What Every Successful Woman Knows: 12 Breakthrough Strategies to Get the Power and Ignite Your Career

What Every Successful Woman Knows: 12 Breakthrough Strategies to Get the Power and Ignite Your Career

by Janice Reals Ellig, Bill Morin



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What Every Successful Woman Knows: 12 Breakthrough Strategies to Get the Power and Ignite Your Career by Janice Reals Ellig, Bill Morin

Nearly a century after winning the right to vote, woman are still fighting for the right to attain and wield corporate power. What Every Successful Woman Knows goes straight to the source -- successful women -- to determine what they did to climb the corporate ladder, and how other women can follow their examples to permanently shatter the glass ceiling.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071369961
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
Publication date: 03/28/2001
Pages: 228
Product dimensions: 6.26(w) x 9.26(h) x 0.91(d)

Read an Excerpt

Marketing: Brand You!

Bill: As a man, I can say that I do think men probably are overvalued in corporations, women inherently undervalued. Do you agree?
Janice: Yes, and I think it's because men have an easier time demonstrating confidence in their own distinctive abilities. It started with our socialization differences when we were children.
Bill: Confidence and a willingness to promote those abilities through sports and such.
Janice: Exactly. Women tend to think people can mind-read their accomplishments, or that others will guess instinctively how great the woman's accomplishments have been.
Bill: It doesn't happen that way, however. Women have to learn to create a signature style and market it. Aggressively.
Janice: Absolutely. After all, if you don't market yourself, others won't either.

Contemporary jargon calls it "branding," and the jargon is right-on: Brand You! It means you must create a brand for yourself, then sell it. It's marketing, it's public relations, it's about personality as well as accomplishment, and it is absolutely essential in today's business environment.

Why? Because it's a knowledge-based world; it's a performance-driven arena; process counts more than function. You can do your job well...and do it well...and continue to do it well. And as New Yorkers say, "that and a buck-fifty will get you on the subway." Doing one job well is not nearly enough in today's world. If you're going to move on, move out, and move up to power, you must not only create value, you must demonstrate that you create value.

Men seem instinctively to have a sense of their own distinctive worth. More to the point, their willingness to speak up—even, as we saw in Strategy 6, when they may not fully know what they're talking about—is one aspect of their confidence when it comes to self-marketing. If you're comfortable contriving a fact out of thin air, then chances are you won't have any qualms about tooting your own horn.

Women, on the other hand, are still proving themselves, still stepping gingerly into the higher reaches of corporate power, still not quite sure what the next step should be. With the men around them continuing to question what all these women are doing in what was once their exclusive clubhouse, it's no wonder women question it, too. If you're dubious about your very legitimacy, it's hard to promote your distinctive value.

Yet promoting your distinctive value is a key item on the power agenda. When you're out to get the power, if you don't leave your mark, you can lose the trail altogether—and end up lost in the corporation. The lesson? Be visible—and be bold.

Martha T. had been interviewed by the president of the company. She believed she had made it clear during the interview that she wanted the job; she believed she was qualified. Two days later, screwing her courage to the sticking point, she phoned the president, reminded him of their interview, of her qualifications, and of her eagerness for the job, then said: "You'll be making a big mistake if you don't hire me."

He hired her.


Here's a simple, four-step approach for identifying and planning a Brand You marketing campaign—and for executing the campaign with high visibility.

Step 1: Do Market Research.  Before you can market the product—you—you have to know the perceptions there are of you both within and outside the organization.

One way to find out is to ask. Take a tip from former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who used to walk around the city, buttonholing its citizens and demanding: "How'm I doing?" But be careful. In the corporate world, you put people in a powerful position when you ask how you're perceived. They may then talk to each other and start supporting each other's views; pretty soon, you may find yourself saddled with labels you never deserved. Look for well-balanced individuals who are secure with who they are and where they are in life—maybe your boss, some peers. Check out who is trusted to maintain a confidence. There are probably only a few. Seek out these individuals and get their feedback.
And if you're not clear about what they're telling you, ask for clarification.

Don't show offense at what you hear and, most of all, don't become defensive. Take the feedback, sort through it, and test it on family and close friends to see what's accurate, what's not, and what perceptions need to be changed.

