What if it all works out? The power of positivity

Michael Jordan is perhaps the best basketballer of all time – and half of one of the world’s most profitable partnerships. He’s athletic, talented and driven, but these are traits shared by every professional sportsperson. So, compared to the best, what gave him an almost superhuman ability to stand out?  

His mindset.

Jordan isn’t superhuman – he battled nerves like the rest of us. What set him apart was a supreme mastery of self-doubt. He wasted very little time imagining things going wrong and focused all that energy on planning for it to go well. He had such control of this ability, and he could turn almost anything into fuel. Critical feedback? It was catnip. At the mere suggestion, he wasn’t good enough; he could find a new gear and achieve seemingly impossible physical feats. 

We’ve heard enough success stories to know what you’re thinking. Good for him. With his incredible stature and talent, a bit of self-belief is easy. 

Incredible talent, you say? Are you talking about the guy who got cut from his varsity basketball team for ‘not being good enough’? Jordan’s place in history may now seem inevitable, but he succeeded despite experiencing the kind of setbacks that would make most people quit. Think about all the times you’ve doubted yourself after strong external invalidation of your abilities. Maybe Nat could have been an Olympic swimmer after all. 😉

Positivity is a practice

Last week, Kristen joined fellow Powrsuiter Jodi Willocks at the Wellington launch of consultancy Bastion Shine (yes, please send all the invites our way!). Also on the list were members of the world-champion Black Ferns rugby team. When we say world champion, we mean six-time world champion; these women are good. However, when co-captain Kennedy Simon stood up to speak, she recounted a tough period leading up to the world cup. They’d underperformed on a European tour, and despite overwhelming evidence of their abilities, self-doubt had well and truly embedded itself. 

Then they received this challenge: “what if it all goes right?”.

That (plus a lot of internal work!) was enough to change their mindset. And it led to a record-breaking performance that redefined the place of women’s sports in popular culture. Those of us who watched the final still tear up when talking about it, but perhaps instead, we should just tear a leaf out of their book and embrace the mindset that led to their success. Because if they can do it, why not you?

Get your hopes up!

Common knowledge (and more than a few studies) recognises that success in sports is 90% mental. It’s absurd how little we apply that philosophy to our own careers, and even more absurd how often we default to doing the exact opposite.

Thankfully, failure no longer correlates with death, but our brains don’t seem to have caught up. What may have served us well when looking into a prehistoric predator’s face is limiting when facing a career challenge opportunity. Even with very little on the line, women tend to shy away from situations that put us at risk of failing. We can default to negativity when applying for a new role, trying a new sport, or learning about topics like finance. We overanalyse all the ways things might go wrong but ignore how it could go well.

Here’s a wee truth bomb for you; when you want something, your hopes are already up. Planning for failure doesn’t protect you from the pain of it; it will still hurt. Why put the time, effort and energy behind the outcome you want the least? When we put it like that, it does feel counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

We talk a lot about having a growth mindset these days. Most of us now believe that our abilities aren’t fixed, and that we can learn and improve. Let’s go one step further and imagine the results. Imagine what that life will look like if it all goes right. 

Then go ahead and do it.

30 second action:

Think back to when you took a risk. Remember how you felt at the time? How did it turn out in the end? What did you learn from it?

Feedback is a gift, here’s how to give it with grace

For many of us, the only thing worse than receiving critical feedback is giving it. It doesn’t feel good to make someone else feel bad – and even worse? The Pandora’s Box of potential responses. Most of us have delivered feedback poorly – or given it well only to have a negative situation escalate. When tensions are high, the prospect of making a situation worse can be enough to convince smart people to stay silent. 

Silent, maybe, but not subtle. Our body language and behaviour always deliver feedback, even when our tongues are tied (or wagging in the wrong directions). In our attempts to avoid ‘confrontation’, women often turn to far more toxic tools like passive aggression or talking about people instead of to them. Guilty? Join the club. But the next time you catch yourself moaning about someone, why not try feedback instead?

Feedback is a gift that helps people succeed 

Fear of feedback means we fail to see it for what it really is: a powerful leadership tool. At Hatch, we used it to create a culture of radical collaboration. One of the reasons Powrsuit even exists is because of a piece of feedback between us; the internal processor told the external processor (we’ll let you guess who’s who 😉) she needed more time to digest information. Left unaddressed, these different styles would have led to miscommunications and resentment. Instead? The feedback established a foundation of mutual respect and trust lasting two startups and half a decade. 

A dish best served warm

Embedding feedback into a workplace culture takes time and is not always a smooth road. At Hatch, we hired a lot of people quickly, and many of them had never received quality feedback about their work before. They walked into an environment that was so comfortable with feedback it was given liberally, regularly, and without much of the structure, we now recommend. You can guess how well that went 🫣.

Initially, we were met with every adverse reaction you can imagine. It felt awful. But we took that feedback on board and iterated our approach. Over time, our team started actively seeking input from us and one another; they didn’t just endure it; they enjoyed it. And that’s the trick with feedback. It’s a trust-building exercise that can be built through trial and error and adopting tiny habits. The more (clear, kind) feedback we give and adapt to the feedback we receive, the more it becomes a beloved part of workplace culture. 

Clear is kind: how to give critical feedback without fear

We shouldn’t be afraid of feedback, but we should respect the importance of doing it right. All feedback should be specific, regular and timely. The positive stuff should be doled out like candy in public – people are amazing, and their talent should be celebrated. Critical feedback, however? It’s always a private conversation. Found a quiet spot? Here are five tips for delivering it in a way that builds bridges instead of burning them. 

1. Swap feelings for facts

The first rule of feedback is to assume the best intentions or, better yet, avoid assumptions altogether. Apply the disconnect principle; you know there’s a disconnect between what you expected and what happened – but that’s all you know. You don’t understand why someone delivered a substandard report, failed to send an email, or sat silently in a meeting. Any explanation at this stage is a story you’re telling yourself – one that will likely cause you to put feelings before facts.

2. Listen first

Once you’ve psyched yourself up to deliver feedback, it’s all too easy to dive straight into it. That is the wrong thing to do (yes, we learned this one the hard way!). People react to a negative interaction with their boss six times more strongly than a positive one. Most people are also aware when something isn’t going well. You can avoid much pain by simply asking about the situation first. Be curious, listen to understand, and prepare to be surprised by what you learn.

3. Ask for permission

If you agree with their perspective, you can avoid giving feedback altogether. Feel free to clarify anything or end the conversation there. If you disagree? Ask permission to share your perspective by saying something like, ‘I want you to succeed, so I’d like to give you some feedback. Is that ok?’. Instead of feeling blindsided, the other person can gather themselves and opt-in. 

4. Describe behaviours, not personalities

Remember the internal and external processor example above? That feedback could have been given entirely differently – e.g.’ you’re too dominant’ VS ‘I need a bit more time to digest’. Spot the difference? One assumes a personality problem, and the other focuses on a behaviour that isn’t working. No one should be expected to change who they are, but most of us are happy to adapt if given clear examples of what’s not working and how it impacts others: “When you interrupted me while I was explaining my point, it felt like my opinion wasn’t valued”, and “When you arrived late to the call, it meant we couldn’t complete the agenda”. No one loves hearing it, but critical feedback is far easier to swallow when it’s delivered tactfully.

5. Share the load

The purpose of feedback is to help someone or something improve, and it’s just the first step. When you give feedback, you’re volunteering for a spot on the solution committee, and you need to take that role seriously. The immediate next step is to check if the other person agrees with you by asking questions like “does that feel like a fair representation?”. Remember, this is a joint problem-solving exercise, so once you’re on the same page, agree on the next steps. These could be anything from taking a few days to reflect to agreeing to solutions. Regardless of the plan, it’s your responsibility to check in again and talk about how things are going. Hopefully, the next conversation will be pure positivity.

30 second action:

Give positive feedback! When you spot someone doing something you appreciate today, tell them in the moment. Timely, specific feedback can be actioned in under 30 seconds and should be practised regularly.

Welcome to our new podcast: PowrUp 🎙️

The world is better when more women are in positions of power and influence.

As the world emerged from Covid, we left Hatch and were shocked to find that, while we’d been growing our business, every gender equity metric had slid backwards. 🫣 We’re no spring chickens, but we still get ID’d occasionally, making us exceptional. We have high levels of self-confidence but take that claim literally: we are the exception to the norm. In a world where women-founded startups receive under 2% of venture capital, ours was acquired after 5 years. Women comprise a quarter of executive positions, and we’ve both held them.

But we shouldn’t be exceptional. So, we left our cushy corporate roles to open source the leadership playbook and get more women represented in positions of power and influence at every level.

Our newsletter was our first step, and our podcast, PowrUp, is the second. Think of us as your personal cheerleaders, providing the tools to equip yourself with the confidence and skills to shape your career on your terms. Of course, we hope to entertain, enlighten, and inspire you along the way. 🫶

In ep 1, How to negotiate your salary, we challenge you to get what you deserve. Learn the best ways to capture and communicate the value you bring to the table. Prepare for this critical conversation from giving yourself a pep talk to having a plan b.

In ep 2, What is the Metaverse? we demystify today’s digital worlds. This is your jargon-free (and tech-bro-free) guide to the new digital realm. Learn about the women shaping them and why, as women leaders, we must be across developments in virtual reality.

In ep 3, Imposter Syndrome, get unfiltered advice on overcoming the fraud in your feelings. Learn the surprising history and bust the myths behind this global ‘epidemic’ experienced by high-achieving women leaders.

You can listen to PowrUp in all its glory on any of your favourite podcasting platforms – make sure to hit subscribe or follow so that you get notified when new episodes drop each week!

International Women’s Day: it’s not all doom and gloom

The theme for International Women’s Day this year feels more #TimesUp than #EmbraceEquity. Is it the disconcertingly opaque campaign to get women hugging themselves or the multitasking required to navigate two separate themes? Is it because some organisations #embrace performative hashtags more enthusiastically than closing the gender pay gap? Or that women spend 364 days of the year dealing with inequity, only to have work increase on the one day designated to commemorate our progress? 

We get it; no one is in the mood to celebrate.

International Women’s Day has come to feel like just another task on our plates – for those of us asked to bring a plate for a shared lunch, we mean that literally. But, one hundred and fifteen years ago, 15,000 women marched in the streets for labour rights and planted the seed for a global day of advocacy and celebration. Today we have a choice; to opt-out or to regroup. We vote for the latter.

Look how far we’ve come!

Only three generations have passed since 1908. Today, women’s equality is focused on continuing the progress started in large part by our grandmothers. It may be slow and painful, but it has happened, so pick up your IWDTM vulva cupcake and enjoy a bit of positivity.

Workforce representation

In 1908 we certainly weren’t debating the gender pay gap because most women weren’t in the paid workforce. Working women were usually poor, unmarried and uneducated, with minimal career choices.

Today? The research is in, and it shows that organisations with more women in positions of leadership are more profitable and socially responsible. Yes, more of us need to be in those positions, but globally we now make up roughly half the workforce. Women’s increased participation is one of the most remarkable economic developments of the 20th century. We know that the pay gap has stagnated, but we’re no longer the only ones who know it; this very topic is on the radar in a way that it’s never been before.

Paid maternity leave helps women succeed in the workforce, and all but two countries (*cough* USA *cough*) now offer it. Globally, paternity leave has also increased threefold since the nineties and European countries are quickly paving the way for a fairer future. Many offer flexible and generous leave policies that include all parents, regardless of gender or biology. Unsurprisingly, they’ve found that sharing leave evenly leads to sharing housework evenly. It encourages gender equity in the workplace and enables fathers to play a bigger role in their children’s lives #EquityBenefitsEveryone.

Boardroom representation

In 1908 women were at kitchen tables, not board tables. It was 1934 before Lettie Pate Whitehead became the first to serve on the board of a publicly listed company.

Recent projections for boardroom equity have us there as soon as 2038 – time to get cracking on your governance CV. The movement has also gained support from some heavy hitters; stock market and credit bureau chiefs have openly recognised the performance improvements organisations gain through diversity and are rolling out criteria to increase it. 

These influential leaders aren’t do-gooders; their actions are ruthlessly focused on ensuring business sustainability. They say the key lies in more women at the top, and what they say goes; the 350 largest companies listed on the London Stock Exchange have just hit their combined 40% gender diversity target three years ahead of schedule.

Political representation

In early 1908, some women had the right to vote, but many were still fighting for it. Suffragettes were up against such solid arguments as the fear that voting would cause women to grow beards (spoiler: we already were). 

In 2022, gender issues dominated political campaigns worldwide and largely determined voters’ choices. Women’s participation in parliament is now at its highest level ever. For the first time, women are represented in every functioning parliament. In the last year, six countries saw women promoted to top parliamentary positions for the first time, and the number of parliaments with gender parity doubled (from three to six, but progress is progress!). 

We’ve come too far to wave the white flag now

Yes, we know the devil’s in the detail and recognise that the bad stats outweigh the good (we really do, we’ve trawled through them for this article 🫣). We also know the label ‘women’ applied as an umbrella term hides all sorts of inequality for women of colour and the struggle faced by trans women to justify their inclusion

The world has a long way to go, and feeling frustrated is ok. It’s more than ok to opt out of any day devoted to ‘celebrating’ something that should be the norm. But we’ve seen too much progress to give up now. We can’t sit back, check out and wait decades for the status quo to change. We can collectively take small, impactful actions daily. 💥

Powrsuit is up for the challenge. We quit our cushy corporate jobs to devote ourselves to changing the face of leadership, and we’re only just getting started. 🫶

How to be your own hype girl: The art of self-promotion

Do you suffer from FOIY (Fear Of Introducing Yourself)? Ok, the acronym isn’t a thing, but the fear really is. We’ve all been there, that moment when someone asks, “so, what do you do?”. Cue: a mind as blank as the faces that turn to stare at you.

Before your brain starts dishing out excuses for your inability to articulate your value: No, it’s not bragging. No, your work alone won’t prove your worth. Yes, you do have something important to say. Yes, people will think you’re more interesting if you (succinctly) tell them why they should.

Thanks to ‘likeability bias’, women are less likely to promote themselves. We expect men to be assertive; it feels natural when they partake in self-promotion – but when we try it on for size? It doesn’t quite fit. We are socialised to be kind, amiable, and pleasant. Those of us who stray too far from these delightful adjectives are labelled with even better ones like ‘passionate’, ‘intense’, ‘loud’, or ‘aggressive’. *wince*

In a classic catch-22, our lack of self-promotion is also responsible for the perception that we are less ambitious and decisive than our male counterparts. When we don’t articulate our value, we lose out on promotions, raises, and investor backing. Less than 2% of venture capital funding went to all-female founding teams in 2021. Yep, more bias.  

Your work may be excellent, but it’ll never be excellent enough to speak for itself

Systemic bias feels like a big topic to tackle, but hey, why not? Women have successfully changed hearts and minds regarding marathons, elections and credit cards; compared to that list, likeability seems an easy win. Just like the leaders before us, we have the opportunity to rewrite the self-promotion playbook and make it work for us. Unlike many of them, we can do without fearing anything but failure. So, put on your powrsuit because it’s time to sell like a girl:

LinkedIn: yes, we still hang there

LinkedIn can be a toxic mess of self-aggrandising and #BoastPosts. However, ‘quirks’ aside, it’s is a great place to build a profile (and following) by sharing relevant news or a recent experience – personal or professional. Put simply: it’s a must for personal brand management.

Like most platforms, LinkedIn is just a blank canvas – people make it what it is. Your future community are scrolling through their feeds, looking for inspiration and information. These people can help you get where you want to go, so tell them what you’ve done! Authentically share your successes and stories. Be visible, be genuine, be you. Let’s add some Big Female Energy to LinkedIn.

Powrsuiters showing us the way are Anna Parker, Candyce Costa and Samantha Gadd.

Rehearse your elevator pitch

People are busy; they want to understand who you are (and why they should care) in under 60 seconds. An elevator pitch captures what makes you uniquely you – and hints at what you can offer. 

Don’t have a pitch yet? It’s key to building networks (we know you’re networking now!). Think of it as a ‘short and sweet’ description of who you are, what you do, and what you’re working on. Once you have yours down, you can roll out a variation of it in any situation (cue: nodding heads and smiles). Kristen is the PowrPitchTM  master, so we’ve broken down her five components to provide a template for yours:

  1. Intro: Hi, I’m [your name here].
  2. One liner: I’m a [journalist, connector, problem solver, leader].
  3. Superpower: I get out of bed to [grow startups, simplify complex challenges].
  4. Evidence: Recently, I have [delivered an incredible project, solved a problem, or achieved a thing].
  5. Ask (optional): Right now, I’m looking to [find a new job, launch a new business, learn a new skill, meet new people].

Put it together and keep it short, sweet and conversational. You have our permission to switch up words and make it your own, but keep from going over 60 seconds. Struggling? Nail your superpower by asking friends and colleagues what they rely on you for. Make sure you also keep a running list of 2-3 success stories you’re proud of, polish them all and switch up your evidence depending on the situation.

You can (and should) be proud and excited; people are genuinely interested in hearing about the cool things you’ve done. And practice makes perfect, so test your pitch on friends, family, and the people in the elevator beside you – it’ll take a few tries to get it down. With that in mind, Kristen and Nat have volunteered to share theirs:

Hi, I’m Kristen –  a leader in the startup space. Solving problems at scale is an incredible place to be. I was a co-founder at the investment platform Hatch, and we’re immensely proud of its impact on Kiwi wealth building. After we exited to FNZ, I caught the bug to start something new with my co-founder Nat. We’ve just launched Powrsuit, a platform for women to amplify their impact as leaders. We’re currently learning about where we can have the biggest impact.

Hey, I’m Nat – a serial founder with a mixed bag of successes. Most recently, I co-founded Hatch to change the wealth stories of New Zealanders. An epic four years later, Hatch was acquired by FNZ, and it was time for the next challenge. When we came up for air, the lack of progress in workplace gender equity was glaringly obvious, so Kristen, my co-founder and I started Powrsuit to solve the problem at scale. Powrsuit is a platform for women to amplify their impact as leaders. Right now, we’re working on our first product.

30 second action:

Write a list of personal and professional accomplishments over the past 12 months. This will help form your elevator pitch (and remind yourself how fabulous you are!). Mega bonus points: Deliver a practice elevator pitch to a friend or record/write it and send it to us (go on, do it, we shared ours!).

Quotas work. Let’s scrap them.

Last week, Nat was at the UX NZ conference – a two-day event jam packed with ideas, inspiration, and something that’s now become very normal. Being in a hall full of people is nowhere near normal these days, so what felt strangely ordinary? The incredible diversity of speakers. 

Those who’ve been around the block a time or two will remember the good old days when the word ‘conference’ was synonymous with manels and single-sex speaker lists. Change didn’t happen by chance. Many of us wrote to the organisers of different conferences asking where the women were, others curated contact lists for those who found it ‘too hard to find female experts’, and yes, some publicly named and shamed. As a result, many conferences introduced quotas. 

Quotas work. 

It’s been proven time and time again. From Fire Departments to Parliaments, quotas have increased the representation of everyone apart from white men. Increased representation has, in turn, led to better retention, productivity and profits. It’s a no-brainer, and, like most habits, once established, quotas become unconscious. Diversity becomes the norm.

But, we should scrap them.

Humans suffer from loss aversion, which has made quotas extremely unpopular with one dominant group. It’s hard to have things taken off you, and removing half the familiar seats at the table is no small thing. The loss felt by many men has led to a crisis that some of us, as beneficiaries of colonialism, might also suffer if we were forced to give up advantages we lucked into. 

As empathetic leaders, it’s not good enough to laugh off the misfortunes of the pale and male. And frankly, we’re tired of maintaining a straight face while explaining that the over-representation of one group at the top disproves the ‘best person for the job’ argument. So let’s get rid of quotas. Let’s stop putting the burden on minorities to justify their rise up the ranks. 

The pitch for a quota-free world

The problem with quotas is they’re a cop-out. They shriek of charity – of creating space for representation just because. At a time when women leaders are quitting in their highest numbers ever because they feel unrecognised, organisations looking for healthy talent pipelines need to act. So let’s flip the script and ask, ‘what do organisations gain through diverse leadership?’ An incredibly valuable variety of skills, experience and knowledge, that’s what.

Instead of mandating, say, a 30% quota, why not instead identify and seek out the unique qualities that women bring? Yes, nature and nurture do have an impact on the skills, opportunities and experiences of different groups – that’s why we call it equity, not equality. Off the top of our heads, we can think of a few vital characteristics predominantly found in women, yet we rarely see them recognised in job descriptions or performance reviews:

  1. PerspectiveWomen control 85% of household spending, so they’re probably responsible for the decision to buy most products and services. Having members of a business’s target market on the leadership team gives them a head start in understanding their behaviour (and avoiding embarrassing faux pas).
  2. Empathy and connection: While studies show that gender may not impact overall emotional intelligence, it does affect the skills that make it up. Men outperform women in assertiveness and confidence, and women beat men in empathy and interpersonal relationships. Want an engaged workforce? Seek out these traits when filling leadership positions.
  3. Culture: Men are more likely to make ‘visible’ workplace contributions, like attending optional meetings, while women engage in ‘invisible’ and time-consuming activities like mentoring,  organising social events and DEI initiatives. Umm, how are these activities invisible? They’re the key to a strong culture, especially in a hybrid world. They need to be recognised as the vital contributions they are.

Yes, we’re being slightly tongue-in-cheek about quotas. Again, for those in the back seats, they work. But quotas aren’t a checkbox exercise; they are a tool for improving organisational performance. Top talent should be recognised, not tokenised.

Let’s use smart tools to remove bias from job ads, review the leadership traits that are advertised for, and seek strong collaborators and communicators. It’s time to redefine connecting as a skill, not a social club task.

Rather than force women to justify their right to the seat they’re given at the table, let’s challenge ourselves as leaders to do the work of defining why we deserve to be there.

30 second action:

Take note of the ‘invisible tasks’ you do to keep your workplace culture humming – mentoring, celebrations and social activities, cards and gifts, snacks, conflict resolution, playing therapist, and diversity education. At your next 1 on 1, include them in your list of valuable contributions.

How to run an effective meeting

Most meetings stink. Yes, even the ones you organise. Many Employees Eagerly Talking (see what we did there?) is the best-case scenario. Next time you’re at the 50-minute mark, look around. Someone is checking their phone, someone is doing other work, and you’re probably organising your household chores. Most have tuned out. 

Give people space, and we’ll fill it! Case in point, meetings never ever ever finish early, do they? Harvard Business Review estimates that we are losing billions from wasted time – not including the hours we spend grumbling about our jammed calendars. Want better? (we know you do!). These six meeting hacks are backed by science – so let’s reclaim our precious time.

1. Do you even need a meeting?

Before you flick out yet another invite, mentally go through this checklist:

2. Articulate the agenda

In one sentence, can you describe why you are meeting? The purpose should be clear before you join; if it’s not, it’s worth asking. One person prepping an agenda is far faster than many people figuring it out on the fly. 

You are meeting to move forward on something, so here’s a simple structure: What do we need to share? What do we need to decide? What are the following actions required? Assign the tasks using a what, when and, importantly, who framework. 

3. Meetings aren’t a spectator sport 

The leaner the invite list, the more time it leaves for the uninvited to get on with it. Trust us; there’s no FOMO when it comes to meetings. Meeting minutes are meeting manners, so assign one person to note down significant discussions, critical decisions and next steps. This 2-minute read can help non-attendees to stay in the loop in a fraction of the time.

4. Try the 15-minute meeting on for size 

Calling all efficiency aficionados. Research shows that we can only pay attention for 10 to 18 minutes before checking out. If meetings are unavoidable, try scheduling them for 15 minutes. Don’t trust yourself? Set a timer and stand up! Popularised by Silicon Valley, the stand-up meeting is designed for brevity – the longer you stand, the more uncomfortable you’ll get. And yes, you can still stand on video.

5. Ban phones (gasp)

Ruthless! Studies have shown our colleagues judge our scrolling – but we know very well that phones are distraction machines. Basecamp and others also ban laptops. Pull out the bic; handwritten notes are more memorable, anyway. It also gives you an excuse to get a lovely planner – an industry expected to balloon to $1.8 billion – someone’s on to something here!

6. The 10-minute rule

It’s time to ban ‘back to backs’ – they are no longer a badge of honour. Let’s give everyone back 10 minutes to review their tasks, collect themselves and turn their sights to the purpose of the next meeting. 💥

It’s time to make home life work for you

In the middle ages, unmarried women had a harder time finding work. They were relegated to low-value jobs like spinning wool – and that, Powrsuiters, is why the term ‘spinster’ exists today. 

Modern women have very different prospects than their medieval sisters. These days, men are the main benefactors of marriage – even if many are oblivious to the health and happiness they gain. Their wives? They’re statistically worse off – even if society refuses to believe it. Those sympathetic assurances that your single friends will ‘find the right man one day’? They’re being directed at the happiest group of all. Our favourite RomCom could have been called She’s Just Not That Into You.

Navigating the complex world of household chores is hard, and not all of us are lucky enough to be single or in a relationship with another woman. 😉 Many Powrsuiters find themselves with a partner who ignored the warnings to stay away from career women and married anyway (#HopesAndPrayersForHusbands).

If you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”
Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioural Science.

It’s time to make home life work for you

When Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, resigned, many assumed she walked away to spend more time with her 4-year-old child. We’re still waiting to hear the same rationale applied to a male politician who renounces their position. Neve is a gorgeous wee girl, but the double standards faced by working women and men are anything but. 

Many Powrsuiters have experienced the challenges of juggling the personal and professional firsthand. Last week, we spoke to an executive coach who works with a select few high-performing executives. While you’d assume the biggest challenges facing this group would be their immense workplace responsibilities, her recent sessions with a top-tier director have instead focused on negotiating household chores with her husband. 

Another conversation last week reinforced what we already know; household demands negatively impact women’s careers. In the middle of a (second) glass of wine at a lovely Auckland, NZ bar, an ambitious Powrsuiter announced that once women had children, it was unrealistic to hope their careers would stay centre stage. 

So this week? We’re taking action.

Maybe women can’t have it all. Perhaps we don’t even want to. But what we can hope for is a better work/life balance. So join us to defy the stats, and create a home life that re-distributes the workload, so that we can reach our career goals, whatever they may be.

Behind every great married woman is a partner who shares the load

No one (apart from Nat) enjoys cleaning. No one (including Nat) wants to do the dishes. But these chores, alongside many others, still need to be done. However, how they are done is totally up for grabs. We’ve picked the brains of experts and professional women and pulled together three approaches to fairly divide the mental load to free up time for the things that matter (pssst. That’s you).

Pay to make them go away

During Anne Elder Knight’s Growing Greatness programme, she asks participants to list all the chores they have on their plates. Then, she asks them to identify the ones they can pay other people to do. Yes, we understand there’s a level of privilege in the ability to outsource your chores – but if you do have spare cash, outsourcing could be your best investment. If money is tight, a short-term arrangement can be enough to buy some sanity – consider paying for a helping hand during stressful seasons.

Divide out the doing

If we had a dollar for every time we heard that women are naturally better at multitasking, we’d be on a flight to Hawaii. Incidentally, women are not better than men at seeing mess either. What we are good at, however, is taking on the role of project manager and doer at home. But we don’t need to. Are you in a relationship with someone who is pathologically unable to remember school trips, appointments, gifts, or the shopping list? Then it’s time to stop trying to make them. Instead, split household roles into two: you can embrace the role of project manager and make sure the house runs like clockwork – but leave all the doing to your partner. Yes, it’s time to walk away from the dishes, washing machine and vacuum.

Own the task

Instead of breaking chores down by role, why not break them down by task? Grab your partner and a glass of something yummy, and create a complete list of everything required to keep your household functioning (or take a shortcut and buy this great game). Divide the tasks fairly between you and agree on the minimum standard you expect for each – i.e. do you really have to iron your pillowcases? Your tasks become your (or your partner’s) responsibility to complete from planning to execution – yep, the whole shebang. Remember to schedule regular check-ins to review and reshuffle work as required.

30 second action:

Invite your partner (or yourself) on a planning date. Change starts with understanding the status quo, so use this date to get clear on who’s currently doing what. Bonus points if you challenge yourself to determine whether it’s a fair division.

Are you managing or leading?

Turns out management really is the problem

When managers account for roughly one in every ten employees, it might come as no surprise that they place an outsized burden on an organisation’s costs and complexity. As a result, organisational structures are constantly being reworked to address demands for efficiency

While many think the titles are interchangeable, managers and leaders actually play very different (and very important) roles – and very few people are good at both. Once you understand the difference, you’ll be able to recognise the two hats and know the right one to put on in every situation.

Management is a role, but leadership is a state of being

Leadership has nothing to do with job titles. 

Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Nelson Mandella are just some of the great leaders of the last century. The commonalities of this varied group perfectly define the label; they can inspire people to buy into a shared vision and give them the confidence to achieve it. 

