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Over the last few years, I haven’t made the time to do much reading for fun—between launching and building a business, juggling a young daughter, a traveling salesman husband, a puppy and pregnancy, sometimes it’s tough to squeeze in much sleep, let alone reading.

Now, you’ll probably laugh because the book I just read for “fun” is not really the sort of book most people read for enjoyment—in fact I’m pretty sure this falls under “self-help.”

Find a Sponsor 3-20-14

While (Forget a Mentor) Find a Sponsor by Sylvia Ann Hewlett has a few holes—like really tangible examples of “how to” get a sponsor when no one in an organization seems to fit the bill (like the companies I have worked in), this book is a game changer for professional women trying to improve their rank in a corporate environment. Most women (statistics reinforce this) think they need to do a great job at their job, and that will be enough to get noticed. I was one of those women. Although I’ve always delivered HUGE results for my company, worked a ton of hours, and turned around businesses that were struggling, I wasn’t spending enough time building my network within the company, exhibiting my leadership skills across divisions, or making key alliances with decision makers. I always felt I had to be “given” these opportunities, and never knew how to create them myself. At one point, the company rolled out a “mentoring” program, but I don’t think anyone really knew what it was for, or how to utilize it. There were definitely no “sponsorship” programs.

It sounds silly, but I really think reading this book could have changed the course of my corporate career, and definitely will change the course of my professional life going forward. For anyone who is struggling with mastering the corporate ladder and the politics, this book should be added to your reading list. While it won’t be the only book you’ll need, it’ll be worth the time.

My personal belief is not that most women aren’t “leaning in” enough like Sheryl Sandberg advocates (although her book and non-profit are doing some great work). Most women just don’t know how to navigate things like mentorship, sponsorship, and corporate politics. Or, they just don’t have the energy while also juggling things like pregnancy, breastfeeding, raising children, caring for aging family members, keeping a household running smoothly, and trying to contribute to their communities. I’m exhausted thinking about all of it—and can understand why women opt out. Read more about “Leaning-in” here.

I also just read a great piece from the Glass Hammer on getting necessary and important criticism. Apparently “male colleagues and managers are reluctant to give direct feedback to female colleagues 79 percent of the time.” The article sites women’s “sensitivity” as the main reason for holding back—I’m sure most women would much prefer feedback than a career stall, even if it is uncomfortable to give or receive.

Do you have a book that has had an impact on your career? If so, share it!

A USA manufacturing advocate, an idealist, a champion for women, a believer in good, a corporate survivor, a spreadsheet and organizational junkie, a healthy living proponent, a wife, a mother, and an entrepreneur. She took her 15 years of retail and corporate merchandising experience, coupled her passion for the American dream and hard-working women, mixed in an inspiring figure (Rosie the Riveter of course), and created rosieMADE LLC. Find on .

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