How engaging men in your career will take you to the next level!

There’s no question that engaging men in your career must be a top priority if you want to move up the ladder.

In the last few years, a lot has been said about the need for women to have career sponsors and not only mentors. I’d venture to say that this is even truer for multicultural talent. Being on the radar of career sponsors goes a long way when it comes to being tapped for powerful opportunities. But you shouldn’t wait until a career sponsor comes along. You should be doing amazing things that make you visible to them. Like what? Well, like seeking cross-functional opportunities to shine, stretching yourself and leaving a great impression. Through it all you should be engaging men in your career. Some of these men will become your sponsors, others your mentors, and others will just be amazing colleagues that will make your journey a lot more enjoyable.

Gerard Borda on engaging men in women's initiatives | Discover how engaging men in your career will take you to the next level!

Gerard Borda on engaging men in women’s initiatives

I had a chance to talk to Gerard Borda, Head of Talent Management for Veritiv, an industry-leading B2B distributor of packaging, print, facility, publishing and print management solutions in North America, and former VP Leadership Development at Sun Trust Bank. A man who’s very interested in Diversity and Inclusion and who’s been a long-term strategic partner of women in the organizations where he’s worked. We talked about engaging men in your career as one of the best ways to achieve your goals.

What’s the best way for a woman to get you to support her career goals?

I’d like to have interacted with her prior to her request. It’s always better if I have seen her work or if I have worked with her in some way. It’s easier to support someone who shows initiative to learn more about my work in the organization. And it doesn’t have to be something formal. There are so many opportunities to interact with someone who works in your own organization. You could do it at a town hall meeting. It could be casual, like for example coming up to me to ask me about what I’m working on, or if I did a presentation and they come up afterwards to comment on something I said. It shows initiative and that’s important.

The science behind engaging men gender initiatives.

What doesn’t work at engaging men in your career?

Desperation. It’s okay to be unhappy in your job, I get that. But when someone comes to me because they are drowning in their career and they try to reach out to me solely as a life vest, that’s a turn off.

And also just because something is urgent on their calendar, it doesn’t mean it’s urgent on mine. If someone I don’t know approaches me to meet immediately, I might postpone the appointment on purpose to see how they react to the unexpected. I want to know if they appear frustrated or upset because of the last minute change.  Then I wait to see if they reschedule or follow up. If they don’t, it lets me see that it wasn’t that important to them after all, so why should it be important to me.

Men and women together for success. Discover how engaging men in your career will take you to the next level!

Get on the radar of career sponsors and make sure you engage men in your career

When do you feel you’re most effective as a partner of Corporate-sponsored women initiatives?

Like any corporate initiative, I have to see that there is clarity of goals, and understand how they see my role. I want to be clear about what they are trying to accomplish, the way in which they plan to do it, and make sure I believe it.

But it’s very much influenced by the organization because we all have very limited time. When an initiative is supported by the C-suite, then people are committed. But when you are being told this is something you have to do, (and it’s just the flavor of the month,) an executive sponsor will only give it little time. It’s the difference between compliance and advocacy.

What makes you want to get involved?

I believe in inclusion. I’ve been the beneficiary of inclusion and have seen first hand the effect of being a minority. I get that the world isn’t fair. I get that some people experience privilege and that their networks give them a leg up. But I’ve also seen that that privilege doesn’t guarantee anything.

What do you do to show your support for a woman’s career ambitions?

I will help a woman see the realities of the organization and ask her if she’s willing to adapt to that reality. The truth is that the organization is not going to change for one individual. It only changes over time. I help people define their values and priorities given where they are at in their lives and career.  I then offer my perspective on the values and priorities of the organization. Using these two points, I help them try to navigate the different opportunities available.

Discover how engaging men in your career will take you to the next level! Men wearing red shoes to show support for women's career success

These are some of the amazing men who show their support for women’s career advancement by wearing red shoes on Tuesdays! Identify your allies in your organization.

What suggestions do you have for women who are seeking the support of the male executives in the organization?

If you’re looking for an advocate for your career, that’s something you don’t formally ask for. It starts with your performance. Executives recognize good performance. You get on their radar because you make their success synonymous with your success.

