Lean In: How to be a powerful and influential woman in the workplace

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Since I moved to Charlotte, 3 months ago, I have been attending different networking events to get to know more people in the area. I want to know people like me, who are very passionate about empowering women, having a positive impact in the community and creating media content that stimulates people to think critically. Other ex-pats who have multiple backgrounds and know how to use their diversity into their advantage when it comes to the workplace.

Last thursday was my first time joining the Lean In discussion group. The title of the meeting was Power, Influence and Violence, and we had two discussion topics:

1. Power and influence in the office: ​How body language, speech and actions can affect your authority and approachability.

2. Power, influence and violence in our lives: Constructing valuable dialogs​

Our discussion started with how you position yourself during meetings to best achieve your goal and be heard by your peers in different industries and how you alternate authority and approachability roles according to the circumstances. That itself was such a life lesson, I left the meeting thinking and reenacting all the professional encounters I had where I felt that I could have been more emphatic about my point of view, but I didn’t force the issue because I didn’t want to be perceived as another bitchy woman.  I came to the conclusion that most of the times I hold my tongue to maintain the idea that I am a pleasant person, open to dialogue and willing to give in to sustain a peaceful working atmosphere. But, at the same time, behaving like that might have prevented me from showing others how confident I am in myself and my ability to do a good job. I might have, unintentionally, played low for too long. And just by having the notion that this was something I need to work on is so important for my professional development.

The conversation took us on to so many other topics that relates to how women are viewed by others in society, how the media portrays us and what we can do as women to help others succeed, starting for instance on how you educate your kids. In a way, things I am more familiar with discussing.

Overall, an awesome night with awesome powerful, educated, influential women whose ultimate goal is the same: succeed in their careers. I left wanting to know more about Lean In – Women, work and the will to lead, a book written by Sheryl Sanberg which is the main reason this meeting exists, and the Levo League, an international community to empower professional women that recently open up a Local office in Charlotte.

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Why “I AM NOT THE MEDIA”?

 

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About a month ago I started working as a Public/ Community Relations Intern for a non-profit based in Charlotte, NC called I AM NOT THE MEDIA, something that has been an amazing experience. IANTM’s mission is “To empower teens and young adults to become conscious viewer’s of the media, critical decision makers, and to embrace their individuality and uniqueness through media literacy and media creation“, something that spoke to me in so many ways, I wouldn’t know where to begin.  Since then, me and my co-workers at the Public Relations Department have come up with an internal campaign featuring all staff in self made videos sharing their views on our cause and answering the question: Why I am not the media?

I’ve outlined a text on my mind more than a thousand times, but here goes the final version:

I am not the media because I am a journalist who experienced first hand how news outlets manipulate their texts, images and videos in order to have more advertisers, readers or viewers and, obviously, more profit. I grew tired of how content was biased, many times just reinforcing common sense and forgetting the ethical standards that all journalists should be defending in order to stimulate democracy and a healthy exchange of ideas. But, mostly, I am not the media because I am a woman who refuses to recognize stereotypes as guidelines to what I should look like, dress, do, feel and value in life.”

I know every time someone talks about how mass media is sort of controlling our minds and manipulating news it sounds a little bit like we live in a world described beautifully by George Orwell in 1984. But, after studying the Frankfurt School in college, you can barely talk about the media without bringing up it’s capitalist socialist settling and it’s relation to power and profit in the western civilization.

Going back to IANTM, what caught my attention is the efforts they were making to educate teens and young adults on media literacy, giving them tools to look at the news, movies and other cultural products with criticism, challenging them and even, maybe, revolutionizing it by turning these teens into journalists, writers, bloggers, people who would give a voice for what they feel lacked or should change in the way news, movies, tv and social media behave nowadays. Empower, to me, would mean give them the tools to criticize and take action to make their communities better. Something that, from my point of view, will always be a win-win situation for all of us.

Expats Social Networking through Internations

 

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In April me and my husband moved from Ohio to North Carolina. Being an expat, I didn’t feel it was a big change. Of course we would have to adapt to a new city, get to know new people, make new friends, but that was nothing I didn’t had to do before. I knew I had everything it takes to go through with it once more.

This time, though, I felt I needed to be more engaged in creating a network of expats, people in the same situation as me, who would understand what it feels like to not speak your mother tongue for weeks, who appreciate skype, whatsapp and all the modern technologies that help you soothe that homesick feeling that catches you by surprise now and then.

I found out about Internations, the expat social network, and their monthly reunions through a google search. I signed up, talked to a few people online asking directions and tips of what to do. It was very nice getting to know the parts of Charlotte they lived and loved.The monthly meetings take place every last thursday of the month. There were europeans, south americans, chinese, us citizens. People from everywhere. Many accents, many nationalities, one thing in common: the experience of living abroad in the same city.

The first, and only, meeting I attended took place in April, just two weeks after moving. It felt good being able to talk and share experiences, but it was particularly good to be able to talk in Portuguese for a few moments. Sometimes, having to speak English all the time, makes me forget how much of language, and more specifically our mother tongue, shapes our view of life, our identities. For instance, in Portuguese we have a particular word to express that feeling of longing and missing for something or somebody, which is “saudade”. A word that I can’t really explain or translate to English in a satisfactory way, I always feel like I am simplifying its meaning. As a human emotion, we all must share the feeling that word describe, but I always wondered if the fact that we Portuguese speakers had a particular word for it meant that we had the necessity to use language to further determine our feelings. Thoughts of a linguistic mind.

On a different note, the meeting was a great step for networking in Charlotte. Having contacts in different companies and jobs is vital for a journalist who is trying to find her way into business. I met an older american guy who had many talents, amongst them being a life coach. He advised me to meet as many people as I could that night, and to create a plan of action that would help me get back on track. One of my first thoughts was how much I missed writing on this blog the last few months, which as you guys can see brought me back with new posts, new ideas. I can’t wait for next meeting, on the 28th. What else will it bring my way?