Networking

Staying Calm In A Crisis: Tips From The Woman Who Faced Down Somali Pirates

Michelle J. Howard

When Admiral Michelle J. Howard was 12, she saw a show about people who attended U.S. military academies and realized that was what she wanted to do.

“You can’t,” her older brother said. “It’s closed to women.”She thought he was messing with her and went to her mother.

“He’s right,” her mom said. “But you’re only 12. You might change your mind. And, if you don’t and want to apply, you should apply. If you don’t get in, we’ll sue the government and take it to the Supreme Court.” Even if it is too late for you to attend, she added, it wouldn’t be for other women.

It proved a powerful lesson for the woman who went on to become the:

  • The highest-ranking woman in U.S. Arms Forces history,
  • Highest ranking African-American and woman in Navy history,
  • First woman to become a 4-star Admiral, and
  • Person in charge when the Navy faced down Somali pirates to rescue Captain Phillips (of Tom Hanks fame.)

We recently caught up with Admiral Howard to ask her advice about how to stay calm in a crisis and lead in these times of great uncertainty. Here are some highlights:

On keeping calm under stress

“My mother and father raised us to take a deep breath. Sometimes, you have to react in seconds—but honestly, not usually unless you’re in combat. I think most people do not give themselves time to breathe. I know it’s not easy but you’ve got to distance yourself from the information you’re receiving. It’s just information. It’s not going to kill you.”

On dealing with the unknown

“I would try to take time, and get my teams to take time, to think about what potential crises could be and then walk our way through how we would respond. If you are surprised by events, give yourself more time for your imagination to work. It’s the art of the long view: identify the worst, best, and middle case scenario. You will go down one of those three avenues or something in between.”

On the commitment to lead

“The most fundamental thing about leadership is you have to choose. You have to decide for yourself whether or not you want to be a leader. It’s not something you are just going to fall into. It has to be something that drives your passion—knowing: I am the right person to get this in a better place. I am the person to make this better.”

On stamina

“I read about women pioneers in the Navy and the 1800s and science; andI and tried to sort through the common characteristics of those who were successful in nontraditional roles. The stamina piece is pretty key: being not necessarily the strongest in the room but as fit as you can be because you need stamina for the journey.”

On traveling light

“A lot of trailblazing women had a wonderful sense of humor. If you can’t see the humor in your unique situation, you add more to your mental burdens. I talk about it as ‘traveling light.’ You could go another way and think: ‘Oh my gosh, I have all these burdens, I just can’t do it.’ You could spend a lifetime focused on all that pain and anguish. And, I suppose you could have a life of satisfaction that way. But you would be missing out on a life of satisfaction tied to success.”

On being yourself

“I have been asked to talk about leadership and women as leaders since I was a mid-grade officer. A lot of times people say talk about yourself. I say talking about myself may not help you. You be the best you. You’re not going to be able to do me right.”

On connecting with other women

“Women pioneers had quilting bees. It was not about the quilt. It was about hooking up with other women. The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the biggest quilting bee!”

LEARN MORE! Admiral Michelle J. Howard will speak at the 2020 virtual Massachusetts Conference for Women. The 2020 virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women will feature Viola Davis, Tara Westover, and more.

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IN OTHER NEWS

  • Anti-Racism: Skills for the Workplace Now. “Anti-racism is a lifestyle that we’re constantly committing to. You have to be anti-racist in the workplace and in your personal life, too…it’s an active belief system in all parts of our lives,” Britt Hawthorne said in a conversation presented by The Massachusetts Conference for Women, The Boston Globe, and State Street. Watch it here.
  • Best of the Archives: Check out the newly released sessions on Best Breakouts, an audio series featuring timeless insights from our archives. Listen here.
  • Highlighting a friend: The Harvard Business Review‘s podcast Women at Work is a trove of information and support for moving your career forward. Catch up on five seasons of conversations on HBR.org or wherever you listen to podcasts, and the team will be back this fall with more stories, interviews, and advice.

More from the August 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Networking, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , |

The Biggest Danger Women Pose to the Status Quo

Pat Mitchell

Start 2020 strong with Pat Mitchell, first female president of CNN Productions and PBS, co-founder and curator of TEDWomen, global advocate for women’s rights, and author of Becoming a Dangerous Woman.

Scroll down and click Play to listen in your browser. Or subscribe to Women Amplified wherever you get your podcasts, and take advantage of Conference for Women speakers year-round!

 

Read More

Posted in Life on Your Terms, Networking, Success & Leadership, Podcasts Tagged , , |

ENCORE | Networking and Mentoring: Build Relationships, Not Just Contacts | 2019 Session

Developing a strong network of mentors and advocates is critical to career success. These meaningful relationships will serve you throughout your career and can help you be a valuable connection for others. A lot of hard work, networking and mentors helped FOX’s NFL reporter Laura Okmin break through the barriers in a male-dominated field and ultimately cover the biggest names on the biggest stages. Now, she’s paying it forward by helping to train, mentor and prepare the next generation of women with her new GALvanize program. Laura will help you understand who you need to meet, how to meet them and how to form lasting relationships (even if you’re an introvert!) Whether you are looking for success in a mentor-mentee program or growing your career by building meaningful relationships, she will share the best practices for creating the most successful two-sided relationship to ensure it is a win-win.