Another way to find out how you're perceived is through your own intuition. Women are supposed to have particularly acute intuitive capabilities. Now's the time to use them. Trust those instincts. Does it seem to you you're being invited to fewer meetings? Are the assignments entrusted to you less and less important? Was your bonus less than you expected? Greater? How do your subordinates react to you? Are you liked? Listened to? Sought out? What about departmental meetings—are you recognized, listened to, paid attention to? Put together the clues to get an idea of how you're perceived.

In addition, of course, pay attention to the formal evaluations of your performance—your annual review, 360 evaluations, or whatever else your organization relies on to get information on you. The 360 feedback is becoming an increasingly common mechanism for evaluating performance and weeding out executives with people problems. It's extremely helpful to corporate management to find—and derail—those executives who simply cannot lead people or build relationships with their colleagues. If the department resembles a revolving door or if the executive goes through secretaries like Sherman through Georgia, the 360 feedback finds it. But beware! Here again the double standard raises its ugly head. A man can chew up people and be seen as a hard-driving go-getter. A woman will be viewed as a poor manager.

Once you've gotten your feedback and done your market research, map it the way consumer products companies map their products—as a set of features and benefits. What features distinguish you from others, and what product benefits do you provide that others want? Maybe a distinguishing feature is that you are laserlike in your problem-solving skills. The benefit to those you work with is that it gives you a particular ability to handle multiple issues and make quick decisions on problems that others need solved.

Step 2: Create Your Tagline.  You know all those stories about making pitches to Hollywood producers? Pretend they're true. Now pretend that a blank piece of paper is a Hollywood producer. Pitch yourself to him. What's the three-sentence essence of you that he can take to the bank? In twenty-five words or less, what value can you create for him that he can't find anywhere else for the price? Give him the tagline. Show him your trademark.

What's a pitch? A tagline? A trademark? You know them when you see them. They're everywhere. "The Document Company." Golden arches. The swoosh on a pair of sneakers. All of these speak to you. And they don't just tell you names—Xerox, McDonald's, Nike. They push a button inside you, and a whole tape begins playing—of feelings, experiences, appetites.

The pitch, tagline, and trademark are the outward expressions of a brand. And brand is the thing that sets you apart. It's the distinctively different value you bring to the corporation. Step 2 is to find it.

Start with your features/benefits model and take it a step further to come up with a bragging-rights model: the accomplishments, innovations, projects, ideas, achievements that you know contributed distinctive value. These are the things you're most proud of—unabashedly so, rightly, deservedly, justifiably so.

Step 3: Create a Brochure.  We mean this literally. Most word processing programs today—including Microsoft Word—offer brochure "wizards" that will lead you step-by-step through the creation of your own brochure, including clip art and graphics. Use anything and everything that can flesh out and enrich your image as someone valuable to the organization.

Its aim is to convince the reader of the substantial and distinctive benefits you can bring to him and his organization. To do that, your brochure should set out your own personal unique selling proposition. It is your showcase of past accomplishments—not just any past accomplishments randomly thrown onto paper, but those past accomplishments that evidence the future-forward value you will bring to the reader. In short, you've handled distinctive challenges in the past; you can do so for the reader in the future. Your brochure convinces the reader of that

....except that your Brand You brochure is a working document that no one but you need ever see. It will, of course, be the basis of the Brand You resume you may wish to write, but its primary usefulness is as a strategic step in the campaign to market yourself. Use it as a reference work. Keep it up to date; adapt it to the changing needs of your changing organization.

Step 4: The Campaign.  You've identified your brand. You've translated your unique selling proposition into a lively sales-oriented document, a real brochure. In short, you have the tools you need. Now you have to go out there and market the product.

That's what this is—a marketing campaign. If the project were a widget, you would know precisely what is at stake: Increase the widget's market share, revenues, and profitability, and you can look forward to a promotion. You would also know precisely how to go about marketing the widget. The basic how-to doesn't change simply because the product is you.

Maria V. was not particularly restless in her job, but when she heard of an opening in Global Client Sales (GCS), she was interested. It would be a lateral move, with no particular advancement or promotion; in fact, it would require Maria to learn a new area, and it would likely take her time to come up to speed on the learning curve. Nevertheless, she sensed that it would make strategic sense to get GCS experience—if she could sell herself. The question was how to go after the job, since she would never be an obvious choice for it, was doing well in her current position, and was presumed to be content where she was.

