“Lean In?” How About Simply “Don’t Lay Down”

“Lean In?” How About Simply “Don’t Lay Down”

Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 book kicked off a public discussion on what it means to be a successful woman in the workplace, and it provided strategies and motivation for women to get ahead in their careers.  More specifically to the financial services industry, Sallie Krawcheck has done some amazing work with her company, Ellevest, and has written some eye-opening articles detailing her experiences of successfully scaling the corporate ladder in the male-dominated world of Wall Street. 

I applaud both of these women – and all women – who are pushing the conversation forward and who are brave enough to shine a light on gender inequalities in the workplace.

I do not have the achievements of these women, and therefore do not have the platform that they both have access to, but I do ask myself from time to time, “What am I doing to promote gender equality?  How am I proving to our children every day that Mommy can do everything that Daddy does?”  My husband and I co-founded a consulting firm that we think will have a hugely positive impact in our niche market.  I have held management positions at a multinational conglomerate, I was a financial advisor to high net worth clients and business owners, and I operated a successful equestrian business for ten years that paid my college tuition.  I am a mother to two beautiful children.  I am a wife.  I cook, I clean, I juggle four calendars, I manage all finances for both our business and our home, and I am also solely responsible for exterminating and/or removing any and all insects, spiders or creepy crawly critters that enter our house and its surrounding perimeter (sorry for outing you, honey!). 

If I’m going to be perfectly honest, most days I’m too damn tired to even think about gender equality or my place in the workforce.  While our son knows that Daddy goes to a big office building every day, he knows that Mommy takes conference calls and sends emails from a little desk in our small guest bedroom.  While Daddy goes on big airplanes, Mommy stays home take our daughter to her medical specialists or to oversee the nurses, therapists, teachers, and caretakers that come by the house every day to work with her; and to make sure the business and household run smoothly while he is away. 

Some days, all I want to do is lay down and sleep.  Other days, all I want is to lay down and cry.  Sometimes I just want to lay down to read a book or a magazine or surf the web.  It would be so nice to lay down and catch up on the phone with a girlfriend from time to time or just lay down and not move for an hour...But I don’t.  There’s just too much to do.

Many people like to sit back and strategize how they will achieve their long-term goals.  Others like to plan their next job after they leave their current one.  Some people like to complain about the size of their paycheck compared to someone else’s.  While all of these activities have their place, more often than not it leads to “paralysis by analysis.”  Planning tends to lead to more planning, and too often, no real action ever happens.

I try to make a little progress every day. Every. Single. Day.  Did we reach out to a new prospect today (or even better, did a new prospect reach out to us)?  Did I research a new treatment plan for our daughter?  Did our son learn something new?  Did the laundry get done?  Did we publish a new article in an industry publication?  Did the groceries get bought and put away?  Did I remember the milk?  Are the financials ready to be sent to the accountant?

I probably won’t be profiled on CNN anytime soon, highlighting all I have done for women in the workplace, but I am very proud of what I accomplish every day for my business, my family, my household, and myself.  If we can multiply my daily accomplishments by every hard working female out there, we are a true force to be reckoned with.  If we can draw attention to all that we accomplish on a day in and day out basis, the public consciousness will quickly realize there is no “gap” in productivity.

To combat gender inequality in the workplace, women don’t need to do more; we simply need to continue to do every day.  Do not lay down. 

Women like Sheryl Sandberg and Sallie Krawcheck have continued to stand up, have a voice, and persevere.  By refusing to lay down, women voicing their accomplishments on whatever platform is accessible to them will further validate and solidify our achievements.

Now I am off to research “firetruck airplanes” for my three-year-old son, who’s requesting to see them this weekend.  Do they exist?  I have no idea, but he’s pretty confident they do!  On to my next mission!

Larissa Marcontell Sonnen
Advisors in Transition
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Larissa Sonnen is Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of PFI Advisors LLC. She handles the day-to-day operations of the firm and provides experience and expertise both in t ... Click for full bio

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

Written by: Jon Sabes

When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward. 

However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:

  • He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
  • He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
  • When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
  • While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
  • In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.

Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.

Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.

Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.

His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”

When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”

On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.

“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”

That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing.  Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.

Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”

When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it.  He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.

I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.

GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio