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What I Wish I Knew Then

What I Wish I Knew Then

by Jennifer Weitsen

If you had the chance to go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you tell her?

In this Jam Session, Sallie Krawcheck, Chair of Ellevate Network shared what she has learned throughout her career.

Sometimes it takes time to figure out your purpose

Give yourself time to have learning experiences so that you build transferrable skills. Get to know yourself and your passions. Ask yourself, “What do I care about?” “What do I spend my spare time learning and talking about?” “What do I read and what am I interested in researching?” Try to find the intersection between what you are good at and what you are passionate about.

If you take calculated risks and are a contrarian — it can pay off

It can be scary to be a contrarian. However, if you do a lot of research and take calculated risks — the rewards and upside can be significant.

Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” If you are comfortable with the answer to that question — then take the risk.

Standing up for what you believe in matters

I’ve learned that you can always get another job. However, if you do something that you don’t believe in, or that goes against your values set — it’s hard to feel good about yourself and the work that you do.

Having a sponsor makes all the difference

Women are often over mentored and under sponsored. The difference is that a mentor answers your questions, whereas a sponsor fights for you. Having a sponsor that takes an interest in your success, gives you feedback and introduces you to the right networks and opportunities is crucial to rapid career progression.

Diversity is directly related to good business results

The power of a diverse team is significant and helps to drive optimal business outcomes. Research shows that diverse teams typically outperform more capable and smarter teams. Diverse teams smash groupthink and can result in greater innovation, long-term focus, client focus and lower risk.

Networking is the #1 unwritten rule of success in business

Women often come to networking later in their careers than men. It’s typically your loose connections and your extended network that leads to more significant business opportunities, rather than your close connections. Seek connections with people that have different knowledge and networks than you.

Ask for the order and ask for the raise

Research shows that men negotiate earlier, more often and on a broader range of things than women. That is part of the reason why women earn 78 cent to every man’s dollar.

If you are waiting for the raise, you could often be waiting. There is no magical HR fairy godmother. Raise your hand for a pay rise or promotion and state in a fact-based fashion what you have accomplished and what you look to achieve.

Please ask for feedback. Repeatedly.

Ask for feedback. Even if it stings, it’s important to your professional development. It can also turn into someone being a mentor, who can then become a sponsor — and be a make or break difference between your career zooming ahead or losing your job.

Keep learning and keep yourself fresh

Typically, the jobs that are most enjoyable involve a sense of moving forward and momentum. Be open to learning from a wide variety of sources — some of which may be unexpected or challenging. Keep yourself fresh by connecting with and also learning from young people.


The key to long-term success is not being smarter or working harder than everyone else. It is resilience. And the ability to get back up after you stumble. Resilience is born from gratitude and keeping life in perspective.

Recognize that it’s not a sprint — it’s a marathon. Success is not forever. Failure is not fatal. We live in a world where there are more chances are out there.


Continue learning with this Ellevate Playbook.: