Finding Courage Through Gender and Personal Goals

Two concepts that go together, but aren’t often seen together, are courage and gender. Anne Nicholas, the Vice President of Affiliate Marketing for NBC, thinks these two go hand in hand.

She was invited to Mercy College on in November to encourage students to focus on what strengths one gender has that the other lacks. That understanding leads them to build courage in order to obtain their goal.

“Normally, I come to these and it is a room full of women and one or two guys,” Nicholas said as she addressed the room for her talk.

Although it may seem that courage and gender have no relation to each other, Nicholas points out valid explanation for its relationship. Men are trained to be brave while women are trained to be perfect, she says, or at least that’s what society has been taught. The problem is, she adds, one can’t be perfect and one can’t always be brave.

Instead of focusing on the issues that make men and women different from one another, she decided to have a talk with the students about the solution to the problem. She focused on ways men and women can support and encourage each other and the courage that is needed for both women and men to succeed in the workplace and in life.

“Men and women are equal, but in order for them to be perceived as equal, men have to be more vulnerable and woman have to be able to take more risk,” explained Nicholas.

For those who choose to minimize a person based on their gender, fear is to blame, she says. It is fear blocking their minds from expanding and being open to understanding the opposite sex.

“They are not comfortable on their own ability to stand on their own without making someone else smaller. We need to support one another,” explained Nicholas.

In order to change the way men and women are trained, men need to be able show their softer side and listen more while women need to take more risk and practice on being able to speak what’s on their mind.

Nicholas mentioned that with the #MeToo movement, women are afraid of men and men are afraid of women for many various reasons. She mentions the importance of realizing that both genders are beautiful and powerful.

“We need to accept each other. Accept men when they need help. Accept women when they speak up.”

In a unique opening, Nicholas decided that the best way for the students to feel closer and connected to the opposite sex is to have them share what they think of the opposite sex. She had the young men in the room explain what made a female amazing. Used as an ice breaker and a building up exercise, any little tension in the air was cut instantly. Words such as “ Strong, resilient and great at listening” were thrown around the room. She then went on to ask the young women in the room what makes men amazing. Almost the same positive words were said for the men.

“I think it’s very important for men and women to share why they love about the opposite sex because there is power and magic in both genders,” explained Nicholas.

One of the many students who attended the workshop felt that this exercise was a great way to hear in person what the genders think of each other. Angelina Haynes is a freshman majoring in accounting and she believes that the exercise was not just intended to hear compliments from one another but to also focus on the positives of the opposite sex.

She feels that it was a great way to showcase how we are seen through the eyes of the opposite sex. To be able to hear young women complimenting young men and vice versa gives them a sense of connection with the opposite sex.

“It was great to see the exchange of respect from both genders,” said Haynes.

The marketing club and women leadership institute sponsored the workshop but it was Kelly Le who was responsible for bringing Nicholas to speak to the students. With the topic of men and women being treated differently in the workplace raising, Le decided to bring Anne to speak to the students on why it’s important to change the way we perceive men and women in the workplace.

“With big campaigns like #MeToo and misconduct happening in the workplace, I thought it would be a really good idea to bring someone that is a vet in the corporate world and share her experiences to young people because they can definitely change the landscape of how it is now,”  Le shared.

As a senior majoring in marketing and finance, she started interning for NBC this year. She has been a faithful member of the women leadership institute for four years.

“ I hope that I can help empower young girls to be fearless and to take on opportunities that they don’t think they could,” Le explained.

Le worked closely with Nicholas during her days of interning for NBC and describes Nicholas as a person “who knows the business like no other.” It was Nicholas who helped Lee obtain the knowledge on marketing campaigns, strategic initiative and dealing with deadlines.

“She’s someone that I’ve gained a lot of insight from and I am really grateful for the experience I had interning for her,” said Le.

Anne Nicholas has worked at NBC for over 30 years and as a singing telegram for six years prior to starting up as a secretary for NBC. Her sister-in-law told her to leave the field for a job with benefits. She took her advice and through a friend placed an application in for NBC. But before she joined, she had a very different career.

“My path was very unconventional,” she said during her talk.

During the interview process, she was tested on her knowledge on a word processing definition. In order to obtain the job, Nicholas said she knew what the word meant and that she knew how to do it. She quickly reassured the students that they shouldn’t lie about what they do or do not know when obtaining a job. Nevertheless, she was offered the job.

“I told NBC I was going out of the country, but I’d be back.”

She then spent the next few weeks at secretarial school. There she learned typing and different forms of word processing. After a few weeks she returned and passed her tests getting her foothold in NBC.

“ I learned what I had to do because I had the guts to prove it to myself.”

Her time at NBC wasn’t a simple rode. While, she rose through the ranks there were many setbacks and was passed over for promotions. She recalls the moment she started working on the network and a person was brought in over her, she believes it was her abundance of insecurities that didn’t land her the opportunity to get that position. That person wasn’t as qualified as Nicholas and soon left after a year.

“It wasn’t easy standing out from the men. I had a couple of bumps along the road as a woman. I second guess myself a little bit too much.”

Her manager gave her the promotion that was destined for her. But she didn’t just gain a new position, she gained the confidence she lacked before.

