By Jana Axline, MBA, DTM, PMP, Axline Solutions
In my consulting experience, I have found that many companies struggle at managing change. They often move forward with an initiative without managing the change that needs to occur. Below are 8 of the common pitfalls that can cause a team to fail at leading a successful change initiative.
Fail to obtain leadership alignment. Change is hard. It’s exponentially harder if leaders are on separate pages. Take time to align your leadership team and coordinate messaging that will be shared throughout the organization.
Make change unidirectional. Change can rarely occur top down or bottom up and reach maximum success. Change needs to flow from both directions. While it may be initiated from one direction, it needs to be driven at all levels.
Fail to assess current state/future state and the gap between them. This manifests itself a few ways. Sometimes it’s rolling something out and fitting it to an old way of doing things without assessing if those processes should change. Other times it’s implementing something new without doing a gap analysis between the future state and where the team is today. When that happens, we often underestimate the size of the change, failing to craft our communications and training accurately.
Focus only on why the company benefits. Decisions are often made through the lens of what’s right for the company, and hopefully, if it’s right for the company it’s right for the employees. Messaging should be centered around why the employee should care about the change (and increased revenue is not why). How does the change directly impact their daily lives?
Ignore the cons. Don’t put lipstick on the pig. Most changes have a positive and negative aspects; don’t ignore the negative. The employee knows. And by ignoring it, it sends the message that the company doesn’t care.
Lack of communication. Not communicating enough or assuming one size fits all for communication is a mistake. Don’t make the mistake of believing if you’ve communicated it once, then everyone’s got it and they’re ready to move on. Communication needs to happen in various forms. It can take 8 occurrences of communication for one message to sink in. Thorough and effective communication is key.
Don’t check in. Along with not communicating enough, leaders may neglect to follow up and see how people are doing with the change. Taking a pulse periodically allows you to adjust your methods according to the current adoption rate.
Don’t align measures of success to end state. Often change will result in a change of what success looks like, yet how employees are rewarded doesn’t change. This encourages employees to continue doing things the way they’ve always done them. Align rewards with what success looks like now.
Whether you are rolling out a new policy, new software, or heading up a merger, change needs to be managed. In order to have successful projects, it’s important to plan change activities. By doing so, your employees and team members will be much happier.
By Chris Castillo, Millennial Career Coach and Corporate Trainer
With a booming job market, it’s a great time to be a job-hunter. That said, as hiring managers, it can be more and more challenging to attract great talent. There are so many opportunities out there! How do you ensure that millennials will want to work for your company?
Since employees are a key asset of a business, here are a few tips for attracting millennial talent:
Have room for growth. A company with room for career development is a must-have for young employees. Especially as more millennials are considering the path of entrepreneurship, having a company that allows them to develop long-term skills is crucial. Sit down with your employees and ask them how they want to grow their careers. If they’re not as interested in their current path, try and find another way for them to do more fulfilling work internally. As a business, be sure to share these stories. By highlighting employees’ abilities to design their careers, you’ll draw attention from more job-seekers.
Emphasize a culture of transparency. Since many job-seekers have their choice of several opportunities, culture is becoming a larger factor in decisions. If you have internal processes to share feedback with the senior leadership team, or a flat organizational structure, be sure to mention these perks in interviews. A culture of candor is paramount, so if you have this, you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.
Invest in your managers. An employee’s manager has a huge impact - as the old adage says, it’s often what keeps (or repels) them at a company. With that in mind, it’s important to know that your management team is up to the task. Unfortunately, often I hear from clients about managers who don’t really know how to manage; they’ve never been trained to do it and are simply in a managerial role because they kept getting promotions. This is not what we want. We want managers who have been trained on developing their employees and realize that this is a central part of their role . By investing in your management team, you’re more likely to attract and retain great talent.
There are so many complex factors when it comes to retention and company culture, but if you start by truly investing in your employees and their career satisfaction, I’m certain that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.
by Krystal Covington, MBA
At Women of Denver, we regularly hear from startups and established tech firms looking for ways to increase their pipeline of women. They know the value of the diversity of thought that comes with having greater gender parity and are willing to do the work to seek out more women to jump in to write code, lead development teams, and bring new ideas for product development.
Denver is a massive talent pipeline for these companies, which is why so many great firms are choosing to move their headquarters to the Denver area, or launch here from the start.
As the local tech scene explodes, educational institutions such as WeWork’s Flatiron School have come along to continue growing the pool of trained coders, data scientists, UX designers, and software engineers.
Flatiron opened this spring and has made a home in WeWork’s LoHi offices, until their state of the art campus at the Hub opens this summer. The company is providing free sessions to showcase their learning environment and specialized trainers.
As part of their Women Take Tech Initiative, they’ve partnered with Women of Denver to help drive more women to attend the course and explore a potential career path in coding. The school has enacted a plan of improving gender parity in the tech world by providing over $1 million in scholarships to women, hosting events for women in tech, and striving for gender parity in their own classrooms. Sponsoring Women of Denver is just one of the many actions they’re taking to be leaders in this mission.
Learn more about Flatiron School’s Women Take Tech Initiative on their website.
Maritza Dominguez Braswell, Partner at Fox Rothschild, LLP
A pivotal moment in my career came during our representation of the Lehman Brothers Estate in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. A group of plaintiffs claimed Lehman owed them a collective $12 billion related to allegedly toxic mortgages. After we argued successfully that a loan-by-loan review was the only way to accurately value claims across hundreds of residential mortgage-backed securities trusts, I worked with my colleague Michael Rollin, to oversee the creation and operation of a technology-enabled, detailed review of tens of thousands of individual mortgages. It was the first time a law firm had undertaken the type of large-scale loan review ordinarily left to underwriters, making the matter truly groundbreaking. Moreover, to lead a team of dozens of lawyers through the review, and then play a lead role in the next phase of the case—a 9-week trial in the Southern District of New York—was personally gratifying. I was the only lead lawyer of color, and the only lead female at counsel table during trial. We secured a victory for our client, and I achieved a personal victory navigating a male-dominated environment in a multi-billion-dollar Wall Street case.
Gretchen Rosenberg, President and CEO of Kentwood Real Estate
In 1996 I became a single mom to an 18-month-old son. I had been working with my ex-husband’s family in advertising, and obviously needed to move on. I asked myself, “What can I do that combines my business background and my interest in architecture and design, with flexibility, so I can spend time with my son on my terms (like being a parent volunteer) and also have the ability to make a good living?” Real Estate seemed the natural fit. I started in sales and 10 years later became a selling manager of one of our three Kentwood brokerage offices. Then, 11 years after that, I stepped up into the CEO role.
Diane Eichler, President and Founder of Decibel Blue & Decibel Green Creative Marketing & PR
I spent the first half of my career as a senior account executive and director of client services for several branding, marketing, and design agencies. My clients during that time included Toyota Motor Sales, The Black Eyed Peas, Herman Miller and Apple. In 2005, my husband and I started Decibel Blue in Phoenix, and we managed to survive those crazy economic years ahead of us. A turning point for me came in 2013. That’s when we opened our office in Denver and moved here, full-time, shortly after. While reaching into the Denver market was certainly strategic, our real motivation was our desire to spend the next portion of our journey in this amazing city. So often in life you end up living someplace because of a job, family or some obligation out of your control, but we seized the opportunity to live exactly where we wanted. Since then, our agency has grown in both markets, and we couldn’t be happier exploring the mountains and living life to the fullest in beautiful Colorado.”
Julie Winslow, Vice President – Branch Manager for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
In 2009, I made a career change from a sales manager in logistics, talking about moving ocean containers around the world, to a financial consultant. I was looking for a career where I could make a direct and significant impact for my clients. I focused on helping women understand the world of finance and empowering them to make positive changes to improve their lives. At a Metropolitan State University of Denver alumni event in 2010, I was sharing my passion for empowering women and was offered an opportunity to design and teach my own class through the Institute of Women’s Studies and Services. This was one of the best experiences of my life. There is a huge gap in education and partnering with MSU Denver gave me the ability to reach hundreds of women and give them the tools, knowledge and resources to make profound positive changes to assist them on the road to financial freedom. This experience also led to me looking for a company to match my passion, which I found in Charles Schwab. It has been incredible to work for organizations that share my passion for financial education and providing resources for investors of all levels.
by Phylecia Jones
What exactly is financial freedom?
Financial freedom is a buzz term, or rather a buzz achievement, that many Americans refer to as a milestone in their financial life. With a simple search of the internet, you can instantly find over 250 articles all with varying definitions of financial freedom.
Some see it as quitting a job to travel the world or reaching early retirement to spend more time with family, while others see it as generating passive income through entrepreneurship or having a lot of money to buy whatever they want.
As you can see, it can be a bit difficult to define this coveted goal, but there’s a simple way to look at it. At its core, financial freedom is reaching a point in your finances where you have “enough” in order to have the option to live more and work less.
According to The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, most people believe they need $1 million in order to retire comfortably but with the average fortysomething only having $63,000 saved, that goal can feel unachievable.
So what will it take for you to reach financial freedom?
The principles of reaching financial freedom are quite simple. It relies on your ability to prioritize your spending and save a lot of money. In order to reach this milestone, you will have to make it an absolute goal and do the following:
Define what financial freedom would like for you
Since financial freedom looks different for everyone, it’s up to you to determine what your life would look life if money was not an obstacle. Travel? Spending time with family? Starting a business? Launch a passion project? This is the time for you to dream about the life you want to live.
Determine what is enough
Based on the life you want to live, do some research to find out how much money it would take to get there. Connect with people living your dream and find a well trusted CFP (Certified Financial Planner) to help you run the numbers.
Get, and stay, out of debt
Debt and financial freedom don’t mix. The path to financial freedom requires getting rid of debt and never getting into it again. Create a debt repayment plan where you can track and pay off debt as quickly as possible.
Master the art of managing a budget
This is one of the best ways to stay on top of your finances to see what is coming in and what is going out. Budgeting may seem like a chore, but once you put it on your calendar and stick to it, this will give you permission to live the life you want.
Cut your expenses
If you read any article on reaching financial freedom, it will always come back to cutting expenses. This is
the moment where you will have to decide what stays and what goes. It’s a hard task, but revisit the first
step. If you want the life of your dreams, you will have to be willing to make sacrifices and prioritize your
spending along the way.
Save more money
Unfortunately, there’s no way to put this lightly. You will need to save a lot of money in order to achieve financial freedom. Start maxing out your 401k, open an IRA, investigate other pre-tax saving options to get you on the right track.
Learn how to invest and grow your money
The key to having money to support your lifestyle during financial freedom is investing. Search for local investment clubs, classes, or workshops so that you can understand the many options available to building your wealth.
While the average American household has a median savings balance of $4,830, according to The Motley Fool, financial freedom can seem like a pipe dream for most, but it is absolutely achievable with a bit of work and focus. It doesn’t matter how much money you have; it really matters how much you value the money you have. Following the steps to reach a point where you have more options to live more and work less will require a dramatic shift in your mindset, your lifestyle, and how you view money. In short, achieving financial freedom will require you to be consistently vigilant to reach a milestone that many can only dream about.
As a young woman I have often imagined sitting next to a living legend, someone whose accomplishments left me in awe, to ask them how they achieved each milestone of their life. I knew it would never come to pass, but it was a way for me to imagine a coach outside myself who could instruct me on how to navigate the complex choices of career and adulthood.
Little did I know in 2018 the opportunity would actually present itself.
I still remember sitting down for the meeting. I’d received a message from the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, an organization I’d been supporting since moving to Denver, to discuss a potential partnership. No information was given, but to me it didn’t matter what the job was, I was ready to serve in whatever capacity the organization needed.
CEO Lauren Casteel sat at the head of the table and asked “Krystal, do you know why you’re here?” I said, “No, but I’m happy to discuss how I can support.”
I was then informed that I had been selected to interview tennis legend and women’s equality icon, Billie Jean King, at their largest luncheon to date, expecting over 3,000 guests. I remember my mind going blank, not realizing this was something I could even be considered for, but knowing I was ready to take the responsibility and have the opportunity to fulfill the dream of my youth.
I happily accepted and got to work spending months in preparation to research and understand as much about Ms. King as humanly possible. Between the research, phone conversations with BJK (our abbreviation for her), and the culminating interview I’ve learned 3 key lessons from the life of this living legend.
