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​How I Got Past "You Can't"

​How I Got Past "You Can't"

By: Sallie Krawcheck

When I was a child, I told my (well-meaning, traditional, southern) mother that I wanted to be a pediatrician. Her response was that parents wouldn’t trust their children with a female pediatrician. So I shelved that dream (and – honestly – it was for the best, since I really can’t stand blood) … and instead built a career on Wall Street.

This was the first of many “you can’t’s” in my career… but it was the last time I heeded it. Instead, I spent my 20s as an investment banker, my 30s as a research analyst, my 40s as a business leader (running Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch’s “thundering herd”). And now that I’ve hit my 50s, I’m an entrepreneur.

I’ve brought together a team to build Ellevest, a digital platform that is reimagining investing for women. Not so long ago, a dear friend of mine asked me why I was building this…why I keep going in my career…..why I don’t simply join a collection of boards and perhaps move “back home.”


Because I’ve had the insight that the retirement savings crisis in this country is actually a woman’s crisis. That’s because we live 5+ years longer than men, and it’s because we earn less than men. And it’s also because we invest less than they do: a not-much-discussed gender investing gap.

Because finding a way to close that investing gap can positively impact so many women and their families. It can add thousands and thousands – or millions –of dollars to a woman’s net worth over the course her life.

Because I’ve been given a lot in my life, and I want to pay it back by having an impact on this important issue.

Because, like so many women, I am fueled by learning. And becoming an entrepreneur is one of the steepest learning curves I have faced.

Because I wonder how far I can stretch myself professionally.

Because I’m not wired to sit still.

Because I’m tired of us women receiving the messages that we’re not “good at math” (not true) or “not good at investing” (also not true), and the negative impact it has on what we can achieve in our lives.

Because I’m tired of money being a source of shame for us.

Because I’m not scared to fail any more. If Ellevest does, I hope others are lined up after us to tackle this issue.

Because my kids are older. And so, like so many women who have moved past the “wake up and find the pacifier under the bed for the crying child” stage, I have more energy and time.

Because it’s fun. I haven’t been this engaged…and absorbed…and obsessed professionally in as-long-as-I-can-remember.

Because I don’t want to lie on my death bed and wonder if I could have had an impact.

Because it matters. It really matters.

Because my mom is cheering me on, because the world has changed so much. And we can change it even more.

At Ellevest, we are re-imagining investing for women. We'll be launching in 2016. Keep up with what we're doing and sign up for early access here.

This was originally published on Diamonds Unleashed.

Sallie Krawcheck is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ellevest, a digital investment platform that is re-imagining investing for women, to be launched in 2016. She is the Chair of Ellevate Network, the global professional women’s network.

(Photo: mripp, Flickr)

For information about Ellevest, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered investment adviser and its financial advisory services, please visit the firm’s website ( or the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (

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