Read More

Posted in Conference Sessions, Networking, Breakout Session Tagged , |

Networking and Mentoring: Build Relationships, Not Just Contacts | 2019 Session

Developing a strong network of mentors and advocates is critical to career success. These meaningful relationships will serve you throughout your career and can help you be a valuable connection for others. A lot of hard work, networking and mentors helped FOX’s NFL reporter Laura Okmin break through the barriers in a male-dominated field and ultimately cover the biggest names on the biggest stages. Now, she’s paying it forward by helping to train, mentor and prepare the next generation of women with her new GALvanize program. Laura will help you understand who you need to meet, how to meet them and how to form lasting relationships (even if you’re an introvert!) Whether you are looking for success in a mentor-mentee program or growing your career by building meaningful relationships, she will share the best practices for creating the most successful two-sided relationship to ensure it is a win-win.

Read More

Posted in Conference Sessions, Networking, Breakout Session Tagged , |

Networking is More (and Less) Than You Think

Laura Okmin

Sometimes, the most valuable lessons come from the most humbling moments. At least, it was one of those moments that gave FOX NFL reporter Laura Okmin one of her greatest insights in what not to do when networking.

As a young reporter, and the first woman to be covering TV news in Alabama, she had gotten to know Charles Barkley, the NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

“One day, I called Charles and he answered the phone and said: “Well, well, well. Laura Okmin, what do you need?” And I went: “Well, can’t a girl just call and say hello?” “A girl can,” he said. “You just never do.…I know when you call, you need something. So, what do you need?”

Register one of the biggest networking mistakes: always having an agenda. From then on, Okmin made sure she reached out to offer something—such as, congratulations on wins and condolences on losses—more often than she asked for something. She’d learned that networking is really about relationship-building.

Here are 3 more tips from Conference for Women experts: Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Networking Tagged , , , |

Real Advice for Women Seeking Mentors and Allies

Portrait of David SmithIf your mentors all look like you, you have a mentor problem. Same goes if they all have similar backgrounds and work histories or if you have only one—or none.

“Your mentors should be a diverse network,” says David Smith, an expert on gender workplace issues and co-author of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women. “If they’re not, you’re missing out on key perspectives and information, and you’re probably not being challenged enough in your thinking.”

Of course, for women in male-dominated fields such as the military (Smith’s background), the problem isn’t having too many mentors who look like you (i.e., female). The problem is having a mentor, period. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Communication Skills, Networking, Job Advancement Tagged , |

5 Tips to Feel More Comfortable at Networking Events

This is one thing Alice Rutkowski, an executive communication and presence coach who has worked with more than 8,000 executives over the past 20-some years, wishes everyone knew:

Body language reflects what you believe about yourself and others.

“Consciously and unconsciously, we are reading others and they are reading us all the time,” says Rutkowski, vice president of executive development at Sagin. “For example, whether you’re sitting or standing, crossing your legs can convey nervousness. It puts your body out of alignment, and being unbalanced isn’t conducive to feeling confident—and people can see that.” Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Marketing Yourself & Your Small Business, Communication Skills, Networking Tagged , |

Navigating Life’s Moments

By Ande Frazier, Head of Vision and Brand, myWorth

Leaving the recent Pennsylvania Conference for Women, I felt more inspired than I have in quite some time. To see so many women, from all different ages, races, professions and more, gave me such a renewed sense of purpose.

One of the biggest takeaways from the event, which we heard in different forms from the many distinguished speakers, was that it is so important to listen to each other’s stories. As women, we encounter so many moments in life that shape our stories, and many times it’s the people in our lives, or the communities we are a part of, that help us through it. Read More

Posted in Speaker Articles, Financial Fitness, Networking, Transitions, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |

Free Teleclass | Navigating the Workplace in a Post #MeToo World…Now What?

Navigating the Workplace in a Post #MeToo World…Now What?
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
1:00-1:30 pm

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Posted in Teleclass Signups, Embrace the Unknown, Communication Skills, Networking Tagged , |

5 Steps for an Effective Career Transition

By Raquel M. Arredondo
Associate Director, Outreach, Engagement & Professional Development, LeBow College of Business at Drexel University

Maybe you’re looking for a bigger salary, or just a change of pace. Regardless of how or why you’re interested in changing careers, transitioning doesn’t have to be daunting. You just need to be prepared to make the required effort. These five steps can help get your transition into a new career off the ground.  Read More

Posted in Career, Speaker Articles, Career Choices, Networking, Transitions, Office Hours Tagged , |

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