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You have one life, and you can’t separate work from the rest of your life. I pioneered online research while raising three kids, and so my family was integral in my career every step of the way. My husband and I made a conscious decision early on that if we were both to have careers, we would both need to share the responsibility. I’d often bring my kids to the office. They’d even travel with me when they could. Having them involved has helped me professionally, and I think it’s helped them personally — after all, I always felt the best lessons aren’t from a textbook, but from real life.
April 25 is Take Our Sons and Daughters To Work Day, and bringing your kids to the office is a stepping stone for normalizing caregiving in the workplace for both men and women. Plus, helping kids experience what their parents do and giving them exposure to the work world can have a big influence.
Working moms especially may have a positive impact on advancing equality for the next generation. Daughters of working mothers are more likely to be managers and make more money than daughters of stay-at-home moms, and sons of working moms spend more time on childcare and household duties, according to the Harvard Business School.
Here are a few things I’ve instilled in my daughter (and sons!) to help them pursue careers full of both passion and purpose:
Embrace your differences:
Our differences are our greatest strengths. When people zig, you zag. Don’t conform, transform. That’s how you go from getting a seat at the table to actually making the table better.
Confidence is beautiful:
Not everyone is going to believe in you — and that’s ok. Believe in yourself and know the value and unique perspectives that you bring to the table.
Lead with passion:
Your career may take you on a winding path, but if you use your heart as your guiding light, you will never go astray. Make sure that whatever you do, you do it with pride and with passion.
Tap into the power of the pack:
Why do it alone when you can do it together? We accomplish a lot more when we work side by side — and we have a lot more fun doing it! Surround yourself with people who believe in you but also challenge you to be your best self.
Don’t lose sight:
Never let your ambition eclipse your integrity. As you progress in your career, let your values ground you and guide you, focusing on what matters most to you.
You never want to look back and think should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. I always told my kids that if they needed me, to just tell me, and I’d be there.
I asked my daughter, Niki, to share her favorite life lesson:
“My mom always taught me that being you is the best thing that you can do, and that you’re the best asset that you can use. Any time you doubt yourself, just remember to believe in yourself and be yourself.”
I can’t stress enough the value of being yourself, because if we were all the same, we wouldn’t be necessary. I wasn’t as confident at Niki’s age as she is today, and believing in yourself can take you so far. Today and every day, remember that we can lead by example for the next generation of leaders when we know our value, own our ambition, and stand in our power.
Shelley Zalis is CEO of The Female Quotient and founder of The Girls' Lounge. She is a champion of equality and has devoted her career to advancing women in the workplace.