You can’t predict what your “moment” might be, but you must be prepared for it.
As a kid I remember being told that successful people have a goal and they strive for it. I always believed that meant knowing you’d be a CEO and going after that, or making it a goal to win a specific championship, but sometimes there are moments in life that we can’t predict will come our way.
Billie Jean King’s first big claim to fame was a 1973 tennis match called the Battle of the Sexes, which was viewed live by about 90 million people worldwide. Her moment came when self-titled Chauvinist Pig Bobby Riggs made the claim that he could beat any woman in a tennis match because men are by nature stronger and more equipped for sports. BJK was his second challenger and she welcomed the chance to stand up for women in a televised game.
In the end, Billie Jean King reigned victorious.
Moments like this cannot be predicted, but when they come, it’s important to seize them and win! King was successful because she made it her life’s mission to be the best tennis player she could be and to be ready for any opponent. She was also prepared to manage pressure, so she could take on challenges without allowing her natural fears and stressors to take over when the big moment came her way.
Similarly, we may not know when unpredictable moments will come along, but if we prepare ourselves, master our craft, and focus on the challenge ahead, we can succeed each and every time.
Know what you stand for and you’ll never look back with regret.
Even before the Battle of the Sexes, Billie Jean King was an advocate -- dare I say warrior -- for women’s equality in sports. Joining together with 8 other women, they created the Women’s Tennis Association to provide a voice to stand up for inequalities in prize money between men’s and women’s tennis. They believed that women were just as entertaining as men and should therefore be compensated equally.
Today, WTA is the principal organizing body for women’s tennis representing over 2,500 players.
When discussing matters of women’s rights in any interview, Billie Jean King has the resolve and composure of a woman who believes in what she’s fighting for. In viewing her clips and interviews over 40 years of career, I’ve watched her carry the exact same passion without ever backtracking on her beliefs.
Watching her resolve over the years reminded me of the importance of knowing what we really stand for. Each and every person has non-negotiables, things we aren’t willing to bend on, but we aren’t always willing to stand up for them. I can think of moments when I didn’t stand strong in stating my beliefs and allowed my principles to be compromised, so I could make others comfortable. Those are moments of regret that will always disappoint me.
When we stand up for what matters to us, and never allow ourselves to negotiate our beliefs to avoid conflict we can reduce those moments of regret and live a life we can always be proud of.
Never stop growing, expanding and making an impact.
If you believed that after that mega-match seen ‘round the world that Billie Jean King was done achieving you’d be very incorrect. During my research, I was astonished to read about all of the things she’s been doing just in the past few years such as becoming an owner of the Dodgers and launching an exhibit with the New York Historical Society.
And when speaking with her, I learned about unpublished achievements that continue to bring awareness to the causes that matter. Being able to refer to her unique life experiences to advocate for these initiatives enriches the conversation and encourages more people to join in.
It’s limiting to believe that once we do something great it’s time to hang up our hats or that age is a factor in when we should sit back and let the “kids” take the front seat. A life well lived is full of personal growth where we take every opportunity possible to make an impact in the world around us.
There’s no time limit on making a difference.
Having the opportunity to sit down with Billie Jean King to ask the burning questions I’d been wanting to discuss was a privilege and a moment I'll always remember, but the biggest lessons came from immersing myself in a review of her life journey.
While my approach of imagining these titans as my personal mentors seemed fantastical, there’s so much we can learn from their lives and often an abundance of resources to help us with the task. If there is a person in the world whose path inspires you and reaching them is not easily achievable I encourage you to make a project of researching them to learn as much as you can. You may find that watching their interviews, hearing their podcasts and reading their articles is an amazing way to capture some of the biggest lessons they have to share.
Contributed by Bree Weber, a copywriter for thought leaders and personal brands. http://main.breeweber.com/
Broke, divorced, and grieving the loss of her young son who died during childbirth, Danette May had hit rock bottom. She had $47.63 in her bank account and no idea how to move forward.
But to hear her tell it, her pain was her gift.