In addition, women need to know what they want and what is required by the company to achieve what they want. If the role requires you to relocate, and work late nights, you better figure out how you will do that if that’s your priority.

On the other hand, executives need to evaluate if that position really requires relocation, working late nights, etc., or if they are not being creative enough to figure out a different way to get the job done. There are some roles that have requirements that are non-negotiable (for instance, sales people need to be in front of client,) but oftentimes that’s not the case. The reality may be that the organization is not progressive enough to adjust to the woman’s life stage and offer alternatives to avoid losing that talent.

Want to learn more about your communication styles? Don't miss this great quiz!
Step Up Program. Be you amplified. Join the Step Up Program and make your career goals a reality!

Join the Step Up Program and make your career goals a reality! Read on to discover what it’s all about!! Click here!

What suggestions do you have for women’s assertiveness not to be misconstrued as aggressiveness?

Look for other assertive women who are viewed positively and observe how they communicate, how they strategize inside and outside of a meeting to win sponsorship for their ideas. Being assertive means to put forth your point of view in a convincing way to influence your stakeholders. Women have to find their voice and use it effectively. I find they listen more actively and have greater collaboration tendencies, two skills, particularly useful in the world we live in. So they can use those skills to gain support for their ideas.

3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women to Get Hired

Three amazing negotiating tips that will turn you into an irresistible candidate!

It’s ironic that we still need to discuss negotiating tips for women when women have a ton of advantages over men when it comes to negotiation. We are great listeners, we have a cooperative style, and we are naturally equipped with the most powerful tool of all – empathy!

The problem is that, unless you are ultra aware of your advantages and you learn how to use them for your own benefit, they are worthless. Keep them front and center and combine them with these powerful negotiating tips, and you’ll never complain that you make less than your male counterpart again.

3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women

1Showing (not telling) your value

Angie was looking for a job as director of training and development in order to leave her current position. She felt that her employer lacked real commitment to professional development of women employees. A friend referred her to an opening as a manager of training and development, which was below her current pay scale. But because it was at a company Angie really liked, she applied nevertheless.

More negotiating salary tips you can't miss!

She went through three levels of interviews, and at every step she asked lots of questions regarding the company’s vision and the short- and long-term goals for retention and promotion of female personnel. Armed with this information, Angie offered valuable suggestions. She also brought up potential challenges that the company might face, along with ways to overcome them.

Show the value you bring to the table - 3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women

Show the value you bring to the table
Photo taken at NAHJ workshop conducted by Mariela Dabbah

Through it all, Angie remained honest, was generous with her ideas, and avoided attaching herself to the outcome of the interview process, which enabled her to be authentic. She knew that the best way to start a new relationship with a potential employer was by being herself.

As a result, the interviewers were so impressed with Angie that they decided to create a new job description so that they could hire her as a director, rather than as a manager. This would enable them to pay her what she really deserved. So before Angie had even begun to negotiate her salary, the hiring team already knew they needed to sweeten their offer to entice her to leave her current job and come to work for them.

2Projecting your experience into your future potential

It’s a well-known fact that women candidates are more often judged on their experience while men are judged on their potential. So what’s a woman to do during the interview process to set up the stage in her favor?

Lily Benjamin, VP Global Talent Management and D&I PVH Corp., suggests that you integrate your past experience into concrete examples that demonstrate the depth and breadth of that experience. Choose examples that show how flexible you are during periods of change and ambiguity. And then take it all into the future to paint a clear picture of where you could take your skills next. What you could do for this organization to help them achieve their goals. How you are willing to take risks and are ready to embrace new challenging assignments.

3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women | Lily Benjamin, VP Global Taent Management and D&I at PVH Corp.

Negotiating tips from one of the top leaders in Talent Management

Benjamin also point out the need to promote yourself healthily during the interview. And a good way to do so is by sharing the fact that you are a sought-after thought leader in your industry and within your organization. That you are the go-to person when a fresh perspective is needed to solve problems, develop a new product, identify a new market, and so on. Or that you are frequently invited to present at industry conferences. In other words, that you are seen by others as a leader.

