Keynote Cornerstones: 13 Life Lessons for Young Professional Women to Live By
In preparing for my upcoming keynote address, I soberly contemplated what insights to share with a group of impressive young women about the road ahead, their place in the world, and the challenges they would need to overcome. Given the honor and responsibility of inspiring these women, I took the opportunity to reflect on my own career and all of its unexpected twists and turns.
In order to succinctly help these ladies prepare for the uncertainties in life that could hinder their success and happiness, I have isolated 13 essential life lessons that, if wholly understood and adhered to, would make all the difference. The following is an abridgment of what I expect them to come away with. Some of these points are kept brief, as their deeper meanings are wrapped neatly into their eloquence. Adopt these values and outlooks, and the likelihood of a prosperous and obstacle-free career will increase exponentially, as will your pride and sense of accomplishment:
•Surround yourself with people you aspire to be like.
•Competition is for girls; collaboration is for women. Work together, always help and support each other, and never be a bully.
•Your personal relationships should be first and foremost. Treat them as treasures, and nurture them through the lens of love.
•Physical exercise, while crucial for your health, is also essential to a successful professional life. When you’re not fit, you are not operating on all cylinders.
•“You are what you eat” is not to be dismissed as a catchy cliché. Eating healthfully is a must. Adjust your diet to be balanced, chemical/hormone/antibiotic-free, and GMO-free. And remember, organic junk food is junk food nonetheless.
•Unplugging fully is vital to productivity and creativity. Set some digital boundaries in your life.
•Time is our most precious commodity. Don’t take it for granted.
•Your network is the key to your success. Begin building your network now, and continue to cultivate it throughout your career.
•Learn to be a good listener and how to ask excellent, relevant questions.
•Have the mindset that there will be an emergency interruption one hour after you begin your day’s work. This will prompt you to take care of the most vital work FIRST.
•You cannot control the way other people stereotype women. This will not change, as they are trapped by their insecurities. Instead, focus your energy on being consistent and fair. It will position you to command the respect of those who are capable of giving it. A woman I deeply respect describes herself as a “Compassionate Tough Cookie”. That’s what I aspire to be.
•Don’t diminish your own power or social standing by losing your grasp on the controllables. Always make an effort to dress appropriately, show good posture and stride, and speak like the adult that you are. Instead of committing to that tattoo or audacious piercing, think long-term.
•Baby steps, not giant leaps, are what it takes to win the race. We can ALL live richer lives if we acquire the tools, practice the moves, and are kind to ourselves when we fall down.
What advice would you add to this list?