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This article is part of an ongoing series The Secrets of Successful Women. Articles focus on providing valuable career advice targeted to women professionals in particular but certainly valuable for all.

via https://newsapi.org online business online marketing online business opportunities Nell admires books with girls at The Wing in New York City.

Nell Merlino admires books with girls at The Wing in .

Photographer:

Few women can say they helped start a movement, but Nell Merlino did just that when she helped create “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” in partnership with Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Foundation for Women. In the early 1990s during an initial meeting with the organization, she was given a box of Carol Gilligan’s research focused on girls’ significant loss of self-esteem during adolescence. The problem was clear, but there was no obvious solution. A few days later at her father’s retirement dinner, she had an epiphany. She realized just how much she’d learned as a girl going to work with her dad. She began to reflect more deeply on her own experience and also started noticing a variety of examples where girls having early exposure to their parents’ workplaces could have significantly enhanced and expanded their own views of themselves and their opportunities. Motivated by this epiphany, she developed a proposal for the first “ Day” which took place in 1993 in New York. Now more commonly referenced as “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” the fourth Thursday in April provides an opportunity for children to experience various career options and work life in a way that increases their self-esteem, broadens their mental paradigm and even allows them to connect more deeply with their parents.

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via https://newsapi.org online business online marketing online business opportunities First Take Our Daughters to Work presentation cover that was used to enroll early supporters

First “Take Our Daughters to Work” presentation cover that was used to enroll early supporters

Photo provided by Nell Merlino

Having started her first business in the late 19080s, Nell has spent a lifetime advocating for women and girls – from the co creation of “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” to the launch of Born Worthy.org, a “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” sequel that grounds our daughters in self-worth through a 21st century rite of passage to womanhood. On this International Women’s Day Nell Merlino shares her personal career advice based on a lifetime filled with challenge, triumph, and service.    

Career Advice – Big Ideas

1.    Be an innovator


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Nell insists that innovation is such an important ingredient for success, particularly for women. She encourages young professionals to approach every new project, challenge or job with a focus on coming up with something different. She insists, “Being an innovator naturally leads to moving up the ladder in most professional environments. Women have more ideas than they give themselves credit for.”

2.    Don’t try to fit in

Nell warns that women have a tendency to focus on being liked and “fitting in” and this mindset can be both limiting and counter-productive. She insists that more time spent trying to fit in yields less time available to focus on being an innovator, problem solver or an expert.

“Women tend to spend too much time trying to figure out how to not rock the boat, and as a result they miss the opportunity to become a disruptor. The truth is that disruptors are often the history makers. Instead of trying to fit in, figure out how to disrupt the status quo and do something radically different.”

3.    Get comfortable making new mistakes

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Nell believes that “new mistakes” are often the key to innovation. Of course, avoid repeating old mistakes (that’s one definition of insanity after all). In her own life journey, she definitely credits her willingness to take risks and make mistakes as a key element of her overall success. She recounts a particular example of this when she launched the not for profit organization, Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, one of the first online micro lenders focused on funding women owned businesses.

“The business focused heavily on , and we launched about two years before consumer confidence for online purchases became strong. In retrospect, it was a mistake to launch in 2000, but it took just a short time for us to pivot the business model, and what we learned from the experience was invaluable in my next venture.”

4.    Clarify your boundaries

A key challenge for so many women professionals is the struggle to create a semblance of work life balance. Nell insists that it’s critical for women to get clear on their priorities and view work and life equally. Indeed, she insists, “Work is part of life, not vice versa. Be sure your daily activities reflect that point of view. Be sure you focus on love as much as work. Work and home should share the same calendar.”

Career Advice – Practical Tips

1.    Develop a smart to do list

For most of us, our to do list is an important tool in our time and task management toolbox, but Nell suggests specific to do list “rules” to help encourage your most productive (and sane) self. Here are some of her suggestions.

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·      Limit your list to 7 items

·      List the hardest tasks first

·      If an item continues to stay on the list for 3 days, ask yourself if it’s really important. It probably isn’t so consider delegating or outsourcing the task instead.

2.    Avoid

Road warriors know that travel can be grueling on your body, and Nell recommends reconsidering trips not just to reduce the physical drain and time required, but also to reduce our carbon footprint. Instead, she suggests taking a step back to consider possible alternatives – combining trips, extending trips to get more accomplished during a single visit or even using technology to replace the need to travel.

3.    Get to know yourself

A believer in therapy and introspection, Nell lauds the benefit of simply getting to know yourself. She suggests taking time to ask yourself a few simple questions to help create enhanced self-awareness that can be critical as you’re deciding on a career move or even managing your response during a contentious conversation.

·      What sets me off or really frustrates me?

·      What thrills me?

·      What types of activities do I simply love to do?

·      What makes me feel most proud? Invigorated?

·      What bores me to death?

·      What types of activities do I simply not enjoy? Why?

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