Looking at her life on paper, you wouldn’t see that she’s known any pain at all. A #1 bestselling author, former celebrity fitness trainer, and world-renowned motivational speaker, Danette runs a $20 million dollar business. She has built a strong personal brand from which she engages with 1.5 million followers. She’s a happily married, loving mother – all in all, her life looks perfect.
But less than 10 years ago, it was unraveling all around her.
And she did something unexpected with all of trauma that life had thrown her way. She accepted it.
Danette talks about her past as a series of choices. She chose not to be a victim. She chose to take 100% responsibility for her life. She chose to practice radical self-care. It’s radical because in this day in age, taking care of ourselves requires us to identify, acknowledge, and address shame.
Brene Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. Addressing our shame requires us to examine the stories we tell ourselves.
Danette first recognized her own stories after her losing first her son and then her marriage. She had been living on auto-pilot, flying down the path society had paved for her. It wasn’t until it all crumbled that she even realized the dishonesty in her relationships and lifestyle. Through uncovering those lies, she unintentionally discovered shame she had been hiding.
But choosing to take 100% responsibility for your life means taking control of how you react to the negative self-talk. It was from this responsibility – doing the hard work, lots of falling down, learning from mistakes and getting back up – that Danette discovered a small way to make big change.
When you’re in the thick of it, entrenched in pain and feeling heartbroken or pessimistic, big changes feel insurmountable, but the little things might just be possible. Danette, found three pillars that changed her life and allowed her to begin healing: healing foods, healing movement, and a healing mindset.
These micro changes turned into daily habits which developed into true healing. Within six months, Danette knew she had something powerful to share with the world. Healing your body and mind inevitably leads to soul work.
Slowly, Danette began rewriting those stories she told herself – and she’s still rewriting her stories. Though now, she’s helping millions of women do the same thing, through her latest book The Rise: An Unforgettable Journey of Self-Love, Forgiveness, and Transformation.
She shares her own painful, yet inspiring story to show readers how they can manifest what is in their heart and lead a life of true abundance. Her mission has shifted since the three pillars, and gone deeper, and is clearly reflected in her book.
The Rise doesn’t require you to start anywhere specific or arrive anywhere (ever). Any woman, anywhere, in any stage of her life can explore what it means to live her fullest expression: to be her brightest, shiny-est self.
And on the way she’s creating a community of women who believe in abundance and are letting go of female competition and the scarcity mentality. It’s far too easy these days to consume only the highly curated images on Instagram and stories on Facebook.
Women only bring other women down when they don’t feel enough. Women mask this pain with alcohol, buying shoes, overworking, and being judgemental to others, among other things, but this is only temporary relief.
But when we connect with each other to share that pain and help each other through it, we can all tap into abundance. We have sisters to fan our dreams and support us along the way, because we all deserve to have our community that have our back in darkness and the light.
Danette talks about abundance as a 360° experience. It’s not just about success in one area, but having a positive mindset about what is possible in every arena of our lives. She spent a long time striving for work-life balance, without ever attaining it. That is, until she realized balance isn’t real. It’s just made up.
Now, Danette doesn’t look for equilibrium. Instead, she plans her week around her non-negotiables: her two girls, her husband, eating something green, getting out into nature, and “I AM” statements – in that order.
Because it all comes down to this: what you focus on expands. If you focus on the negative or feel like the world is against you, you’ll get more of that. If you focus on the good that is happening and visualize what you want to happen, that’s what you’ll see more of.
And if you’re in the thick of it, Danette says, it’s hard to do those affirmations or feel positive. So, instead, start by moving your body.
You can read more of Danette’s story in her book, The Rise available everywhere books are sold. Be sure join her book club to receive valuable tips and insights as you read the book, and join a growing community of abundant women.
By Angela Jackson
There’s no doubt life in Denver has its perks. This living, breathing metropolis has the Rocky Mountains for a backyard. Its healthy lifestyle and growing economy strengthens its reputation for being one of the best places to live…and work. There are several businesses moving their headquarters here because they recognize an opportunity.
Here’s a look at just a few businesses coming our way.
VF Corp. is a publicly traded outdoor apparel company that recently announced it plans to separate into two independent entities. The first will be called VF Corporation and the other is yet to be named. It is referred to as NewCo in the meantime.
VF Corp. is the headquarters for global brands synonymous with outdoor living. Some of their brands you may know well and use whenever a hike or other adventure calls: The North Face, JanSport, Timberland and SmartWool. It made sense for them to set up shop close to the customers who use their products.
“Colorado is an area with an unrivaled heritage and culture of outdoor and activity-
based lifestyles, as well as a thriving business environment,” said Steve Rendle, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.
Denver is a good fit for VF Corp not only for its culture, but it made good business sense in order to attract a high-level workforce also.
“We believe that the creation of our new headquarters in the area will help us to unlock
collaboration across our outdoor brands, attract and retain talent, and accelerate
innovation,” Rendle said.
Slack Corporation sees the value in Denver too. The San Francisco-based online collaboration company has signed a lease and is expected to move into the Lower Downtown area. If you take a quick glance on LinkedIn, you will see they have several positions to offer. In fact, they may have over 500.
In May 2018, the Colorado Office of Economic Development approved and offered the company a $10.5 million incentive to encourage the company to open an office here. Slack accepted, and the tech firm told the state that it estimates its Denver hub would create up to 550 full-time jobs with an average salary of $107,975.
Slack’s presence downtown will add to the numerous technology companies relocating to Denver.
ezCater opened its second office in Denver earlier this year. They state they are the only nationwide marketplace for business catering. Their model is to connect corporations with reliable catering to meet any culinary need.
You would think with the word ‘cater’ in its name, everyone who worked there would be a great chef. However, the Boston-based company considers itself a tech company. They spent years improving their technology to connect corporate clients with a local catering service. ezCater selected Denver based on the city’s strong emergence as a technology center with a diverse and experienced talent pool.
"Denver has great talent," said Stefania Mallett, CEO of ezCater. "We’re growing so fast
that we had to open our Denver office to find enough of the insanely helpful people that our customers love."
Funding Circle connects small businesses with investors who want to finance them.
Funding Circle is becoming the leading global small business loans platform that allows investors to lend to businesses looking for finance in the United States, UK, Germany and the Netherlands.
Entrepreneurship and the presence of small businesses is ever increasing. Funding Circle’s growth motivated them to spread their wings and look for another place to call home. The management team considered other areas but finally settled on the Mile High City.
“Denver has a great quality of life, low cost of living, and thriving tech and financial services industries from which we can recruit candidates. We also considered things like how many direct flights there are to San Francisco and London, where we have large offices,” said Libby Morris, Funding Circle's Head of US Loan Operations who heads up the Denver office.
Funding Circle looks to hire almost 300 people over the next two years to support its growing needs, and they are taking steps to make sure their workforce is diverse.
“Our mission at Funding Circle is to ‘build a better financial world,’ and we recognize that we can only do this by being inclusive to a workforce from all different backgrounds,” Morris said.
One of their most active employee groups is Women@FC. This group is focused on making the company welcoming for women. They also have a partnership with BankWork$, a program that trains people from diverse backgrounds and communities for careers in financial services.
“Across the company, we pay close attention to building diverse teams, starting with how job descriptions are written to eliminate non-inclusive language, all the way through to unconscious bias training for all staff. We also offer unlimited vacation and flexible working hours, which helps support working parents,” Morris said.
There are several benefits any company can hope to gain by hiring a diverse workforce.
“A wealth of research over the past decade consistently demonstrates that companies often experience many advantages and benefits when they hire and retain a more diverse and inclusive workforce,” said Lisa Christie, Senior Director of Communications for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.
Some of these advantages include improved operational and financial performance and increased innovation and group performance. Women in particular are more likely to build consensus and collaborate with colleagues, Christie explained.
“Hiring a diverse workforce doesn’t just make sense, it makes good business sense,” Christie said.
Although some companies place priority on hiring a diverse workforce, Elaine Marino, founder of Equili, a company whose mission is to build a more diverse tech community that levels the playing field for underrepresented or underutilized groups, says there is another piece to the puzzle.
“Hiring is a really narrow focus for solving the diversity problem because it’s really an inclusion problem,” said Marino. “My advice to companies is to track attrition and dive very deep into why the attrition is occurring.”
“If you solve for inclusion, diversity will follow,” Marino said.
