Avery Blank, an attorney and consultant, uses her expertise to help people and companies advocate for themselves. Her story will inspire you to take risks, and we love what she says about raising your hand "even if you aren't quite sure."
Fairygodboss of the Week: Avery Blank
Principal & Owner/Impact Strategist - Avery Blank Consulting
FGB: Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
AB: I am an attorney with a background in policy. I have worked in the public sector at all levels of government including experience at the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the private sector at Johnson & Johnson, and non-profit consulting at the University of Maryland Center for Health & Homeland Security. I have worked on policy issues ranging from cybersecurity to labor to international affairs. What I enjoy about policy is that it has great impact; policy impacts your neighbors, communities, families, and friends.
What drew me to law school was my core belief in fairness. Since I was a child, I was the one speaking up when I believed something was unfair. Law school provided me the opportunity to hone my advocacy skills to better advocate for myself and others, particularly women. That's what prompted me to start my consulting practice.
As an Impact Strategist, I help people and companies strategically position and advocate for themselves to achieve their business, leadership, career, and policy goals. I have been able to successfully position and advocate for myself to achieve great impact in my career, and now I help great people and companies be seen and heard.
For example, I help women professionals position themselves for opportunities in and outside their company so they can increase their exposure and influence to quickly advance in their careers. I've helped a company leverage their research on human capital practices and policies by developing a unique, strategic framework that helped them to promote and share their thought leadership.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
AB: I'm proud of taking risks. I live by this quote: "Risk is losing the opportunity, not failing in the attempt" (written in "The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value").
Putting myself out there is what has given me the opportunity to become a Contributor with Forbes, an Advisor with The Wilson Center, a Board Member with the American Bar Association, and a speaker on NPR and at places like Georgetown University, the U.S. Department of State, Women in Strategy Summit NYC, and for Harvard Law School. Taking risks has also helped me to be named a Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Fellow and an Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar.
Taking risks is still a work in progress for me. I know I can do more.
FGB: What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome?
AB: Broadcast journalist and attorney Megyn Kelly shared in her book "Settle for More" that one of the key skills she gained from her legal training is knowing how to handle men in authority. I agree. There was an instance where I was asked by a former boss to do something I felt was unethical. It was difficult and stressful to say "no," but my integrity was more important than the risk of me pushing back and risking my job.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
AB: My Fairygodboss is Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Founder of LeanIn.org. She has leveraged her influence and power to help women start feeling comfortable with the uncomfortable, embrace their value, and take actionable steps to achieving what they want.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
AB: I love to travel and experience new cultures (having been to 30+ countries). I enjoy exercising. I have been an athlete all my life. Now, I run on a regular basis. It keeps me centered. I enjoy music and dancing and a(n) (auto)biography or non-fiction book.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
AB: I can't chose one. I, like Megyn Kelly, "settle for more."
Oprah Winfrey for her ability to ask questions that make you more self aware. Barack Obama for his ability to inspire and remind yourself that there are things greater than you. Taylor Swift for her ability to take risks and stay true to herself. Hillary Clinton for her strength and grace. Sir Richard Branson for his ability to recognize that investing in people is the best investment a business can make.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
AB: Right now, it would be "24K Magic" by Bruno Mars. I love a good beat and music that empowers you.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
AB: "The Devil Wears Prada."
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
AB: Anything by Adam Grant, Wharton organizational psychologist.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
AB: I love a good blazer. I would continue to travel the world. Experiences trump material things.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
AB: You are your best advocate. Be confident in yourself and ability, and share it with others. Raise your hand even if you aren't quite sure. You are smart. You will figure it out. Men do it all the time. Don't risk the possibility of someone else who knows the same or less than you securing an opportunity that you could have gotten.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.