Maria researched the open position, then prepared a brochure that matched Brand Maria not to the job but to the organization's management needs as she saw them. She asked for a meeting with the head of HR and the senior manager to whom the head of GCS would report and gave them a detailed, determined, lively presentation based on her brochure. The challenges, actions, and results she described had little to do with globality, clients, or sales, but the accomplishments she chose to address showed that she was a woman who could motivate sluggish troops, restore flagging organizations to new life, and ratchet overall performance to a new level—her very own brand identity. As she pointed out—first to herself in her brochure, then to the meeting participants in her presentation—that was precisely what GCS needed. Maria's marketing campaign worked. She sold both managers on herself—and got the job.

What distinguishes the marketing campaign for Brand You from a marketing campaign for a widget or any other product is that everything you do is a marketing opportunity. Every meeting, every memo, every assignment you've either asked for or had handed to you is a potential point of sale, POS. And you can and should promote yourself at every POS.

You've got a one-on-one with the CFO? Don't just wow him with the work you've done in preparation; make sure he knows about the distinctive value you brought to the work. And listen to his comments, get his input, make him feel important.

You've been asked to speak at a conference? Don't just take pains to ensure that your boss and the legal department vet your speech ahead of time; take time afterwards to send a summary of the speech, along with the nice press coverage you received, to key opinion-makers in every important constituency in the organization.

It's important to remember, however, that the Brand You marketing campaign is not aimed solely at the movers and shakers. You're not only after the next job or the next leap up the power ladder, you're also—always—in search of raving fans from any and every corner of the corporation. Why? Because a cadre of people who think you're terrific establishes a tone, an aura that follows you wherever you go. Marketing Brand You gives people a sense that you have a signature style they like to be around. They may not even know what job you hold or what function you fulfill in the organization, but they know you have a distinctive personality that makes them feel good. And making people feel good at every level of the organization is one of those resources you'll need to draw on one of these days, for some purpose or other. People may soon forget what you did and what you said, but they will long remember how you made them feel.

The bottom-line on marketing Brand You? Nobody else can do it nearly as well as you can.


1. If your internal activities are not helping you achieve visibility within the organization, try going outside. Write an op-ed piece, join the chorus, get on the board of an organization or charity where people will help spread the word back to your company. In today's world, we are all connected by those famous six degrees of separation. With enough overlaps, your reputation will be reinforced by many influential people inside and outside the company.

2. Making speeches or teaching a course is a great way to get credit for expertise, add luster to your professional resume, and set yourself up for additional requests to address other groups. It's also a way of standing out from the crowd—and it's a super credit on your Brand You brochure!

3. Remember that word of mouth is one of the most powerful forces around. That's why you want raving fans everywhere in the corporation—among subordinates, superiors, and colleagues—not to mention among customers.

4. When you volunteer for an assignment in the corporation, do it strategically. Raise your hand for every project on the calendar and you will soon get a reputation as a busybody or, worse, as the klutz who'll do everybody's grunt work. Choose projects, task forces, committees, chores that will get you noticed where it can do you some good. Remember: Visibility is the aim, not just more work.

5. Your reputation is sacrosanct and key to your brand. Do nothing to impair your reputation because to repair it may be near to impossible.

6. Take credit and give credit. Share magnanimously with others in celebrating their accomplishments. It enhances your brand identity.

7. Be consistent and predictable. People want to be able to rely on your features and benefits for the long-term.

8. Share your expertise and help others to be the best that they can be. Teaching is the role of every great leader.

9. Laugh at yourself and others will recognize you are human, approachable, and likeable.

10. Seek advice from others. Everyone likes to be acknowledged for what they know, and you will get a lot of great information as well as a new fan.

11 If you get "bad press" for something, take a tip from Johnson & Johnson facing

Table of Contents

Introduction: Where Are Women Now?1
"The Twelve Strategies"
Strategy 1Career Choices: Look Around to Go Forward11
Strategy 2Corporate Life: Fit In or Move On25
Strategy 3Risk-Taking: Be on the Line51
Strategy 4Senior Management: Lead and Feed the Boss65
Strategy 5Politics: Chat with the Boys and Get Elected89
Strategy 6Communications: Be Business-Wise and Business-Brief107
Strategy 7Marketing: Brand You!129
Strategy 8Responsibility: Be Significant, Dump the Insignificant141
Strategy 9Focus: Do the 80-20 Split153
Strategy 10Power: Be a General by Being a Generalist165
Strategy 11Sex: Take It or Leave It, but Control It177
Strategy 12Leadership: Be the Lead Dog; It's a Better View191
Epilogue: Woman to Woman203
References and Resources215

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