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'Who Are Your Power People?' from Women's Leadership Author, Speaker and Consultant Selena Rezvani

Who Are Your Power People?

[ Monday, Jan 20, 2014 ]

Sometimes the best way to improve your game is to get out of your own head.  At the New Jersey Society of CPAs women’s summit last week, I delivered 2 keynotes on how to be an unstoppable negotiator and on being receptive to risk-taking in your career.  In between, I had the rare treat of developing myself – learning from 4 top women teaching mindfulness (Joy Principe), power (Kathleen Cashman), gender dynamics (Rita Keller), and self-branding (Eileen Monesson).  

My lasting takeaway?

There’s a critical team of people we need in our professional lives to thrive, not just survive. 

Yes, we all know that we experience a fuller existence when connected to others.  But a mistake many of us make is to align ourselves with the wrong people or to go about building connections in a way that puts people off instead of enticing them. 

Let’s look today at individuals that you need in your circle to push you forward and make you better personally and professionally.  In a coming post, we’ll talk about how to actually tend to those relationships. 

Here are the four power people that will keep you inspired, grounded, and informed:

The person you want to be like when you grow up: Who do you know that’s created an authoritative position for themselves and leads the conversation in your area?  For me, this person is Sylvia Ann Hewlett, recently voted one of the world’s top 50 business thinkers.  She’s terrifically smart―an economist, author and the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation.  What excites me about Sylvia’s work is not just her unapologetic, spot-on message empowering women, it’s the way she’s smartly engaged the largest companies in her own business.  She not only represents a researcher and thought leader I want to emulate, but she’s the kind of businesswoman I hope to grow into.

Peers you really admire: Are there people doing work at a similar level to you—but who you see as being especially savvy or future focused?  Engage those people!  When you assemble a peer network, you can have a much more frank―even confessional―relationship with each other. Unlike high level mentors who you might not “overshare” with, peers are sounding boards that want the best for each other.  You can talk about your blunders, your best coups―you can even discuss your rates and be a test market.  Some of my go-to peers whom I respect and admire include Simone Ahuja, Jodi Glickman, and Emily Bennington.  Check these women out.

Someone you’re bringing along: One of my most satisfying 2-way mentorships to date has been with a rising star, Pari Hashemi.  Pari is a dream mentee – motivated, extremely bright, and open to learning and bettering herself.  In her day life, Pari is an award winning financial analyst but her goal is to one day focus her practice on women and write a book to help women in finance succeed.  Every time Pari and I meet and discuss the book publishing world, I leave energized, rewarded by her progress, and struck by how much I learn from her.  I have zero doubts that if either of us needed an important favor or some critical help, the other would move mountains to do it. 

A high level person that you’re afraid to approach (a/k/a your Sponsor): Sponsors are many things—culture/political guides, givers of hard feedback, and often those who know what will happen before it happens.  In my interviews with female executives for Pushback, sponsors were credited as supporting risky initiatives as well as offering their clout and endorsement (which in turns convinces others to do the same).  Despite these benefits, many of us cite the scarcity of our time or our worry that we’re bothering ‘‘someone important’’ as key reasons why we don’t engage a sponsor.  Do it anyway!  My own sponsors have opened doors for me to write pieces for their publications and to be showcased in large scale events I wasn’t previously considered for.  One sponsor even successfully advocated that I get hired for a consulting job for which I was very passionate and eager, but not on the initial shortlist. 

Invest in finding your power people.  Search them out with a nose for who keeps you grounded and informed―and yet inspires you to be something bigger. 

Who’s the fifth member that should be on this list?