Linda Bowden on How do I Lead

WINGS How do I Lead? Leadership Advice from Linda Bowden, NJ Regional President, PNC Bank

WINGS is proud to bring you this blog and video as part of its “How do I lead?” series that is offered to WINGS mentees.


When was the last time someone recommended that you “give yourself grace” or some similar counsel? Who offered that suggestion? What difference did it make?
Linda Bowden is Regional President at PNC, a veteran executive in the still-male-dominated banking industry, and, surprisingly she offers those words to WINGS mentees.
Linda might sound more like a close friend or family member, or teacher or social worker (both of which she has been), than a senior banker offering professional advice. Grace, after all, is an unearned gift.
To clarify, Linda does believe that young professional women have to work hard–harder, in fact–gain knowledge, and gain confidence. That’s what she did. But these habits and goals should not be pursued at the expense of self-care and doses of joy. A one-dimensional life can lead to stress and burnout, the opposite of sustainable success. So ensure grace for you.
Linda also recommends that women who aspire to lead learn to be sought-after colleagues. Listen with empathy, keep in confidence what others share in confidence, and invite their ideas. Lead with a strong sense of values.
Finally, Linda points out that future leaders must become adept at public speaking. Develop a rich vocabulary and learn to think on your feet. Given how important this one skill can be for leaders, find or make opportunities to practice public speaking.
These are not the run-of-the-mill advice that you might hear from a successful senior executive. Linda is an uncommon leader. We can all learn from her even if we cannot all be her mentees!

In an empowering interview by Bob Eng, Chairman – Board of Directors, WINGS for Growth, Linda Bowden shares her advice to all young women wanting to ascending in their careers!  WINGS is happy to share this empowering and insightful video with you.

My younger self reflection

Self Reflection – Advice For A Younger Self

Hello, welcome to the second of a three part series to bring you the voices of the millennial women of today! I will be sharing their perspectives on opportunities in the workplace, life lessons that I’m sure will resonate with several of you and their take on mentoring. This series was driven by the curiosity of thoughts I have shared below.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

In the game of life, we don’t have time to stop we have to keep pushing ourselves to improve. Growing in life does not come from complacency it comes from consistency and persistence. While young women in all fields have been known to push themselves, there happens to be the question, are they succeeding nearly as much as they could be? Are there acquirable tools to aid in the advancement of their careers?

In other words, is there something that these young women may be missing, such as opportunities or connections, that could boost their careers? I, Anita Chitnis, had the privilege of interviewing young millennial women from California to New York on behalf of WINGS for Growth. These women truly enrich as women who reside in different fields, different backgrounds, and different mindsets.

To protect our participants’ privacy, we have chosen to share only their last initial. We thank them deeply for sharing their voices with WINGS and hope other young women out there find this inspiring. These young women from completely different professions, performing arts, nursing and public health industries, had somewhat similar messages.


For this portion of the series I, on behalf of WINGS, decided to delve into self-reflection. These days the letter to your younger self is a very popular way of reflecting on one’s own action as seen in a variety of posts around the blog world. So, our participants get their two minutes talking to their mini version 10 years ago.

My younger self reflection

If there was a piece of advice you could give to your younger self to help her grow more, what would it be?

“Don’t worry so much about people’s perceptions about you, society will always be the way it is. You don’t have to fit in a mold, just focus on achieving personal success.” – Anjana S., Washington D.C.

“Pick something that you are really interested in now and work hard at it. If it blossoms into something and you can make a career out of that is okay but this is the time to see what you like and don’t like. Don’t shy away from opportunities because it may not work out!” – Laura P., New York City

“Put yourself out there and apply to different positions. Volunteer at small firms to gain experience while building yourself and don’t worry about making mistakes. Just going to one career fair and applying for one internship made me a much more confident person” – Seton K., Morristown

There was a theme that stood out among all, being authentic and true to yourself will enable you to pursue your dream and fulfill a purpose. As we grow, we think back to what demeanor we portrayed as our younger selves. I, personally, look back and wish I had done something different. While we all know hindsight is 20/20, any advice we would have given our younger selves, we can use to better ourselves in the future.  

To go on further about being authentic, recently, I read an interview with Sara Blakely, founder and creator of Spanx. She had said that people may not understand what you are doing and will always give you advice based on what they know in their own life to be true. She went on to explain how she was busy building a business empire for herself, not quite worried about starting a family yet that was the only advice she would receive from others. A few years later she has both, her business and a beautiful family. Being authentic and following your passions can lead to the best of opportunities.

