An incubator of women leaders


  • 08/18/2013 6:38 PM | Anonymous

    Sometimes I am amazed at how thoroughly and viciously I can beat myself up. Not physically, but I can really take myself to task for any and every mistake I make, no matter how minor. “How could you be so stupid?" I ask myself. Unsatisfied, I observe, “what a horrible mistake!” Then, I envision a parade of horribles of how whatever project I was working on will soon spiral into destruction – all because of my mistake.

    Every now and then, I am able to take a step back and stop the cycle of self-destructive chatter. On those occasions, a lyric from a Pink song resonates in my head,

    “Change the voices in your head

    Make them like you instead”

    - “F**kin’ Perfect”

    How profound! How perfect! Think of what we can accomplish if we support ourselves in the same way we support our teams. When our colleagues make a mistake, we don’t (please don’t) say “how could you be so stupid?” So, why do we say it to ourselves? And, how many times has a mistake really resulted in the worst outcome we envisioned? Once we give ourselves a break, allow ourselves to fail once in a while (after all, we are human and we learn and grow from our mistakes), we open up so many more opportunities for success.

    Our challenge: make the voices in your head like you instead. Can you change the negative-speak in your head to a positive conversation? When you do, observe how it changes your outlook and your opportunities. Extra credit: can you make that a permanent habit?

    -Annie Rogaski, CLUB President

  • 08/03/2013 6:40 PM | Anonymous

    Save the date for our all-members events this fall:

    Smart Fashion for Silicon Valley Women
    September 11th, 6:00pm - 8:30pm

    Join the CLUB and the team of professional stylists at the Palo Alto Nordstrom for tips on successful dressing.

    The CLUB Anniversary Party
    October 9th, 5:30pm - 8:30pm

    Join us as we celebrate our one year mark at the same fantastic venue where we launched on October 4th, 2012.

    Please check back soon for details.

  • 07/18/2013 6:41 PM | Anonymous

    I've been thinking a lot about adventures, for a few reasons: 1) a good friend started a new company centered around providing adventures; 2) I recently was on vacation, enjoying adventures and time to think; and 3) Karen Catlin and Diana Olin got me thinking about work adventures (or, as they termed it, professional bucket lists).

    My friend's company, Ethos Adventures (, is focused on getting people out of their daily routines and outside, to experience an adventure. Though the mission of her company is adventure, the mere fact that she started the company (after retiring from a young career practicing law) was certainly an adventure. She jumped into unchartered waters, without a life vest, and embraced the change, the adventure. What she found was a network of friends, family and colleagues that whole-heartedly supported her. She realized she was not in fact without a life vest. Rather, she had hordes of people cheering her on and offering support.

    Her adventure got me thinking about experiencing my own adventures. My husband and I were recently on vacation in the Pacific Northwest. One day, at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, we rented mopeds (we had never ridden them before, so had to pass the training of riding without swerving, knees tightly pulled in - it took me a while...) and rode to the south part of the island. Though we could not accelerate above about 35 mph, it felt like I was flying, wind blowing in my face, sun shining down and amazing views over the fields and of the ocean. At one point, I realized I was smiling (I only briefly worried about catching flies in my teeth) and felt absolutely exhilarated. The driftwood, red fox that wandered within about 10 feet of us and lighthouse confirmed I was not at the office, and enhanced the vivid experience of living!

    My joy made me wonder if adventures were only for evenings, weekends or vacations. First, I had to remind myself that working nights and weekends as I have done most of this year significantly reduced the time for non-working adventures. But then, I recalled a conversation on a recent CLUB Walk and Talk with Karen and Diana. We were talking about bucket lists and the topic of professional bucket lists came up. (See Karen's recent blog on this topic, at I have to admit, that was a new one for me. I have goals and annual plans, as do most lawyers in big firms, but a bucket list? Hadn't crossed my mind. After the exhilaration of my moped adventure, I started to wonder, why can't I have work adventures too? Should I create a bucket list of professional adventures to focus my efforts? How amazing it would be to feel the thrill of adventure at work! Think of the creativity and rejuvenation that would result.

    Our challenge: find adventure on the job. Perhaps it requires moving outside our comfort zone and trusting our confidence to succeed. Let's go find joy, satisfaction and the thrill of adventure in our professions!

