THE WOMEN EVOLUTION STORY
I know from personal experience how frustrating it can be to feel stuck in your career. WE was born of my own career struggle in the world of finance. After college, I entered the workforce with the energetic, fierce determination of a smart, young woman aiming to see how high I could climb. I hit the ground running and worked like there were two people in my body. I was into it! My hard work quickly started paying off. Within my first two years in business, I was a top producer being groomed for management. I reached near-term business goals in record time. It was tremendously satisfying, but came at a price.
Working 12-hour-plus days were my norm, and perhaps predictably, I found myself sick almost every month. During this time, I was also preparing to get married and having a family was extremely important to us. But the longer I kept the accelerator pegged to the floor at work, I began to wonder how I could possibly give myself the personal life I wanted and maintain any semblance of balance between my professional and personal worlds.
I’d had male mentors during my career, but in this moment it was clear I needed a successful woman to guide me on the essentials for navigating an expanding career. Bonus points if she was also a married, working mother, because I needed to tap into my professional tribe. Unfortunately, the female mentor I was looking for was elusive. I continued to meet with dead-ends in my search and I got frustrated.
The upside of my frustration was that it spurred some irritated determination in me. I decided to start interviewing female executives to see if I could tease out common traits they shared that contributed to their success. As the host of an ESPN radio program called “The CEO Show”, I had a unique opportunity to interview over 150 executives, dozens of whom were from Fortune 1000 companies. What emerged from my data was that these successful executive women shared six key leadership skills, which showed up consistently regardless of her background, industry or function. More importantly, they always said these skills were teachable.
This discovery was my aha moment, and I knew I had to find a way to ensure women everywhere could access this information. So, in 2012 we asked one of our interviewees if she would be willing to teach one of the six key leadership skills per month for six months to a younger, up-and-coming female at a different company and let us film a documentary about it. She agreed, and in 2013 we filmed that documentary based on the premise that, with solid female-to-female mentorship in place, it doesn’t take the span of a 25-year career to learn critical leadership skills. Not only did it work, it worked beautifully.
What we have created is essentially a virtual women’s mentoring program accessible online and available for use and review whenever needed. When women go through the Women Evolution Online Mentoring Program, they gain access to this documentary. It consists of six, in-depth sections, each dedicated to one of the key leadership skills WE identified. WE also provide interactive curriculum with which mentees can assess themselves and their behaviors, and the supportive environment necessary to create real change. WE offer proven tools and strategies for navigating tricky work scenarios, all of which can be implemented immediately.
Women Evolution launched nationally in 2015, and has worked with industry leaders like Intel, CBRE, and Ashford University to strengthen female assets within their workforces. Plus, we have more exciting partnerships in development. I am as determined as ever to continue to grow Women Evolution, provide women with the access to proven leadership skills and strategies, and keep striving for a personal and professional balance that leaves women feeling fulfilled both at home and at the office. I, too, have a stake in making that happen since I have a beautiful daughter, Raya, and hopes for giving her a sibling.
Thank you for taking some time to learn more about Women Evolution. I am positive that you can have the career of your dreams and find fulfillment, and even happiness, in the workplace.
-Shavon Lindley, CEO & Co-Founder
As my free gift for taking the time to get to know me, I want to share with you the 5 simple steps Fortune 1000 executive women use to speak up at work. What are you waiting for?
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