Alter Work Egos

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There was so much interest last week in Airtable.  I think it’s clear we are all looking for lower-cost, flexible solutions to solve our day to day workflow and productivity challenges.  If you ever come across other solutions that you find incredibly valuable, please let me know about them!

Now to the newsletter:

Topic of the Week: Alter Work Egos

“What do you do if you don’t like sports, how do you fit in with the guys?”

This was a question asked by an undergrad woman when I was participating in a panel discussion about women in investment banking.

I was about to answer the question when another woman spoke up first. She said something to the effect of, “You have to learn to like sports and how to talk about sports if you want to fit in.”

In my best (aka nonexistent) poker face, I peered over at the other woman with squinted eyes and a look of utter disdain.

You see, I was about to answer the question with, “Sports? Who the F*** cares if you don’t like sports? Just change the topic to something you can both talk about, surely professionals are capable of discussing things other than sports.”

I’m not a huge sports fan.  I didn’t know Indiana had a professional football team for the first 19 years of my life. I’m from Indiana by the way. Yay Sports!

I’ve never contemplating pretending to like sports to fit in and I couldn’t believe we were telling the next generation of women investment bankers that they need to pretend to be something they aren’t to fit in.

But then I took a step back and realized I was being a hypocrite.  I may not have felt the need to pretend to like sports, but I absolutely had an intentionally different personality at work than I did at home.

I felt pressure at work to get people to take me seriously.  This resulted in me being colder and generally unapproachable.  I didn’t open up about my personal life.  I didn’t share my interests or passions.  I felt like I had to dress a certain way, talk a certain way and act a certain way in the workplace to succeed professionally in finance.

I was constantly trying to fit myself into someone else’s definition of professional decorum.

I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this and while I do think it affects women more than men, this is something that most professionals experience.  Most of us struggle with the boundaries between work self and personal self.

At some point over the last several years, I gained enough confidence in my abilities that I just stopped caring.  Work Danielle and Non-work Danielle merged into Danielle (mostly).

This has led to overwhelmingly positive outcomes.  I have stronger relationships across the board.  My career has benefited.  I feel happier as a person and there is this freeing feeling you experience when you just stop giving an F about what people think.

I also came to the realization that most people never cared what I wore, etc. A lot of this anxiety over fitting in is a self-imposed restriction we put on ourselves.

There will always be things that do not belong in the workplace and I think most of us can use our common sense to determine what those things are, but no one should be worried about being themselves in the workplace.

If I could go back in time to that panel, I would say this: “Who the F cares about sports, be absolutely unapologetic about who you are and find the people and company who value it.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

PS – My hair is pink and shockingly, it hasn’t impeded my ability to do my job.

About the author

Danielle O'Rourke

Recovering Investor. Mom. Wife.

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By Danielle O'Rourke

Danielle O'Rourke

Recovering Investor. Mom. Wife.

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