International Women’s Day 2014 Theme: INSPIRING CHANGE

by Gabie Boko

One of my favorite sayings says that “Ginger Rogers did everything [Fred Astaire] did, backwards…and in high heels.”

But I’m not just talking about dancing! I am awed and inspired by the progress and lasting contributions women have made throughout the past few centuries, including the invention of the dishwasher, coffee filters, and chocolate chip cookies to name a few. Women have and are continuing to make substantial advancements within the workplace, education, government, health, technology, and essentially all other realms of life.

Since 1908, every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day is celebrated across the globe to give gratitude to those women who have helped pave our way and to encourage the empowerment of future female leaders. As a woman working to support other women to succeed in their entrepreneurship or business venture, I want to share the below quotes made by prominent women who have inspired me, and give my own tips for success:

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” 

Anne Sweeney, President of Walt Disney

While women make up nearly half of the workforce, there is still a gap in their compensation compared with their male counterparts. In 2012, women earned roughly 77 cents on the dollar when compared against what men were paid. This pay gap is apparent in every U.S. state, occupation, ethnicity, and for women without children. Now, what can women do to close this gap? Most importantly, we must ask for it. The Pew Research Center found in late 2013 that 51 percent of men have asked for a pay raise or promotion, and only 43 percent of women have done the same. Asking for a raise or promotion, when done correctly and at the right time, can show dedication and drive to your management. If your boss isn’t able to reward you with such a raise, don’t be disappointed. You can work with your manager to develop a plan to ensure you are doing what needs to be done in order to achieve the next level.

“I think failure is nothing more than life’s way of nudging you that you are off course. My attitude to failure is not attached to outcome, but in not trying. It is liberating. Most people attach failure to something not working out or how people perceive you. This way, it is about answering to yourself.”


Sara Blakely, Inventor of Spanx and the youngest self-made female billionaire

Striking off to form your own business. Taking on a new challenge. Asking for a pay raise or promotion. These situations can be intimidating, and tapping into your inner confidence is key. Sara Blakely is right, each experience builds confidence, and the more you try, the more you can achieve. Don’t be afraid of failure. Embrace it.

“Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.”


Mary Kay Ash, founder Mary Kay Cosmetics

In a recent study conducted by Sage, we found that 66 percent of surveyed participants believe that they need to take risks in order to succeed. Taking risks can be scary, but as Mary Kay says, you can go as far as your mind lets you. Don’t be afraid to bring up conversations with others or to take the leap to starting your own business. Limiting yourself prevents you from learning and expanding your skill set.

“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”


Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

Through self-education, you’re preparing yourself for growth with new ideas. Being on top of trends and knowing your competitors helps keep you at the top of your game and able to compete with the best. Keep tabs on local events in your area, attend networking events or presentations that help build up your creativity. Learning from others’ achievements and failures is invaluable in duplicating success and preventing shortcomings. Make sure to share this knowledge with your team to ensure you’re all on the same path toward growth.

“A role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this.’”

Official Portrait of Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Mentorship is often put on the backburner, but a role model or mentor can help open your eyes to possibilities not previously seen. Mentors are a fantastic sounding board for new concepts and will tell you the truth that is sometimes hard to hear. Don’t expect mentors to find you. Look for the people you admire, those whose career or path you’d like to emulate. Professional organizations are a great place to start. Just remember that potential mentors can be anywhere, you just have to be open to the experience. As important it is to seek out a mentor, seek out an individual who you believe in and want to mentor.

“As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however, I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future.”


Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo

To be a leader, you don’t need to be a CEO or elected into the role. Take it upon yourself to set trends and create new ideas. Believing that you can be a leader is half the battle. You can practice leadership qualities by dressing and acting the part, becoming an expert, respecting and treating others well, taking responsibility, being reliable, and being proactive. These qualities not only inspire yourself, but those around you and the younger generations to be hopeful of the future.

So, be confident. Take risks. Never stop learning. Be a leader, seek a mentor, and this March 8th, remember the great women who stood up and fought for gender equality. Let us also take this day as a reminder to be ambitious, assertive, and unafraid of success.

Gabrielle Boko is Executive Vice President of marketing for Sage North America. Born and raised in Alaska, Gabrielle (“Gabie”) Boko has innovation in her blood, and has built her career in marketing, sales, and channel development with leading technology innovators. 


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