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Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge

ISBN: 978-1-118-56264-2
240 pages
October 2013, Jossey-Bass
Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge (111856264X) cover image

From a veteran Fortune 500 executive, how women can reach and succeed in top leadership positions

Though women hold a majority of the managerial and professional jobs in the workforce, they occupy a mere 14% of C-suite positions at Fortune 500 firms. To break through this stubborn glass ceiling, women must learn to take bold steps when career-defining moments arise. During her 33-year career at Southern Company, a Fortune 500 utility company, Becky Blalock rose to become CIO in a traditionally male industry. Now she offers her own hard-won advice, as well as that of 28 top female executives, to show all aspiring women how to dare to reach the highest tier of leadership and C-suite positions.  

  • Includes advice and mentoring lessons from top women business leaders such as: Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA; Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon; Carol Tomé, CFO of Home Depot; Dr. Beverly Tatum, president of Spelman College, and Jeanette Horan, CIO of IBM, among many others
  • Features straightforward, honest advice on gaining confidence, speaking up, finding mentors, learning to fail, building a network of allies, managing others, and more
  • Written by pioneering business leader Becky Blalock, with a Foreword by Anne Mulcahy, former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation
Dare is must-needed guide for women everywhere, at every level, striving to develop the character, skills, and relationships that deliver greater success in the workplace. 
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Foreword by Anne Mulcahy, Former Chairman and CEO, Xerox Corporation ix

INTRODUCTION: FOLLOW ME 1

1 DARE TO SET THE TARGET HIGH 11

Harmonize Vision and Values

2 DARE TO KNOW YOURSELF 27

Develop Self-Assurance by Identifying Your Weaknesses

3 DARE TO STAND OUT 41

Differentiate Yourself and Become Your Own Best Advocate

4 DARE TO PROJECT A CONFIDENT ATTITUDE 73

Embrace the Behaviors and Mind-Sets of Powerful Leadership

5 DARE TO LEARN AT EVERY AGE 95

Become a Knowledge Seeker to Maintain Your Competitive Edge

6 DARE TO FAIL 111

Celebrate Failure as the Fast Track to Experience and Reward

7 DARE TO REACH OUT 131

Build a Support Network of Allies, Mentors, and Sponsors

8 DARE TO BE MORE THAN THE BOSS 159

Nurture Productive Relationships on the Front Line and Across the Organization

9 DARE TO BE THERE—FOR OTHERS 177

Give Back and Invite Others to Join You at the Top

Appendix 195

Notes 205

Acknowledgments 211

About the Author 215

Index 217

In memory of my remarkable mother: Dorris Faulkner Bradford

In honor of my remarkable daughter: Alexandria (Alex) Nicole Blalock

In recognition of remarkable women everywhere

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Becky Blalock is the former SVP and CIO of Southern Company, a Fortune 500 utilities firm. Under her leadership, Southern Company delivered over a billion dollars in new technology initiatives and was recognized as one of the "100 Most Innovative Companies" by CIO magazine and one of the "100 Best Places to Work in IT" by Computerworld magazine. Becky has also received numerous awards for her work on behalf of women's initiatives. Today, she is a partner with Advisory Capital, where she provides strategic consulting, and is a board member to companies in energy, information technology, and medicine. Becky lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jim, and their daughter, Alex.

For more information, please visit www.beckyblalock.com

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“Dare… takes over where Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In falls short… The book provides practical advice on how women can ‘lean in’ even without the platform of a brand name college or network. It’s a guide for those starting at the bottom rung of the ladder, but have their eyes set on the top.”
—Ruchika Tulshyan, Forbes.com

“I have known and worked with Becky Blalock for years and always admired her energy, leadership, and ability to get things done.  I am so glad that she has taken the time to share her success philosophy, and that of other remarkable women.  Dare informs, entertains, and shows you the way to reach your highest potential.”
—Gail Evans, author, New York Times bestseller, Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman

“Today there are more women than ever in leadership positions in business. This journey isn’t easy, but for women who aspire to achieve corporate success, Dare is the chance to learn from some of the best.”
Stacey D. Stewart, U.S. President, United Way Worldwide

 “Dare provides an empowering roadmap for anyone who wants to break through professional and personal glass ceilings that can hold us back from long-term success. Becky's impassioned encouragement to become an intentional, lifelong learner, with coaches and mentors to support and keep us accountable, provides a practical path to the rewards of the C-suite.”
—Keith Ferrazzi, founder and chairman, Ferrazzi Greenlight, and author, New York Times bestsellers Who's Got Your Back and Never Eat Alone

Dare sends a resounding message to women of the world: if you have the audacity to shape and improve the world around you, you can achieve it. Blalock’s lessons are honest and thoughtful—they extend beyond corporate experience and will resonate with anyone aspiring to leadership.”
—Alyse Nelson, president and CEO, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and author, Vital Voices

“This practical playbook will help you become a better leader, a better colleague, and a better human being. Dare is packed with immediately applicable tips and techniques.”
Christine Comaford, author, New York Times bestseller Rules for Renegades and SmartTribes