“That was a long time ago but it taught me a big lesson. I needed to trust myself and to project a more powerful image,” Nicholas said

Her current role at NBC is to work with affiliate networks and market them to advertisers. After three decades at NBC, she almost feels that she works for a completely different company from when she started.

“ The work in the business has changed in every single way that you can possibly imagine. It started with three networks in 1986 and then four networks when Fox came on.”

The biggest change was the gender norms in the workplace, which is still ever changing. Nicholas mentions that higher positions are still male dominant but with woman such as Bonnie Hammer who is a successful chairperson of NBCUniversal Cable, it helps expand female positions to a higher level.

The solution to unify women and men is to talk to one another and be willing to really listen. It is without a doubt that as genders, they care for one another but they have been trained to think that the genders are different and are not capable of changing their trained ways. That is not true, she says, as the same way people were programmed to think that way, people can program ourselves to backtrack and change it.

Women and men need each other in order to understand what the other feels, thinks, says and does. They can learn from each other by asking the opposite sex how they can improve their weaknesses since that’s their strength. It works both ways as they need to encourage one another in order to built our self-esteem

“We need to make it okay for men to care more and they need to make it okay for us to find our voice.”

Nicholas also focused on courage, not just for both genders but in life. During the talk she had some interaction with the audience through the Courage Finder Exercise to try and gave students a feeling of hope.

“I wanted them… to experience the shrinking and expanding of those goal thoughts.”

Students wrote down their goals first, then the fear that is holding them back from their goals. Finally, students wrote down one small step they could take the next day that would bring them closer to their goals.

Students from the audience volunteered their answers to talk about their goals. Nicholas encouraged and helped every student volunteer through the exercise. She expanded upon with her own advice on student goals and encouraged every student to go through the steps for the Courage Finder Exercise. To identify the goal, what’s holding one back from that goal, what is a better thought and to do one step working towards the goal.

“The main purpose was to show their fear is one little thought,” Nicholas explained.

Nicholas’ idea for this exercise was to give the students a realization of what made them excited about life and how to go about getting to where they want to be. It’s a scary process to be able to make a thought and a feeling into a reality. That’s where jotting down their goal for them to see it themselves is affective. They can see what their goal is and what is holding them back and what they can do to block that mentality and focus on the good. That fear thought is what is pushing one back from accomplishing their goal.  

“ I wanted them to experience their risks and the power of the desire. To think of shrinking and expanding as well as the better-thought changing the fear thought” Nicholas said.

For Lee, the workshop was intended for the students to find the courage to change the way they obtain their goal and how they can help change the way society perceives men and women. She also wanted the students to feel that they are capable of that change.

“I wanted the students to be encouraged, empowered and to be leaders with the new generation coming up. To take a stand on issues they find important and to know they have a voice in all of this,” explained Le, who’s goal within the next five years is to find a company that she’s passionate about and get a full time job focusing on technology and marketing.

When Nicholas asked the student to write down what their goals were and how they will get there, Haynes felt “emotions that she usually doesn’t like to feel.”

“Anne said push down within inside myself. It felt good to write it down on paper or type it on my cell phone just as a way to release it and express how I am feeling sometimes,” Haynes explained.

Haynes felt that the workshop helped her not to be afraid to be brave and to take more risk in life. She believes that it helped her develop as a person and to be able to push down within herself. Her goal is to work for a company that can help her manage a career as a credit analyst or a financial consultant.

“Everyone’s goals is different but reaching the goal is pretty much the same for everyone” said Nicholas.

Reaching one’ goals relate to gender because both have different skills and strengths that can benefit the opposite sex. They are both going for their goals and coming from opposite directions to go for the same thing. The strength of a woman is to be nurturing and the strength of a man is to take risks. If both took the strength of what the other has, they would be able to obtain their goal quicker.

“Some of the softer skills that some women are good at would take men a lot further than they can go without them. Some of the self confident skills that some men seem to grow up with, need to be practiced by women,” Nicholas explained.

The exercise was intended to give the student the courage that they needed to invision their goals. Nicholas wanted the students to trust in themselves and to not let fear get in the way of pursuing that goal.

“Courage is to feel the fear and do it anyways,” Nicholas said.

We make choices everyday that affect what may happen in the future. By making the choice of getting rid of the fear, we add in thoughts that can make us feel powerful.

“There are a lot of choices other than fear. It’s up to you to choice,” Nicholas advised to the students.

Fear is just within one’s mind because they have thought and felt that fear for a long time. If they decide to start thinking of a better thought, they will force themselves to think that way and soon start to believe it and before you know it, the fear is gone.  

“A belief is nothing more than a thought that you keep thinking,” explained Nicholas.

Practicing building courage and letting go of fear will give people the strength they need to keep pursuing that goal. Once they start to practice changing their mindset to a positive thinking, they will start to like the idea and be willing to take risk, ‘because you see yourself as powerful when you overcome an obstacle.’

Nicholas ended her session with a strong advice for the students and compelling words.

“Never give up, keep going, keep trying. You are going to try keep trying different paths but in the end if you just don’t take no for an answer, you are going to succeed.”