In her bestseller Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg popularized the “Tiara Syndrome,” where women “expect that if they keep doing their job well someone will notice them and place a tiara on their head.” Many women professionals become trapped by a set of expectations honed during grade school, mistaking the ability to get straight As for the self-promoting, risk taking and advocating required to achieve a leadership position in business. And as new technologies shape and reshape careers, women must additionally expect that their growth path will likely not be a linear extension of their current position. Not knowing what to expect can cause anxiety and worry, but it can also be the foundation for creativity and opportunity.
The “Tiara Syndrome” is an example of what Seth Godin refers to in his recent blog post as the “tragedy of small expectations,” where the members of a certain community don’t achieve their potential because they underrate what they believe their potential to be. Strong, grounded expectations, by contrast, provide the confidence needed to have a larger impact. But strong expectations are not pipe dreams, they are future constructs we can use to direct our present efforts. “This work plus that effort plus these bridges,” writes Godin, “lead to a likelihood of that outcome. It’s clear-eyed awareness of what’s possibled combined with a community that shares your vision.”
The central mission of Women to Know is to enable women to elevate and accelerate their careers by transforming their expectations and helping them exchange the passive hope of the tiara for active tactics required to move up in today’s technology and business world.
In tune with Godin’s requirements, Women to Know provides both the community and practical tools required to modify women’s expectations about their future. First, it’s lead by an advisory board of top women executives, providing a supportive community working together to face similar challenges and achieve similar goals. Next, it’s not only a forum for discussion, but an opportunity for action. Each event features worksheets with exercises to help participants address their current challenges and shape where they want to be 5, 10 and 20 years down the road.