We hope you enjoyed the second of the microblog series and continue to follow our journey as we learn more from these educated women. To see more articles like this please make sure to share your comments below. If you missed our first post in this series, you can find it here

More importantly, we want you to know that there are many ways to get involved with WINGS for Growth. There are mentor roles available or you can explore the idea of becoming a mentee and benefiting from a mentor with us. In addition, you can champion a mentor mentee engagement or be a volunteer to really get to know who we are as an organization! Remember, it is never a bad time to learn something new!

Until next time,

Anita

This blog article was contributed by Anita Chitnis an aspiring writer, blogger and a volunteer at WINGS.

Spring is here – Time to start your professional rejuvenation!

Mentoring can provide much needed care for your professional garden

For months the cold barren fields have made being outside unbearable. Spring is nature’s way of saying it is ready to get down to business, it is the time to flourish. Birds are chirping, animals come out of hibernation, we clean our homes, and go outdoors to rejuvenate our souls. Similarly, in terms of career, we embark on rigorous paths and propel ourselves into more difficult challenges. These challenges can range from wanting to get more involved in your work environment and moving up the corporate ladder to beginning an entirely new career path.

For a professional women, spring can also be the season of cleansing the mind of old tactics and realizing the need for development. Planting seeds in the beginning of spring ensures that we have crops to consume in the coming months. Similarly, the small seeds of effort we put into leadership development and building our skill sets can mature into big initiatives. In order to grow to their full potential, these small seeds need to be nurtured, watered and given incubation. Let us say, as a young professional you have embarked on a journey toward the position you want. You are taking all the right steps in that direction but what if there was a way for you to achieve that goal in an efficient manner? Having access to an open environment, unbiased advice and a strong support system can enable a young woman such as yourself to rise to the top.

How to go about that change?

Finding a mentor who sees potential in you, is a positive way for a young woman to overcome obstacles in achieving her dreams. It is true that finding opportunities to gain practical exposure in areas of interest is tricky and at times inaccessible. Often, I hear the question, “who can benefit from mentors?” Generationally, millennials would benefit from mentoring because they have the passion to create value around them. While mentoring helps young professionals, there is still a general misunderstanding that mentors are only suited for those who have recently graduated and are struggling. The segment of young women who have worked for a few years and want to take charge of their upward career mobility also benefit from mentoring. Not every environment boasts initiatives to drive these women into the next phase of their career and their talent can simply be lost in a sea of mediocrity

Mentorship is a very powerful tool used to launch and advance careers and has been proven to help in all stages of professional development.

As a person wanting change, you need to own it, and drive it. Obtaining a mentor at this stage can help find purpose and make big positive life changes in order to be that fully rejuvenated x.0 version of yourself. Learning from others mistakes, obtaining guidance from industry professionals and propelling yourself forward professionally are just a few reasons that a mentor can be a great tool for a young woman in any stage of her career. As with warm weather and new beginnings, spring is a wonderful time for a professional woman to lay down the seeds for her career.

With the help of a mentor a woman can water and nurture the career plant and watch it grow into something incredible and, best of all, realize her own potential

We all have dreams waiting to be pursued why not get them out of our closets and give them life this spring?

As a nonprofit organization, WINGS for Growth provides a mentoring program on leadership development. At the end of this month our present cohort of mentees will begin their formal mentoring journey. We are incredibly proud of these young women who have taken their first step in taking charge of their professional development. If you need more information about this event, drop a line to [email protected] If you are looking to join WINGS as a mentee, click here

This blog article was contributed by Anita Chitnis an aspiring writer, blogger and a volunteer at WINGS.

Passion and Creativity Make all the Difference in the World

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

In many things in life, the difference between being good and being great is passion and creativity. In my line of work, and when competing, passion and creativity are the main differentiators. Great mentors can help instill that passion in a mentee, and guide you to finding a fresh perspective and bold creativity. Allow me to explain.

When I decided to make dance my career, I was faced with a harsh reality: a severe lack of mentorship when it came to advancing my career as a South Asian artist in a non-South Asian dance world. Growing up in New Jersey, where big communities of Americans of South Asian origin reside, it is commonplace for most girls to experience Indian classical dance training. The difference is that the goal of her training has been entertaining at family events and having a fun hobby, not a serious, focused dance career.

