How to avoid the tiara trap

Posted on Mar 29, 2016

Aine Kerr tells Margaret E. Ward why women need to move outside their comfort zone

Aine Kerr tells Margaret E. Ward why women need to move outside their comfort zone

How to avoid the tiara trap

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. That’s media innovator Aine Kerr’s motto in life.

Every time she finds herself getting too comfortable, she starts looking for a greater challenge. Then, she pushes herself beyond the boundaries, and on to a higher order.

In the very first episode of the Broadly Speaking podcast, she tells host Margaret E. Ward how that guiding principle led to her new role as Manager of Journalism Partnerships with Facebook.

“The one thing you’ve got to get right is to make sure that you are happy in your work,” she says.

“Be fulfilled and be ambitious for yourself. I have always allowed myself that luxury.”

Ask for help

It might sound counterintuitive, but the most powerful thing a woman in the workplace can do is to ask for help.

“You don’t have to carry the load yourself,” Aine says. “It empowers you and those around you to ask for help. It helps others to invest in you and it helps you to build a team.”

Break the glass ceiling, but throw the ladder down

As for glass ceilings, the former managing editor of successful start-up Storyful says it’s about much more than just breaking through them.

She believes women in leadership need to leave the ladder on the floor so that others can climb up with them.

Don’t wait for your tiara

And when women do climb up that ladder, they need to learn to negotiate titles and compensation.

Sheryl Sandberg warned about the dangers of the tiara syndrome. And it’s a real pitfall; Aine has seen it operate in the workplace: “We work really, really hard and expect that someday, someone will come and put a tiara on our heads. And that somebody will recognise that we deserve to be rewarded. Well, the world doesn’t really work like that.

Stop thinking it’s all about you

Her advice to anyone who feels wracked with doubt when asked to stand up and speak is to try to stop thinking that it’s all about them.

Instead, Aine advises, think of yourself as the messenger. “You’re there to deliver the message for your company, what it represents, its vision…  You’re there representing your staff.”

In the coming weeks, the Broadly Speaking podcast will delve into the issues that concern you. We’ll ask the experts how they tackle everyday work/life challenges such as self-doubt, motivation and pay. To contact the show, email hello@broadly.ie or tweet your questions to @broadlyspeak

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