She said a good first step for that is to conduct exit interviews and ask those hard questions and not be afraid of the answers.
So, what’s the best way to improve hiring diverse candidates overall? In Marino’s mind, it starts at the top with a diversified leadership.
“Women and people of color need to see themselves represented at the top. Companies that have representation have no problem receiving resumes from underrepresented candidates. They see themselves at the top and a path forward.”
As new corporations continue to enter our dynamic Denver community, we hope to see a growing focus on prioritizing diversity and inclusion to continue making Denver a great place for women and minorities of all kind to thrive and grow their careers.
By Krystal Covington, MBA
I still remember Ms. Green. She was a funny, authentic and an academically-minded woman who taught my science class in 6th grade. Science was one of my favorite courses because it allowed me to explore, ask questions, and see the many gray areas in the world around us. I naturally became drawn to her as a teacher who helped introduce me to new and exciting topics.
After learning about my experience at a summer math and science camp I’d attended at a local college, Ms. Green saw fit to introduce me to the world of science fairs. Together, we created and executed a winning submission earning me 3 awards that included savings bonds that helped me with living expenses when I got to college.
That was my first experience with the concept of non-familial mentorship. After 20 more years of life I’ve now seen it demonstrated in a number of ways and understand there truly are many different types of mentorship that all come together to help the mentee rise to achieve a vision for success.
I was recently reminded of this truth at a panel event that I facilitated featuring 4 women who had been inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. The panel consisted of a diverse group of leaders including Juana Bordas, Gerie Grimes, Ding-Wen Hsu, and Gail Schoettler.
During the event, attended by over 70 women, each panelist described personal stories of giving and receiving mentorship, and each narrative was surprisingly unique.
Some of the key takeaways that caught my attention were:
Our vision of mentorship is often based on a patriarchal standard.
It shouldn’t have been so surprising, but I was genuinely taken aback by a reminder that our vision of what mentorship should be is based on the history of powerful men choosing a successor to whom they impart their knowledge in order to pass on their role as leader in an organization.
I’ve certainly fallen victim to this fallacy during certain points in my life resulting in me stating that “I’d never had a mentor.” I believed this simply because of the same patriarchal paradigm -- believing that to be mentored meant having a high-level corporate leader take me under his or her wing to bring me up to the top. While that can certainly happen, it’s definitely not the only version of true mentorship.
Intercultural mentorship can provide special insights for minorities
While there are general forms of mentorship that are relevant to anyone climbing the ladder of success, there are always nuances to navigating the world around us based on the cultural context we were born to.
Those who are 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation immigrant may find support in connecting with elders who can keep them in tune with their cultural roots while helping them navigate the business world here in the United States. That consistent support can help them to feel rooted in family tradition, connected to their ancestral culture, and accepted for who they are.
As an African American woman I can relate to having mentors in my life who understand the underlying challenges of being a racial minority. It’s not always easy to recognize how to respond to stereotypes, or to handle the discomfort of often being the only woman of color in a room. Mentors provide that support by advocating and showing that they understand.
It takes several kinds of mentors to help us achieve our goals
Many of the leaders on the panel discussed having mentors who approach advice from different angles -- creating a cabinet of sorts with experts who have diverse knowledge and are from specialty areas. As we grow in the different aspects of our lives, we might need to connect with a new type of person to draw from an expertise that is missing in our knowledge-base.
As a mentee, it’s helpful to understand the areas where you need the most support, so you can communicate this to the leaders around you. When you’re clear on what you need the right mentor can raise his or her hand to fill in the blanks of your knowledge base.
The role of mentorship is powerful and nuanced. Conversations such as these remind us of the impact we can make when we support others, and invite us as individuals to actively seek the advice of others who have knowledge to share. With our combined power, we can lift more women up to higher heights to gain greater power, wealth, and confidence in our futures.
I thank Deng-Win Su, Juana Bordas, Gerie Grimes and Gail Schoettler for reinforcing this for our guests that evening.
National Mentoring Month Event Kicks Off New Partnership
The Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame (CWHF) and the Women of Denver (WOD) network have entered into a partnership to broaden the reach of both organizations in educating and inspiring Colorado women of all ages. The partnership will support brand awareness building and community outreach for both.
