I am attending the Los Angeles Business Journal’s Women’s Summit. Our firm is a sponsor, and our partner Karina Sterman was a panelist.

Image of LABJ's Women's Council & AwardsFor the legal marketers reading this post: get out of the office and attend the events you sponsor. I am always “too busy” to attend, but I am reminded once again today why it’s so important.

First of all, I now understand this event, the nuances, and how to market this event within our firm. Even if our table is filled, the “sales” side of the program will always makes space for you to stop by and “get a personal feel” for the event.

Secondly, Karina and I were able to brainstorm some strategies in the back of the room and we are going to create a program for our clients based on some information we heard.

Beyond seeing how our firm can be a better sponsor and take advantage of the program, I’m gleaming good information for ME.

It’s a professional women’s summit. The panels are all about our careers. With 20 years invested in my legal marketing career, there is always more I can learn, and pass along.

Free advice for a Friday Afternoon

In no particular order:

Remove apologetic language from your vocabulary. “I’m sorry” needs to go, even when you bump into someone, or are trying to reach around to press the buttons on the elevator. “Pardon me” or “excuse me” convey the proper meaning. “It’s not a problem” (when it is), and “don’t worry” (when you should), need to go. While we’re at it, “I think” needs to be tossed by the wayside. If you’re the expert in the room, you “KNOW” it … you don’t “think” it. Own that!

Build a “personal board of directors.” Who are your posse? Who are the people you call for advice? Catherine MacDonagh is the Chairman of my personal BOD. She is my sounding board, proof reader, and greatest champion in my career. Cheryl Bame is my most trusted business advisor. If you want to know my next move, ask her. But she won’t tell you, because she has my back. When you’re a member of a posse, you need to be generous with your time. You need to be available. You need to be upfront and honest.

Lean into your “super power.” There’s always something we know better, our differentiator. Lean into it early on in your career (or at any time, really). For someone like Roy Sexton, it’s his ability to be a connector. For someone like Nancy Myrland, it’s social media. Figure out what that is and allow it to open the next door to the next level of your career.

Speak up. For too many women, we don’t speak up first. There are cultural reasons why, but we need to push past that. And, while we’re at it, stop letting men take credit for your ideas. In the legal industry, I often “seed” my ideas amongst the attorneys to build consensus. I’m still good with that. But rather than have someone else present my idea, it’s up to me to own it and present it.

Say “Yes.” Ahhhh, Kat Cole’s LMA Keynote address is alluded to again. Say “Yes” to all the opportunities you are afforded. It will only be in hindsight that you see how saying “Yes” is the connector that got your from there to here.

Don’t be the only one in the room. For too many of us, we’re the only woman, person of color, LGBTQ person in the room, and that’s okay. Just don’t be the last. I have worked with too many women who, after breaking through the glass ceiling, turned around and nailed it shut. Don’t be that person. Speak about the people not in the room. Shine a light on them. Invite them into the room. When you have a seat at the table, scoot over and make some room for someone else.

  • Such good lessons, Heather. “Don’t be the last” is gold. Thank you so much for including me in your post. I wonder if you know how much that means to me.