I have a friend who calls herself my caboose. She concludes her emails with “TOOT TOOT!” and is completely invested in my success. (For readers with limited locomotive knowledge, the caboose provided a place for the conductor to work and ensure the train arrived on time. Also to confirm that nothing was on fire.)
Caboose serves as a thought partner as my business grows, sends me clients, and recently hired me to present to brilliant female attorneys from across the country at a super posh resort. Powerfully successful herself, Caboose is deliberate about sharing her network with me.
I've redefined the coveted “mentor” role in my life to focus on my badass peer network. A mentor is really just an experienced and trusted advisor. It doesn't necessitate this significant age or success differential we've come to expect. What if instead of looking for mentors, we all cultivated a strong network of women (and men) to build community, encourage, and support one another?
A client recently told me that until going through my Confidence & Confidantes Negotiation Workshop, she hadn’t realized she and her friends weren’t investing in one another. They’d ask about work and dating dramas with interest, but it wasn’t with a focus and commitment to each other's success.
As I started this business, I called on a dozen women and men who I respect and who are interested in workplace dynamics for women. I invited them to my house for brainstorming sessions on my business model and workshop content. Because their critical feedback came from a loving place, I was able to take it to heart. Since I launched, they’ve consistently cheered me on, referred friends, and recommended me for speaking engagements.
Later, when several of them considered their own career changes, they more readily asked me for support. I was in their corner asking questions, recommending them for new roles, providing insights into negotiations, and celebrating their next adventures. This investment in one another works because it’s a two-way street, and we readily attest to the caliber of each other's work.
With all of this in mind, I design my workshops on the premise that it's not just about my knowledge of negotiations or workplace dynamics for women. Equally important to me is creating a space for women to learn from and support one another--to build relationships. This is why I started the Goal Setting Circle.
as well as the free, Badass Ladies Happy Hours here in NOLA. It's an informal gathering of clients, other people I admire, and their friends. The event is focused on the experience of folks who identify as women but is open to all, so please bring friends of any gender along.
Whether you’re a neighbor or live outside the city, think about how to connect and cultivate your own network of people you respect that want to invest in one another. Maybe even find your own caboose.
A version of this piece was originally published by Forbes