Success doesn’t look the same to everyone. Consider the story arcs of fictional characters Don Draper and Peggy Olson of the television series “Mad Men”—the ’60s drama portraying the ad men (and women) of Madison Avenue. Early on, Olson’s talents are recognized by Draper and blossom under his mentorship. By season seven, the roles have reversed, and Olson becomes a declining Draper’s boss. Along the way, she sees the realities and fallacies of success and realizes it’s not always about power or money.
Personal and professional success means something different to each of us. Like Peggy of “Mad Men,” most of us navigate many paths to achieve it, experiencing highs and lows along the way and pondering what it is we really want. Amy Herbig, CEO of The BA Group, Northfield, Minnesota, and speaker at CUES School of Strategic Marketing™ (which will be held online this year via a blended learning format), has grappled with this same thought: How can we define success when it differs not only by the individual but by gender?
She explains that women carry a long history of struggles, unrealistic expectations and judgment cast by others while trying to find what it means to be “successful” within themselves and their careers. “Success includes attributes that define us overall—education, career, family and motherhood, appearance and physical activity, as well as behavior as an employee, wife, daughter, sister or friend. Unfortunately, the residue from years of fighting for professional equality can linger, with age-old topics of equal pay, sexual harassment in the workplace, and scrutiny for balancing motherhood and a career,” Herbig continues. “Our gender hasn’t always been gracious to one another either—women can be quick to judge other women—not to mention us being our own inner-critics.
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