Earlier this year, ten Goldman Sachs women from various divisions and regions participated in the Black Enterprise (BE) Women of Power Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. There, Goldman Sachs Chief Diversity Officer Erika Irish Brown was recognized with forty-five other women as a recipient of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate Diversity Award for the firm’s work in diversity and inclusion.
Brown provided the group’s 10 big takeaways from the speakers’ remarks that could help improve any career:
1. We all need allies — and you need trust to build allies.
Therefore, if you want somebody to support and invest in you, you have to let them in and be vulnerable. Having allies is important, but allowing someone to advocate for you requires trust. Building relationships with people is critical to personal and professional growth. No one can succeed alone.
2. Know the difference between a mentor and a sponsor.
A mentor should know the good, the bad and the ugly. Meanwhile, a sponsor should know the good, the good and the good. Having both a mentor to ask your important career questions and a sponsor who will advocate for you at work is crucial to career development.
3. The adventure is in the “zig-zag” – don’t crave the straight line.
In other words: “Sometimes the shortest distance to a goal is the longest way around.” Don’t be frustrated if things aren’t going to plan. Every journey has important lessons along the way.
4. Cry like a baby, fight like a girl, change the world like a woman.
While the world may suggest that being a woman is a disadvantage, Brown and her peers encourage women to live their genuine experience. Showing emotion and being your true self is your greatest strength, no matter what society says.
5. You may not be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.
Expelling the energy to be the first person on your team to turn in a project or answer a question is often not necessary. However, showing that you are invested is always important.
6. If you are not adding value, you are diminishing your value.
Your primary goal in any role should be to add value using your unique talents. If you’re in a role or on a project where you can’t accomplish that, you’re wasting your precious time and energy. Find a professional space where you add value with every contribution you make.
7. Live your life by design, not by default.
When you know where you are going, distractions will not derail you. It’s much easier to reach your goals when you know what you’re trying to achieve. Set actionable objectives for yourself and live life accordingly, rather than expecting things to fall into place.
8. Stop reliving your failures.
There comes a time to close that door so you can be your best self and ‘slay’ in your lane. Rather than focusing on what you’ve done wrong or what you could improve on, focus in on your talents and what you’re doing right. Then, bring those talents to the table every day; they’ll set you apart.
9. Everyone wants to network up, but Beyoncé and Oprah are busy.
There is tremendous value in networking in all directions. If you only spend your time reaching out to people who are your perfect role models, you may miss out on important conversations with people who have valuable connections, knowledge and opportunities to offer.
10. Think about life as a series of events that are either rubber or crystal balls.
Rubber balls can be dropped, but they bounce back. Crystal balls shatter once dropped and cannot be made whole again. Take care of the events that are crystal balls.