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.
If you're creating a career platform for aspiring Gen-Y women, it's smart to line up star businesswomen as angel investors. Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Gilt Groupe's Susan Lyne, and serial entrepreneur Gina Bianchini invested slivers of the $1.25 million that Levo League has raised to get off the ground, but so what that their stakes are tiny? The two young entrepreneurs behind the new site know how to ask for help MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 20, 2012 8:18 AM ET
I met Steve Jobs only once--back in 2007 when he came to Fortune to demo the iPhone. What a thrill when he walked into the conference room and took the empty chair next to mine. Over the next 90 minutes, the Apple (AAPL) founder and chief mesmerized Fortune's editors by previewing his game-changing product and his insanely creative mind at work.
That day, I saw proof, up close and personal, that MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 12, 2011 12:57 PM ET
There is no shortage of female entrepreneurs. But where are the women who think really, really big?
FORTUNE -- Ever wonder why there 's no female Mark Zuckerberg? It is, after all, the era of the social web. Women use social-networking sites more than men do. Women stay on social sites longer. Women provide the bulk of the revenue at Zuckerberg's Facebook and gaming company Zynga, and most other fast-growing startups in the consumer Internet MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 4, 2011 1:31 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Today's news that Ning CEO Gina Bianchini is leaving the company is a surprise to many in Silicon Valley. Even to those who know her.
I've been surveying tech folks about the announcement that she's handing her CEO role to Jason Rosenthal, Ning's COO and head of business operations since late 2007. And although Ning, which Bianchini founded with Marc Andreessen, has had churn and reported discontent among staffers MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 15, 2010 2:58 PM ET
by Jessica Shambora
Who's hiring? Hardly anybody, yet. But as you dream about recovery, you'd better be thinking about how to upgrade your talent. You'll be hiring again someday. Really.
We talked about hiring at the recent Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, where this year's theme was "Betting on the Future." A session called "Building a Standout Start-up" was led by two CEOs who are in major hiring mode. We thought we'd MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Oct 7, 2009 1:55 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
On Tuesday night, during a dinner conversation about the growth of Facebook and the potential of Twitter, I tossed out a phrase that I can"t get out of my head these past three days at Fortune Brainstorm Tech in California. The conversation was with a dozen or so Silicon Valley execs, from companies like Google (GOOG) and eBay (EBAY) and Palm (PALM), and they were noting that Twitter hasn't invested MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 24, 2009 3:48 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Ning CEO Gina Bianchini is getting lots of curious looks and occasional "Congratulations!" here at Fortune Brainstorm Tech. The news leaked this week that her start-up raised $15 million at a company valuation of...get this, $750 million.
That's a stunning number, and incidentally, she didn't ask for the new funding. On Tuesday night, before Bianchini and I both arrived here in Pasadena, California for Fortune's annual tech confab, we MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 23, 2009 3:11 PM ET
"Run it scrappy."
--Ning co-founder and CEO Gina Bianchini in a meeting with Fortune on Friday. Bianchini came by to give us an update on Ning, the Silicon Valley startup that supplies the infrastructure to help you build your own social networking Web site. (Her chairman and financial backer is Netscape founder Marc Andreessen.)
Sharing her advice about how to weather the recession, Bianchini told us that this downturn feels nothing like MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Apr 17, 2009 6:43 PM ET
I've gotten to know Gina Bianchini. She's the CEO of Ning, the Silicon Valley startup that supplies the infrastructure to help you build your own social networking Web site. Think Home Depot for the social-network set. The other day, she "introduced" me via e-mail to her chairman and financial backer, Marc Andreessen. I had to laugh and tell both of them that Marc and I actually had met before, though MOREPatricia Sellers - Aug 29, 2008 12:01 PM ET
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