BERKELEY, CA (BRAIN)—When she was told that as a woman she couldn’t join an expedition to climb Mt. McKinley, Arlene Blum recruited five other women and in 1970 led the first women’s team up Mt. McKinley.
“When everyone says it’s impossible, I go, well, I must be on the right track,” Blum told 65 women gathered last Thursday night at a regional event hosted by the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition at the REI store in Berkeley, California.
In addition to an inspiring slide presentation highlighting her many mountain ascents, including the first American and all-women’s ascent of Annapurna I, Blum led a compelling panel discussion of industry leaders focused on setting and achieving your personal and professional goals.
The panel included Julie Skirving, general manager of Overland Equipment, Thayer Sylvester, co-founder and chief executive officer of Carve Designs, and Laura Miera-Verniers, vice president of global production for Marmot.
The three women on the panel brought diverse backgrounds and experiences, but a few common themes emerged as they traced their own career paths.
-Find a way to love what you do. Sylvester traded in a career in private equity management to start a women’s surf-inspired apparel company. She said in the past she had often found herself bored in various jobs after less than two years. She and her business partner have been running their company for six years now and she has no idea where the time has gone.
-Set goals for yourself. Skirving said she’s more effective at reaching her goals when she’s involved in setting them than when someone is setting them for her. She recommends writing down both personal and professional goals and putting them away in an envelope at the start of each year.
-Something has to give. Miera-Verniers said women are used to balancing life, kids and work. You want to do it all, but that’s impossible. She said as a woman you want to do so much, but you have to ask, “What am I willing to give up personally?” You have to prioritize what’s important to you.