    - Annie Rogaski, CLUB President

  • 06/18/2013 6:41 PM | Anonymous

    A scene in one of my all-time favorite shows, Sports Night (critically-acclaimed, which I now understand means “doomed after two seasons,” to my great dismay), struck me immediately and has stuck with me for years. The boss, Isaac Jaffe (“Benson,” if you’re a GenX’er) was dispensing a bit of leadership advice. He said, “It's taken me a lot of years, but I've come around to this: If you're dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you're smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.”

    Think about that. How comfortable are you surrounding yourself with smart people who disagree with you? It takes a pretty confident person to take that step and, even more, to follow through and reap the benefit of it. So often, we feel that we need to be the smartest person in the room. As the leader, shouldn’t we have all the answers? Isaac says, “no.” We can learn from those who have a different viewpoint. We can grow from the challenge of really listening to someone who disagrees with us. What a great insight. How freeing. Why not find the best people? Not just those who think like us -- the best.

    Coming from a litigation background, this rings particularly true. There are no right answers in litigation, but there are better answers. You cannot arrive at those answers without discussion. You cannot get there if everyone follows the same train of thought. You never know what will trigger the breaking idea on a case, so you cannot afford to close any doors. Surrounding yourself with those who disagree with you (and creating an environment in which it is acceptable to express that disagreement) means the team as a whole will consider a broader perspective. When that happens, the team will collectively arrive at a better answer.

    Our challenge: can we fully hear the viewpoint of someone who disagrees with us? Can we accept his suggestion even if it is contrary to what we put on the table? Can we put aside our own suggestions (and, egos) in favor of someone else's? If it’s the best suggestion on the table, why not embrace it, credit the teammate who suggested it and build our strategy around it?

    - Annie Rogaski, CLUB President

  • 05/18/2013 6:43 PM | Anonymous

    Confidence comes from within. No one can give it to us. No one can take it away (unless we let them). But we have to find it, believe in it, nurture it, and draw upon it.

    I recently read two very different books that provided different insights on confidence. Gift From The Sea was written in the fifties, and advocated for women to find strength in occasional solitude - basically, to develop confidence when alone that provides strength when challenged in our daily life. Lean In was written more recently and suggests that we fake it till we make it - to act as if we are confident even when we don't feel confident - among other good lessons. Both are important.

    The unifying theme is that we need to build (whether real or a temporary facade that leads to reality), and then draw upon, our confidence. How do we do this? I propose, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, that we do it by letting go. Once we let go of others' expectations for us (or our own), what freedom we have to challenge ourselves, to see ourselves in a new light. Why don't we also let go of our perceptions of the experience required for roles we could take on? If we don't require ourselves to be perfectly qualified from the start, can't we be confident that we can do - or learn to do - the job? After all, we've made it this far. And can we let go of the result? Maybe we succeed, maybe we fail, but wasn't the effort the same? Do we have to define our success by the result (or others' perception of the result) or can we simply be confident that we did our best?

    Ultimately, as managers and leaders we all feel better about choosing someone who appears confident they can do the job. It helps us sleep at night. So, what comfort do we give to those who might select us? Do they draw comfort from our confident presence? Or do they hold their breath and lose sleep, wondering if they made the right decision? We hold the power to give them comfort and, with that comfort, comes more confidence and more opportunity.

    Our challenge: let go. Just, let go. And, see what happens. When we are not bound by our own (often unrealistic) expectations, can we build confidence in our abilities, intelligence, drive, intuition, judgment, decision-making, team-building and other skills? We are talented. No question. Let's embrace it, own it. Be confident. And let others draw comfort from choosing us to get the job done.

    - Annie Rogaski, CLUB President

  • 04/21/2013 6:43 PM | Anonymous

    On March 28th, the CLUB brought members and their male guests together to explore unconscious biases that often hinder women’s advancement to leadership positions.  This workshop, led by leadership expert Ida Abbott, was the first in the CLUB’s Leveraging Feminine LeadershipTM series, engaging men and women to explore how to break down barriers and develop solutions that draw upon the feminine leadership qualities (possessed by both men and women) that have been shown to maximize a company’s success.  Members and guests alike performed in several vignettes that illustrated certain common, but unconscious, biases, triggering lively table discussions about the biases participants see in their workplaces and solutions they have seen work.

