Monica Blacker worked at bankruptcy law firms for years before realizing her true passion: helping the women who work there. After spending her time mentoring women and providing programming to help them operate within her workplace, Blacker broke off and began her own consulting business — BAX Advisors — that works with women to empower them in the workplace.
Blacker — who's friends call her "the Mayor" because she is always running into a friend — shared her best advice for creating a meaningful career based on relationships. She also gave us the inside scoop on how she's handled hard situations at work, how other women have helped her start her business and how you can identify support systems that will help you achieve success.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Monica Blacker
Founder, BAX Advisors
Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I was a bankruptcy attorney in large law firms in Dallas, Texas for 22 years. Several years ago, I became very active in my firm's women's initiative and was spending a large amount of my time mentoring women and providing programming for our women to deal with the issues we faced in the firm. We began spinning my content out to our clients and I realized that helping women was my passion. Twenty months ago, I took the extremely terrifying leap and started my own consulting business to work with women and focus on ways to empower women in the workplace.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
I'm proud of the meaningful friendships that I have in so many areas of my life. My friends call me "the Mayor" because I never go anywhere without running into someone I know. I learned to build relationships at an early age; I lived in 13 different houses and went to 9 schools before I graduated from high school.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
I experienced a fair amount of sexual harassment at work over the years. I learned that it is not OK to just grin and nod when people say inappropriate things to you. Once you open the door, it will most likely escalate. I learned to set boundaries but still be part of the team (and in some cases, boys' club). It's a delicate balance, but you have to be true to yourself and use your voice to tell others when they have crossed the line.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
Sara Holtz is my first Fairygodboss. She is the one who helped me find my passion and encouraged me to follow my dream. She sat me down and said, "What's the worst-case scenario if you aren't successful?" She made me get out of my head and realize that I would be OK taking the leap. I also have Gemma Descoteaux. She is my biggest cheerleader and supporter on this new journey. I tell everyone they need a "Gemma." She encourages me, but even better, she promotes me and looks for opportunities to help me in every space.
What do you do when you're not working?
I love to travel and spend time with my family. My two favorite places are Paris and the Beach. I'm happiest when I have a trip in my near future.
If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
This is a hard one... Oprah or Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I love Oprah and how she has helped others. I have a group of friends who call me the "White Oprah." As for the Notorious RBG, I'm a late-comer to her bandwagon, but now I'm all in.
Lightning Round: What is your karaoke song?
"Kiss" by Prince. Nothing embarrasses my daughter more than me doing karaoke.
Lightning Round: What is your favorite movie?
Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
Anything by Jen Lancaster.
Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
Champagne, I can't drink the bottles I buy fast enough. If I won the lottery, I would buy a beach house.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Find a mentor and a sponsor. They may not be the same person and they might be men and that's ok. Your sponsor will be your "voice" when you don't have one, either because you are too junior in your career or because you are worried that what you want to say is "career-limiting." Also, nothing is more important than your network; build meaningful relationships and nurture them.
Why do you love where you work?
I love being my own boss. For 22 years, I answered to others — senior associates, partners, managing partners... Now I answer only to me and I get to choose who I work for. I also love the immediate feedback I get from the women I work with; it affirms for me that I am on the right path!