To be fair, as a five year old when I started learning Kathak (one of eight classical Indian dance forms), a career was not my goal either. However, a serious passion for dance and an encouraging dancer mother gently pushed me to strive for excellence in class. I enjoyed the classes and found that I had developed a passion for it. When I began college, and chose to enter into the professional dance world, I realized people who were at the “top” were not much older than me. I also came to realize that my generation is the one that will make the South Asian arts part of the mainstream culture in the United States. We are part of the, as my friend calls it, Indian Dance Renaissance. The question remains, as it does in most professions, how do we obtain mentorship to ensure we stay on the right path?

Obtaining and receiving mentorship is important in most fields. My Guru (mentor) spent one-on-one sessions with me exploring my dance movement and my expressions. She explained the origin of each step and gently guided me to find my dance niche. Great mentors will adapt their teaching style to what fits their student best.

Great mentors will help the mentee find a path that is not only what society defines as “successful” but that will help them grow, challenge the status quo, and ultimately achieve their dreams.

Professional Indian dancers usually work in multiple South Asian companies to make ends meet, so overlap in dance and style is rampant. As I moved forward from performer to teacher, I asked myself– As dancers and teachers, how do we continue to give our students superior mentorship to ensure they can bloom as beautiful and unique dancers while we continue to expand the South Asian dance world?

Over time, the answer emerged.

The world of dance is slowly moving from competitive to collaborative. As children, we were often part of catty dance competitions where dance teachers greeted each other with tight-lipped smiles and stoic eyes, fearing their expressions would leak out their choreography. This was not an environment that promoted healthy competition.

Now, instead of constantly being head to head with one another and trying to decide who is best, we teach that working together and using everyone’s skills together can make an even bigger and better product. In dance, as in any other field, teamwork is as important as individual skills to truly be competitive.

The New Age of Mentors

As the new age of dance mentors gain momentum, we will encourage teamwork. We have the opportunity to mentor young artists and encourage them to consider a career in the arts, not only dancing for family entertainment. We can dare to innovate, bring fresh perspective, be bold, and dream big by performing as our heart directs us.

We can help dancers balance business with art, and find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. We can collaborate across cultural barriers with artists from all fields, and provide mentorship and be role models for our students.

This idea is not limited to dance. Competition can be collaborative in every field. Why constantly worry about who can come up with the next best thing when instead we can work together to find the best solution.

As teachers and mentors, we need to bring out the uniqueness of each of our students and guide them to combine their talents with others. Whichever career you choose to pursue, we need to encourage working collaboratively to find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. Passion and creativity can make all the difference in the world.

Do you need a mentor? Do you wish to become a much needed mentor? WINGS for Growth was created to inspire, enable and empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models. Contact us today www.wingsforgrowth.org

About the Author

Shivani Badgi is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer in NJ/NYC and a volunteer at WINGS for Growth. Visit her website at shivanibadgi.com.

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

Martin Luther King Jr. Had a Dream – Do YOU have a Dream?

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

To help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth wanted to take the opportunity to reiterate how important great role models and mentors are, and to share some inspiring messages to help put us in the mood for the holiday.

As many of us know – but it is worth repeating – Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. This inspirational role model was the author of the “I have a dream” speech. In it, Dr. King so eloquently states “I have a dream that one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.” Although his 1963 speech stressed that even 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed – “the Negro is still not free”, today we celebrate many significant achievements of black people – including the eight year presidency of Barack Obama – which in 1863, no one dared to dream of. Today, daring to dream must continue.

Having role models and mentors, such as Mr. King, enable us to look beyond what is simple to achieve to tackle what is difficult to achieve.

Scientists, doctors, and researchers all work hard each day to prove what can be done – but first, someone had to dream that it might be possible. Who teaches and inspires us to dream? Mothers, fathers, relatives, friends, teachers, religious figures, local as well as famous role models instill in us the need to dream- to reach higher and farther. Mentors then show us HOW to achieve our dreams by sharing their wisdom, leading us, and enabling us to find our way.

What is a mentor?

