Profiles in Power

October 9, 2008 at 8:31 pm 1 comment

On Thursday I attended the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power conference at the Renaissance Hotel. Nina Vaca, President and CEO of Pinnacle Resources and everything-woman gave a fantastic keynote called “Failure is not an option,” that covered her humble beginnings as a daughter of immigrants, to her journey in becoming a highly successful entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mother of four! She also hit two topics that really resonated with me as young professional women just getting started in my career: the importance of surrounding yourself with the right kinds of friends, and the value of mentorship. In short, she talked about girl power!

Nina said there are three kinds of friends you should have—the one that encourages you pushing you up and challenging you to come out of your comfort zone; the one who is not afraid to boost you up even higher, even if it means pushing you above herself; and the supporter, the one who will walk with you hand-in-hand through life. If these are not the types of women you are surrounding yourself with, maybe you should reconsider your circle of friends, she said.

I thought this was great advice! Nina is all about women helping women. I thought of my own friends when she said this. I sometimes feel I might be missing out on the socialite lifestyle, that something is wrong with me because I don’t have an entourage of female companions. But the truth is, my few “real friends” are always there to help me out, and I do the same for them.

This week I received an email from a discouraged friend who has been having a tough time finding a job since graduating college. My immediate response was an offer to look over her resume, some encouraging words, and links to a few web resources. The very next day, my girlfriend in DC, whom I mentioned to earlier this week that I may be interested in buying my first home soon, sent me a link to a NY Times Article on a new bill to benefit first time home buyers. Karma comes full circle…and so does the power of women working together.

Mentorship was another thing Nina stressed. My ears really perked up for this one as since I’ve recently become interested in finding my own mentor. I think having a model in your field is a fantastic way to learn unspoken industry etiquette and learn from some one who’s been there. Nina stressed that mentorship is an invaluable gift, an important way women can help each other succeed in their professional lives. I personally feel that taking on a mentee is one of the most responsible things women can do, both in their professional and personal lives. This is not about owing anything to anyone else; it’s not the price you pay for your success. It’s just that whether we admit it or not, women have their own set of hurdles to face in the professional world and let’s face it, going about success the traditional way doesn’t work for most of us. All of the successful women I know got there by taking risks, raising their voice, and believing in themselves when no one else did. I think mentorship is the guiding light. Women have come such a long way; why not share your success with someone else? Although I have often read about the importance of mentorship, particularly for minority women, it really meant a lot coming from a successful, independent woman like Nina.

She left us with this: “At the end of the day, it is nice to be important; but it is more important to be nice.” Now that’s girl power.

– Nicole


Entry filed under: Media.

Why aren’t there women here? Commentary on “The Freedom to Say No” by Elaine McArdle, Boston Globe Excerpts from an interview in the Austin Business Journal with Sandra Zaragoza.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jennifer Hill Robenalt  |  October 11, 2008 at 1:15 am

    This was a great post… it’s true that women helping women, and true friendship is the key to success.


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