On top of empathy, charisma and a powerful sense of purpose, these household names have one other vital trait in common; they weren’t promoted to a formal leadership position. Their influence didn’t come from sitting at the top of a hierarchy; it resulted from an incredible ability to inspire change.

Leaders use influence, managers require power – and a manager’s power is bestowed on them by their job title. Within an organisational hierarchy, managers are responsible for controlling how work gets done. They are generally accountable for delivering outputs, which can lead to micromanagement. And while this may have worked in a production line, it can backfire in modern workplaces.

Managers execute a vision, leaders create it

As you rise through the ranks, the importance of exhibiting leadership traits increases accordingly. At an executive level, leaders are expected to see the big picture; understand the business as a whole system, and see how the moving parts interact. They deal in nuance and uncertainty and are adept at juggling competing priorities. Great leaders become symbolic figures; without relying on individual relationships, they can bring people together and engage, empower, and motivate them to achieve their vision. 

Where leaders are artists, managers are technicians. Their role has a narrow focus; to execute the vision. A good manager can understand their team’s tasks and ensure they get done; they are organised, detail-focused, and tactical. They rely heavily on their ability to closely oversee the flow of work, which has become more difficult in a remote/hybrid world. 

Because a manager’s primary focus is on the outputs (not the people performing them), they can make poor leaders. A study of 10,000 leaders within Google found that technical ability came last on the top 8 traits employees identified in an effective leader. We see the irony as organisations tend to promote technically sound experts to leadership positions.

How to show leadership at any level 

While the title of ‘manager’ is only ever assigned, leadership can be exhibited in any situation. We see examples of it everywhere, from the friend who organises a book club to students who speak out against gun violence. Within an organisation, ‘leaders’ are found at more than just senior levels. They’re easy to spot; they’re usually the people others look to for advice and guidance.

The transition can be extremely challenging for those thrust into a formal leadership role (congratulations!). The skills that got you into the position aren’t the ones to make you any good at it. Adding to this seismic shift is a challenge unique to high achievers; they are used to being good at what they do. 

Becoming a good leader at any level can mean putting the skills you’ve honed for years aside and learning an entirely new set almost from scratch. So, regardless of whether you’ve landed a leadership role or are starting in an entry-level position, it’s time to get practising:

Look across, not within
Managers are specialists, but leaders are generalists. To become a good leader, you must move outside your functional comfort zones and look outwards to the bigger picture. Whatever you’re working on, take the time to understand its broader impacts and collaborate with people from other business areas. Especially if it’s an area you need to gain more knowledge of. When making a strategic decision, learn how it relates to the broader competitive and economic environment.

Navigate competing demands
Learn how to make decisions for the good of the whole organisation, not just your area. Departments often compete for budget and people, but leaders must make trade-offs. Next time you’re working on a project, consider the desired outcomes and consider how that might impact your behaviour.

Build empathy over logic
Leaders empower people to achieve results rather than focusing on the outputs they need to deliver. Are you able to succinctly communicate the strategy you’re working towards? Can you align it with the values of the people you work alongside? Have you asked for critical feedback recently?

30 second action:

The next time you’re in a group situation (or watching a reality TV show!), identify the most influential person. No, they aren’t always the loudest. Who does the rest of the group look to for decision-making or to give advice and recommendations? Title aside, they are the leader.

The Rise of the Empathetic Leader

Many of us have worked in hierarchical organisations. You know, the sort where senior management sets financial targets, then divvy up tasks and budgets accordingly; the sort that refers to people as ‘resources’.

The effectiveness of this masculine leadership structure is not in dispute – it has undoubtedly led to the success of most of the world’s biggest companies. However, a new type of empathetic leader is emerging in a labour market that’s switched from brawn to brains. As the world grapples with climate change, automation, and disruption, we’ve learned that diverse workforces can solve pressing challenges more innovatively. And guess what diverse employees need? Empathetic leaders. 

Always be closing connecting

Empathetic leaders genuinely believe that people are their biggest asset – from employees and customers to a country’s population. They believe their role isn’t to be ‘in charge’ but to be responsible for those in their charge – to create an environment that inspires and enables people to perform at their best.

Rather than enjoying the power of being the boss, empathetic leaders focus on being great servants. Where a traditional top-down leader would convey their needs and expect employees to deliver on them, empathetic leaders seek buy-in and then look to supply what their people need to do their best work. Fewer KPIs and micro-management, more support and psychological safety. When someone underperforms? Empathetic leaders put effort into understanding why, then adapt around the health issue, childcare chaos, or other stressors – recognising that we can’t always operate at 100%.

Sound touchy-feely? Here are the cold, hard stats: highly empathetic senior leaders who care for an employee’s life circumstances double employee engagement. By creating a safe space for people to make mistakes, collaborate, and ask for help, they also increase the levels of innovation – sixfold. 

The disconnect between leaders and people

The post-pandemic world has highlighted a gap between leaders’ perceptions of their roles and what their people need from them. A 2022 BusinessSolver study found that while almost three-quarters of employees were more motivated under empathetic leadership, roughly the same number of CEOs worried that showing empathy would cost them respect. 

Fortunately, the post-pandemic world has also provided some real-world examples that should alleviate that worry:

When it comes to flexibility, employees won’t bend

Virtually every respondent in BusinessSolver’s study agreed that offering flexible hours demonstrates empathy. As the world opened up and organisations started to enact their ‘return-to-work’ policies, many miscalculated employee expectations (and their desire to hit rewind).

Having adapted to a new way of working, people expected their employer to protect this ‘new normal’. Fifty percent of organisations failed to meet this expectation, and this widespread lack of empathy was a key contributor to The Great Resignation. Conservative estimates place the cost of replacing an employee at up to twice their annual salary, so when competent women head for the exit, it costs a pretty penny.

Layoffs come at a cost

The decision to reduce headcount is a complex and sometimes necessary one. While organisations can mitigate negative impacts by treating employees with empathy, those that don’t send a loud and clear message, ‘we care more about our bottom line than you’. 

Aside from the potentially dangerous consequences for those who lose their jobs, poorly executed layoffs often don’t achieve the desired financial results. Recent tech layoffs (more on this below!) provide numerous case studies of the consequences of putting knee-jerk reactions before people. 

If you must make tough decisions in 2023, consider severance packages, accelerated share vesting schedules, and career coaching to help soften the blow. Comply with laws, act with integrity and take a page from Jacinda’s book: be kind. 🫶

Empathy is a trainable muscle

While empathy is an innate human trait – it’s why babies cry reflexively in response to other crying babies – psychiatrists attribute only about 10% to genetics. Leading with empathy requires practice, a challenge that a ‘boorish’ Steve Jobs accepted after being fired from Apple in the 1980s. And, when research consistently shows that the best leaders refuse to sacrifice compassion when seeking performance, there’s no better time to brush up on our ability to “do hard things in a human way.”

30 second action:

One of the easiest and most effective ways for leaders to cultivate empathy is to have regular agenda-less one-on-ones. In the next 30 seconds, book a catch-up, and turn up with the question: “How are *you* doing?”.

3 career habits to break (and 1 to make) in 2023

We’re 25 days into 2023, which means most of us have done away with our New Year’s resolutions. We thought technology would deliver flying cars by now, but instead, we have apps that can pinpoint the exact day we quit trying to become better people. Most studies on New Year resolutions indicate that the majority of them fail, so we understand the urge to give up while you’re ahead behind and live a heathen life. 😉

In an unscientific Instagram/LinkedIn poll last week (#LikeAndFollow), we did discover that three-quarters of Powrsuiters are looking for positive change – specifically at work. Congrats to the almost 50% of employers who’ve delivered a clear path of progression (the other half might need to subscribe to Powrsuit).

Many of us have ingrained habits that impact our ability to achieve our work goals. We’ve rounded up three that are career-limiting and one that can set you up for success. While motivation is still high and we are still officially in ‘fresh start effect’ season, let’s get down to business.

1. Stop saying sorry 

Two women walk into a bar. They both apologise so much that the bar closes before they finish. Bad jokes aside, start paying attention, and you’ll notice how much time women spend apologising. Amy Schumer’s ‘Sorry’ skit may hit a little too close to home.

A man and a woman bump into each other. She apologises, and he reassures her it’s ok. Studies support what many of us recognise; women apologise far more than men – but the reason might surprise you. Research from the University of Waterloo found that men and women apologise the same amount when they believe they should. Putting aside the trope of men not being able to recognise when they’re at fault, this highlights a very real issue with women and their personal threshold for ‘wrongdoing’. 

A good apology is the outcome of genuine remorse and self-reflection and shouldn’t be an automatic response. When women overuse the word unnecessarily, it loses meaning and is, quite frankly, annoying. 

While it may feel like an innocuous compulsion, over-apologising can highlight a lack of professional maturity. Every ‘sorry’ takes the spotlight off the topic and shines it on an individual’s needs. As you move up the career ladder and are expected to take on more responsibility with less support, constant requests for reassurance wear thin. It may even reduce leadership confidence in your ability to step up – so when the urge arises, bite your tongue


Keep track of how many times a day you say sorry. Keep a count in a physical or digital notepad, and let us know your #SorryCount.

2. Ditch the body obsession

Steve Jobs wore black skivvies every day for a reason: to reduce the mental fatigue that comes from decision-making. Many high-profile leaders have adopted the same habit to free up the brain space for the much-more-important work they have on their plates. Yet, many women still devote much of their brain space to fixating on their bodies.

The latest beauty craze, Buccal fat removal, is the latest in a long line of fads that encourage women to modify themselves to conform to the newest standard. A conspiracy theorist may think the constant pressure to switch up how you look was designed to overwhelm women, so they had less time to take on the world. A regular person would be forgiven for thinking the same.

You, however, can rebel. Be fit, eat healthily, and head to the gym, salon or botox clinic whenever you like – it’s good to feel good. But quit the negative self-talk that’s doing nothing but taking up valuable brain space. 

It’s 2023, and your value doesn’t come from your waist/hips/thighs. As leaders, we must add ‘positive role model’ to our job descriptions – younger people look up to us, and the normalisation of self-hatred is not the future we aspire to create.


Get down with Love, Sex and Goopstrip naked in front of the mirror and look at your body. Recognise the flaws, and find the bits you do like. Get comfortable in your own skin.

3. Neutralise the #PassAgg 

Confrontation is scary; feedback is scarier. Avoiding both in favour of snarky comments, gossiping, backhanded compliments or subtle digs – well, that makes us the toxic ones.  

While there are difficult personalities and dynamics in every workplace, most sources of conflict are simply miscommunications. We often overestimate how much others know about our feelings and can unjustifiably resent the message. Rather than addressing issues head-on, women have been socialised to adopt passive aggressive behaviour, expressing hostility ambiguously and indirectly

Passive aggressive behaviour may deliver short-term validation, but long-term? It negatively impacts our reputations, and we miss out on learning critical leadership skills. 

As we progress up the career ladder, we must neutralise this toxic trait to develop relationships, manage conflict and lean into clear, kind and honest feedback. The ability to constructively assert an opinion has an additional benefit; it lets colleagues know that we do, in fact, have one. 


The first step to breaking the #PassAgg habit is getting comfortable with the fact that it’s ok to disagree with people at work.

One habit to make in 2023: boundaries

Putting your own oxygen mask on first, doing less better, self-care… Boundaries are the hedge that protects your ability to get important sh*t done. The 2022 phenomenon of ‘quiet quitting’ could be more accurately described as ‘acting your wage’, establishing boundaries, and refusing to go above and beyond. Burnout is real, and learning to say ‘no’ can be your best defence

Want to supercharge this habit while minimising pushback? Boundaries, like affirmations, are best spoken aloud. Initiate meaningful conversations about why you won’t accept a 7:30 pm Zoom call or why you switch off on the weekend. Go on, practise clear, kind and honest communication (#NoMorePassAgg!).

We want you to protect yourself so you can smash out some important stuff in 2023, so here’s a simple guide to setting and protecting boundaries: 

Identify your personal values: Use your values to identify your non-negotiables and the boundaries you want to set as a result. 

Plan and communicate them: ‘No’ might be a complete sentence, but it doesn’t make your boundaries more achievable. If dinner with the family is a priority, team planning sessions will help ensure you aren’t landed with end-of-day tasks (and no one is left picking up the slack when you leave). Remember, the more precisely you communicate your boundaries, the more likely they’ll be respected. Rather than ‘I don’t want to work late’, say ‘I need to leave by 6 pm’. 

Protect them: Be consistent. People may try to undermine your boundaries, and letting them slide will confuse matters. If the meeting runs over, your deep work is interrupted, or you’re asked to take on too much work, politely restate your agreed boundary.


The next time you turn down an invite, give the actual reason, not an excuse. You might get pushback from someone trying to violate your boundary (not your problem!), but you’re more likely to grow trust and respect.

Got a seat at the meeting table? Raise your voice

In the 1960s, executives spent less than 10 hours a week in meetings, leaving plenty of time in the workday for 3-martini lunches 🍸. Fifty years on, and in a classic bad news/good news scenario, long lunches have become as rare as housewives shooting birds

Women may now have a seat at the table, but it’s not always a comfortable one. Modern meeting culture was established half a century ago when women were still fighting for their place on the lowest rungs of the career ladder. In the years since, despite incredible technological and social advances, the biggest change made to meetings seems to be the amount of time we spend in them

While forward-thinking companies pave the way for a future free from back-to-backs, women face a present challenge. In ‘Women at Work’, a 2014 Harvard Business Review study, over half of the women surveyed reported being less effective in meetings than in other work situations. According to research by Catalyst, hybrid work has amplified the problem of women’s struggle to assert themselves. They found that 45% of women leaders said it’s challenging to speak up in virtual meetings, and 20% said they felt ignored or overlooked by workmates during video calls. 

While everyone agrees there is a gender problem, they disagree on the cause. Men interviewed for ‘Women at Work’ put the issue down to women not speaking loudly enough, not finding opportunities to break into the conversation, defensiveness, and apologising too readily. While these critiques can be easily explained by women’s attempts to avoid backlash by navigating expectations of how they should act, other insights can be actioned. 

And act we should. While it’s easy to get rattled when you feel drowned out, we can’t afford to sit back and wait for the world to wake up to the value of our input. We can and should use well-known strategies and techniques to establish our leadership presence at the table. Over the next few weeks, we’ll all be spending a lot of time at another, more food-laden table, so this could be the best time to get practising: 

Project confidence 

Our words have far less impact than our body language. If you’ve watched history’s greatest speech, read the transcript for a stark display of how words alone aren’t nearly as powerful as Martin Luther King’s masterful delivery. 