3Always connect yourself to the bottom line

In a recent article, Jeff Haden, Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor, suggests that the one question every interviewer should ask of their candidates is, “What one skill do you possess that will most benefit our bottom line?” Haden argues that this is a great conversation starter for the recruiter to build on rather than having a list of canned questions that don’t relate much to what they need for the open position. I completely agree that this question focuses attention in what really matters to the company.

Test your Negotiation Skills with this fun Quiz!
Connect your skills to the bottom line | 3 Sure-Fire Negotiating Tips for Women to Get Hired

Connect your skills to the bottom line
Photo Credit: Michaelangelo’s hands painting

Conversely, if even when you’re not asked the question directly, you prepare for the interview keeping it top of mind, you’ll position yourself as a much more attractive candidate. You do this by finding opportunities (and giving concrete examples) to confidently convey how your skills would positively affect the company’s bottom line. In the process you show your knowledge of the company’s business and an understanding that every function has a responsibility for driving profitability. And of course, the best way to really connect these dots is by learning as much as possible about the culture and what drives value for the company you’re interviewing with.

The reality is that the negotiation process starts with the first interview. When you present yourself as a knowledgeable candidate (and you prove it by showing your value rather than only talking about it), you substantially increase your negotiating position way before it’s time to discuss a concrete offer.

Find the support you need as you negotiate your next job offer or your next promotion in our community. Sign up for the Step Up Program today and be you, amplified!

International Women’s Day – 4 Steps to Success

This international women’s day do something specific to change your life. Follow these 4 steps to success and you’ll be more empowered than ever before!

I love having a day when all eyes are on women. But don’t forget that what really counts is what we do the rest of the year!

Since 1914, March 8th has been the official International Women’s Day, a day when the entire world celebrates our gender. Given the persistent salary gap, I welcome any opportunity to bring attention to what we need to do as a society to eradicate the gap. That’s why I celebrate this day with this special video. It’s the kickoff to a conversation that the Red Shoe Movement community keeps up year round.

This blog takes the idea shared in the video to the next level. So, I suggest you watch the video before you keep on reading.

International women’s Day Four steps to achieve success

In the video I invite you to think about what you really want to do in your professional career. And what is stopping you. It may seem like a simple question but far from it. I ask it myself every two or three years just to make sure I’m on the right path.

1Recognize once and for all that you can’t do it all

A sad effect of the ongoing debate about whether women can do it all or not, is that it confuses and stresses us out.

Women can do whatever they want but they can't do it all at once. Nobody Can. | International Women's Day

International Women’s Day quote by Mariela Dabbah

Admitting this will help you make peace with yourself. Choose what you want to do at each moment of your life. Give it priority. As the stage of your life changes, adjust your priority. Instead of trying to do everything at the same time, choose. And ask for help to fulfill everything else that’s outside your number one priority.

2Discover your long-term priority

You read correctly. It says “priority” and not “priorities.” Identifying what professional achievement you value most will enable you to focus on it. In turn, that will produce results faster than when you disperse your attention in several “priorities.”

So, if you haven’t done so yet, ask yourself these two questions:

What do I really want to do professionally? What do I want my most powerful contribution to be?

It may be a hard question to answer. More so if you are creative or have multiple interests or talents. How to decide what to choose? But hereby lies the secret of happiness and success. Only when you loose something can you gain something. And only when you stop doing something can you concentrate on doing what fulfills you the most.

Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women’s Day

If you are really interested in exploring what really moves you, pick up a copy of Find Your Inner Red Shoes. You won’t regret it!

Once you answer these two questions the next step to achieve success is…

3Say “no” to almost everything

That’s right! If you don’t learn to say “no” to the activities and opportunities that don’t support your professional priority you run the risk of deluding your goal!

For women this is particularly hard because we are wired to please others and saying “no” comes at a cost. (This is also a characteristic of the Latino culture, so if you are a Latina, you face a double wamy in this department!)

Here’s a very unique selection of practical ideas to achieve life balance.

So for example, if you’ve decided that within five years you’ll become the best financial manager of your company, you’ll have to say “no” to meetings that are not directly aligned with your goal. Every time someone or something has a demand on your time, you’ll have to ask yourself: “Does this advance my priority or distracts me from achieving it?” Every time your answer is not a resounding, “Yes, it advances my priority,” you should politely decline.

