September 2013

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Lynne S. Myers, FACHE President and CEO, Agrace HospiceCare Betty Harris Custer CFP, CRPC Founding managing partner, Custer Financial Services Louise Googins, CFP President, Googins & Anton Investment Advisors How does your company help women lean in to their careers and goals? Over many years I would meet with women who called and simply wanted to learn how I had managed to make a career for myself. I've started other women brokers in the business. For example, we hired Tracey Anton as an intern when she was still in college. She chose to stay on, and has been doing the same work as I for years, is a partner, and replacing me. I think she is the example of being better than me. I am very proud of her. How do you wish your company helped women lean in? I loved the book. We are a small company—so it's a matter of seeing women as very competent and giving them opportunities to do more, take more responsibility. Some understood and lived up to the potential we saw; some did not. Should women lean in? Of course they should. I grew up with the misconception of leaning in as brownnosing. Just the void culture I lived in. Sure wish I had read books and articles like this when I was young. What would you do if you weren't afraid? I didn't have enough confidence. I should have hired more and delegated and I should have done the selling, which I do best. I should not have worn so many hats. Who helped you lean in to your career—and how? My husband has always supported my extra efforts, and professional and charitable demands. When he joined me in business 25 years ago, he was not afraid to be the "lesser known" member of the firm and was not intimidated by my success. My children also understood that while family was and is most important to me, I saw a great responsibility to my clients, and that work was and is vital. Should women lean in? Women should not feel the need to be anything but what they seek to be. A mother working in the home provides a distinctive and valuable service to her family and the community. A woman working outside the home does as well. A woman choosing to not marry, or at least not have a family should be able to make that choice without judgment. "Women's equality" means that we should be able to be who we seek to be, not who someone else seeks to have us be. Have you leaned out? I took a bit of a break when my mom died and I was pregnant with our second child. I found that greater focus on family and charity gave me what I needed at that time. I did not leave my career. I simply chose to not be as aggressive in my leaning in. Another time, I thought I wanted to be recognized as the first female financial planning leader for the year for my Broker Dealer. My husband supported that goal, but advised I'd have to stop attending our children's performances and cut back on charitable work. I satisfied myself with being in the top 50, instead of being first. Brenda Bernstein Essay and resume writer/owner of The Essay Expert; author of bestseller "How to Write a Killer LinkedIn Profile," and two forthcoming resume-writing books Should women lean in? I would always encourage women to go for their dreams when it comes to career. If there's something stopping you, look at how to bust through it or move around it. If there's a skill or degree you're missing, go get it! Does Madison give opportunities to lean in? Madison is full of smart and progressive people, which makes it both more and less possible to lean in. There is a lot of competition here for a relatively small pool of jobs. However, I think with the right presentation, women can lean in to the path they choose. For businesswomen, I think Madison is a great place to lean in. Dane Buy Local is a tremendous organization with support for small businesses. I've made many connections there that have helped my business lean in. What would you do if you weren't afraid? I would grow my business more, including hiring and training employees (instead of subcontractors) who could work directly with clients on their projects. Then I could reach more women to support them in moving forward in their lives! I would start a nonprofit to help underprivileged high school students get into top colleges. This has been an idea in my head for years. I don't think anyone should be at a disadvantage in terms of how they present themselves in their college admissions essays just because their parents don't have the skills to assist them, their guidance counselors are overtaxed, and they can't afford to hire someone like me. How have you personally or professionally helped or mentored women to lean in? I have come across several women over the past 20 years who are smart, articulate, selfmotivated, poised—and terribly conflicted between family responsibilities and career opportunities. I share my own story with them and, in the end, I try my best to support their choice should they scale back with their career. Admittedly, though, I experience a sense of loss for what might have been, for the exciting possibilities that might have been in store for the organization had they kept their foot on the accelerator of their career. Who helped you lean in to your career and goals—and how? Very early in my career I worked for a very talented woman and watched her navigate a male-dominated culture where she often did not get the credit she was due. I conduct myself according to many of the things I learned from her. I have experienced many of the things Sandberg describes in her book—being second fiddle, not sitting at the table, being labeled as overly aggressive rather than competent (as many of my male colleagues where labeled for similar efforts). The frustration and 'no one is going to hold me down' attitude that resulted was, at first, difficult to channel. Over time, though, I developed a desire to not only push myself along in my career, but to bring as many women along with me as I possibly could. Does Madison give opportunities to lean in? There is a shared sense of pride in being able to have both strong families and impressive careers in Madison. september 2013 | 47

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