In August, @SAP4SmallBiz launched a monthly TweetChat series titled #SAPSMBChat. The format of the series is a one-hour Q&A session co-hosted with Brian Moran, a small business expert and influencer, and a special guest.
In the inaugural TweetChat, our special guest was Angela Maiers, an award-winning educator, speaker, consultant and professional trainer known for her work in literacy, leadership and global communications. As an active blogger and social media evangelist, Angela is deeply committed to helping learners understand the transformational power of technology. “Technology, used strategically, has the power to leverage human capital and maximize performance of organizations big and small.” On August 26, in celebration of Women’s Equality Day, SAP4SmallBiz, Brian Moran, Angela Maiers and almost 100 other Twitter participants discussed women in leadership. Below is a transcript of our insightful conversation with Angela.
SAP4SmallBiz: Women’s Equality Day was started in 1971. How far have women come in business in the past 43 years?
Angelia Maiers: Unfortunately, not very far. Katherine Graham became the first women CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 1972. Today, only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. We often see lists such as “25 insightful people you must follow on Twitter,” and women are usually grossly underrepresented. Rather than get angry, I use this disparity to motivate me. I also use to my advantage the fact that many people underestimate me.
SAP4SmallBiz: What are some of the biggest obstacles facing women and women leaders in business today?
Angelia Maiers: The historical under-representation in positions that provide a pathway to leadership is a big challenge to overcome. Young women believe they don’t matter. We need to change this belief, right here, right now. We’re imprisoned in a system focused on consumption. We need to contribute; we need to realize that we have what someone else needs.
SAP4SmallBiz: Who are some of the women leaders you admire today? What makes them stand out?
Angelia Maiers: Malala. Her talk at the United Nations on the education of woman was one of the most courageous and important speeches in my lifetime. Frances Hesselbein is someone who refuses to be categorized, and believes in the power of listening and the genius of all, especially young women. Deb Mills-Scofield is someone who grasps, better than anyone, the power of a well-tended network and the imperative to thoughtfully connect people.
SAP4SmallBiz: What advice would you give to women interested in taking on leadership roles in business?
Angelia Maiers: Focus not on what you want to DO as a leader, but on what you want to BE. Be curious, passionate, resilient, hopeful, and humble. Tell your story. Talk about what matters to you. You’ll discover yourself and give others the courage to do the same. Bravery is a choice. Brave is uncomfortable. You can be courageous or comfortable but you cannot be both. You must choose.
SAP4SmallBiz: How would you describe the mentorship programs available to women interested in becoming leaders?
Angelia Maiers: Mentorship needs to adapt to how young women interact today. We’re working on a “baby steps” approach of “drive-by mentoring.” New movements like Million Women Mentors are making great strides in this regard. We need to help all adults who interact with young people– parents, coaches, and teachers all need to learn how to model leadership qualities.
SAP4SmallBiz: Tell us about Choose2Matter. How is it helping students, teachers & education systems around the world?
Angelia Maiers: The first step in Choosing to Matter is to own your genius. You must accept that you matter and that you can change the world. The second step is to accelerate the idea that everyone else matters. Let them notice and unleash their genius in your presence. The third step is to act. Ask yourself this question “What breaks your heart about the world?” Then ask “What are WE going to do about it?” Choose2Matter is changing lives and saving lives around the world. We have only just begun. https://storify.com/angelamaiers/top-25-tweets-about-how-youmatter-changes-lives
SAP4SmallBiz: Let’s talk about STEM. Are STEM programs today helping young women interested in the technology and science fields?
Angelia Maiers: There are many STEM leaders willing to mentor students. The challenge is raising awareness and facilitating it. As a result of a Choose2Matter LIVE event, Raytheon Women’s Network is hosting a conference this fall to engage with female High School students. New movements like Girls Who Code are making great strides on this front.
SAP4SmallBiz: What’s on your bucket list of things you’d like to do as a woman leader before 2020?
Angelia Maiers: I want to inspire millions of women to own their genius, realize they matter, and stop playing small. I want women around the world to realize that if I can make it, they can too. I want to impact the populations that need the YouMatter message the most.
SAP4SmallBiz: This has been motivating, inspiring and enlightening Angela. Do you have any final thoughts on the future of women and leadership as we celebrate Women’s Equality Day?
Angelia Maiers: Choose every day to thank, encourage, inspire and let people know you notice and appreciate them. These simple acts are among the most powerful things we can do every day. The most dangerous word is tomorrow. The time to dare, to embark on a noble journey, is now. You don’t need permission. #YouMatter is a universal need. Accept and own your genius, and notice and unleash the genius of others. Let’s change our world today.