We recently wrapped up the 2018 Comerica Bank Women's Business Symposium: Detroit, one of our annual networking events specifically for women striving to reach new heights in the business world. The event featured a variety of speakers, discussions and networking sessions. During this time, we were able to sit down and have a direct conversation with three of our presenters. Here's a look at what they had to say:
Hailing from Puerto Rico, Ivette Mayo came to the U.S. as a six-year old with a significant language barrier: she could not speak English. As part of a military family, she moved around frequently and had to constantly cope with change in her life. Because of this, she developed skills in adapting to different life situations and cultures, giving her a willingness to ask questions, get help, and constantly learn. These skills have paid off throughout her career as an entrepreneur. She is an author, consultant, business coach and parent.
During our conversation, Mayo emphasized that, throughout childhood, many women are not trained to lead. The cultural expectations in many parts of society place men in traditional leadership roles, contributing to a perception among many women that they aren't able to fulfill these positions. The truth is that women are not only fully capable of leading but can also look to many other women as role models.
It's time to break the glass ceiling and rupture the barrier that stops women from embracing opportunities and supporting one another and pushes them to default to cultural norms. Furthermore, the perception of the glass ceiling can create fear and hold women back. Mayo emphasized the importance of being able to handle change as women strive for greatness.
"One of the things that we have to do to create change and innovation in the workplace is that we have to challenge traditional mindsets," said Mayo. "As we grow as a community, as technology becomes a variable in our industries … We have to be willing to change. Our culture has to fit the people we serve."
Dr. Shawne Duperon
As the founder of Project: Forgive, a 6-time Emmy winner, a media trainer, and a research and communications consultant, Dr. Shawne Duperon has ample experience leading organizations and tackling cultural and gender issues in the workplace. In fact, she's moved beyond many of the longstanding issues that often come up in "women in business" types of conversations.
When speaking with her, she mentioned that key topics, such as women specifically supporting women, are no longer relevant in her circles because practices have simply evolved. The leaders she engages with have come to understand the importance of diversity in the workplace and created an environment in which the culture is simply people supporting people.
We asked Duperon about the kind of advice she would give women striving to advance their careers, and she quickly highlighted one of her major personal philosophies: forgiveness. Duperon mentioned that many women can carry around guilt as they try to balance the expectations they have for themselves with the pressures from society, family and similar sources. Letting go of that guilt and forgiving oneself is critical to moving forward. It is also vital, according to Duperon, to not hold on to past harms and wait for an apology. Instead, learn to accept the apology you will never receive.
"To me, [forgiveness] is everything [in leadership]. As leaders, we take risks. Especially now, [business is] so disruptive, so agile … you have to take some risks to see what will work or what won't work," said Duperon. "What worked three months ago is not working now. The ability to take risks takes a strong ability to not only forgive yourself, but to also forgive your team. If you don't have that forgiveness in that realm of risk-taking, you're not going to go for it. You're not going to really step out in those realms of disruption, and that's what it's really all about right now - disruption."
Imagine your future. You've set up smart business goals and achieved them. Your career is thriving. You're making money. You're living the life you set out to lead. What's next?
It's easy to dream about achieving goals and making it to the peak of success, but circumstances can change. Taking the time to consider what will happen after you achieve your goals can go a long way in helping you prepare for the next stage of your life. Whether you are hoping to use your current goals as a launching point to a larger project, are working toward retirement, want to sell your business, or are striving for the sake of your family, careful financial planning can go a long way in making life easier after you've achieved your initial business mission.
Taking a long view
In many cases, achieving one's business goals will lead to life-changing income. Whether that's because you've sold a startup, your business has achieved enough stability that your financial situation changes or a similar occurrence had taken place, it's time to think about how to protect your financial assets and safeguard the people around you. This means taking a serious look at the risk in your personal and professional life and assessing what can be done to prepare for it.
We recently brought together powerful women of business at our Women's Business Symposium: Detroit, and Dr. Julie Okotie-Eboh, author and long-time executive, spoke to how many can be afraid of the way risk will impact them, particularly as they work to achieve great things in business.
"In terms of business risks, women may be a little bit more prudent to not put everything on the line because they have a great idea," said Okotie-Eboh. "I think women are a little bit more cautious when they think of their kids' future, their own future, their spouse or partner's future."
Being risk-averse can be problematic when striving to reach your business goals in the first place, but this mindset can also prove troublesome once you've succeeded. It can be difficult to identify the best next step, whether it is to start another business, pursue a sale, establish trusts or take on another strategy if you're worried about all the things that could go wrong along the way.
