Women in Business: Learning how to win when the playing field isn't level for females
Beth Lambert is the executive managing director at Cushman & Wakefield. She was well prepared for the hard business of real estate. Lambert learned early on how to play 'hardball.'
'"I started out playing little league baseball until I was 10 and the boys decided I needed to go play with the girls. It was the worst day of my life. They played fast pitch baseball and I got to go play slow pitch softball. It was not all that fun," she said.
Lambert found that football wasn't much easier. "My first job was with the New Orleans Saints. I thought I was going to be the first amazing female sportscaster who hit the business. It was a little bit of a bumpy road, and it didn't turn out to be the right career for me. When I watch female sportscasters today, it's a really cool thing because the industry has evolved so much and so, it's just really cool to see that, but it wasn't the right time for me to do that back then," she said.
Lambert says the lessons she learned in her early sports career translated nicely to the rest of her professional life, "Understanding there was a clear role for women and for men and they were not the same, no matter if the skills were the same. I think in the early days of real estate it never stopped me, but the hurdles were there, you just had to figure out how to jump over them, crawl under them, or go around them," she said.
Lambert says just like with an opponent in sports, you have to work harder to beat an opponent at work.
"So if the guys were working 5 days a week, I was working 7 early on, and I was being smarter than them and more resourceful than them and developing my relationships more," she said.
On the subject of relationships, Lambert advises. "You can never have too many mentors or champions in your world, so being fearless and reaching out and asking for lunch with someone. I am having lunch today with a young lady that I don't know at our firm and she said, 'I heard you speak the other day and I would love to get to know you,'" she said.
Lambert says many young professionals might be hesitant to do that, but they shouldn't be. "Most of us are very willing to do that, and I love the fact that she said, 'Here are the things I want to talk to you about today.' So reach out to those folks you want to be like or understand better but be more proactive about how you utilize their time," she said.
Success hasn't only come in the office. Many years after she was kicked off the baseball team and forced to play softball instead, Lambert went from learning that unwelcome lesson in 'hardball' to teaching hardball. "I ended up coaching my son's baseball team for about 5 years," she said.