Take the Lead is a new organization whose mission is to prepare,develop, inspire and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. It's today's women's movement - a unique catalyst for women to embrace power and reach for leadership.
A few weeks ago I joined over 1000 women, mostly college students, in Gammage Hall at Arizona State University for the kick-off of Take the Lead Challenge, a movement to advance women's equality and change the playing field for the next generation of women.
I was motivated to attend because Sheryl Sandberg was the keynote speaker and I was curious about this new organization - how would Take the Lead engage and motivate women to own their power. Wow - was I glad to be in the audience for the insightful, funny, inspiring line up of guest speakers that connected with the audience on many levels.
You could tell from the start that the organization co-founders, Gloria Feldt and Amy Litzenbeger, were passionate about leadership parity for women across all fields. Their TTL Launch Event tapped women leaders from Wall Street, the Media, and internet leader, Facebook. I took away something from each of them that I'd like to share with you:
* Carla Harris, a woman on Wall Street for 26 years, shared with us a few of her 'pearls of wisdom'. The one that resonated the most with me was 'perception is the co-pilot to reality'. Carla reminded us that all the important decisions about us (a new assignment, compensation, promotion) are made when we are not in the room. We'd better know the adjectives valued by our organization and the adjectives that we want people to use to describe us. This message tied in directly to our Scottsdale BWN Build Your Brand workshop we'd kicked off the week before and reinforced the importance of consistently exhibiting successful behavior.
* The Media Panel shared some sobering statistics and perspectives on the status of women in the media - how under-represented women are on every media platform. The panelists showed what women can achieve and shared ideas on giving voice to the female half of our country.
* Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, started her talk with an ask of the audience: 'Stand up if you've said aloud to another person: I'm going to be CEO of a company, or I'm going to be Governor of a state or I'm going to run a major non-profit'. Sheryl congratulated those who stood up because she knows it's a hard thing to say out loud. While this audience had the most people stand up that she's ever seen, it was a good 20% less than half. Her point in asking was that the goal for her talk with us was to try to inspire everyone of us to stand up the next time that question was asked - not so much in reference to being the head of an organization - but to fulfill any ambition we have without holding ourselves back, without thinking we can't do it. I find that's an important point I need to remind myself of periodically.