Constantly fine-tuning

I recently gave a Tedx talk at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT).  It has yet to come online and I will post when it does. My talk was about ambition and the importance of giving women and girls the permission to take their unbridled ambition and run with it.

Considering the talk is now engrained in my head, I continue to think about what I spoke about.  The key here, for everyone, is finding happiness.  I have had multiple careers, there truly was no role model for the path I have taken.  My only role model was my ambition that included figuring out how to get myself back to the work world after taking time off with my kids.  I needed to be in the work world because I love it.  Conversations around building businesses have always excited me and the phrase “always be selling” could be turned on its head for me to be “always figure out the business”.  When ever I go to an exercise class, the first thing I do is figure out how many people are in the room and multiple that by the cost per class to come up with the gross revenue for the class and then work that into how many classes are taught a week, how many instructors are there and then take it out to a full year.  I can’t help myself.

Working makes me feel good about me.  I remember very clearly looking in the mirror before I embarked on this last journey and thinking to myself….what happened to that young ambitious self?  I needed to go back and find her.

It isn’t easy figuring out a path when motherhood comes into play.  Those emotions are powerful and everyone reacts to them differently.  Some choose to stay home for awhile and others can’t.  One of the reasons I am passionate about Path Forward, an organization I co-chair that helps women return to the workforce, is that I know how hard it is to get back in the game.  When you own your own game it is empowering.

Ambition is a powerful desire and although I am constantly fine-tuning, I really believe that ambition has been one of my driving forces.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Good one….working makes many of us feel good about ourselves.

  2. JLM

    .Mankind is made to work. When we have good work, we feel fulfilled. When we feel fulfilled, we are happy.I caution jumping over fulfillment directly to happy.Fulfillment comes first, followed by happiness.Almost nobody who gets good at something feels happy at first, but they may brush up against fulfillment. When they do, they create the foundation for happiness right around the corner. When they begin to excel at what they do either that excellence or the attendant results bring happiness.In women returning to the work force, it is a competition between two different noble kinds of fulfillment which do not have to compete with each other.One big thing — we cannot make ourselves happy, but we can damn sure prevent unhappiness. That is one of the keys to life — to turn away from the unhappiness.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  3. Susan Rubinsky

    I’ve mentioned this before I think. My high school guidance counselor told me to be a nurse or a teacher because “that’s what girls do until they get married.” This was in 1983/4. I told him I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I sure as hell didn’t want to do that. Consequently, he didn’t help me (he actually refused to help me and I had to circumvent him to get my transcripts sent to colleges). The only role model I had was my grandma who quit high school in 1926 at age 16 to work for Southern New England Bell. She advanced quickly and eventually ran the operator floor in Bridgeport, CT. She always was a working woman even though she didn’t have to work. She wanted to work. Back in those days, she took approximately two years off for each baby she had (she had three, but each one 12 years apart which is a whole story unto itself). Each time she went back to work, the Bell system took her back, advanced her, and reinstated all her benefits (that would not happen these days!). She worked until she retired in 1976 — I was 10 years old — 50 years for one company! I always remember my grandma being proud of working, of earning her own money. She used to strategically invest in the stock market too. In the end, I just ignored my guidance counselor, and followed my Grandma. I figured that she created her own destiny and I could too. (My Grandma also had a sister who did a similar thing, even divorcing her husband in the 1940’s because she found marriage too restrictive.)

    1. Anne Libby

      I also had a guidance counselor “track” me lower than my ambition…I wonder how often this still happens. My response was far less strategic than yours was, yet I did carve my own path. Clumsily.

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        I ended up not going to college right away. I also didn’t get support at home. In was expected to move out and get a job because I was now 18. So that’s what I did. I went to college later, on my own. Ended up starting a business while in college and dropping out because I was making so much money running the business (I also was skipping class all the time to meet the demands of my clients).

      2. Susan Rubinsky

        I’m often astounded when I think back to those days. I’m appalled that girls were treated so poorly. Imagine how many girls were thwarted from amazing educations and careers?

        1. Gotham Gal

          The woman who discovered waterproof materials and other major products that we all use daily from 3m had to take a test in 1947 to tell her what her best skills would beThe rest said she’d be perfect for the roll of a housewife. She demanded to take the boys test which put her as someone to excel at Science and Chem where she spent her careerCrazy!

          1. Susan Rubinsky

            That’s an awesome story!

        2. Anne Libby

          In my case, I particularly remember the (male) counselor’s notion that I would not be successful at a large-ish school on an urban campus.Sigh.

    2. JLM

      .Two big things — Grandma was something and in that day the Bells were also.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. LE

      I agree. And there is no doubt that this happens more with women than it does with men.But I will say that my english teacher (private high school) (a woman and a Penn Graduate) told me that ‘you aren’t Penn material’. And the counselors agreed with that (men). But I ended up there anyway and did quite well (Wharton..).Here is the woman. She happens to now be the Chair of Department of Educational studies at Swarthmore.…What is particularly ironic is that I earn a part of my income by writing. Just not the writing they teach in high school english classes or in college.Adults and people that guide you don’t always get it right, which is your point.[1] I take no issue in mentioning her name here. If I followed rules and social etiquette (what in a sense you were being directed to do) I wouldn’t be anywhere. (Ditto for my dad a bull in a china shop who was always stepping on toes..)

      1. Susan Rubinsky

        Penn is a weird institution. They rejected my son through the regular admissions process, then the Honors College head hunted him and offered him a scholarship. Not sure how that kind of thing happens. Maybe a fluke, but I have a friend who has a similar Penn story with his daughter.

  4. Tracey Jackson

    You can have all the talent in the world but without ambition and perseverance you go nowhere or not very far. And then as Gabriel Duckworth writes so eloquently about – GRIT – the thing that pulls you across the finish line time and time again..Impressed you got a TED Talk. Looking forward to hearing it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Grit is one of my favorites words

    2. JLM

      .You cannot imagine how true this is in the military.When the chips are down, you’d be surprised who the lions are.I worked for a CO (commanding officer) who was so repulsively ugly as to chase the sun down at dawn. Nothing about him suggested he was the lion he was. The bravest man I ever met.His successor was recruiting poster handsome and was a coward.This is true in the ranks also. You just never know who has the killer gene, the grit. There are show ponies and work horses in life.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. LE

    When ever I go to an exercise class, the first thing I do is figure out how many people are in the room and multiple that by the cost per class to come up with the gross revenue for the class and then work that into how many classes are taught a week, how many instructors are there and then take it out to a full year. I can’t help myself.Yes!You might find this article from 2016 (just saw it on HN) interesting with regard to products for sale in Chinatown:…I am always trying to reverse engineer the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of businesses I patronize. How they make money. What they could do to make more money or a better experience. Why they do what they do. Especially if it doesn’t make any sense. Then there is typically something that you don’t know which is the reason.An example is the local convience store in our area “Wawa”. For those who don’t know it’s like a well run 711. They sell cigarettes. I have decided that in order for them to keep their prices at the deli reasonable, they need to sell cigarettes not necessarily for the profit but for the customers that it brings into the store. Remove the cigarettes and the entire business model breaks down.

  6. Erin Bagwell

    I love this. Can’t wait to see the TED talk!