“One of the challenges CWHF has as an established organization with a solid following of both men and women, is the need to diversify our reach to include and engage younger generations,” says Beth Barela, CWHF board chair. “Women of Denver is one of the most diverse, active and progressive organizations in Denver with a solid following of next generation women bringing fresh perspectives about the roles and impact of Colorado women making a difference.”
To kick off the partnership, CWHF and WOD, along with the Colorado Center for Women’s History, are hosting an evening with a multigenerational panel of CWHF inductees and WOD founder Krystal Covington as panel moderator. The event, “Mentors & Role Models: Diverse Pathways to Success,” focuses on the importance of both mentors and role models along the career-life continuum and celebrates January as National Mentoring Month.
The event will be held on Thursday, January 31st from 6:00-8:00pm at Women in Kind, located at 3899 Jackson St, Denver, CO 80205. Doors will open at 6pm; the program begins at 6:30pm. Register for tickets here. Seating is limited.
“I’m excited to moderate this special kickoff panel event and showcase some of Denver’s most well-known mentors,” says WOD’s Covington. “Mentors are an important part of the journey to success in both career and life, and the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame is a premier resource for modeling mentorship by elevating women who make an impact. I’m thrilled to partner with an organization that supports the elevation of women and eager to put our ideas into action.”
● Krystal Covington, panel moderator, founded Women of Denver in 2014 to connect and inspire 100,000 women through educational events and dynamic thought leadership, so they can acquire knowledge and confidence to earn their worth.
● Juana Bordas has built a successful career teaching leadership skills, and spending her life work with and developing organizations to help women and people of color empower themselves and their communities. Bordas was inducted into CWHF in 1997.
● Gerie Grimes, CEO and president of the Hope Center and community advocate for quality education for children in their early years regardless of level of capability, race, or how society has labeled them. Grimes was inducted into CWHF in 2018.
● Ding-Wen Hsu is a business executive and community leader with a tireless commitment to presenting Asian culture and highlighting the deep traditions of Colorado’s Asian population. She was inducted in 2010.
● Gail Schoettler was the first woman to be both Colorado’s Lt. Governor (elected in 1994) and State Treasurer (from 1987 to 1994). She ran for governor in 1998 and lost by 5000 votes, leading her to found Women Electing Women, a national alliance of women who financially support women running for Governor and U.S. Senate. Also she was appointed by President Clinton as U.S. ambassador to negotiate a global treaty with 189 nations on the use of radio spectrum for all commercial, civil and military purposes. Schoettler was inducted in 2018.
● Understand the meaning and purpose of mentoring and how being a mentor differs from being a role model.
● Discover the economic and inspirational power of mentorship.
● Learn how to build and maintain effective mentor relationships.
This event is Ideal for:
● Experienced leaders with the desire to "give back," by becoming a mentor.
● Young professionals who want to create mentor relationships with leaders they admire.
● Experienced "mentees," who love to share their experiences with building and maintaining great relationships that lead to valuable results.
About the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame:
The Colorado Women's Hall of Fame was created to recognize, honor and preserve the contributions of trailblazing Colorado women. Both historical and contemporary women have shared foresight, vision and accomplishment, but lacked a forum for recognition. Since 1985, the Hall has inducted 152 extraordinary women who have been outstanding in their field, elevated the status of women, helped open new frontiers for women or inspired others by their example. Inductees include scientists, teachers, social activists, philanthropists, authors, business leaders, elected officials and more.
To learn more about inductees, visit: http://www.cogreatwomen.org/inductees/women-in-the-hall/
Stay in touch via Facebook: www.facebook.com/cogreatwomen, the LinkedIn group: Colorado
Follow CWHF on Twitter @ColoradoWHF.
About Women of Denver:
Women of Denver (WOD) is the most diverse and active women's organization in Denver. With over 40 events per year their dynamic network helps women increase their business acumen, sharpen leadership skills and connect with other high-achieving women. WOD’s mission is to connect and inspire 100,000 women through their educational events and progressive thought-leadership, so they can acquire the knowledge and confidence to earn their worth. Learn more at www.thewomenofdenver.com.