You have more control than you might think over the image you present to the world, and people respond to the confidence and authority you project. Those who lack confidence tend to shrink – so in meetings, do the opposite. Lean over the table or back in your chair with your shoulders relaxed. Place your arms on the table slightly away from your body and avoid fidgeting nervously with a pen (or nails and cuticles like Kristen and Nat). 

If you’re unsure how to authentically modify your body language, there’s a simple way to figure it out. Next time you’re in your element – hanging with close friends or family – take note of how your body moves. How you walk, sit, gesticulate, maintain eye contact, tone of voice, and show active listening. That’s the presence you bring to your next meeting.

Don’t be too humble

There’s a moment in most meetings where everyone gets a chance to contribute; during the introductions. While it can feel uncomfortable, this is your opportunity to make it clear that you belong. Women tend to undersell themselves, so don’t be fooled by the casual nature of a meeting intro. Practise yours because you have 10 seconds to assert your credibility and establish what you want from the meeting. 

You can make subtle changes to convey confidence during meetings, even if there are no upfront intros. Be more direct by cutting the “maybes” and “what ifs” and swap sentence starters like “How about…” with “I strongly suggest…”. 

Master the pre and post-meeting

While it’s tempting to see meetings as an interruption to your real work, it’s potentially more valuable to reframe them as your real work. Rather than racing in and out, act more like men and build in time at either end to get a good seat, chat with colleagues and build allies. Force yourself to have a buffer by updating your calendar settings in Microsoft or Google to block out 15 minutes on either side of every invite.

Meetings before meetings can also be where real value can be created. Before you go, you should have a good idea of what a successful outcome is (a decision?) and the specific value you can add. Informal conversations allow you to test ideas and garner support, making it easier to take an active part in the conversation once the meeting kicks off. 

Pre-meetings can be as simple as a shoulder tap followed by a question or two, or a quick email to share relevant information. Again, your calendar is your friend – lock in prep time so you prioritise it.

Know the facts

Building a well-formed argument is a powerful communication technique for a leader. You’ll project confidence if you do your homework and go prepared. Counterintuitively, preparing to ‘speak spontaneously’ is important. Write down some things you want to discuss. 

Plan to be rattled

Manterrupting is a thing, and it will happen to you. In fact, during fast-paced meetings, you may be challenged or interrupted, but that doesn’t mean your voice isn’t important – it could come down to different communication styles. If interruptions throw you, you should prepare for them. Here are some one-liners you can jot in your notebook ready to roll out in the moment: 

  • “I haven’t finished my thought and can’t wait to hear what you think about it.”
  • “I’m curious about your response; I’ll finish my point, and then I would love to hear your thoughts.”
  • Feeling confrontational? Kamala Harris used “I’m not finished talking” during the 2020 US Vice Presidential debate

In a video call, you can also raise your digital hand ✋to let other participants know you haven’t finished yet. The same hand also works if you have a point to make but struggle to cut in.

Your voice earns respect

Everyone hates meetings, but while they continue to play a critical role in our work, it’s worth making them work for you. If you’re in the meeting, you’ve earned the right to have your say in the policies, strategic direction or culture of the organisation you work for. So, put your imposter syndrome aside, and have your say. 📢

30 second action

Amplification is a tactic that was popularised by female Whitehouse staffers under President Obama. When a woman made a key point in a meeting, another woman would repeat it and give a nod to the source. The tactic worked – it prevented men from claiming all ideas as their own, and men, including Obama, began calling more often on women and junior aides.

For allies and overachievers: when you next spot a woman at the table with something to add, take your lead from an example in ‘Women, Find Your Voice’ and create a safe space for her to speak up.

Is Imposter Syndrome holding you back? 🎙

After publishing her 11th book, writer, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou admitted that after each one, she still thinks, “Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody”. Liz Bingham, a diversity and inclusion champion and award-winning business woman has thought, “What are you doing here? What do you think you’re doing? You’re going to be found out.” Even Tom Hanks has admitted, “No matter what I’ve done, there comes a point where you think, when are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?”.

Imposter syndrome is a term coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes and describes a feeling most of us have experienced. While there’s no official diagnosis, the phenomenon is a form of self-doubt – and has a real impact on the 82% of people who experience it. An affliction of high-achievers, imposter syndrome is the fear that personal accomplishments are the outcome of luck or oversight, not merit and achievement. While imposter syndrome can affect anyone, these waves of doubt disproportionately impact women and women of colour

The double whammy: the role of overconfidence in leadership

A recently published study revealed that, when asked about past performance, men tend to inflate their results at double the rate of women. The study first asked students to complete a set of maths problems; the men and women performed about the same. When asked to recall their performance a year later, most students overestimated theirs. However, while women consistently exaggerated their performance by 15%, men did it by twice as much.

Next, researchers divided participants into teams and asked them to choose a representative to compete against other teams in a maths challenge. Both women and men were willing to exaggerate their capabilities to bag the role; however, because women didn’t do it to the same degree, they were selected a third less often than their abilities would indicate. 

If natural overconfidence is a factor in men being overrepresented in leadership roles, then the underconfidence associated with imposter syndrome is arguably a weight holding women down a few rungs. 🪜 Feel unfair? Both genders in the study mistook confidence for competence. We’re all guilty of attribution bias, so one thing we can do today is changing how we see and present ourselves.

Expose imposter syndrome for the imposter that it is

Change your critical inner voice

Most of us have an ongoing internal commentary, and this inner dialogue can skew to be harsh and judgemental. Anne Elder-Knight, a leading New Zealand-based leadership coach, often gets her clients to complete a simple exercise. They are asked to spend 2 minutes listing their flaws on a piece of paper, and then to do the same with their strengths. Set a timer and try it yourself to get an (often shocking) understanding of your internal dialogue.

Once you’re aware of your critical inner voice, you can start to change it. While positive affirmations may feel like the domain of influencers, scientific evidence supports their role in changing how you view yourself. Start small, and pick an affirmation to say when your feet hit the floor each morning (this article gives a nice overview of how it works). 

Seek out examples

Adding to our blindspots is the adage that you can’t be what you can’t see – minorities often lack visible examples of people like them succeeding in their chosen paths. While we can’t immediately change a top-heavy structure of white males, we can actively seek out examples of leaders who look like us or an environment that normalises our dreams. For the successful duo at Girls That Invest, this meant subscribing to endless podcasts before launching their own. Surrounding themselves with podcasts tricked their brains into believing everyone was already doing it, which made it much easier for them to think they could too.

Celebrate successes and share failures

People who struggle with impostor feelings tend to brush off their accomplishments, which only exacerbates self-doubt. While we think we know ourselves better than anyone else, research shows we really don’t. Numerous studies have shown that our coworkers are often better than us at picking our personality traits. Yet another reason is to ask for feedback – and pay extra attention to the good bits! 

Have you ever told someone something embarrassing about yourself? How often do you find out they have experienced something similar? Sharing failures can be a real confidence boost because most of us are guilty of comparing our insides with others’ outsides. Take Canva, for example. Just a decade after its launch, the company was valued at over $50 billion, and Melanie Perkins, the attractive, young founder, is now the second richest woman in Australia. All very glossy, but that story doesn’t include the 100 rejections Perkins endured on her path to the top. Starting conversations about failure makes us realise that we are all experiencing bumps along the way – and can put our abilities in perspective. 

