How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Fortune and Levo League connect to advise businesswomen

July 3, 2012: 10:22 AM ET

Levo League hosts community members at The Levo Labs in New York City.

A year ago, I began my first day at Fortune magazine. A bundle of ambition with no direction, I wondered if I would sink or swim. During my first morning meeting, I was sandwiched between two writers discussing derivatives over coffee. I seriously questioned my own intelligence.

Within two weeks, my sea legs finally took. The Fortune Most Powerful Women brand -- and the editors behind it -- pushed me to stop second-guessing myself and instead focus my energy on every assignment I was given. The 50 women on the Fortune Most Powerful Women list, the 50 more on the international list, and the 400-plus in the Fortune MPW community inspired my 22-year old self to see the opportunity in "no" and feel confident pitching (some rather crazy) ideas, even if they were to be rejected moments after they left my mouth.

I was lucky. Lucky to be surrounded by welcoming writers and editors who told me that no idea is too ridiculous. Who taught me to always say "will" rather than "would." Who believe that women's workplace issues are real, and deserve serious discussion.

But not everyone in my cohort -- young women -- is so lucky. At the World Economic Forum in January, Facebook (FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg told the audience, "We don't raise our daughters to be as ambitious as our sons." At Fortune's 2011 Most Powerful Women Summit, IBM (IBM) CEO Ginni Rometty admitted that early in her career, she almost turned down a big job; she felt she was too inexperienced to take the position.

If Gen Y women are to climb the corporate ladder, we need a self-confidence boost at the beginning of our careers. Without a helping hand, it can feel easy to throw in the towel, to accept mediocrity -- and not all office spaces are overflowing with mentors.

Cue the Levo League, the recently launched platform for aspiring career women. Funded by women from the Fortune MPW community such as Sandberg, Gilt Groupe chairman Susan Lyne, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Gina Bianchini, and more -- the startup is designed to connect Gen Y women with other women who have "made it." Original editorial content, as well as live events and an interactive lounge space, also connects peers. The idea is that everyone broadens their business networks and shares advice and ideas.

Though the Levo League is young, its mission lines up with that of Fortune Most Powerful Women: women helping women. As Levo's exclusive media partner, we launched a Fortune MPW page on its site this week. (Check it out here.) Over the next few months, keep your eyes peeled for co-branded content that we hope will inspire and shape the next generation of Fortune's Most Powerful Women.

For updates on the Fortune Most Powerful Women community, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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