It is all about opportunities

imgres-1We spent the last week with our kids and their friends talking about where they are in regards to their jobs, their interests, etc.  Each one will take a different path but being happy and finding that balance between work and family rings clear.

If you have a child between let’s say 28-32 and you can afford to take a year off and return to the work place after that it can be done.  Because of technology, communication has changed so you might be taking time off but you are still staying connected.  Companies really wouldn’t care if someone had just taken a year off the grid if it was the right person for a job.  It just isn’t relevant anymore.  That is a really great thing.  It is change in the right direction.

When I started in my career at Macy’s I had expectations to rise quickly and eventually run the place.  I was terrible at politics and nobody ever taught me how to play that game.  I was also told that women did not move as quickly as men so I left.

If there had been opportunities at Macy’s for me to achieve my goals equally to the men around me then I would have stayed.  If there had been the opportunity for me to have flexibility when we had a family I would have stayed too.

I could have opted out to never return to work.  That would have never worked for my head so I created something for myself where I owned my life, my hours, my business.  The flexibility in companies did not exist when I got out of college.  Perhaps that is why I am a huge fan of the entrepreneur.  It is insanely hard but you own your life.  It doesn’t always work according to plan but that is one of the risks you take.

Seeing the new maternity/paternity plans in companies roll out, seeing the conversation around gender equality in companies including equal pay, the idea that you can move quite seamlessly from one company to another as you continue to grow has become the norm and more companies are being thoughtful on how to create better cultures so people are happy and healthy is great to see.  I am sure if it was more like this when I began my career, my trajectory would have been quite different.  It is all about the opportunity.

Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    great points. I think the one thing that is extremely tough to do when you are young and working as an entrepreneur-or for a small agency type business-is find a mentor that can help teach you. One advantage of working for a big megacompany is you get training, you learn a process, you get mentorship. If you decide to leave big megacompany at least you have a set of skills you can lean on.Mentorship in agencies, or in entrepreneurship is very informal. It can be tough to find. Of course, you can network for it but the stakes/economics are different.This is a problem that social networking, connectedness might be able to solve. It’s also why elite colleges are able to charge a lot-provided they actually have good networks that mentor and help.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Big companies are good training grounds but not as powerful as they once were

      1. awaldstein

        I honestly love selling into the enterprise. Complex, frustrating but something that if you have the skill, temperament and product for, can a turn a pretty big boat damn quick with huge results.

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      Agreed, elite colleges bring the networking and connections.However, I never fit into corporate america so never stayed longer than a year in each of those positions. As a woman there, I was never valued in the way that the men were. I always figured this out in the first few months, then planned and executed my exit strategy. I finally ditched corporate because I knew that as a woman, I’d spend my life struggling to advance slowly (if at all) at the bottom (a very tiny percentage of women actually advance to the place that meets their true potential). I left and founded several companies along the years (some with partners, some on my own) where my true value could be seen and known. I think most woman my age (I’m 49) have seen and felt this about corporate. Big companies were built for men, not for women. And, while that is changing, the change came too slowly for women of my generation to benefit from it. I am hopeful for the advances in culture and policy for the women coming into the workforce today.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        We have very similar stories. I always figured it was just me, being a misfit. For a long time I was quite naive to the fact that I just wasn’t fitting into my ‘role’ as a woman. When I got my first startup job, I finally felt like I fit. When I started my own company, I felt like I’d found my wings.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          Well, I was naive too. I recall working like crazy to show my value to people who were never going to see it. I believed I could make the blind people see it. Wisdom comes with experience and age.I felt that way too — freedom! flight! — when I started my first company. Well, actually, I started this little consulting business on the side when I was in college. It felt amazing to accomplish something completely on my own and make real money doing it. Far more money than I had ever made working for someone else.

      2. Gotham Gal

        big companies were built for men. insightful

        1. pointsnfigures

          I think that is accurate. Out of a myriad of reasons, one big huge (or yuuuge) one is that women are the only ones that can bear children. Best childbearing years are ages 18-35, right when corporations want you to build up the credentials to have a corporate career. You can solve a certain amount of that with policy, but I doubt you solve the whole problem. Hence, agencies and entrepreneurship are great outlets for women. They will probably find more opportunity, and more economic reward, and more fulfillment if they pursue that path. But, that path has it’s own idiosyncratic challenges.

        2. Pranay Srinivasan

          Nimble Companies are built for Women.

  2. Susan Rubinsky

    I really love how your posts and Fred’s are dovetailing this week. This post adds context to some of what’s been going on over at AVC this week.

  3. panterosa,

    Chinese character for crisis is danger + opportunity.The opportunity here is to dismantle many check boxes, big name caché, and scripted trajectories. This frees a person, young or old, to explore interesting learning and growing connections, things which improve their personal life and outlook in a way which translates into their job.The danger is many people in a position to judge these new qualities are too old, dumb, or rigid to see that.But the trend is to open and freer, non-permission view. For example, the new awesome #ASAPbio, where scientists are publishing on the web, not waiting for the peer reviewed big name science journal to validate them. It’s part of an important shift back to intrinsic worth from extrinsic worth, and that confidence is vital to live this new way today. I love it.