If the success of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead,” is any indication, women are thirsting for the knowledge and tools to help them become successful executives and entrepreneurs. As of October, this book by Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, had been on The New York Times combined print and e-book best-sellers nonfiction list for 29 weeks.
If you are a woman hoping to make it to the lofty heights Sandberg has managed to reach, be prepared for a tough climb. According to Forbes, only four percent of the largest companies in the United States were run by women in 2012. This is actually a record high number. Unfortunately, hard work often isn’t enough to get a woman through the glass ceiling. If you really want to succeed, you also need to listen to the advice of those who have managed to reach the top of the corporate ladder.
One of the lessons Sandberg shares with women in her book is to “lean in” to their jobs — as well as to their lives. In other words, instead of stepping back and letting others get ahead, you should seize opportunities as they come. Don’t be afraid to have your voice heard in meetings for example. Lean in, and voice your opinion. When you are heard, you have a chance to become known. Leaning in also applies to career moves. Sandberg advises women not to put their careers aside when offered an opportunity because they are worried about their families. Instead, she tells her readers to look for ways to make the advancement possible.
It doesn’t make you weak to get help. In fact, Forbes says, one of the traits of top women business leaders is the ability to farm out tasks and duties. For example, one woman executive stated that in the beginning of her career, she often barely made enough money to cover the cost of daycare for her children. She could have quit, but instead she decided to tough it out. In the long run, the money ended up being well-spent, as it enabled her to move up the corporate ladder. What this means is you may have to hire help to clean your house, or ask your significant other to pitch in more with childcare duties if you hope to make it past the glass ceiling.
Think print business cards are old school? You’d be wrong. Even in this digital age, Entrepreneur states that having physical business cards is still important. These little pieces of cardstock are important reminders to others of who you are, your contact information and the company you represent.
While tablets are the hottest tech thing out there, you should also carry a laptop. Tablets are typically considered the instruments for consumers of information. For example, they are great tools for viewing your Facebook and LinkedIn pages and checking your email. Laptops, on the other hand, are more useful for producing information.
Billionaire entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” investor Mark Cuban recently told Parade Magazine his biggest words of wisdom to his own children are, “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail — you only have to be right one time.” Most entrepreneurs and successful executives have had big failures during their careers. The difference was they didn’t give up.