9 min read ⌚
How Smart Women Win in the New Economy
Do you want to be a successful woman?
Or do you feel like you already are – but you’re still trapped in a man’s world?
Magdalena Yeşil wants to share a few lessons with you.
They all boil down to the simplest of all imperatives:
Who Should Read “Power Up”? And Why?
We’ve already provided you with a fair share of summaries of books written by the women leaders of today for the women leaders of tomorrow.
You can find brief summaries – as well as links to longer ones – of some of the best among them here.
Let’s just say that Power Up would have been on that list if we had the chance and the time to read it earlier.
So, all you businesswomen and female entrepreneurs out there – take note! Especially if, like Yeşil, you’re in the tech industry.
The world of tomorrow needs you; and you need to hear how the women shaping it got to do just that. It’ll be easier afterward.
About Magdalena Yeşil
Magdalena Yeşil is a San Francisco-based Turkish-American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and investor of Armenian heritage.
An immigrant already at the age of 18, Yeşil came to the United States in 1976 with less than $50 dollars and no more than two suitcases filled with the essentials.
In barely few decades, Yeşil grew to become one of the most recognizable females in the tech industry, board member of some of the world’s top tech companies (SoFi, Smartsheet, Zuora), and one of the founders the first investor in Salesforce, the cloud-based software pioneer.
After having a stint as a general partner at U.S. Venture Partners, Yeşil founded some of the earliest e-commerce and Internet access start-ups in modern history: UUnet, CyberCash, and MarketPay; this earned her the coveted Entrepreneur of the Year title by the Red Herring magazine.
Yeşil is also the founder of Broadway Angels – a group of female angel investors and venture capitalists – and DriveInformed, her fourth startup.
Find out more at http://www.magdalena.com/
“Power Up PDF Summary”
If you are living in the United States, then most of the things happening in the country during the past few decades may seem to you strange – especially in relation to employees’ rights.
After all – and this goes to all those people saying that the gender gap is a myth and so on and so forth – until very recently, you could barely find a single company in America offering maternity leave.
If you were a woman and you got pregnant, then you had no choice but to leave your job – unless you wanted to abort.
In other words, you had to choose: either a mother or a successful businesswoman.
And, in some ways, things haven’t evolved past a certain point even today; but they sure have changed – and it is time women start rewriting the rules.
The Three Principles of Powering UP
Be Humble and Honest – and Receptive to Criticism
Before becoming a multimillionaire and a respected board member of so many hi-tech companies, Magdalena Yeşil was an engineer just like many others.
And one time, during her first engineering job, she designed a semiconductor chip; it wasn’t the best thing in the world, but, in her opinion, it wasn’t the worst either.
However, her bosses certainly thought otherwise; after she presented to them the chip’s logic functions, she was severely criticized by almost each of them.
Now, she could have bottled up or replied back, but Magdalena choose the only sensible solution: she decided to be attentive and listen to every word coming in her direction.
Because these were people with much more experience than her and because she was merely a beginner.
Be Audacious and Don’t Get Discouraged After Making a Mistake
This brings us to the second principle of powering UP: staying firm on your course even after making a mistake, no matter how terrible.
In fact, the unsuccessful first attempt at designing a semiconductor chip described above is not very high on the list of Yeşil’s things to regret.
Somewhere around the top is her decision to reject Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s job offer in the early days of Apple.
She was advised by a fellow worker to never accept a job at a tech company named after a fruit.
The logic wasn’t sound, but it certainly influenced Yeşil’s rejection which, very soon, started hurting her like hell.
But did she give up?
No – she didn’t.
She just got out the best of the situation: a lesson for the future.
In her case: always make informed decisions.
Remain Confident of Your Life Choices
And once you gather enough info about a certain thing, then don’t look back; even if it doesn’t work out in the end, this won’t happen that often; as Warren Buffett continuously advocates, chances are, once you are informed about something, you’ll be right more than 50% of the time. And that is enough.
Take Marc Benioff, for example (by the way, the author of the foreword to Power Up).
The guy was a vice president at Oracle and, yet, he decided to give up on it all and found his own company, Salesforce.
He had no more than 10 employees at the beginning, but he acted confident in front of them as if he knows where the path would lead him.
But his confidence paid off: he’s now worth more than $6 billion.
(And, by the way, it is the best company to work for; so great job, Marc!)
The Benefits of Intrapreneurship
Let’s just say that you are a teenager with an idea which, you believe, may change the world.
a) gather some money and found a startup; or
b) find a job at a company in a similar niche?
You probably guess that the right answer – contrary to what most people would say – is the latter one. At least as far as Magdalena Yeşil is concerned.
Her reasons for this?
Well, first of all, you’re probably not ready for a start-up; not only in terms of knowhow but also in terms of the effort you’ll be required to put in for it to work. Think 24/7 – and this is not an exaggeration.
Steady paycheck and regular hours will help you build a much necessary pace before you dive in headward into the unknown.
In addition – as it should be only obvious – working for another company would result in enhancing your skillset for the future.
Finally, it’s a neat way to ensure future investors. After all, who do you think your boss at this company will be more willing to give his money: a dedicated worker or an unknown teenager?
Overcoming the Gender Pay Gap
Do you know why people resist change?
Because change opens the door to the unknown and the unexpected; and because, even when wrong, the status quo is at least predictable.
