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My Metric for Success? It's All About Impact

My Metric for Success? It's All About Impact

Let’s start by calling a spade a spade. In writing about my metric for success, I fully recognize how fortunate I am to have a choice in the matter. I remember my first “real” job — which I started right before the Crash of 1987. People in my trainee class were fired two months after starting work, through no fault of their own, as their entire departments were disbanded.

I survived that early job, and since then I’ve navigated a handful of career transitions. I was a banker in my 20s; a research analyst in my 30s; a leader of large, complex businesses in my 40s; and am now an entrepreneur in my 50s.

As I made each of these transitions, I thought long and hard about what motivated me and how I would define success. Was it money? Seniority at a big company? Being part of a well-functioning team? Exposure to other cultures? A steep learning curve?

All of those are perfectly good motivators and metrics for success. But at this stage of my career, I have begun thinking about my ability to have an impact on something that really matters to society.

In doing so, I’ve zeroed in on helping women achieve their financial goals. From everything I see, this is good for women, good for their families, good for the economy, and good for society. And it can be achieved both by helping women advance in business (I chair the Ellevate Network, which is locked in on this) and through working to close the gender investing gap.

Huh? What gender investing gap, you may say?

Well, women tend to invest less of their salary than men do, defaulting to keeping more of their money in the bank. This can cost them hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars, over the course of their careers, when compared to investing in a diversified investment portfolio. (Or compared to men.)

Put another way, it’s clear that — while I know many financial advisors who do a great, great job for women — the investments industry overall today works better for men than it does for women.

So I’ve stepped out my comfort zone and founded Ellevest, which is a digital investment platform for women, launching later this year. It took me awhile to get here, since my first inclination was to take this idea to some of the large financial service companies. But it was pretty clear pretty quickly that they weren’t thinking about the opportunity in the same way I was; many posed the challenge to themselves as one of how they could market to women better, rather than serve women better.

I also took the leap to entrepreneurialism because it became pretty clear pretty quickly that the ability to make an impact is no longer just the purview of big companies. In fact, it may be easier to have an impact at a smaller company. That’s both because one is able to capitalize on the leverage provided by technology and social media in a way that wasn’t possible even a handful of years ago; and one can do it unhindered by the processes and bureaucracy that can define larger companies. (Boy, those were a lot of big words — it means that we no longer have to be big to build great things and make a lot of noise around them.)

Any why me? Because shame on me if I don’t go after this. Having had the good fortune of holding some unbelievable jobs on Wall Street, shame on me if I don’t turn to my attention to having this kind of impact.

So my metric for success? It’s no less than closing the gender investing gap. And that in turn can help women achieve more of their goals in life; it can help close the retirement savings gap; it can help get more capital to companies to help them grow; it can help the economy grow.

Not bad.

This post previously appeared on LinkedIn.

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Sallie Krawcheck is the Co-Founder and CEO of Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women. You can sign up for early access here. She is also the Chair of Ellevate Network, the global professional women’s network.

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


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