The glass ceiling is widely regarded as one of the major challenges for women in business. The concept is fairly straightforward. An invisible ceiling exists in many corporate environments, creating a barrier between women and high-level positions that tend to be dominated by males in leadership roles. Women have been shattering this boundary for years and, as society has evolved, the strength and role of the glass ceiling may be changing.
This issue was a major theme in our 2018 Comerica Bank Women's Business Symposium, as the event focuses on bringing women together to discuss the gender-related barriers they face in their professional lives, offer advice to one another, and develop strategies for empowerment and support. As these conversations unfolded, it became clear that the glass ceiling may be broken and, if it isn't, it's not as strong as it once was.
The state of the glass ceiling
Opinions on how much the glass ceiling impacts the corporate world today can vary based on a variety of circumstances, but there's an overarching theme that this roof is starting to crack.
"There's no limitations," Ivette Mayo, an author, consultant and business coach, said at the Detroit event. "As long as you believe it, you can do it. I think that fear is something that we all have … You need to stop believing in fear and start saying, 'I am anticipating what is to come.'"
While Mayo believes that women need to work to move past fear as the opportunities are present, she also highlighted that women can support and advocate for one another. To some degree, this can be done through the power of choice and making concerted efforts to work with other women, such as in vendor relationships.
While Mayo's statements implied that the glass ceiling is weakening, as there are opportunities for women to push past fear that may arise in the workplace and support one another, Dr. Shawne Duperon, who has founded or led a variety of organizations, spoke even more specifically on the issue.
"I'm past the conversation [about women supporting women]. In my world, we do. Women support each other; we're powerhouses. We're past women supporting women. We're just people supporting people. It's so cool to see that shift from breaking the glass ceiling—not to say that it isn't going on—but we're doing better than we ever have. The circles that I run in, we support each other. We support women, we support people of all different races and colors and creeds and genders and sexual orientations. We're all in this together."
Fear can be an ally, but it can also be our worst enemy when worries about what could go wrong prevent us from stepping forward in new and potentially rewarding directions. The fear of financial disruption or failure can often get in the way of your business goals, but learning to properly measure risk and mitigate it can go a long way in moving you forward.
While anxiety about the future can be difficult for anyone, it is especially daunting for those who are responsible for others. Perhaps you have a family and are worried that chasing after your dream will leave them facing financial hardship. Maybe you run a business and are concerned that an innovative project could seriously disrupt the organization if it doesn't work out. Developing strategies to safeguard against these types of outcomes is vital to overcoming any worries about letting others down so you can pursue important ambitions without fear.
The problem when fear holds us back
The challenges of trying to achieve lofty goals, especially when facing personal and professional barriers, can be daunting. This was an issue mentioned by Ivette Mayo, entrepreneur, business coach, and author, at our Detroit Comerica Bank Women's Business Symposium. She explained that moving beyond fear can be empowering.
"Fear is something that we all have ... You need to stop believing in fear and start anticipating what is to come," said Mayo.
This outlook highlights the problem of fear. If you are so worried about
Creating wealth will often come with a degree of risk. Taking on that risk can be daunting on your own, but it is
especially worrying when you are responsible for others.
Dr. Shawne Duperon, author, media trainer and founder of multiple organizations, spoke about just this issue
during our Detroit Comerica Bank Women's Business Symposiums.
"Women have a tendency to weigh financial risks heavier than men because we have a tendency, as a gender, to be over-responsible," said Duperon. "So not only are we over-responsible in making sure we have enough budget to meet basic needs, like getting the groceries, but we're also working and many of us are doing the household chore ... We've got a lot on our plates."
However, risk doesn't have to be a barrier to strategies that focus on wealth. Instead, understanding it can help
you identify the best opportunities relative to your situation while also minimizing risk. Three important strategies that can help you achieve this include:
1. Establish a strong relationship with a financial services provider
Funding is key when building wealth, but shopping for loans based on rate alone can potentially leave you exposed if you don't understand the nuances of the arrangement and opportunities in the marketplace. How can you be sure a bank is offering the right loan for your needs if that bank doesn't really know you?
Moving from product-focused lenders to a bank that focuses on relationship-building and consulting can be
invaluable. When you build a relationship with a financial services firm, that organization can offer you advice in achieving your goals, highlight a range of potential products based on knowledge of what you're working toward and provide stability as your wealth grows.
2. Leverage insurance and similar services to protect your wealth
Having a strong relationship with a financial risk manager can enable you to protect your wealth as your investment
and business strategies lead to personal gains. Whether you are considering legal assistance, insurance or similar services, the right partner can help you identify the financial ramifications of those decisions and create a cohesive
strategy to blend a variety of solutions to protect your assets.