Learn to say "no" frequently. It's the only way to focus on your priority and to see results.

International Women’s Month quote by Mariela Dabbah

And there are many ways of saying “no” without offending others: “I’d love to but I have a previous commitment,” “Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you…” What matters is that you practice saying “no” daily so you become increasingly comfortable and feel liberated when you do it!

4Moving into action

Being clear about your long-term priority allows you to ask daily:
“What is the most important thing right now?” Attention to the here and now enables us to move into action. And the truth is that just thinking about your priority and not putting it into action is worthless. In order for anything to happen, you need to do something every day that gets you closer to your long-term goal. When you focus on what is important now (an idea discussed in depth in Greg McKeown’s “Essentialism”) you will feel the peacefulness that clarity affords. And you’ll avoid the stress of pushing multiple priorities at the same time.

To achieve your success discover your inner red shoe with the Red Shoe Movement

To achieve your success discover your inner red shoe with the Red Shoe Movement

You can use the same 4-steps for success in all aspects of your life. Once you figure out the priority for each area you’ll feel more balanced and happy.

Take advantage of this International Women’s Day to do this exercise. I promise it will change your life!

And check out today the RSM Step Up Program if you want the coaching you need and a global community of professional women to support your goals!

The RSM Step Up Program. You Amplified!

The RSM Step Up Program. You Amplified!

Management styles most suited for female leaders

Shopping for management styles? Most successful female leaders have advanced in their careers by adapting their leadership style. Read on and discover how they did it without compromising their feminine side!

So often, women who wish to reach leadership positions find themselves wondering if they should adopt certain management styles. Or if there are particular leadership styles that are more effective than others. When they start looking around, they often find that the favored management styles within their organizations tend to be a good fit for men but not so much for women. What to do in this case? Adapt to the masculine ways of making decisions and relating to subordinates that seem to work well in your organization’s culture, or figure out what works best with your own personality?

Read Leadership Styles: Identify your Own
As a Leader is it important to have the flexibility to adjust your style to the audience you are leading - Management Styles quote by Carla Dodds

Management Styles quote by Carla Dodds

As I was thinking about how difficult it is for many of us to advance in our careers without giving up our personal style, I decided to ask three very successful women about their own management and conflict-resolution styles. I wanted to know if they thought there were supervisory styles better suited for women or for a particular industry. As part of the mini-interview, we presented them with the generally accepted definitions of six basic management styles, which you can read below.

The 6 Management Styles Defined

1Autocratic: This manager makes decisions unilaterally without much input from employees, reflecting the opinions and personality of the manager.

2Chaotic: This manager gives employees total control over the decision making process.

3Consultative: An autocratic style in which the manager listens to feedback from employees and adjusts when necessary.

4Democratic: The manager allows decisions to be made by the majority of employees. Decision-making is slow, but there is more employee buy-in.

5Laissez-faire: The manager is a mentor and stimulator, and employees manage their own areas of the business.

6Persuasive: An autocratic style in which the manager spends time working with employees to convince them of the benefits of the decision that has been made.

Belisa de las Casas

Director, Latin America, WEConnect International, an international organization created by a consortium of large corporations to identify, train, and certify small, women-owned businesses to increase supplier diversity.  www.weconnectinternational.org- Twitter handle: @weconnection

If you speak Spanish, don’t miss the amazing interview with Belisa de las Casas on Oportunidades de Negocios para Mujeres Emprendedoras
Would you like to know what is Belisa de las Casas, director Latin America, WEConnect International management style?

Belisa de las Casas, director Latin America, WEConnect International

  1. Out of the 6 management styles which one fits your style more closely?

Consultative.

  1. Why does this management style work for you?

I like my ideas to be challenged so that they improve. I like to work in a team environment and use all the team members’ talents. I believe that ideas can always be improved with the input of professionals with different backgrounds.

  1. All leadership styles have pros and cons. What are the weaknesses you would warn people about this particular style?

You have to be open to constructive criticism. If you ask for an opinion, you will get one. So, be ready. On the same note, when you ask for an opinion, you are generating an expectation. The expectation is that you will take it into consideration and if you don’t, the collaborator might not take it nicely. In order for this style to work, you have to know who to consult with, and be very clear about the “ask.” You choose who to ask. It’s not democratic.

