Life is funny. About five years ago when I was still in college, I heard a friend talking about a new startup aimed at providing much needed career resources for young professional women. I was just experiencing life in the corporate world and for the first time started having experiences that made me realize, despite my confidence and aptitude, I wasn’t necessarily at the top of the food chain. Time went on, and her company continued to iterate and grow, eventually becoming what today is known as Levo. I dabbled in working for myself, working for others, working for a non-profit, working for a for-profit, working for a large, internationally known corporation, and working for a small, Colorado-based mom and pop shop. But no matter where I was working or what role I was in, my involvement in Levo that started back in college had made an impact on me, and I in turn made an effort to continually engage in women’s issues at work. I went from making mentorship an important part of my job as a small business owner to starting the Women’s Employee Resource Group at the US Olympic Committee to becoming the founding Leader of Local Levo Denver.
Cut to today. I have finally come full circle and about two months ago (hence the two month blogging absence, whoops…) took a position as the Director of Local Levo where I am able to devote myself completely to helping other Millennials achieve their career dreams (yes, Millennials, it’s not dirty word). Remember I said life is funny? Before taking this new position as I was starting Local Levo Denver, I wrote in my gratitude journal that something in my gut told me I needed make working on this mission my career. Exactly one year later I wrote that I was offered a full-time job at Levo. As outgoing Director Maxie McCoy would say, #universe.
Finally getting the opportunity to work in my field of passion has been wonderful, but the best part has truly been all of the lessons I’ve learned so far from the extremely talented Levo team. I honestly have never worked with such a stellar group of people who both humble me and elevate me at the same time.
In my first 60 days, here are the life changing lessons I’ve learned.
1. Speak Your Truth. The wonderful Tiffany Dufu (above) was sharing some amazing words of wisdom one night at a post-event dinner. The most powerful takeaway was to always speak your truth. For me, still being new to the organization, this was a great reminder that even when I might not feel like I know what I’m doing, I’m bringing a wealth of experience and fresh insight into any problem we’re trying to solve. Instead of taking a back seat, I needed to remember to voice my opinion. From conversations with my boss to full leadership team strategy meetings, the power in collaboration comes from the collective group knowledge – but if everyone is just agreeing with the first things someone says (or with the most senior person in the room), then the power is lost. To succeed, we must be brave and speak our truths.
2. Push Yourself. One day I presented a plan to my boss for a new project – and let’s just say I didn’t receive rave reviews. Having put a decent amount of work into the perfectly decent proposal, I was a little flummoxed. It gets the job done, it’s solid, it’s easy to manage. Why didn’t I earn a shining star? Honestly, because it didn’t deserve one. “My job is to push you to do things you never thought you could do,” she said. I had taken the job because I WANTED to be pushed. I was finally in a place where I could truly innovate and was surrounded by the smarted minds in the game. Yet I was so used to working inside the box that I hadn’t thought of what could be, and my boss knew I had more to give. This constructive feedback empowered me to innovate and has helped me continue to think big.
3. Know Your Talents. One of my favorite parts of working at Levo is the constant use of the Thinking Talents quiz, a free app that helps you discover how your unique talents and personal way of thinking can help you find roles in which you will succeed. Yes, I am totally pitching this app right now, but it’s just because it is totally awesome! For example, I had a conversation with my boss the other day in which I had a mild panic attack about a proposal I was putting together. She stopped me and said, “Do you have Seeking Excellence as one of your Thinking Talents?” Indeed I did. Knowing that I’m always looking for my work to be an A+ allowed her to give me the correct feedback, which was to reaffirm that the project is a testing ground and that the proposal does not need to be all encompassing at its inception. In fact, just today I received a team email that said, “For all you Wanting to Win people, here’s a challenge!” It allows us to quickly assess/motivate/assist each other as we’re working together so that we can be as effective as possible. The moral of the story is that having a common language within your organization or team for talking about strengths and weaknesses is essential, and I highly recommend finding a great tool that will allow you to easily (and politely) discuss these things.
Those are just a handful of the lessons I’ve learned in my short time here. It has been a rewarding, challenging, surprising, and delightful experience so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months hold.