Are there generational differences in women’s relationship with power?
When I started writing No Excuses, I wanted to interview young women in their 20’s to learn about their relationships with power. Media relations professional and digital strategist Jen Nedeau, then 24, brought together several of her friends for a frank and far reaching conversation.
Jen, who seems to have been born knowing her power, blew me away with her poise, sense of balance, and that power of intention that many women of all ages need to be urged to pursue. See what I mean in her update—she must keep those power tools in her purse, because she uses them so proficiently to deal with the ups and downs of life. (As befitting a digital strategist, you can follow Jen on Twitter @JenNedeau.)
Gloria Feldt: In No Excuses, I asked, “When did you know you had the power to_____?” What have you learned about your power to ______ during the past year or so?
Jen Nedeau: When I spoke to you for the book, we talked about finding the “power source. ” For me, few experiences have been more profound in discovering my own source of power than the past three years I’ve spent in New York. Since moving here, I watched a company I once worked for go bankrupt, I’ve been robbed three times, lived with far too many random roommates and I had to stare down an army of cockroaches on a regular basis in my old apartment in the Lower East Side.
I would definitely say that I had to employ Power Tool #5: Carpe the Chaos on a regular basis.
But if the company I worked for hadn’t gone bankrupt, I probably would not have started my own consultancy and secured a variety of clients in the arts, media and non-profit worlds—proving to myself that I could make it on my own—before taking a job with a major magazine publisher. After two years of living here, I was able to move out of my cramped apartment in the Lower East Side and into a studio apartment, which I am glad to say is thus far, free of Manhattan’s favorite pests.
All of these challenges, big and small, helped me learn that I have the power not only to survive life’s challenges, but succeed despite them. Now, at age 27, I can say that even a bit of struggle can reap big rewards. I am enjoying my life here, meeting amazing people and working on interesting projects, but more importantly, I know that no matter what happens, I have the ability to make it on my own. And independence, in any form, is one of the most empowering tools in the toolbox.
GF: Was there a moment when you felt very powerful recently? Was there a moment when you felt powerless?
JN: I draw in my energy from those around me, so it is important for me to make sure I am always surrounded by ambitious and adventurous people. In the past year, I’ve worked hard to put my network into action by bringing together a group of bright, exceptional individuals through regular events and dinners.
Most of the time these people do not have a previous connection to one another and I love to see them build relationships that help them to fulfill their dreams. It is a powerful feeling to be able to fill a room with dozens of people who believe that in order to create a better world, sometimes we first need to create a more connected one.
GF: Which of the 9 Ways Power Tools have you used or do you particularly resonate with?
JN: Beyond Carpe the Chaos, which seems to be a constant in the big city, I would say that given my work in communications and journalism I resonate with Power Tool #8: Employ Every Medium and Power Tool #9: Tell Your Story. Particularly in this digital age, I am always trying to learn, observe and employ new ways of communication.
From my days as a women’s rights blogger to my current job, I have found a lot of joy and power in the new media platforms that exist and I love to see how they help to elevate voices from every corner of the world. In my opinion, the digital era has made the power of storytelling even more potent.
GF: For the first time in history, gender parity at work, in civic life, and in personal relationships seems possible—if we choose to make it so. That’s my take. What’s yours? What are the signs that tell you I’m right, or that make you think I’m overly optimistic?
JN: Like you, I am also an optimist, so I want to say that it is getting better, but of course there is always room for improvement. One thing I think women need to work on is to try and be aware of the pressure they put on themselves to do it all and be everything to everyone. I hope that as women continue to work toward equality in the workplace and at home, they don’t also bury themselves in pursuit of perfection.
GF: What other observations about women’s relationship with power or leadership do you want to share?
JN: Women shouldn’t be afraid of power, but embrace it – both the power that lies within and the power the exists around you. Of course, this is much easier said than done, but it is an important step.