In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders. – Sheryl Sandberg

Happy International Women’s Day! This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter and is focusing on ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.’ Today, events all over the world will celebrate the accomplishments women have made while also acknowledging the work that has yet to be done.

We are fortunate to have many bright, innovative and hard working women on our team.  In honor of International Women’s Day, we asked the women of TCDI to share their thoughts on balance, role models, inspiration and advice.

What does the Balance for Better theme mean to you?

  • As it relates to the culture at TCDI it means constantly working to remedy the existing gender disparity – in the ratio of male:female employees, wages, and opportunities. Expecting the same work from both men and women on an equal playing field. We are not immune to the imbalance; our industry leans more into it if anything. Other than management, our ratio probably falls behind most. We (like everyone) have work to do, but I think the culture of TCDI lends well towards a shift.
  • It means striving to make sure women are getting the same opportunities as men, at every level
  • It means showing that men and women are capable of performing the same jobs and when they do, they should be treated similarly.

Who is your greatest role model and how has their influence contributed to your success?

  • My mom is my greatest role model as well as the woman who inspires me most. Not only has she built a successful career, but also more importantly, she has done so while remaining true to herself – with humor, hard work and kindness. Her approach to her career has shown my younger sister and me the importance of persistence, resilience and empowering others along the way to accomplishing your own goals. What I am most proud of, are not her many accomplishments, but the ways in which the young attorneys I have met, describe the role she has played in their careers. I have been lucky enough to hear stories of her mentorship, support and guidance. Having the opportunity to hear firsthand how she has positively affected others in the workplace is the best gift and a true inspiration to me. She inspires me to live up to her example.
  • My mother. She had high expectations, which pushed me to do things I was scared of or didn’t want to do. Once I conquered these things, my confidence rose and I begin to do them on my own.
  • My mother was initially my greatest role model – she and my dad were the original ‘gender-role swap’ in my life, where my mom worked and my dad stayed home with us kids. From her, I learned a lot of what NOT to do, but it was a different time and I’m sure it was tough back then to be ‘the bread-winner’.
  • I was lucky to have many strong women in my family growing up and also in my professional career. The first was my mother. How she managed to raise seven children, own her own real estate company taught me that it was ok to balance work, home and family, while never easy, it was absolutely possible. The second was my dear friend and former boss, Kathryn. Unfortunately passing to ovarian cancer this past year, she taught me to be a better listener, but also to have a voice at the right time, to have fun while working or work is just work, to remain positive, and be thankful for who you have in your life, and enjoy it while you can. My favorite saying from Kathryn when I would ask her when things got tough, “Whatcha gonna do?” She would say “Have a Klondike Bar!” Miss you tons Kath….

What woman/women inspire you?

  • My 10 year old daughter inspires me.  She is very aware of gender equality issues.  Not because of anything I have taught her, but all on her own!  She already observes the way that boys and girls are treated differently, encouraged to act differently, portrayed differently in media, and steered towards different activities and career choices.  She is quick to point out my own unconscious bias and she has made me more aware.  The world has yet to show her that she can’t think, do and be whatever she wants.  And hopefully it never will.  I admire her open-minded confidence!
  • Women succeeding in a male dominated industry.  It’s exciting to see women breaking through barriers and accomplishing what men can do in an industry not many women work in.
  • My mother. Her success she has shown me you can go anywhere in life that you want as long as you put your mind to it.
  • Confident women inspire me. Anytime I see a woman holding her own, it inspires me to do the same. All the women at TCDI fall into this category and I’m so proud to be part of a group of such smart, confident women.

What small things can you do to build other women up or what have women in your life done to help build you up?

  • Listening is key. If a woman finds her voice, we should make sure we listen to what she has to say and not ignore her due to age or gender. People seeming interested in what I have to say has always made me feel more comfortable vocalizing my ideas.
  • Mentoring plays a big role in helping other women.  Being new to a career field is tough and any insight and advice we can give to women new to the field to help guide them through along their career path is important.
  • To build other women up, I try to point out their accomplishments (especially in front of others).
  • Every day the women at TCDI build me up. They do it all. From jumping in to help me solve a problem, to celebrating important life moments together, to making sure my talents and interests are being used to the best of my ability. These women are always there for me with their unwavering support and friendship. I have never felt as if I am competing with the women at TCDI, in fact it is the exact opposite, I believe we truly work as a team to help each other reach our greatest potential. At TCDI, I have always felt that there is room for all of us to achieve our goals. I am grateful every day to be surrounded by such intelligent, compassionate and reliable women.

What advice would you give your younger self?

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Questions are how you learn more and understand areas of confusion.
  • Measure twice, cut once.
  • Speak up, girl. I can’t hear you!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

  • Have an opinion. Sometimes it is the only thing you have.
  • Never let fear or self-doubt keep you from challenging yourself.
  • Ask for help when needed.  I always thought this was a sign of weakness but that isn’t always true.  When taking on something new, it is key to ask for help to make the final product as intended.
  • Work/Life balance is a myth.  It is impossible. Both can’t be in equal balance at all times and if you strive for that, you will wear yourself down trying to achieve it.  When you are at work, be at work.  When you are outside of work, be there.  There are times in your life where you can’t give your all to work – when you have a new baby, a sick relative, a family issue.  Work has to be out of balance at those times because you can’t give equally to both parts of your life.  So maybe work gets 30% of your best and life gets 70%.  Then other times, life is smooth sailing.  So work can get most of your best self because everything else is on auto-pilot.  Balance is about recognizing that there is no balance.  The scales always have to be tipped in favor one way or the other.  And that just has to be good enough.
  • The best advice was from my father when starting my first professional career, “Relationships are key to any business, it’s what you have as you grow in your career and if you’re lucky, you’ll find some that inspire to be your better self along the way”

From all of us at TCDI, Happy International Women’s Day!