    Key ideas that emerged from the discussion included:

    • Leaders need to ensure inclusion in meetings and encourage participants to voice diverse viewpoints;
    • It is critical for women to display confidence – whether they feel confident or not – as they move towards and take on leadership positions;
    • To effect change, we need to be vigilant in challenging assumptions – including our own – based on gender stereotypes.

    Look for an invitation later this year for the next Leveraging Feminine LeadershipTM event – you can help expand this conversation by inviting men who can share their great ideas with us, and take our ideas back to their companies.

  • 04/18/2013 6:44 PM | Anonymous

    My office looks out onto the entrance of my firm.  I see who comes and goes and often get a friendly wave as someone comes up the walk.  Occasionally, I see a group of men heading out to lunch and I think, “why are there no women in that group?”  For a split second, I may even feel slighted that I wasn’t invited.

    I’m not alone in this.  I’ve heard from other women or seen discussions on blogs how women are sometimes excluded from the informal networks that are so important to succeeding in our professions.  We cannot control whether we are invited to lunch, but we can control our response.  For that split second when I feel slighted, I sometimes remember to ask, “why didn’t I invite them to lunch?”  I know that they didn’t intend to exclude me.  They work in a different group, they interact more often – it’s natural to just say, “let’s grab lunch” to those around you.

    So I decided to try an experiment.  I would take the initiative.  I would invite others to lunch and not wait for them to invite me.  And, you know what?  They came.  It was fun.  We got to know each other better.  And, now, they think to invite me to lunch as well.  They have even sought me out to help with projects because they now know me better.

    But, you say, the guys always want to talk about sports and I’m not interested in that.  Do I have to fake my way through a sports conversation just to join key networks at work?  Not necessarily.  There is always a middle ground – find out what it is.  What are your shared interests?  Kids?  Pets?  Food?  Wine?  Travel?  Hiking?  The list is endless.  We’re women.  We’re good at finding out what people are interested in.  And there is usually more than just one thing.  We can find something in common.  It just takes some effort.

    Our Challenge:  take the initiative.  Invite the guys out to lunch.  Find out those common interests.  And keep inviting them.  It will be worth it.

  • 04/08/2013 6:46 PM | Anonymous
  • 03/09/2013 6:48 PM | Anonymous

    We're at 130+ members and counting! Check out our most recent Member Demographics Summary to learn more about our members.

  • 02/26/2013 6:49 PM | Anonymous

    Leaders come in all forms.  Often we think of leaders as those who lead countries, businesses, teams.  Those who have “power.”  But that is too narrow a definition.  One of my childhood heroines was Harriet Tubman.  She was, perhaps, an unusual heroine for an East Bay suburban 10-year-old, but her story moved me.  She had absolutely no power as society viewed power.  Yet, she helped create the Underground Railroad, led hundreds of slaves to freedom and, in the process, affected history in a dramatic way.  She didn’t do it for glory or money, or even to change history.  She did it because it was the right thing to do.  And, she did it in the face of great danger to herself and those she led.

    Reading her biography, I remember thinking, “she could have made one run through the railroad and she would have been free.”  But she went back.  That surprised me.  She must have felt a drive beyond herself, to help those who needed her, those who did not have her strength, her resolve.  She was absolutely selfless in the face of unfathomable danger.

    How did Ms. Tubman succeed?  She was the ultimate networker – connecting with other abolitionists who formed the Underground Railroad as well as with those bound by slavery.  Working tirelessly, day and night, she gathered information, ensuring the path she charted was safe for her passengers.  She figured out logistics.  She inspired – and challenged – her followers.  Women and men alike trusted her with their lives.  No passengers were lost under her leadership.  Amazing.  She succeeded with so little and against all odds.  She overcame unimaginable barriers.  All with no conventional “power.”

    Our challenge: overcome our barriers to success.  We have more power than Ms. Tubman.  We have voices that are heard.  We have better tools to network.  We have support.  We can go where we want.  What is stopping us?  If Harriet Tubman can make such a difference and be such an effective leader with so little, why can’t we?

    -Annie Rogaski, President and Co-Founder

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