  • A mentor is a career parent/person who has your best interest in mind
  • “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps to bring it out in you” –Bob Proctor
  • A mentor imparts wisdom
  • A great mentor is a great person first
  • A mentor focuses on ‘developing’ NOT ‘doing’
  • “A mentor is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction” –John C. Crosby

As we celebrate the life and accomplishments of a great person, role model and mentor — Martin Luther King Jr. — remember that it is equally important to find your own passions and way, not to just follow in the footsteps of others.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. — Steven Spielberg

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” — Malala Yousafzai

“We are so often left to wonder whether one person can possibly make a difference. Mother Teresa said yes, we can. Her life was resounding proof that it is possible” — Craig Kielburger

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only celebrated in the USA, it is also recognized and celebrated in MANY countries around the world such as in Japan (Hiroshima), Canada (Toronto), Israel (Jerusalem), the Netherlands (Wassenaar) and more. Though not necessarily a national holiday, each country holds special ceremonies to remember, to teach tolerance and the importance of civil rights.

What will you do to celebrate?

Do you need a mentor? Do you wish to become a much needed mentor? WINGS for Growth was created to inspire, enable and empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models. Contact us today www.wingsforgrowth.org

3 Things to Do for Daily Inspiration

3thingstodo

It’s me again; the person who finds inspiration in the most unlikely places – or should I say many, very likely places – – that is to say, almost everywhere! When you look around and take a minute to think about the people that most inspire you, it becomes clear that these people come in many forms; your neighbor, your teacher from school, a mother or father, your sister or brother, someone from work, an author, someone famous, someone you have known your entire life, and sometimes someone you have just met.

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My Father’s Good Advice

MyFatherGoodAdvice

My father told me many times, “There’s never a bad time to do something good”. This is true today more than ever. With all the crazy things happening in the world, it makes sense to give back and mentor others whenever you can. Our world needs more passionate, inspiring and successful leaders. I was the fortunate recipient of some excellent mentoring during my 26 years on Wall Street, and now I want to share that experience and knowledge with other women. Finding it was difficult for me – so allow me to give back and make it easy for you.

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Women and Leadership

President Eisenhower received a letter from a girl that began with the words “Dear Mr. Eisenhower, I am nine years old” and went on to speak about racial justice. The girl was to become one of America’s leading historians on the Civil War. She was Drew Gilpin Faust.

 

The life story of Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard, offers a panoramic view of the progress of women from the traditional roles of the past centuries to high offices in what can be called bastions of male power.

When women stand up for their rights they make this world a better place

Faust’s interest in the Civil War had a personal angle too. In her book “Mothers of Invention: Women of the slave holding South” Faust traced how the war upended centuries of traditions in gender relationships. With the men folk off to war front women stepped out into roles hitherto no one had ventured into.

Time magazine’s choice for “Person of the year” for 2002 were three women that they called “women of ordinary demeanor but exceptional guts”. Sherron Watkins of Enron, Coleen Rowley of FBI and Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom were honored, in a year when public confidence in the probity of corporations and public institutions reached a record low, for being courageous whistleblowers and for ‘speaking truth to power’. The cover story noted that all three were from humble backgrounds and breadwinners for their families and thus their acts of courage really placed their livelihoods in jeopardy.

While this year may see the hardest glass ceiling of American politics being shattered we should not fail to note other important historical changes in America with regard to women. The US army now permits women in combat roles. Detailed studies prior to that decision showed that many concerns about women not being able to carry out the training or tasks were unfounded. More importantly the studies revealed that many requirements were geared towards men and carried little relevance to modern day battlefield requirements, which women could easily fulfill like any man.

Women should constantly question the assumptions and paradigms that have become ingrained in the subliminal conscience of society over centuries. More often than not the assumptions are just that, assumptions.

A leader is always ready to challenge and question the norm

Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence has spoken at length about how women, including a famous star like her, shy away from bargaining hard for salaries. An article in the British newspaper The Guardian wrote that Lawrence felt the “need ‘to be liked’ and the fear of seeming ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’ kept her from demanding more money”. Lawrence added “based on statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue…Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men?”

Dr. Faust became Harvard’s first woman president and told, at a press conference “I am not the woman president of Harvard, I’m the president of Harvard”. Quite a triumph for a girl whose mother once admonished her that “It’s a man’s world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that better off you will be”.

The lives of the Time magazine trio, Faust and Lawrence offer important glimpses into the value of a diverse and egalitarian world and more importantly underscores the importance of standing up for one’s rights and merits. Dr. Faust refused to learn the lesson her mother wanted her to learn and the world is a better place today.