As a professional woman, it can be quite difficult destroying the glass ceiling that many feel is preventing us from delivering greater success in the workplace.
Studies have shown that women occupy a mere 14 percent of C-suite positions at Fortune 500 companies, while holding a majority of the managerial and professional jobs in the workplace. This astonishing fact is what persuaded me to begin reading DARE: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women In Charge  by Becky Blalock (@Becky_Blalock ).
I had the pleasure of meeting Becky at POWER: Opening Doors for Women 10th Anniversary conference in Chicago this past June. According to their website, they describe the conference as “sociologists and business, civic, and thought leaders from China, Europe, and the United States to explore the impact of gender expectations, myths, and stereotypes on women’s ability to achieve their full potential.”
Given the nature of the conference, it was only right that Becky was asked to be a speaker, who also provided a copy of her latest book for all attendees. Becky shares guidance and mentoring lessons which were derived from her 33-year career at a Fortune 500 utility company.
In such a male-dominated industry, she became CIO by taking risks, being a courageous woman, and building a supportive network of allies and mentors all while becoming a mentor herself.
Not Your Typical Business Book
What I love the most about the book is how it focuses on ways a woman can advance her career by looking within instead of looking outside of herself. Many have the tendency to blame their lack of success on corporate politics or the other gender, when in fact, men naturally possess certain characteristics that propel them professionally.
While being consistent with the “DARE” theme, Becky labeled each of her titles daring women to shift not only their mindset in the workplace, but how they treat and love themselves:
- Dare to set the target high.
- Dare to know yourself.
- Dare to stand out.
- Dare to project a confident attitude.
- Dare to learn at every age.
- Dare to fail.
- Dare to reach out.
- Dare to be more than the boss.
- Dare to be there – for others.
In each chapter above, Becky shares her personal and professional stories of how she dared herself to pivot her actions which led to her success. Along with her own stories, she also enlisted the help of other women executives who were transparent in admitting their mistakes in their career and how they were able to correct them by overcoming their personal challenges:
“The best leaders know that there is always something to improve on.
One of Becky’s mentors, Betty Siegel, who was formerly president of Kennesaw State University was quoted saying the following:
“The most important relationship you have is the one with yourself. You have to be feeling good about who you are when you look at yourself in the mirror every morning. You need a clear vision of what you want to achieve and an understanding of yourself. What you’re good at – and what you’re not good at. This self-awareness and sense of what you want to achieve will make you unstoppable. If you don’t know yourself and you don’t ultimately feel good about the self you know – you cannot know other people, and you certainly cannot lead others effectively.”
I highly recommend any woman who is striving for success in their career, at any level, to obtain a copy of this book. Many times, the very thing that is keeping us from achieving our goals is us. With that being said, I would like to wrap up this review with 12 powerful quotes from the book that called out for my highlighter:
“You must dare to stand out to get noticed. Only by being noticed will you rise to lead.”
“Build a great personal brand, and success will follow.”
“Never assume that your accomplishments ‘speak for themselves’, that people are somehow naturally and inevitably aware of your great work.”
“Never hesitate to ask questions in any business setting.”
“The more self-confident you are, the more likely you will be to succeed.”
“Build a strong network of peers you can count on. Build it withing your organization, your industry, and your community.”
“Repeatedly design, redesign, and remanufacture yourself.”
“Never let your frustration show, and constantly remind yourself that failure is not an option.”
“The more people you have relationships with, the more access you will have to knowledge and opportunities.”
“The network you build must be of value to others, to everyone in your network, if you want to benefit from it yourself.”
“Everyone has something to teach you, and it may not just be about business.”
“Share your knowledge freely, and make sure that one of the most important lessons you impart is that mentees, too, must in turn pay it forward.”