(Photo Credit: Debbie Sterling/Facebook)
Debbie Sterling was just like any other girl navigating through school not knowing what she really wanted to do in life, until her high school math teacher made the suggestion of pursuing engineering in college, which she knew nearly nothing about. After following the wise words of her math teacher and studying engineering at Stanford, Sterling graduated college and became “director of marketing for a jewelry company and spent several years as a brand strategist for a design agency, collaborating with clients including Microsoft, the New York Knicks, and Pedigree dog food,” according to The Washington Post. Although Sterling didn’t follow the conventional post-graduation engineering path, her undergraduate education would come back years later to make way for a promising entrepreneurial venture.
In her interview with The Huffington Post, Sterling dishes out some raw and inspiring advice for ambitious females everywhere, and encourages them to confidently forge forward and make their mark in male-dominant industries, as she is doing for the world of engineering. Here are three pieces of “I am woman, hear me roar” advice from the GoldieBlox trailblazer herself.
1. “Make your voice heard, and don't be afraid to take chances.” Sterling encourages women in the business world to step out of their comfort zones and go after what they want. Another crucial aspect of making it in business is building relationships that matter – quality over quantity. Find those people who believe in you and what you’re doing, then forget about the naysayers. Sterling makes a great point by reminding us all that, “If building a business from the ground up were easy, everyone would do it. Set yourself a goal and do whatever it takes to accomplish it, the end result will be worth it.” Nothing good ever came easy.
2. “It's important to stick to your guns and maintain your perspective.” Whether you’re in a male-dominant industry or not, there is a definite gender bias that exists in the business world that women battle on a daily basis. If you are going to convince anyone that you can make it in this cut-throat world of business, then you need to first prove it to yourself. According to Sterling, “the biggest challenge is one of alienation and not feeling understood by your peers.” By gaining confidence in your mission as a working woman or a female entrepreneur, you will be better equipped to handle the good and, especially, the bad when it comes your way – and it won’t hinder your progression forward in your career.
3. “It's not about having one soul-mate mentor. It's about making sure you have your bases covered in all aspects of business.” Having a mentor along your career makes all the difference – just ask any of the top business leaders of the world how mentors have catapulted their careers, and you’ll see. According to a Colorado Technical University infographic, “96 percent of professionals who were mentored were able to apply what they've learned directly to their careers.” In Sterling’s case, her mentor, Tina Roth Eisenberg, a business mentor she met on her GoldieBlox journey, encouraged Sterling “to create a fun company culture,” reminding her “to always pause, reflect and celebrate successes through even the most hectic work days,” according to her interview with The Huffington Post. Mentors have been there, done that, so they are better equipped at providing time- and cost-saving pearls of wisdom that professionals and business owners would, otherwise, have to learn the hard way.
Sterling’s line of engineering toys for girls is taking the world by storm – and she timed her attention-grabbing (and, later, controversial) ad for GoldieBlox perfectly before the Black Friday and holiday frenzy. Looks like her marketing experience really did pay off.
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