Sallie Krawcheck: Be Like a Weeble: Wobble But Don’t Fall Down!

Clover Lewis, reporter for The NextWomen, attended Astia’s We Own It Summit 'Tipping Point Awards Dinner' and afterwards caught up with Sallie Krawcheck, keynote speaker and Business Leader of 85 Broads.

The We Own It collaboration along with Thompson Reuters hosted the Tipping Point Awards Dinner, celebrating the European firms with the greatest number of investments in woman-led companies. Sallie Krawcheck, Business Leader of 85 Broads, delivered a most engaging keynote address for the event.

For those who do not know her: Sallie Krawcheck is a very successful woman. Said to be one of the most successful executives in financial services, her checklist of success includes (quoting her Twitter bio):

85 Broads...Past Head of Merrill Lynch and Smith Barney....Investor....Board Member...Crazed UNC Basketball Fan....Mom

Sallie Krawcheck is also influential. A savvy social media maven; just last week she posted 'My Two Very Simple Rules for Networking’ on LinkedIn, talking about how to communicate with your network to greater effect through ‘pay it forward’ engagement, receiving over 150,000 readers within days. When Sallie talks, people listen.

In Sallie’s own words, she is ‘bullish about women’. This was undeniably evident in her stirring keynote address. With skilful use of humour to convey her message, when Sallie stated, “Women are awesome! And women in business are awesome!” every single woman investor, entrepreneur, and business leader in the room felt as though she was speaking directly to them… and was instantly inspired!

Sallie’s ‘bullishness’ has led her to invest in 85 Broads - I spoke to her in more detail about this and on women in business more generally, in this interview I had the pleasure of conducting.

CL: 'Women in business are awesome!' – Why do you say this?

SK: I’m optimistic about the progress of women in business. I have spent some amount of time looking for evidence that women are economically and financially engaged … and I’m hard-pressed to find anything to refute that.

Research has shown that the best performing teams are diverse teams.

When there are diverse teams (with women as part of the diversity), corporations have:

  • A higher return on equity – by up to 30+%
  • Lower risk, lower volatility
  • Greater client focus, lower gender-pay disparity
  • Greater innovation, and
  • Outperform non-diverse teams

Women portfolio managers drive better investment performance. Women who run startups have better performing startups!

What really interested me… was a piece of research that shows diverse management teams (with women in them) outperform more capable management teams. Thus is the power of diversity.

CL: This evening's winners of the Tipping Point Awards (presented to High-Tech Management GmbH - venture capital firm and Telefonica Ventures & Wayra - corporate venture) are both great examples of how successful investment into companies with women as leaders or founders can be. What are your thoughts about this so-called ‘tipping point’?

SK: I believe we are heading towards a tipping point… The form of engagement in business is changing as we moving away from the ‘right’ way to operate a company, which was to pull in information, hold it to yourself, then execute in a command and control, Jack Welch-ian fashion.

Today, information is available to small companies - on social media, simply by asking. Therefore the great leaders of tomorrow will be people who are good at collaboration, coordination and communication.

Technology is allowing everybody – men and women - to take a different course and to work in a different way.

I agree with Astia (that investing in women and getting women ahead is a good thing to do). I think women investing in themselves and increasingly looking to investing in other women, is the biggest talent and investment arbitrages that exist in the world today. Which is why I delivered the keynote and why I invested in 85 Broads.

CL: What do you think drives business success?

SK: Networking. Networking is extremely important. Research has shown that entrepreneurs are more successful with broader networks. The number one unwritten rule of success reported by women during the course of their career is networking. Women generally recognise this some years into their career…

People are more comfortable networking with people of their own gender.

Research also shows that men are less comfortable in giving women tough or casual feedback. Why? Because they are scared women will get emotional about it. You really have to have a long relationship with a guy in order to get that feedback.

85 Broads (the international women’s networking platform Sallie has invested in which supports women to be successful) provides opportunities for women to come together, meet each other  and also to provide events like how to get on a corporate board, how to get on to a non-profit board, how to pivot into public service, how to establish a personal brand, how to negotiate to win. These are important topics you get information on in an informal way (through networking in 85 Broads).

Finally, Sallie shared these four pieces of advice with WOIS participants & The NextWomen readers:

  1. “Ask for the order!” Ask for help within your network - to be promoted, supported, and connected. This is Sallie's best piece of advice, describing this as something that men do, and women hesitate with, and which is detrimental to career development.
  2. In relation to women and fundraising: “First impressions count... Words matter, and what you lead with matters. When pitching start with the upside.”
  3. “Failing hurts, failing's painful. I’m a Weeble! …(Playskool toy with the strapline ‘Weebles Wobble but they don't fall down!’) Be like a Weeble: when you fail, don't fall down - get back up!"
  4. “The truth of the matter is… there is no secret to success other than hard work. Nothing beats hard work!” Enough said.

This was rousing event to attend as an aspiring entrepreneur. I wish to say a huge thank you to Sallie Krawcheck for a stimulating interview, Sharon Vozmek, CEO of Astia, who presented the awards, as well as all the collaborators involved, including Grange Hotels & Thomson Reuters, and especially Beth Pitts & Simone Brummelhuis from The NextWomen for inviting me to attend the Tipping Point Awards dinner.

It feels only appropriate to end in Sallie’s words:

“Remember this point: Women are Awesome!”

Images courtesy of Yann Berest-Butler.

Clover Lewis, is the Founder and Director of a unique startup, Clover Lewis Swimwear, creating confidence-boosting swimwear for women following breast surgery and women living with uneven breasts. A Fine Art graduate of St Martins College of Art London, she worked in Film and TV before earning her BSc (Hons) to work as a Women's Health Physiotherapist. Clover holds the view that fashion needs to evolve into a vehicle women with unique bodies can use to develop and express confidence and self-image. She now freelances as a Lingerie and Swimwear Designer whilst developing her brand, Clover Lewis Swimwear.

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