A New Way to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Thoughts from InBound 2018

Looking to advance your career? We will let you in on a little secret, sharpening your more “traditional” professional skills isn’t going to get you to where you need to go. Coming out of InBound 2018, Hubspot’s annual user conference, it became clear – it’s the softer interpersonal skills we need to pay attention to. Regardless of the speakers’ background or experiences, they all sent the same message: mastering things like motivation and empowerment are critical to your success and that of those around you.

Let’s dive into some snippets from the mainstage sessions that danced around various aspects of this topic:

– Esther Perel, a couples therapist, explored the dimensions of relationships — and not just romantic ones. She explained, as children, we’re either given the freedom to explore or we’re protected and shielded. This often translates into a desire to be independent or be close with others. In the workplace, this could take shape in a couple of ways. On one hand, it could look something like, “let me do it on my own and I’ll come to you when I need something.” However, on the other side, an individual who was raised in a family with a tighter connection might see collaboration as the preferred avenue for projects. If we’re interacting with someone of a different mindset, our frustrations can set in – it’s important that we learn this to improve the process.

– Joanna Coles, former editor at Hearst Magazines, presented a session on love and explored the essence of feeling recognized and motivated. She pointed out that we’ve all felt the ramifications of technology — where we’re presenting to someone while their gaze is on the computer, or we’re sharing a great story while someone’s scrolling through Instagram. She stressed the importance of building relationships by giving attention through face-to-face or voice-to-voice communication of texting, slacking, or emailing. Respecting someone’s time and effort can be simply made by picking our heads up. Chances are, the time will be more productive and meaningful too.

– Co-Founder of Soulcycle, Julie Rice talked through her inspiration for founding SoulCycle and the experience they set out to create. Her background as a talent agent helped her see unrecognized talent among leading groups found in Broadway chorus dancers and cheerleaders in particular. We all know certain team members who have a job requirement that they’re good at, but what if there’s more? We need to uncover those skills that may lie slightly below the surface that, when leveraged, can bring an entirely new approach or feeling to your organization. By thinking this way, SoulCycle established the instructor not as someone who leads you through exercise, but as a spiritual Sherpa and brand ambassador.

– Emily Chang, author of Brotopia and Executive Producer / Anchor of Bloomberg Technology, acknowledged that discussing topics such as diversity and inequality in the workplace can make people uncomfortable. But if you don’t say something, you are just simply another willful bystander. Why wait for someone else to say or do something about it? Given the tech industry has such a vast impact on all of our lives, it’s critical that it’s compiled of uniquely diverse mindsets to help ensure the best possible outcome on the work at hand. Push to stand out – you will be surprised how many others feel the same way you do.

– Tarana Burke, Activist and Founder of the ‘Me Too.” Movement, held nothing back when speaking to the group. She built on what Emily said, saying it’s more than just adding diversity with “numbers” to your employee roster. We should aim to hire people who share our values. You cannot just simply hire women who climb the ladder just to close the door behind them. This extends beyond the workplace – have the difficult conversations with family, friends and community. Don’t settle for the status quo – get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

By listening, learning and taking a stand, we can create a better workplace for ourselves and others. In this process, we can collectively climb the ladder together, making sure to keep the door open for those that are on their way up too.