Well, this is the reason why women face so many problems in the workplace, sometimes receiving absurdly low amounts of money for doing the very same work as their male colleagues.
Go and get what you deserve.
And be prepared to fight for it in advance.
She lists a few examples of women who were denied a promotion because of their inability to document their talents and competencies.
No – we’re not talking about CVs and portfolios!
We’re talking about documenting the results of every single of your own decisions, especially when you’re at a higher level in a company.
That way, when you go to your boss to demand a raise or a promotion, you will be the one prepared for him – and he will not be for you!
(Yes, we chose to write “he” for a reason.)
How to Get an A in Attitude and an F in Victim
As you have probably realized by now, Power Up advocates a no-nonsense approach to almost everything; and that includes sexual harassment as well.
Tired of all of those rude comments from the male colleagues in your office?
Time to develop some gravitas.
Suit up, strike up your favorite power pose, and make eye contact with the person who makes the comment.
Now say one of these three things:
Inquiringly: “Now, what exactly do you mean?”
Setting up boundaries: “I know you think you’re funny, but I’m uncomfortable with your sense of humor; hopefully, you’ll be smart to accept that.”
Jokingly: “The head of HR said to me that he doesn’t have a lot to do lately; perhaps you’d want to visit him?”
What? Do these things sound too inappropriate?
Strangely enough, most people seem to think that; assertive men are the leaders of the free world; assertive women are, well, bitches.
Yeşil’s advice: be a bitch until you give that word a new meaning.
It’s better to be a bitch than a martyr – 10 out of 10 times.
Not just for you.
Mommy Guilt Is a Liar
Yes – we’ve said that already.
We’ll repeat it because it’s true: maternity leave doesn’t spell the end of your career, and being successful businesswoman doesn’t mean giving up on building a family.
The truth is you can do all of those things simultaneously; the key: find a way to feel empowered in your career.
Magdalena’s mother Selma, for example, had to give up her promising career in medicine because she was expected to raise her children.
Of course, this eventually resulted in many regrets and, what’s worse, a bitter attitude toward everything.
However, when at 63, Selma got a job – the first one in her whole life – as a barista in a Whole Foods Market, suddenly her life transformed.
Because she started feeling that she doesn’t exist anymore because of someone or something; she was finally in a position to say: “I can make a contribution by being myself; and I can work for myself.”
And that’s the point: all those idealizations aside, motherhood is a sacrifice; but nobody is able to sacrifice his time or wishes for someone else until he/she figures out some things for himself/herself.
Otherwise, it’s too much of a burden.
Key Lessons from “Power Up”
1. You Have Much More Power Than You Think
2. The Three Characteristics of Powered-Up Women
3. Be an Intrapreneur Before You Become an Entrepreneur
You Have Much More Power Than You Think
“Within each of us,” says Magdalena Yeşil, “lies 100 percent of the capability needed to overcome the obstacles to any goal we set for ourselves. You are much more powerful than you think.”
And you are – even though you sometimes feel as if a powerless victim to many passed-up promotions and comments by your male colleagues which border on sexual harassment.
If taking matters in your own hands requires you to become a bitch – then become one.
No matter what they say, even condescending men seem to love them.
The Three Characteristics of Powered-Up Women
According to Magdalena Yeşil, powered-up women share three traits:
1. They are their own primary energy source;
2. They refuse to accept the rules as they are written; and
3. They never define themselves by gender or any other exclusion parameter or allow anyone else to do the same.
Magdalena Yeşil’s word of advice:
The moment you see yourself as a victim is the moment you become one. But believe in yourself as a winner and prove it to others around you, and soon others will be competing to have you on their team.
Be an Intrapreneur Before You Become an Entrepreneur
This lesson goes to all the entrepreneurs out there, men or women.
Unless you are some kind of a genius, then it’s better to have some work experience before you decide to create your own start-up.
If you’re working in the niche, you can even be an intrapreneur – building your own company from within a company (aka partnership).
That’s what experienced intrapreneur Debra Rossi did while working as the executive vice president of Wells Fargo; namely, she recognized the potential of eBay and brought both herself and her company a lot of money.
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“Power Up Quotes”Within each of us lies 100 percent of the capability needed to overcome the obstacles to any goal we set for ourselves. Click To Tweet You can’t rely on someone else to boost your confidence, elevate your mood, or set your agenda. Click To Tweet Powering UP is about being so strongly grounded in your sense of self and what you have to offer that people rewrite those rules for you. Click To Tweet Create new opportunity rather than scramble to get your piece of what’s already there. Click To Tweet The moment you see yourself as a victim is the moment you become one. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
Even if you don’t know Magdalena Yeşil’s name – as you have probably already read in her biography – you’re quite familiar with some of her work; and you’ll have to agree that the things she has done – despite being one of the first women in the tech world – are more than admirable.
Well, in Power Up, in the words of Caroline Simard, she “offers powerful leadership lessons from her journey to becoming a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor. She drops the readers into the vividly recounted, career-defining moments to help them navigate and overcome gender bias in their own lives.”
Murat Sünmez, member of the World Economic Managing Board, agrees, claiming that Power Up “should be required reading for anyone building a company or making a career” and that Yeşil’s lessons “are more relevant than ever.”
So, to use a lousy wordplay, you really need to power up with Power Up.
Especially if you are a woman.