Kate Allen
September 14, 2014 8:08 am

In our careers, we are blessed if we get to have strong, female influences to teach and guide us. I’ve been blessed to have several women in many stages of my life who’ve invested in me and shown me what it means to be a leader. This is what they’ve said.

1. “Confrontation is necessary, being rude isn’t.”

Besides the very obvious fact that nobody likes a mean girl in life, being rude at the office can land you a bad reputation, fewer opportunities and some awkward encounters. On the other hand, being direct, confident and playing well with others will earn you a whole lot of respect. And sometimes, you’ve got to pull up your big girl panties, call a meeting and speak your mind.

2. “You have more negotiating power than you realize. . .and it starts with your confidence.”

Repeat after me: “They are considering me for this job because I am qualified and able and I deserve it.” Now march into that interview with the confidence required to show that you know you can make this job yours. And demand the same amount of pay that you know others in the position are earning, the same benefits and the same opportunity to prove yourself without being taken advantage of on the job.

3. “Your career is not a 9-5 kind of thing.”

If you want something that will only keep you busy during the 9-5, you probably aren’t truly doing what you love anyways. Becoming great in your industry requires constant reading, studying and progressing, and a lot of the time, that happens in off hours. But when you start moving to the top, you’ll quickly see how your extra work pays off.

4. “Get it in writing.”

Always, every time, in detail, no matter what. In binding situations (with roommate agreements, lease agreements, work contracts), have those awkward conversations, put everything on the table and clearly outline the outcome for both parties. If the person you’re negotiating with is willing to be transparent and honest, you’re much more likely to be heading into a great partnership.

5. “Never feel bad about the occasional mental health personal day.”

When those days roll around, don’t ever feel bad about wearing your pjs all day, binge watching New Girl and eating cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whatever is going on, let yourself feel it, process it and shake it off. And get up the next day, put on your most confidence-inducing outfit and hit the ground running.

6. “Rock to the beat of your own drum.”

My former boss, Kate, was the fiercest of women. She would stroll into a room with her six-foot-tall frame knowing everyone was staring at her unique vibe. She’d look around like, “Do you all need something?” She was completely intimidating, but not in bitchy way. It was more like she was just so sure of herself that if you had one major insecurity weighing you down, her confidence could feel too strong. However, once I realized she was investing in helping me grow and find my own beat to rock to, I trusted and respected her opinion, and my career changed drastically.

7. “Always maintain short and long-term goals and re-evalute them regularly.”

You should always know and be able to explain where you’ve been, where you are and where you are going because it keeps you focused on your mission. You can look back and acknowledge your mistakes, recognize what you are doing differently now and think about what you should do better in the future. And because new opportunities and setbacks will arise that you hadn’t planned, it’s good to take them straight back to your road map and adjust accordingly without extra stress, worry or distraction.

8. “Any guy who doesn’t support your career ambitions is not for keeping.”

I’m pretty sure we all learned this with Lauren Conrad on the The Hills, but some of us have learned this lesson a few times in our lives, too. And the feeling of knowing you put your life on hold for a guy who wasn’t even invested in your relationship is a punch to the gut. Always remember that immature, insecure guys are a dime a dozen and not worth the energy, but building a foundation for your career and a large network within your industry is something that will benefit you for your entire lifetime.

9. “We, as women, are infectiously powerful when we stand together.”

Whether it comes to starting a new company together with the mission of bringing joy to others or fighting back against a corrupt system like the brave women of the Gulabi Gang in India, women are capable of anything when we fight towards a common goal. Looking at other women as your sisters in the greater worldwide community takes your energy away from anything petty like jealousy toward a co-worker and directs it toward helping you see that co-worker for her strengths. And in that shift of mindset, you no longer have competition, but a resource of information, a partner to brainstorm ideas with and a shoulder to lean on in need.

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