clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Author urges women to redefine `success'

The sacrifices and hard work of previous generations have given a great luxury to working people today - the chance to define success for themselves by asking "What is it that will make me happy?"

Lori Giovannoni, the Bountiful author of "Success Redefined: Notes to a Working Woman" and a nationally known motivational speaker, urged a packed audience at the 21st annual Women & Business Conference to discover their capacity for joy and thoughtfully integrate work with their overall lives.When Giovannoni has traveled the country speaking to business groups, women repeatedly have told her that success has little to do with making lots of money. Most said they wanted an income sufficient to care for their families and provide leisure time.

But it went further. "As women began defining what they wanted, they said intimate relationships, connections and a culture that delivers a different message about success. It's a message that says `Success is natural, failure takes effort,' " Giovannoni said.

Most working people have been conditioned to think that success is for a tiny elite and warned not to get their hopes up too high, even from as early as first grade when children are labeled by being in the slow, medium or fast reading group, she said.

"What if the message was, `Your destiny is to succeed. Given your talents and skills, it would take an effort to fail?' Would your life be different if that was the message you would hear?"

Giovannoni said three generations of women in her family show how the definitions of success change.

Her grandmother, who had little education, was a teenage mail order bride from a small town in Italy who ended up marrying a man 20 years her senior. Her mother got a high school diploma and had more choices: business school or beauty school, and she opted for beauty school because the world of business at that time didn't offer opportunities to be creative.

"When I grew up, my mother said, `You have two choices when it comes to success: You can go to college or you can die,' " Giovannoni said, laughing.

"It was clear to me that the path I walked toward success was not only my path, but my family's path," she said. "In my vision of success, I stood on the shoulders of my grandmother and mother."

Giovannoni said there is "no need to be in an acutely alive state all the time" but a little introspection and change might awaken people who now sleepwalk through their jobs and live for the weekends and their retirement.

"Take the opportunity that's been afforded us by previous generations to ask what would make me happy, what is this that I want? Sometimes being busy only keeps the anxiety away," she said.

It would be far more rewarding to take responsibility (often misinterpreted as blame) for one's work life and life overall. "I mean it in the generic and spiritual sense: What would make us happy for our life's work?"

The conference held at the Salt Palace Wednesday was sponsored by the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Carol Carter, owner of IC Products, received the Athena Businesswoman of the Year award.

Three Pathfinder Awards were given to Grethe Peterson, who heads the Salt Lake County Children's Justice Center; Kayleen Simmons, founder and president of The Simmons Group; and Susie Adams, executive director of People Helping People.