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DECEMBER 2013 - Women and Wealth
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Integrating Professional Growth and Personal Goals: A Recap

by Danielle Lackey

Last month, on the top floor of the Angeleno Hotel overlooking Los Angeles’ Westside, a group of forty women gathered over cocktails for a panel discussion entitled Women and Wealth: Integrating Professional Growth and Personal Goals. Moderated by Dominique Shelton of Alston & Bird, the panel consisted of myself (Danielle Lackey, co-founder and CEO of the Arbia Group), Ju Park (founder and Managing Partner of Parsus LLP), Maria Shtabskaya (Morgan Stanley financial advisor), and Lisa Muñoz-Fell (executive coach and consultant). The event focused on the experiences and goals that inspire women to pursue their personal definitions of success, and the underpinnings of female entrepreneurship and career growth. The setting was intimate and casual, with panelists sharing their stories and perspectives, followed by a dynamic exchange between panelists and attendees. 

As a member of the panel, I was struck not only by the extraordinary stories and insights of my fellow panelists, and the thought-provoking questions raised by our moderator and the audience, but also by the consistent themes that emerged. 

Self-Scrutiny. The panelists each described experiences of self-reflection – moments during which they carefully scrutinized their own careers, professional objectives, and personal values – as an important first step in defining what success meant to them, and setting corresponding career goals. The results of this self-examination helped to propel each of them through the processes of making these goals a reality. 

Risk and Planning. A second consistent message from the group was the importance of "planned” risk. The panelists agreed that when contemplating a career change or business risk, financial planning comes first. Taking a hard look at one’s finances, and asking: "how much do I really need each month and what expenses can I cut;” and, based on that adjusted budget, "how long will my funds last me?” can make taking a professional leap significantly less daunting.

Ask. A common challenge that many of the women in the room shared was learning to ask for success. Whether this is directly asking potential clients for work, cultivating referral sources, or identifying someone in the workplace to be a sponsor, asking is a two-step process. First comes developing genuine relationships – be it in the course of a single conversation or over years of working together. Authenticity builds trust, and people work with those they trust. One real conversation does far more to build trust and interest than handing out ten business cards. Second, with this foundation of authenticity in place, it is possible to confidently ask for what you need. Ask for business, for a meeting, or to be staffed on a particular matter, and it can open many doors. As one panelist explained, "No more ‘maybe, if something comes along, and you happen to think of me’ … now I ask for referrals – and I receive them.”

Danielle Lackey is co-founder and CEO of the Arbia Group, a talent community of experienced lawyers who support law firms on an ad hoc basis, enabling them to fluidly respond to the peaks and valleys of legal practice.