Women who lead and what we can learn from them

The kids are back in school and fall is in the air (at least here in Seattle). This time of year also means a fantastic lineup of  conferences available to attend. With the Women Who Lead event set for this week, I took a look at the women in the Seattle area who are leading in their field, and what we (both women and men) can learn from them.

Popular online magazine Seattle Met compiled a list of 50 people in Seattle they deem to be the most influential in their sphere. According to the authors, ‘the 50 people here are those we believe will thrust the city into its next phase—in politics, the arts, tech, food, sports, and more.’ Below are 4 characteristics that jumped out at me from the women who made the cut.

She hustles

Jen Graves, Art Critic for iconic Seattle newspaper the Stranger, can be seen at multiple gallery openings in one day, getting to know artists and greeting curators, chatting at symphonies, always keeping her eyes peeled for that next newsworthy piece of art. In other words, she hustles. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit (or just a job) knows you don’t get very far without putting in the work. Attending networking events, trainings, charity auctions, anything to get to know others in your industry, can place you ahead of the pack. Stepping outside of your office can often times be the thing that takes you to that next level.

She promotes interdependence

Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, found success in her previous careers at both REI and the oil industry, by ‘creating great teams.’ Her current job is to cool tensions between conservationists and those who want to drill on public lands. In other words, she knows how to get people working together. Independence is good, but interdependence is better. Often times we find it easier to just ‘do it ourselves,’ not realizing that pooling resources and working together allows us to accomplish so much more. Try discovering and combining the gifts, skills, and talents of each team member at your work place. You might be amazed at the results.

She loves what she does

Jill Wenger, founder and creator of Seattle-based boutique Totokaelo, took her store online, and now 70% of her customers are based in Manhattan. Her success, in part, comes from only selling what she loves. In other words, staying true to herself and loving what she does has reaped great rewards. Staying true to yourself might mean thriving in your current job or finding one that feeds your passion. The late Steve Jobs said it well: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

She’s tenacious

Rachel’s Ginger Beer is poured in restaurants all over Seattle and was recently picked up by Amazon. In addition, she and two other co-owners became the first in town to serve cocktails on tap. In a male-dominated industry, creator Rachel Marshall is going for it. Her tenacity and belief in herself and her product(s) are bringing continued success. Being tenacious and ‘giving it a go,’ so to speak, applies to all of us. Perhaps there’s an idea swirling around in your head that you’ve pushed aside for far too long. Or that job within your company you think you’re qualified for but are afraid to apply for. Finding success is largely linked to taking risks. Billionaire Richard Branson puts it like this: ‘to succeed in business, you must have the bravery to give it a go. Starting a business is a big risk; an entrepreneur needs resolve and conviction to overcome the early hurdles.’

Getting out there, working well with others, being passionate, going for it. All characteristics of women (and men) who are finding true success in their industry. During a season of fresh starts and new beginnings, consider incorporating just one of these into your workplace (and in life!) and watch what happens.

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