I recently attended a meeting of professional women in the energy industry. The speaker's topic was related to the partnership of industry and academia. For an ice-breaking table topic the speaker posted the picture of Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, on the cover of Vogue magazine and asked, "Does she look like a CEO?".
Our table grew quiet for a few minutes as we all scanned the picture. I saw a a very beautiful woman in a very blue and professional dress posed horizontal and upside down on a crisp white lounge chair. Very Vogue - I thought. It struck me as fun, beautiful, powerful and professional. Other views came forth. Some saying it really wasn't professional for a CEO. Everyone is welcome to their opinion.
It was easy to state my opinion but I am sure not so much for others. Especially if after hearing others speak at the table, they realize their opinion varied greatly from the norm.
I saw it as a great lesson in risk taking. Are you willing to share an opinion that is different than the group's? If you do or you don't - what harm will result? Or what good or positive steps forward will be acknowledged or missed?
I see Marissa Mayer as a risk taker and applaud her actions. She posed for this picture, knowing the conversations that would ensue, but was not afraid. Her reputation and her performance stand strong.
I recall speaking with a meeting attendee before everyone was seated and the meeting actually began. I said it was possible to move up in the corporate world without selling your soul. She looked back at me with surprise, hope and a "how can I do that?" attitude. Look at Marissa, there is one example for you right there.
Dare I say what I really think? Yes, I dare.
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