  1. Does each one of these styles work better in a specific industry? If so, please write the industry next to the style.

Consultative – Good for any industry.

Democratic – Good for the legal industry.

Laissez-faire – Good for creative industries.

Persuasive – Good for sales, and for financial industries.

  1. Do you feel that one of these management styles is particularly well suited for women? Which ones?

Democratic – By nature, women try to be democratic.

Lily Benjamin

VP, Global Talent Management and I&D, PVH Corp., one of the largest branded apparel companies in the world, owners of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and other major brands.

What is the management style of Lily Benjamin, VP and Global Talent Management and I&D, PVH Corp

Lily Benjamin, VP and Global Talent Management and I&D, PVH Corp

  1. Out of the 6 management styles which one fits your style more closely?

Consultative, persuasive

  1. Why do these management styles work for you

I do not believe that Consultative and Persuasive are autocratic styles. For me, they both fall under the umbrella of Collaborative styles, as the intention is to gain input, leverage the collective intelligence, and at the end make a final decision that is best for all. I believe that as a leader my responsibility is to set direction, seek alignment, and motivate people into action, which I do through Consultation and Persuasion. My #1 is Consultative, as I believe in shared leadership, because all perspectives count. Though at the end of the day, when I have to make a final decision and when the input calls for agreeing to disagree, I like to persuasively draw people towards the outcome. (Rather than forcing them, so that they can support the new direction.) Sometimes persuasion is not even necessary, as the input provided does not deviate from the direction or alignment established.

  1. All leadership styles have pros and cons. What are the weaknesses you would warn people about this particular style?

With the Consultative style, people could get the wrong expectations, as they might think that because you are asking for opinions, that means that they all will be implemented.   This could lead to disappointment, sabotage, and disengagement. So setting clear expectations, and managing them up front, is essential to be effective. In addition, the Persuasive style requires transparency up front. Otherwise, it could come across as disingenuous, leading to mistrust which in turn can lead to dysfunctional and ineffective team dynamics. In general, consistently setting clear expectations up front and being transparent is essential for these two styles to be effective.

  1. Does each one of these styles work better in a specific industry? If so, please write the industry next to the style.

Having worked in multiple industries, I have not had to change leadership styles. To be effective, what I have had to do is learn the ‘political landscape’ and know how to manage the power structure. Some industries are more knowledge based, while others are more relationship based. Those are the dynamics that I have had to be sensitive to, and have had to develop emotional intelligence around, in order to be effective and make meaningful contributions.

  1. Do you feel that one of these management styles is particularly well suited for women? Which ones?

I personally feel that, though there are stereotypes attributed to women’s management styles, in essence it depends on the woman’s ability to be effective in her own style. It is all about being effective. But if I were to choose a style for women, based on stereotypes, I would say: democratic, laissez-faire, and persuasive.

Carla Dodds

Regional VP for New Business Development, Retailers Latin America & Caribbean, Mastercard WorldWide. (Don’t miss a full interview with Carla Dodds on, How Women Can Succeed in Corporate America.) www.mastercard.com

Carla Dodds, Regional VP for New Business Development, Retailers Latin America and Caribbean, Mastercard reveals her leadership style!

Carla Dodds, Regional VP for New Business Development, Retailers Latin America and Caribbean, Mastercard reveals her leadership style!

  1. Out of the 6 management styles which one fits your style more closely?

Consultative.

  1. Why does this management style work for you

While I have chosen “consultative” as the one that most closely fits, the truth is that my “consultative” approach has a bit of “Democratic” and “Laissez-faire” to it as well. As a leader, it is important to take your place in “leading with a plan” or having a vision, as well as staying on course of such plan or vision. Yet it is equally important to listen closely to those you are managing and get their feedback for many reasons. The primary two reasons being:

  1. Leaders are not omniscient. While we may have a clear vision, feedback from individuals with diverse experiences and backgrounds can enrich the outcome of that vision. Whether it is changing or adding to the original vision, all feedback and elements contributed by the team are important to making a vision a reality. Feedback also allows the team to anticipate any potential barriers to be removed along the way and yields to my second point.
  2. Empowerment & Ownership. Upon receiving feedback and having a voice in the vision or outcome of such vision, team members feel empowered and a sense of ownership of what they are doing when they are a part of the creation process and have input into their journey.

