How a New Attitude Helped Me Earn More
By Patricia Smith
money is where the men are. Nothing has contributed more to
my success than this recognition. Almost without exception,
women who earn significant money, or actually adequate money,
do the work which men do. Women who fail to accept this and
make it work to their advantage are missing opportunities
for which their foremothers fought very hard.
As a high school teacher in the early 70's, I worked with
both women and men. I had colleagues of both sexes whom I
respected greatly. When I left that profession in 1977, I
vowed never to do a "woman's" job again--defined as one which
was predominately held by females. Since money was a primary
reason for working, I decided that if I was going to expend
my time and energy, I wanted to maximize the return. I didn't
believe then, and I don't believe now, that this decision
requires a change in values or ethics.
My first job was a sales position in the heating, ventilating,
and air conditioning industry. Nationwide, I was one of a
handful of women among hundreds of men. In my office, I was
the only female sales representative. These three years were
not a high point of my career for many reasons. However, I
discovered that I enjoyed working with men (most of the time)
and that I needed to behave more like them if I was to succeed.
I began to learn how small adjustments could make a significant
difference. For instance, in a "man's" position, confidence
is one of the most important qualities to have. Humility has
virtually no place. I learned that successful men actually
fake confidence on a regular basis.
From there, I went to sell for a very large corporation that
clearly had made a concerted effort to hire women. 50% of
our sales force was women, and never have I worked with more
professional people. Always interested in the different approaches
of male and female colleagues, I studied my male co-workers,
their attitudes and behavior. I continued to recognize what
early feminist writers described: men see themselves as successful
more readily than we do. Successful men concentrate on their
achievements and less on their failures. Men point out their
accomplishments and use them to bargain for more responsibility.
What women consider setbacks and label "failures," they simply
consider the price of success. And I have learned that women
can easily adopt men's behavior in this respect, as soon as
we understand how it's done and the resulting benefits.
Like most of us, my career has never followed a straight
path. I sold in a business-to-business environment for 14
years. In 1991, with three children aged 9, 2, and 1, my husband
and I launched our own advertising agency. Certainly, the
last 9 years have not been uninterrupted success, but we have
survived, and our client list has grown. My responsibilities
have expanded beyond sales, and the experience continues to
introduce me to more corporate environments, each with its
As a result of my support for the women's movement and my
observations, reading, and experience, I admit to becoming
increasingly frustrated. Women are wasting opportunity in
much greater numbers than men. The great majority of women
remain underemployed. There is plenty we can do about it,
and we must if we are ever to reach parity in the workplace.
In response to my frustration, I wrote a book entitled Each
of Us: How Every Woman Can Earn More Money in Corporate America.
The simple recognition that "the money is where the men are"
has served me well. I have also seen other women benefit from
this philosophy. Since I have at least as many insecurities
and ambivalences as other women, if I can do it, so can other
Success results from pursuing opportunity, not waiting for
it. It comes from deciding how best to meet the goals at hand
and executing the plan. It is not about doing what we are
told. Success is about taking risks and assuming responsibility
for the outcome, not waiting to act until the outcome is apparent.
Success is about contributing to a team effort and not allowing
personal feelings to interfere with a common mission.
For a woman, success is much easier than you think.
Patricia Smith is a businesswoman and the author
of Each of Us: How Every Woman Can Earn More Money in Corporate
America. Read the first two chapters of her book online: