10 Life lessons I learned on becoming a Business Babe

Ok, I would’t exactly call myself a Business Babe. Yet.
By that time I’d probably also have to refrain from calling myself a babe. Darn these societal norms.

I pursue to be one though. A Business Babe. A GirlBoss. WonderWoman. Even though I’m early in my career steps, the learning curve has been intensely steep. I do feel women, especially in IT, are at an amazing time to thrive. We don’t wear flats, hair in a bun or 3 piece suits (we could if we want to). Neither do we walk around on crocs in our slouchy ‘geek’ shirts (still totally want one though). No, we’re no longer known for what we wear or not wear. Not even for the fact that ‘our company hires 32% women and that’s still growing’. No we’re known for the impact we’re making and the messagse we’re saying. So for those starting out just ike I did a couple of years ago, here are my two cents you can take away when you strutt off in the wide business world.


  1. If you don’t know something, say you don’t know it. But always add you’re willing to find out. Then find out. Never stop learning and don’t get compliant
  2. Be the crazy cannonball at the office. Not in the sense to get totally drunk on your first office party (that’s what the 2nd one if for) No, be the wildcard that breaks unwritten rules. You’re bound to mess up some projects, you’re bound to miss deadlines and you’re bound to have a few facepalms. So why not use (and abuse) this time to push the boundaries?  Randomly call up that businesspartner, set out to do a campaign, create new webspaces, show up to support co-workers presentations, send a yammer message to the CVP or CEO. No one’s told or taught you yet how things ‘should be’, so show people how things ‘could be’
  3. Never be jealous of other peoples achievements, rather get inspired and motivated. If you want what they have, beat them to it by working for it. Moreover, focus on you, and beating your own self. Is that the ‘you’ from last year or yesterday? Get up and show all of them how it’s done
  4. Stay humble but don’t be afraid to speak about accomplishments you’re proud of (no one got famous obeying Jantelagen you swedes!)
  5. Being part of the team and having people want to be part of your team is far more important than any business fika’s, pats on the back or credit-taking. Having people want to work with you is far more valuable than needing people to work for you.
  6. Work isn’t everything. First comes health, then comes love, then work. Work should be an extension of life, not the existence of it. If you’re sick,actually sicken it out (working through headaches and fevers is only going to prolong it). Don’t assume it’s ok to overwork yourself on weekends. You’ll set a standard on people thinking you’ll always be reachable on weekends. You are in charge of how people work with and treat you. Don’t regard yourself as a doormat just because you’ve just started. Set boundaries. Remind yourself of the importance of physical and emotional health first.
  7. Dare to ask for what you want, but always leave an open ended question. It gives people the chance to give an honest and funded answer rather than putting them on the spot. Also, If you’re not going to ask for things you want, you sure won’t get it. If you ask, you might.
  8. Respect people with more talent/experience than you but don’t be afraid to learn from them (they too have been young once). A mentor isn’t just going to show up to every new graduates desk/door. They got 100 things to do, plus a family of 4 to run. Mentoring probably isn’t on their radar. Make sure you approach them. So far, most ‘experienced’ people I’ve asked, saw it as a great privilege to be considered a mentor. All of the sudden, you’re on their radar too. And you’ll never get a better schooling than from a mentor.
  9. Walk in many different shoes of many different sizes. Putting yourself in other’s people’s situations makes you understand their actions and thinking better. It also helps in recognizing your subsoncious bias. I would go as far as say it makes you understand the world better
  10. Remember your past and what it’s brought you. I now might have a super nice job with benefits and big responsibilities (and loving it). 3 years ago I was handing out peanut butter sandwiches and scrubbing patient’s toilets. Even though I wasn’t accountable for big sums of money, this too had responsibilities. It also came with looking sickness and death in the eye on a regular basis. Experiences from the past can be far more impactful and character building, than dropping a random sales number in a job-interview.

Any lessons that need adding to the list?loveEllen


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