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Women in Business: Navigating Challenges and Leading with Purpose

In this episode of  Your Money. Your Mission., Kelly welcomes two exceptional women in business, Tamarra Coleman, Executive Director of the Shalom Center, and Karla Krehbiel, Regional President of Johnson Financial Group. With a combined experience of 70 years, these women share their journeys, challenges, and insights, shedding light on the landscape for women in business.

Breaking Through Male-Dominated Industries

Both Tamarra and Karla have carved out successful careers in traditionally male-dominated fields. Karla, with 40 years in banking, recounted the early days when encountering skepticism was common. "The owner of the company looked at me and said, 'Wow, they sent a woman out here to deal with me.' I just looked at him and said, 'Aren't you lucky today?'" This response encapsulates her approach—confidence and resilience in the face of gender bias. Tamarra echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the importance of mindset and self-belief in navigating corporate spaces dominated by men.

The Power of Authenticity

A recurring theme in their discussion was the importance of authenticity. Both leaders stressed the need for women to remain true to themselves in their professional journeys. "Be authentic. Don't try to be something you're not," advised Karla. Tamarra reinforced this by sharing her own experience of initially trying to fit into expected roles before realizing the value of showing up as her true self. This authenticity not only fosters personal satisfaction but also builds genuine connections and trust within teams.

Mentorship and Continuous Learning

Mentorship played a crucial role in both Tamarra and Karla's careers. They underscored the necessity of having diverse mentors—people who can challenge, guide, and provide honest feedback. "I don't want yes people in my life," Tamarra asserted, highlighting the value of mentors who push for excellence and growth. Karla added that seeking out mentors with different perspectives and experiences is essential for a well-rounded approach to career development.

Continuous learning and self-improvement were also emphasized. Karla shared how she overcame her introversion by deliberately taking on challenging roles and tasks. "You never stop learning. Challenge yourself throughout your life," she advised. This mindset not only helps in personal growth but also keeps one adaptable and competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.

Balancing Strengths and Adaptability

The ability to read a room and adapt one’s approach is another critical skill discussed. Tamarra, naturally an extrovert, had to learn to listen more and not always be the first to speak. Conversely, Karla, once an introvert, had to push herself to be more vocal and present in meetings. This balance between speaking up and listening, they agreed, is vital for effective leadership and team dynamics.

Financial Independence and Empowerment

A significant part of their conversation revolved around financial independence. Both women stressed the importance of having control over one’s finances as a foundation for personal and professional autonomy. "You need to be able to support yourself," Karla noted, reflecting on her motivation to become financially independent. Tamarra added that financial literacy and saving are crucial skills that should be nurtured from a young age to avoid unnecessary struggles later in life.

Advice for the Next Generation

For young women starting their careers, the advice from these leaders is clear: be authentic, seek diverse mentorship, embrace continuous learning, and strive for financial independence. They encouraged young professionals to take on challenges, be open to new opportunities, and not fear failure, as it is a part of growth.

As they continue to lead and mentor, Tamarra and Karla’s stories serve as powerful reminders of the resilience, adaptability, and strength that women bring to the business world. Their experiences and insights offer valuable lessons for current and future generations of women leaders.

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