This past year, I’ve been trying to up my business book game. I’ve also been trying to up my investing game. So when Sallie Krawcheck, founder of the Ellevest, released Own It: The Power of Women at Work in January, I knew I’d have to get my hands on it.
Prior to starting Ellevest in her 50s, Sallie had a full career on Wall Street. She held numerous C-suite positions at banks like Citigroup and Merrill Lynch. After getting fired during a company restructuring in the wake of the recession, Sallie took her career in her own hands like a total #ladyboss. She acquired what is now Ellevate Network, a networking group for women, and founded Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women.
As someone who geeks out on personal finance and diversity in the workplace, I knew I would enjoy the book – but I honestly didn’t think I’d learn anything that new or revolutionary from it. Boy was I wrong. In the broader sense, this book is a rallying cry for women to start owning their careers and financial lives. On a more minute level, the pages are filled with everyday, practical tips for situations in the workplace and at home. I don’t want to give away all the goods, but I want to mention a few takeaways Sallie left me with.
1. Gender bias in the workplace is not just men vs. women and women vs. men
Though this seems obvious as a statement, it’s less obvious in the day-to-day. I always assume that since I am a woman, I have other women’s interest at heart. Oftentimes, women can be just as (if not more) biased against other women in the workplace. Think about this: have you ever gone to meet a woman in a powerful position and assumed she was a lot more terrifying than she was? Have you ever subconsciously assumed that a woman made it as far as she did “up the ladder” because she was aggressive and mean? Sallie breaks down scenarios like this (and many others), what they mean and how we can recognize our bias and try to change our behavior. By the same token, she also gives advice for women promoting other women and how women can best support each other (and be taken seriously when doing so).
2. The importance of feedback, networking and “courageous conversations”
This book offers up many tips, suggestions and ideas that the reader can start to apply almost immediately. Let’s face it, owning your career can be hard. One of the most practical and useful tools this book provides is guidance on how to have some really tough work conversations. The chapters are filled with examples of difficult conversations, advice on how to have them (especially when you don’t want to) and why they are so important to have.
From asking for a raise to asking for more direct feedback from superiors, there are a lot of golden nuggets of advice in scenarios sprinkled throughout the pages of this book that I will refer back to for years to come.
3. There’s power of investing in what you believe in (including yourself)
Admittedly, there are some parts of the book that seem a little salesy to me, but I believe it’s because Sallie gets very passionate about the new company (Ellevest) she is building. However, I can’t argue with her point: money is important, and what we do with it matters. For most of us, money is a powerful tool. We can use it to invest in our goals and to support companies we believe in. As women, we can greatly influence and shape what commerce looks like – and we can choose to place value on certain types of companies and cultures.
If you have any interest in personal finance, want an extra push to start investing, or want tips to help you navigate your career path, I’d highly recommend this book. Sallie does a beautiful job breaking down complicated issues into practical advice and action items.
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