I like to tell whomever will listen that my mother taught me how to make PowerPoint presentations instead of how to cook; how to interview properly instead of how to clean; how to put together my resume instead of how to do laundry. This often gets a giggle, or a “wow!” or even a sincere head nod followed by a very high compliment to my mother who clearly defied gender norms before it was cool to do so.
It’s partially true.
My mother was (and still continues to be) a very accomplished, professional woman who did often bring her work home and let me into her world. I find myself becoming her every day, and (while I hated that idea when I was nineteen) I am overflowing with gratitude for it. I don’t believe, however, that she set out to make me into her clone. (She did teach me to cook and clean and all of that. We just spent more time in Excel than the kitchen.) I think she just wanted me to know some of the stuff she had learned on her journey to whatever abstract definition we attach to “success.” And even though a sweet-ass, Canva-embellished Power Point presentation is a great tool in the professional space—it will always fall short to the greatest thing my mother taught me: building, maintaining, and nurturing relationships.
From the second I decided I had to in order to drive wanted to get a job, my mom’s first question was always, “who do you know?”
It was never
What experience do you have?
Are they even hiring?
Are you qualified?
Do you have the time?
I was taught to network authentically from a young age. To build connections with souls that I could not just pull from when I was ready to flip to a new job—but to learn from.
To soak in from.
To marinate with.
Now that I have found my true professional passion, this skill set has been absolutely the most valuable tool in my belt. It has also become one of the most important qualities in a work culture.
Are my colleagues people that will challenge and push me? Are my leaders invested not just in what I can get done in an eight hour workday, but how far I can push my potential? Is this company going to invest as much into me and my development as I am into it?
That’s my why for Columbus Women in Digital.
Because if our skill set and our knowledge is all there is – we are doomed. But if relationships and community are at the core of journey to success—we can achieve greatness.