In mid April, I was privileged enough to attend a working group session in Brussels for EY’s Women3. The Power of Three forum. The forum’s objective is to help knock down the barriers that are preventing women across the world from reaching their full potential.
Fittingly, the working group came just days after Hillary Clinton had announced her intention to run for president of the United States.
Whatever you think of her politics, Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly an example of a woman who is determined to fulfil her own potential.
So what are the lessons that we can learn from her?
Lesson 1 – She’s not afraid to fail
A fear of failure has been identified as one of the major factors that hold women back in their careers. Yet Clinton isn’t letting it stop her. She failed spectacularly when she lost out to Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008. But, seven years later, she has jumped back into the saddle and she’s holding her head up high. Failure – what failure?
Lesson 2 – She’s not afraid to be visible
I know from editing a magazine that women tend to be less confident about being visible than men do. They are afraid that they might look pushy or make a fool of themselves. So they pass up opportunities to raise their profile within their profession and settle for the quiet life instead. But if you want to get ahead in life, you need to get noticed – as Hillary would no doubt be the first to say.
Lesson 3 – She’s a formidable networker
Does your contact book boast the likes of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff? No, mine doesn’t either. But Hillary’s impressive networking ability is a major part of the reason why she’s far more likely than us to become the world’s most powerful person. Remember the saying: ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’
Lesson 4 – She doesn’t see age as an obstacle
Hillary Clinton is 67. That’s no big deal in an age when many of us can expect to live until our 90s. But it is a big deal in a world that likes to airbrush women out of the picture once we hit our mid-40s. It’s as if the fact we’re beyond child-bearing age means that we have no right to exist. Women have plenty to offer in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. Hillary proves it.
Lesson 5 – She takes care of herself
Have you seen Hillary Clinton lately? She might be 67 years old, but she looks great. And she knows that what she looks like is a big deal. Back in 2001, she addressed Yale students, saying: “The most important thing I have to say to you today is that hair matters. Pay attention to your hair because everyone else will.”