After college graduation, my favorite literature category had changed from post-apocalyptic fiction to self-help books like "Why Your Twenties Matter". When I didn't have time to read, I listen to episodes of Podcast, Planet Money while photoshopping renderings. My meaning of "Adulthood" became using any minute of your life to self-improve.
One day my friend from college sent me an email about going to a seminar called "Build Yourself+ Workshop for Women". I was very intrigued by the idea of becoming a strong women in the work place and I was about to say YES! to the workshop... until I realized it costs $325. My other friends said their company would sponsor them since they had allocated fund for employee professional development. I immediately gave up thinking there was no way my company would sponsor me. Couple days later, I stumbled upon the TED Talk by Sheryl Sandburg, CFO of Facebook and the famous author of "Lean In". She talked about how few women currently are in the leadership roles in the companies in the world and it is too late for her generation to change it. The future generation of women has to start changing this now. Her words felt like a punch in my stomach. I needed to ask my company to sponsor me.
I didn't realized at that time, but my training to become a strong women had started even before the workshop started. It was scary to ask my boss to pay for my professional development, but they gladly said YES! and I realized that people are generally want to help you if you actually ask.
The seminar consisted of 10 to 15 women, and we all met 6 times, once a week and focused on one topic every week. The weekly discussions and assignments are provided based on the idea of Praxis, the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, practiced, embodied, or realized.
Week 1: WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN'T AFRAID
The Power of Fear: "List 20 Things you would do if you weren't afraid"
Week 2: THE CRITICAL VOICE
Building Inner Confidence: "Keep a Journal of Inner Critic"
Week 3: BEING PROACTIVE
Advocate for Each Other: "Pitch"
Week 4: SITTING AT THE TABLE
Self-Presentation: "Record Yourself for 5 min Every Morning"
Week 5: NEGOTIATION
Men: 57% vs Women: 7%
Knowing what you want & Asking what you want
Assignment: Pick one thing you don't really care about and ask for twice as much you need
Week 6: TAKING STOCK AND MOVING FORWARD
Don't Leave Before You Leave: Define Clear Goals for 3 months, 1 year and 3 years
One of the many things the workshop teaches you is that the mindset is more important than the outcome. We did not only learned the tools to develop the right mindset to succeed as a woman in the workspace, but also ways to practice them daily. The most important mindset I took out from the workshop was, “Knowing what you want & Asking what you want”. Even if it seems so scary to ask for what you want to your boss, you must in order to get what you want. Even if you don’t get what you want at the time, the fact you’ve asked shows how confident and serious about your career.
One fact that struck my heart was the % of the female and male college graduates to negotiate their starting salary; male is 57% and Female is 7%. If the starting salary has the gap among this many people, of course the salary gap exist later. Female employees are not asking for raises as frequent as male employees, so the gap gets even bigger. I used to think the salary inequality between gender exist because of the evil male company leaders. I am sure those do exist in some companies, but the most of the responsibility lays on us, women. We need to ask for more, and more frequently.
I am not exaggerating when I say this workshop changed my life. I realized my purpose to succeed and move up in the industry because I need to do that for the women of future generation. I have determined to spread this idea to as many women as possible and I am looking forward to work hard to become a strong women leader in the workplace.
Build Yourself+ Workshop: http://buildyourselfworkshop.com/
TED Talk by Sheryl Sandberg: http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders?language=en