Monday, June 03, 2013

Eve Pollard Tells It Like It Is

A few week’s back, I attended the rather marvellous Sound Women Inspiration Festival 2013 held at the BBC’s facility in London’s West End. Soundwomen as an organisation is about supporting women working in audio and radio. Their first festival was a day to celebrate women’s achievements at all levels both within radio and audio, but also other sectors too. No I don’t work in radio, although I do like podcasts and podcasting, but I figured the issues facing women in that industry are very similar to the issues facing women in mobile, broadcast, science and more. And hey, the fabulous Eve Pollard (aka Granny Bonkers) was on the line-up and the ticket price would be worth it to hear her story alone, let alone anyone else’s. I was right. Eve was witty, insightful, engaging, energetic and motivating. I took lots of notes. Here are some of them. Bear in mind the talk was aimed squarely at women!
  • Be honest
  • Be angry (yes, it’s ok to be angry in the workplace or anywhere else)
  • Be real (as in true to yourself)
  • Have an opinion (This was one of Russell Buckley’s key pieces of advice to me when we first started working together back in 2000.)
  • Make trouble (apparently we’re rather good at it, according to Eve).
  • Believe in what you do – yes, women do have to work harder but believe in your work and what you bring to it.
  • Pay attention to detail and to knowledge. You will have to be better at this than your male colleagues and this will give you an edge.
  • Don’t miss out on the networking. Seriously, don’t miss out on the networking. It’s important. Eve would go home after work and put her children to bed (broadcaster Claudia Winkleman and son Oliver Lloyd] and then go back out and hang out with colleagues in her team. The drinking with colleagues thing was really important for bonding and team-building. She also shared some tips about how you don’t have to keep up with the drinking… take your drink into the loo with you and tip it down the sink; take a big bag with you and put your drink in your bag to chuck away later (ok, your bag might be a bit wet and sticky, but better that than a hellish hangover or getting yourself into state). (My personal tip here, don’t feel you have to drink alcohol. Give yourself some rules to stick by such as every other drink being a soft drink or not drinking after a certain time. People don’t really question them. Also, buy the round then you can buy yourself a soft drink and nobody knows.)
  • Don’t use the S-word. What’s the S-word, I hear you ask? It’s the word ‘sorry’. Apologies don’t figure in a man’s world. They figure too much in a woman’s world. Learn from the men and don’t use it. (For the men reading this, we’d like you to apologise now and then where it’s due.)
  • Read the book 'Rich Dad Poor Dad, what the rich they tell their children about money’
. Eve highly recommends.
  • Don’t iron. If you have a baby, put the baby clothes under the sofa cushion and sit on them. They’ll be nice and flat. When the child gets a big bigger, fold them in half and then put them under the sofa and sit on them. Seriously, life is too short to spend it ironing.
  • Marry the right partner. She was very clear on this. You need someone who will really share the home tasks with you and be able to support you in your work and your life as much as you can support them in theirs. Sheryl Sandberg says something similar in her new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.
  • Live near work. Eve was adamant about this. Don’t waste your life commuting. Little children don’t need leafy suburbs to thrive, they need time with their parents. They’ll get that if you live near work. Of course, Eve did add that that may be more difficult these days in central London…
  • You need your running away money. Don’t tell anyone about it. Don’t tell anyone else where it is. This is more about knowing that you have the stash and could run away if you had to than actually having to do it. It will mean you feel less trapped.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too short etc.
  • Stop being judgemental about other women. Even if you hate them. Women get a hard enough time without other women judging them. Sometimes it’s hard but do your best with this one.
  • Worry about your salary – this buys you time. Women typically don’t negotiate their salaries. Men start negotiating their salary from their very first job. Time for women to do this.
  • Don’t feel you have to be moving forward all the time. Things sometimes take a bit longer. Eve stayed in the same job for 10 years before making the leap up the career ladder. Don’t feel you’re lagging behind if you do this. You’re not. You’re just taking your time.
  • Decide early on about your uniform. It will save you masses of time in the mornings plus you’ll always know you look good and you’ll feel comfortable. One less thing to worry about.
  • Eve also noted that she’d dealt with both Murdoch and Desmond during her career and had some tips on how to deal with very rich, very powerful men.
    • Be straightforward
    • Be charming
    • Be well read (so you can tell the multi-millionaires something they didn’t know. She suggested reading the Wall St Journal for this.)
    • Be yourself.
  • On asking for more money… Murdoch once told her that no woman had ever asked for a raise when Pollard first started the Women in Journalism organisation in 1994. One of the most popular sessions the group ever ran (and now run regularly) was the one on how to negotiate for more money. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for that one. Eve told us:
    • Be cool
    • This is what I am doing and what I’m bringing to you.
    • It’s not about you.

  • So there you have it. The notes really don’t cut it compared with being there in person but I hope you found them useful.
    A big thank you to the Sound Women crew who put the event on. It lived up to its name of ‘Inspiration Festival’ and the speakers certainly inspired me. The stories I heard will stay with me for a long time to come.

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