There was no shortage of inspiring women at this year’s WICT Leadership Conference. Here are a few nuggets of advice and helpful anecdotes from some of this year’s heavy hitters.
1. Ask Questions. Keynote speaker and journalist Alex Wagner, host of MSNBC’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” has learned from her career that “the asking, the act of pushing through,” even when that question goes unanswered—and it’s humiliating—has made her stronger, “less afraid of embarrassment and certainly more humble.” In her experience, the ones who win and succeed are “the ones who always believe there’s one more front, one more struggle, one more question worth asking.”
2. Get Out of Your Own Way. Tiffany Dufu, chief leadership officer at Levo League, said she’s noticed that women need to champion themselves in the workplace—and in life. “Men tend to round up when women tend to round down,” she said. It’s critical that women refrain from creating their own barriers and instead “get out of their own way.”
3. Create Your Place. Kay Koplovitz, founder, USA Network, chairman & CEO, Koplovitz & Company, is also the founder of Springboard Enterprises, which helps fund female entrepreneurs. In the late 1990s, just 1.7% of capital funding went to women, she told the crowd. And that clearly needed to change. “Women just weren’t in the capital market,” she said. So she built the market from the ground up, actually creating the ecosystem from scratch. Today, the company has helped secure funding for more than 500 women-led tech companies.
4. Trust Your Words. One of the first things Koplovitz teaches at Springboard is to “learn to like the sound of your own voice.” You have to trust your own words, project yourself well and believe in what you’re saying—otherwise others will not. “People invest in people first, not businesses. Believe me.”
5. Be a Trailblazer. Tiffany Dufu, chief leadership officer of mentoring organization Levo League, offered up this nugget: “If you want something that you’ve never had before, you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done before to get it.”
6. Hire to Your Weaknesses. Having had the privilege to work under George Bodenheimer, Jane Rice, svp, distribution, AETN learned from him to “always be a student of the business” and to hire to your weaknesses.
7. Be Curious. When you’re at the negotiating table, said Patty McCaskill, svp and chief programming officer, Suddenlink, you need to be “prepared to get an answer you didn’t want to hear.” In addition, you must have an insatiable curiosity and be willing to understand where the party across the table is coming from.