telling customers what you want them to believe, there is more care and thought being put into clients’ needs.

One of my mentors, Barbara Daoust, is a highly successful mindset leader. The valuable lesson I learned from her was that success is not a straight line. You encounter obstacles, and many of these obstacles are created by limiting thoughts that keep us stuck in what we already know.

The Four Success Principals

There are four principles that highly successful businesswomen employ. Using these tips will help you reach your goals.

1. Stay focused on success to achieve economic growth.

2. Constantly step out of your comfort zone.

3. You’ll never outperform your self-image. If you have a low self-image, you’ll try to solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it.

4. Envision yourself attaining success. Visualize the actions and qualities of a highly successful person. When you start performing them daily, you will start changing your habits and begin to behave differently. You will develop more confidence, and opportunities will start coming your way.

It Takes Practice

“Success comes when you believe in yourself first, so that others may follow.”

I attended the Women’s March earlier this year. As I approached the train station, I saw the most amazing site, crowds of inspired women everywhere. Despite any divergence of political or social points of view, they were there for one reason: to support one another. They came in peace to say, “We count, and together we show up and voice our concerns and need to be heard.” It’s clear that women need each other, and when we come together and plan a strategy to make this happen, we are successful in creating change. We will be the change that needs to happen. I believe that when we can share our beliefs and listen, we learn. It’s time to ask for what we are worth and have no fear of not being worthy. You are what you think you are and you become what you practice. Practice well! Practice hard! Practice with intention!

Gail Lara
Executive Director of the Women’s
Collaborative Mentoring Program

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