    Shopping for management styles? Read on and discover how most successful female leaders elected theirs without compromising their feminine side!

    Management Styles
    Photo Credit: iospp.org

I don’t believe I have just one management style. As a leader it is important to have the flexibility to adjust your style to the audience you are leading. Some situations will require a more Autocratic while others Chaotic. In today’s working environment, flexibility and adaptability are key to advancement and success! My style is more one of “know your audience and their needs and adapt accordingly.”

  1. All leadership styles have pros and cons. What are the weaknesses you would warn people about this particular style?

I think that with any style, the main weakness is to be overly set in one given leadership style to the point you are seen as a rigid leader.

Leaders must be flexible and not fully committed to a specific style, rather focused on adapting their leadership styles to the circumstances. That will enable a leader to maximize performance across the organization at any given time. In the case of consultative leadership, a potential weakness could be the inability to strike a balance between making unilateral decisions across the board and allowing feedback to outweigh rationale.

  1. Do you feel that one of these styles is particularly well suited for women? Which ones?

I think women can be well suited for any of these styles, given that women tend to be much more flexible and better listeners in general. It really depends more on the individual personalities of the women we are referring to, as no two women or people are created the same. The Autocratic, Consultative, Laissez-faire, and Persuasive require listening and teaching, which are two skillsets women tend to be recognized for (of course not all, just a majority.)   Chaotic and Democratic are styles that seem to be more passive leadership styles and may be more typical of passive cultures. Most of the women I know don’t wait around for others to make a decision, rather they are solution driven and work with a sense of urgency.

Engaging, retaining and promoting talent

Engaging, retaining and promoting talent

Blaze A Unique Career Path All the Way to the Top

You can’t put her in a neat box. She doesn’t fit any Latina stereotype or female stereotype for that matter. Hers is a unique career path that she blazed one step at a time. Get inspired! Read on!

How often do you meet someone who’s excited about their career and a few minutes later you scratch your head perplexed: How did she get that job? When you look at her resume it’s hard to figure out how she went from one position to the next. It’s obvious to you she followed an unusual career path. She probably broke every rule any recruiter would ever advice you to follow. And yet… she’s wildly successful. Not only because she has a fantastic job but mostly because she loves what she does and it shows. Maybe that has been her secret all along. Pay no attention to the rules, the naysayers, or the box makers. Just define a unique career path that suits your personality, your multiple interests and talents and voila! You got yourself a happy life.

Cosette Gutierrez, an amazing example of unique career path. Get inspired! Read on!

Cosette Gutierrez, an amazing example of unique career path

So who is she? And what does her unique career path look like?

Cosette Gutiérrez, Senior Group Manager, Community Relations at Target (in charge of Target’s Education giving across key markets in the Northeast Region), a Member of the Board of Directors at the Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals, and Chairman Emeritus, National Board of Directors of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.   That’s for her current occupations.

Here’s what we mean by a different career path. Prior to her current position, Cosette was a Store Team leader at Target, Senior VP at Bank of America, Commodity Manager at Honeywell International, Assistant VP at Citibank, and Product Coordinator at H. Muehlstein and Company. Her education? A BS from MIT and MBA from Indiana University. Yup. A Latina graduate from MIT who went from managing the procurement of Natural Rubber from Indonesia to banking to retail to philanthropy in one sweep lifetime.

Cosette Gutierrez

Cosette Gutierrez

Are unique paths created with a master plan?

How did this happen? Did you have a master plan for your career or did it just turn out to be a unique without you realizing it?

I definitely did not have a master plan for what my career would be like! I have always been flexible and eager to try new things, which led me to many opportunities. I always focus on a very simple formula for achieving success: Performance + Passion = Promotion.   Performance is about working hard, and striving to be the best at every job you have. You will never get to the next great job without being a rock star in the one you have today. Passion is about loving what you do, every day! If you don’t love the job, it is time to find another one. Life is too short to be doing something that you don’t love! When you perform, and you are passionate, it shows, and that’s how you will get that next role, where you’ll begin the formula again…Performance + Passion = Promotion!

