On Tuesday, May 21st, WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. hosted a Twitter Chat to discuss how the concepts in Sheryl Sandberg’s runaway bestseller, Lean In, apply to women’s everyday work lives and dovetail with the principles and practices shared in WOMEN Unlimited programs over the past 19 years.

A variety of women took the opportunity to tweet their thoughts, ideas and suggestions including WOMEN Unlimited alumnae and current program participants. The fast-paced 40 minute chat was structured around ten topics—posed one at a time by @womenunlimited_.

Here are highlights:

Excellence vs. Perfection: Since our inception in 1994, WOMEN Unlimited has used mentoring, education and networking to encourage women to abandon perfection for excellence. Twitterers agreed that perfection is an “unattainable expectation” and focusing on excellence “hones your instincts and ability to work in ambiguity.”

Women in the C-Suite:We at WOMEN Unlimited are dedicated to helping women and their organizations enjoy the benefits of diversity in the C-Suite. That’s why these two tweets were especially heartening. (1) “Diversity of thought, perspective and experience will lead to stronger business results.” (2) “More women in the C-suite ripples throughout the organization, offering fresh points of view and inspiring upcoming leaders.”

Work/Life Balance:  As women go through our programs, they develop a balanced approach to their personal and professional success. The importance of this balance was confirmed during the chat. Twitterers pointed out that when women learn to Lean In, they will become more confident in asking for what they need both in and outside of work. Additionally, both men and women will benefit from “added flexibility and balance.”

Women Underestimate Their Talents:  There was universal agreement that women tend to undervalue their contributions. By underestimating themselves, they miss opportunities for advancement. Additionally, they “over-focus on content” to the detriment of get-ahead strategies. These observations echoed an essential component of our WOMEN Unlimited programs—identifying key strengths and leveraging them for organizational and career success.

The Role of Confidence: It was agreed that “confidence is the rocket fuel of success” and that unfortunately, most women do not have enough of it. They wait for others to tap them on the back instead of doing it themselves. One participant put it this way:  “Confidence is huge. Even when you don’t feel it, fake it until you make it.”  Over and over, we hear from our alumnae how WOMEN Unlimited helped boost their confidence and lay the groundwork for taking the next career steps.

Organizational Support: Alumnae and participants of WOMEN Unlimited programs were especially vocal on this subject, praising their organizations for sending them and highlighting the impact WOMEN Unlimited has had on their careers including developing networks, learning to assess their own strengths and prioritizing their career goals. “Sent me to WUI—best investment ever,”  tweeted one program graduate.

Women “Holding Themselves Back”: Participants agreed with Sandberg (as they do very vocally in all our programs) that women tend to hold themselves back. They cited a variety of ways including: “waiting for the right time” which never comes and failure to” ask for what they want.”  “(Women) prioritize everything over their own happiness and development.” Throughout our programs we provide participants with tools and techniques to become successful advocates for their own success.

Making Risky Decisions: This last topic was filled with powerful suggestions. “Be thoughtful. Evaluate data. Assess impact. Trust my gut.”  Other participants emphasized the importance of getting past fear of failure. “I’m not seeking perfection. I’m limiting barriers.”  One participant offered this advice: “Learn to negotiate for support both at work and at home before committing to risky decisions.” At WOMEN Unlimited we are all about helping women make the right decisions, even when they may appear risky initially. Developing this higher risk tolerance has been a career changer for literally hundreds of our alumnae.

We are thrilled to have hosted this dynamic give and take, and to once again have our approach to helping women achieve their full potential affirmed.

Rosina Racioppi                                                                                 President & CEO                                                                               WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.