Our Right to Be Heard by Jenna Abdou

In the words of Oprah, we all have “aha” moments. My aha moment came on a warm August afternoon, sitting in a crowded classroom in Seaver Hall. Professor Oliver, who later became my mentor, started our Rhetoric of Women class with a simple, but life-changing question: Are you heard?

I’ve been privileged to live stream the She Summit conference this week and was captivated by Claudia’s interview with Sallie Krawcheck. Salie’s the former President of Meryll Lynch and currently runs Ellevate, a professional network for women. 

Sallie’s advice is simple, but rarely taken: Ask for what you want. As her statement sunk in, I found myself back in Seaver 101, asking if my voice was heard and how different my life would be if it was.  

The old saying that if you never ask you’ll never know is a reminder to follow Sallie’s bold assertion - “Stand up,” she says “ This matters.” 

I’d be remiss to say that asking for what we want is easy, and because Sallie recognizes this she encourages women to not only embrace the insecurity that accompanies vocality but to be grateful for it. We’re going to be told no more often than yes and the best thing we can do is learn to love it. Every time you hear the word, reverse the letters and think you’re on!  This is your chance to show everyone what your made of - You mustn’t shy away from the opportunity 

Sallie explained that “the best return a woman can get is to ask for the raise” and I urge each of you to ask for the raise you’re seeking, both personally and professionally. If you don’t act on the ideas that captivate you, you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering what could have happened. Don’t live a life of wonder - Embrace your callings. They are yours for a reason. 

Further Reading
  • Michael Serbinis: What I've Learned — Visionary Entrepreneur, investor and CEO and Founder of the new healthcare startup, LEAGUE, Michael Serbinis shares what he learned building three disruptive startups, selling two of them and working with Kimbal and Elon Musk.
  • How PowerToFly is Designing the Future of Work — In Katharine Zaleski’s letter ‘I'm sorry to all the mothers I worked with’ - Fortune magazine’s most popular article of 2015 - she describes the traditional workplace as “death by a thousand cuts for mothers;” Detailing the harsh challenges women face scaling their careers once they have children.
  • How to Ignite Your Team's Superpowers — As the dire need for diversity pulsates through the startup community, HoneyBook is among the rare companies comprised of 60% women. When I acknowledged Shadiah Sigala and Oz Alon's, two of the company’s founders, proactive approach to company building, they surprised me by redefining diversity.

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