“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

I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me

I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me

I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.

Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.

His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.

Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”

We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.

And yet, isn’t that the truth?

Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.

They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.

And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.

So how do you deal with it?

You double-down.

Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.

We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.

So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.

When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.

And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.

If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?

Rochelle Moulton
Brand Strategy
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I am here to make you unforgettable. Which is NOT about fitting in. It IS about spreading ideas that make your clients think, moving hearts and doing work that matters. I’m ... Click for full bio