One of the most interesting reasons why despite how skilled women professionals are, yet men still occupy most of corporate and the top leadership positions, is because men recommend other men. This event just showed me that excluding the glass ceiling, another thing that holds us back as women is, not networking, and perhaps not hyping ourselves enough. I was impressed by Ash, who has been a manager for about a year, yet she has already secured big deals for the local rapper Asaph. And I wondered, how I didn’t I know of her existence?
Thembi Terry referred me to the TED Talk: Teach girls to be brave not perfect. What I saw in the room, including in myself, were multi-talented women who seemed shy about what they do, with some introducing themselves as saying, “I do a lot” with no further elaboration. By introducing yourself that way, automatically, you have lost the opportunity to network and brand yourself. As a panelist, when I was introducing myself, I realized that I have been way too humble and I don’t market myself as much as much as I should because I constantly feel the need to be perfect before I do so. But the reception I received shows I should be braver because I am impressive, and I wished the same bravery for the women who attended.
I too, have been shy about my talents and achievements. Because we have been raised to be perfect, not brave. But over the course of the meeting, people loosened up, said more, asked more, until it evolved from a Q&A to a discussion. It was a safe space crackling with energy where we could be vulnerable about our hopes and dreams without having them crushed. A girl who seemed shy at first approached me at the end of the event, asking me for advice without the fear of being judged she exuded at first.
What that shows is that women should get together more often, take each other’s numbers, share information, tell each other about opportunities, refer their girlfriends to other ladies—just as men do for each other in the professional world which is a gentleman’s club. We need more lady clubs built on more than being there for each other on a friendly basis, we need to be there for each other professionally, and that’s just what Thembi and her Girl Grandeur team did by hosting the Creative Women’s Café under the #SheNspiration project.
Although I was a panelist there to impart knowledge, I learnt a lot too. My Notes App was open the whole time Ash and Thembi spoke as I wrote down the bangers they were saying. I even took notes from women in the crowd. What this shows is ukufunda akupheli (learning never ends) and information sharing is an underutilized tool. For me, the major vibe from the whole event was for us to stop sleeping on ourselves. Hearing other women introduce their impressive resumés, hearing them impart valuable knowledge, was a call to action to do more and be better. I can safely say Thembi and Ash certainly gave me a wake up call to get to my shit together, I got home and immediately started acting on the notes I took, because yes, panelists are not perfect and we’re all on a journey! But as the Creative Women’s Café encouraged us to pull up our socks, it also reminded us to stop being so hard on ourselves and be brave enough to hype our progress and just seize the day.
I look forward to another Creative Women’s Café!