30 second action

The next time you need to do something out of your comfort zone, spend 30 seconds beforehand talking to yourself in the third person as a coach might. Studies have shown that this simple action can change your critical inner language into what you’d offer as a supportive and helpful friend. 🫶

Want more on Imposter syndrome?

Learn the history and some surprising facts that might make you question whether this ‘syndrome’ is a syndrome at all. Listen to episode 3 of the PowrUp podcast:

Mind the pay gap

You know about the gender pay gap; worldwide, women only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn – with The Nordic Region and New Zealand considered the most gender-equal, closing in on 90 cents. What you might not know is the actual dollar figure the shortfall represents. 

We hope you’re sitting down. Lower salaries, alongside other gendered financial setbacks (caregiving, divorce), mean you risk missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you retire. Generally, women hang up their powrsuits with 30% less in their nest eggs, then have the financially dubious advantage of living longer. Suffice it to say; the ‘retirement gap‘ hits hard.

Women can find it hard to put themselves first, but when it comes to money, we have to. Not only do systemic factors conspire against us, but we unknowingly conspire against ourselves.🤦🏼‍♀️ Many of us are guilty of choosing to conserve money (saving, budgeting), over growing it by maximising our pay and investing the proceeds (stay tuned for a future powr edition for the latter!).

Have you ​​ever (incorrectly) assumed that if you do well, your performance will be recognised and rewarded? It’s ok; we’ve all been there! Salary secrecy means organisations can pay employees what they’ll accept, not necessarily what they deserve. While organisations are still (knowingly or unknowingly) paying different amounts for the same job, it’s up to you to ensure you receive a fair market rate for your contribution.

Because you’re worth it

Researchers have found that women underestimate their value across every industry and level. In a famous university study, students were given the same work and asked to pay themselves what they thought was fair. Men paid themselves 63% more than women. In another experiment, both genders were paid a fixed amount and asked to work as much as they thought was equitable. Guess who worked longer, harder, and did more accurate work? 💃🏻

Data from tech job search platform Otta recently revealed that women candidates suggest between 7-10% lower salary requirements than men – no matter the role or level of experience. Researchers explain that pay expectations come from a different sense of entitlement and self-worth. Thankfully there’s a solution.

Flash your cash

When women know what others are being paid, pay gaps have shown to disappear. In the same university study, another group of women were given fake data on payments to past study participants. Unsurprisingly, after viewing the data, women expected the same as what the male participants had received. Simply by knowing what others make, women are in a stronger position to peg the worth of their work and demand equal pay.

Organisations like Mind the Gap in NZ are celebrating companies committed to pay gap reporting. Also doing great work on salary transparency for our Kiwi Powrsuitors are our friends over at The Curve

In structural attempts to right pay wrongs, legal moves are bringing income into the open. Many US states are passing laws requiring employers to disclose salary ranges in job postings or after the first interview. And some Aussie banks are reinvesting some of their super-profits in removing pay secrecy clauses. Are our eyes watering from those earnings or pride in their attempt to create a ‘more inclusive Australia‘? 😉 Sadly, many organisations are struggling to act in good faith with new regulatory requirements, proving that women can’t rely on structural changes to solve the problem. 

By December, all women are effectively working for free. Global pay gaps between 10-23% mean that the average woman is only paid between 281-332 days out of a total of 365 days. With hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, this week’s action could be more valuable than winning the lottery.

30 second action

Knowing the fair market value of your work is as easy as it is important!

If you work in an organisation with transparent pay policies, just ask to see where you sit. If you don’t, you can still search your local job market for your salary benchmark with Hays (Australia and NZ), Robert Walters (Global) and Glassdoor (Global), or if you are job seeking, try this hack.

You can, of course, always ask people in similar roles what they’re paid (gasp).

Learn how to negotiate your salary

In episode 1 of the PowrUp podcast, Nat and Kristen share their top tips for negotiating your salary. Learn how to be confident, prepared and calm and get what you deserve:

Fear of failure is failing women

At thirteen, Julia Boorstin’s mum told her that women would have equal footing in the workplace by the time she grew up. Now a senior business journalist in her forties, she could be forgiven for wondering when exactly adulthood kicks in. 

Instead, two decades and one book later, Boorstin has turned her mum’s failed prophecy into a study of the women who defy the leadership odds. This tiny group (8% of CEOs and 2% of VC-funded founders) displays surprisingly diverse skill sets; however, she found that their commonalities are far more striking. “Across the board, they all have a growth mindset, combining humility and competence. And that seemed essential”. 

Standford professor Carole Dweck is the brains behind the now ubiquitous theory of growth mindset – the belief that ability isn’t fixed but can be improved. She found that young girls were often told they were smart, embedding the belief that capability is innate. In contrast, teachers and parents usually told boys to try harder, setting an expectation that they could develop new skills. The unsurprising result is that, while no one loves to fail, women take it particularly hard – and this fear of failure can cause women to fumble on their way to the top. 

The frenemy you need to ditch

Attempts to avoid the shame associated with failure lead many women to limit their choices and take fewer risks than their male counterparts. It’s why women are less likely to take demanding courses, negotiate for what they deserve, and don’t apply for jobs unless they believe they’re 100% qualified. Extrapolate it out, and it’s easy to connect the missing dots all the way to the top. Speaking of the top, Boorstin found that the women who make it are almost unanimously united in the rare belief that setbacks are simply steps towards success. 

Here’s how these extraordinary women turn failure into upwards force:

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Leaders with a growth mindset see failure as a learning opportunity (F.A.I.L = First Attempt In Learning). They accept that trying new things invariably leads to mistakes and develop resilience by pushing through the tough times and bouncing back.

Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd encourages women not to be scared of ‘what ifs’ because she believes the only failure is not trying at all. According to Wolfe Herd, how a person handles fear can determine whether they are successful or not. “I think fear of the unknown and perceived failure is what holds people back,” she says. “I am more scared of complacency than having something not work out. I’d rather take a leap of faith and fall than stand on the edge forever.”

Like everything, practice makes perfect. Take Mrika Nikҫi, a 16-year-old who has climbed the seven highest peaks on seven continents. She’s made a habit of pushing herself to her limit and, as a result, has increased her tolerance for discomfort. We aren’t all Mrika, but we can follow her strategy – embrace difficult situations, see them through and learn from mistakes – even if your first few mountains look more like a molehill.  

Back yourself to learn by doing

You’re probably aware that men are confident with 60% of the required ability, but women feel they need to check every box before applying for that shiny promotion or project. Even if you don’t have all the specific experience required, you’ll probably find reframing your relevant strengths and expertise may be enough to land you the job. So instead of giving up before you start (the only real failure!), back yourself to fill any skill gaps through on the job learning.

Aristotle wrote, “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In and Option B, encourages women to stop thinking, “I’m not ready,” and start thinking, “I want to do that – and I’ll learn by doing it.” Nat and Kristen? We devoted a whole PowrUp podcast episode to how we built self-belief by saying ‘yes’.


The first step in seeking out failure is recognising your instinct when presented with a growth opportunity.

Think about a time recently when you’ve had the chance to do something different. Was there an opportunity to learn a new skill? Take on a new challenge at work? Run a workshop?

It doesn’t matter whether or not you said ‘yes’ and followed through (although we’d love to hear if you did!). What’s more valuable is recognising how you felt and if the fear of failure kicked in. How might you approach a similar opportunity next time?.

Amplify your impact as a leader

Get powerful insights and actionable tips straight to your inbox