What allowed you to think that you could break away from any preconceived notions of what your career should look like?

Believing in myself and my capabilities, and learning to not take “no” for an answer! If there is something that I want to do, but don’t know how, then I focus on learning how to do it. I’ve always been an avid learner, and focused on filling “my toolbox” with all kinds of skills. Some you use often, others not, but you have them there, and you’d be surprised when they are needed! Like public speaking for example. People always compliment me on my ability to speak to any audience, ranging from an intimate gathering around a dinner table, to a large room of thousands.

Cosette Dec 2014 American Latino Influencer Awards Miami

Cosette Dec 2014 American Latino Influencer Awards Miami

They are also surprised when I tell them I was an introvert as a child and hated speaking in public. While in college, I knew this skill would be very valuable, so I took an acting class, where I learned how to think and speak on my feet, as well as memorizing lines, and manage my emotions. At the time, my MIT classmates teased me about my “acting class”. Fast forward to today, I am very grateful for that experience as it allows me to shine in all that I do!

Sometimes being the first person in your family to do something makes it harder to stray away from the known paths and pick a unique career path

Were you the first in your family to go to college? Did that give you more or less freedom to choose a different career?

Neither of my parents completed high school. My aunts and uncles attended college in our native Dominican Republic, and my great grandfather was a self-taught doctor, so we knew that it was in my genes J. Navigating the U.S. college system was not easy, but I was extremely fortunate to have a mom who believed in me, and always pushed me to achieve more. She knew that education was the key to success in the United States, and I was encouraged to study, many times at the expense of being with friends, and going to parties. I grew up watching my mom work in the bridal business, something which brought her much joy, and she always told me to “do what you love darling”. So, as I began to navigate different career options, her questions were always “Do you like the job? Will it make you happy? Are the people nice?” Of course, she usually followed up with “I hope the pay is good”! As long as I answered yes to her questions, I knew that I’d be okay. Thank goodness, it has turned out better than okay!

Her unique career path took Cosette Gutierrez to her current job at Target. Here, about to get on the Target Jet! Read her story!

Her unique career path took Cosette Gutierrez to her current job at Target. Here, about to get on the Target Jet!

What would you say is the secret to your success? And let’s not chuck it to luck.

I mentioned Performance and Passion before, and will reinforce that Performance is critical to success. Work, work, work, work – successful people work really hard! My experience has been that successful people aren’t hanging around resting on their successes. Once they achieve something they have been pursuing, they move onto the next achievement.   In addition to hard work, having great mentors and listening to them, especially when you do not like what they have to say, is part of the success equation. I have been blessed to have strong mentors in my life, leaders who believed in me, and supported me in some of my craziest adventures. My motto on mentors is simple…if your mentors only tell you that you are awesome, it’s time to find other mentors. Find people who care enough to give you true feedback and push you to take risks that you wouldn’t think of taking.

FInd out how to find corporate mentors and career sponsors.

Cosette Gutierrez Quote on Mentors

Cosette Gutierrez Quote on Mentors

What would you say to women who don’t fit in a box? What’s the best way to go about creating your unique work path even when you have few role models to show you how to do it?

My recommendation is to make your own box! It’s much more fun that way than trying to fit into someone else’s box. I love it when people say to me “you did what?!?” Your life is only yours to live, and you should do so with no regrets. I’m saddened by people who live lives that are less than what they want or what they are capable of. There are too many people in our society who are happy with being average. Don’t settle! Take risks, and don’t be afraid to fail. There are learnings in every failure. The key is to not make the same mistakes twice.  Lastly, do not be afraid of asking others for help. You are probably not the first person to experience the situation that you are in, and for those of us who have been there before, it would be our pleasure (and our responsibility) to help you. You are never alone!

You can follow Cosette Gutiérrez on Twitter: @CosetteNYC

If you want to discover your unique career path, explore the RSM Step Up Program. You’ll be amazed at how fun it can be to start your own discovery journey. It’s You. Amplified!