“Becky is a proven leader who has captured in Dare  what it takes to succeed in the business world. I saw these lessons in action first-hand when she was on my team at Southern Company. Anyone, male or female, can learn to be a stronger leader by following this timeless advice.”
—Bill Dahlberg, retired chairman of the board and CEO, Southern Company

Dare will give you that push we all need from time to time, showing you how to excel by believing in yourself, acting boldly, and being unafraid to take risks.”
—Carole Hyatt, bestselling author, and founder and CEO, The Leadership  Forum

“Are you still waiting to be noticed?  Stop it. Becky Blalock shows you how to overcome the single biggest thing that holds women back: fear. Read Dare and learn how to boldly seize the reins of your career, and your life.”
—Lisa Earle McLeod, author, Selling with Noble Purpose

 “Becky has assembled a treasure trove of practical, well-illustrated advice, from communication techniques to getting valuable personal feedback to negotiating salaries and much more. Her personal stories are supplemented with research and vignettes from other successful executives. A valuable book for every woman in business!”
—Martha Brooks, retired president and COO, Novelis, Inc., and board member, Bombardier, Harley-Davidson, and Jabil Circuit, Inc.

“Looking for something to help you tackle a challenge in your career? In Dare, you will find the encouragement and coaching you need to believe in yourself and challenge the status quo.  Successful women share their stories of lessons learned, and practical advice is given to provide you with the confidence to tackle anything. Everyone's journey is different. Learn from the best, apply it to your situation, and enjoy success.”
Mylle Mangum, chairman and CEO, IBT Holdings, and board director, Reynolds Metals Company, Haverty Furniture Companies, Barnes Group, Express Inc., PRGX Global Inc., and Decatur First Bank

“Top leadership in corporate America is no longer a lofty goal for women. Dare is full of wisdom from great female leaders who help you understand how you, too, can reach your full potential.”
—Susan Stautberg, co-founder and co-chair, WomenCorporateDirectors, and president, Partnercom

“Becky has been a leader in the United Way movement as well as in business. She has brought her full experience to this leadership book by women, for women. It has taken years to reach a point where there are enough women in senior roles to model the way for others, and Dare contains priceless wisdom from some of the most accomplished women of our time. Their lessons learned and success strategies will boost your confidence and challenge you to achieve more.”
—Cynthia Round, executive vice president, United Way Worldwide

 “Dare is an excellent resource for any professional woman. Becky’s practical and insightful advice will give you a clear path to the top.”
—Kathy Ameche, author and traveler-in-chief, womanroadwarrior.com

“Becky Blalock has risen to the very top of the male-dominated information technology industry. She is a national treasure. Dare is simultaneously inspirational, informational, operational, and recreational. A must-read for future leaders of every gender.”
—Thornton May, futurist; author, The New Know; executive director, IT Leadership Academy

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October 08, 2013
Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage and Career for Women in Charge

It’s a question we hear over and over. Why the lack of females in the board room?

Confidence.

Risk taking is essential to growing the experience and skills necessary to lead at the top of Corporate America, and having a healthy dose of confidence is essential to taking those risks. "The good news is that confidence, like public speaking and leadership, is a learned skill," argues Becky Blalock, former CIO and SVP of the Fortune 500 energy firm, Southern Company.

In her new book, DARE: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage and Career for Women in Charge (Jossey-Bass, October 2013), Blalock does just this – teaches confidence.

Filled with honest advice on gaining confidence, speaking up, finding mentors, managing others, DARE arms women with the courage to take risks, to step outside of their comfort zones and to lead.

While women still hold less than 20% of C-Suite positions in the Fortune 500, and only 8% of the CIO positions, Blalock managed to work her way up from the bottom of the corporate ladder to the C-Suite in predominantly male industry.  Sharing her experiences and lessons learned, Blalock offers practical strategies to empower women to succeed:

  • DARE to … stand out, to ask for a raise, to speak your ideas, to ask questions, to become your own best advocate
  • DARE to … own your attitude: cultivate positivity, monitor self-talk, and project confidence
  • DARE to … keep learning at every level, seek formal education, leverage technology, create your own miniconferences, and to keep reading.
  • DARE to … fail. And get back out there.
  • DARE to … be more than the boss.

DARE includes advice and mentoring lessons from 28 of today’s top women business leaders, including:

  • Hala Moddelmog, President, Arby’s
  • Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA
  • Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon
  • Carol Tomé, CFO of Home Depot
  • Jeanette Horan, CIO of IBM
  • Roberta Bondar, Astronaut
  • Adriana Karaboutis, VP and Global CIO, Dell
  • Kathleen Matthews, Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer, Marriott International
  • Martha McGill, Chief Operating Officer, Miami Children’s Hospital
  • Margaret E. “Lyn” McDermid, CIO, The Federal Reserve Bank
  • Joan Pertak, Senior Vice President and CIO, PepsiCo Americas Beverages and Quaker Foods and Snacks in North America

“No matter who you are, where you’re from or what you’ve achieved, EVERYONE – yes, EVERYONE, needs a confidence boost at some point,” says Blalock. “And once we have that boost, we can all dare to step out of our comfort zones and achieve success.”

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