Ellen Grasso-Vice President of ForbesWoman
Q: What is your current job?
A: I am Vice President of ForbesWoman and the Executive Producer of the Forbes Women’s Summit. ForbesWoman is a multi-media platform dedicated to the empowerment and advancement of women, so an integral part of my role at Forbes is to convene dialogue around issues that impact women’s leadership.
Q: How has your educational background influenced your career path?
A: My graduate degree is in media studies, a theoretical discipline that explores the dynamics of mass communication in any given culture, including film, broadcast, print, and digital media. I think the most valuable part of my postgraduate education is that it encouraged me to question the status quo and to recognize that media can have a transformative effect if it’s used to catapult issues of inequality and other injustices into the forefront of a nation’s consciousness. Social media has truly democratized this process, and, at its best, gives a voice to those who had been voiceless.
Q: As an organizer of the Forbes Women’s Summit, what is the most important lesson you have learned from a successful female leader?
A: I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to take risks – not in a reckless way, of course. But a huge part of innovation is disruption. So you have to be willing to come out of your comfort zone and sometimes act on an “outside the box” idea that might, in fact, fail. But failure is actually a crucial part of the journey to success. And I think particularly for women, the idea of failure is difficult to embrace because we never like to disappoint. So my greatest lesson lies in the recognition that failure – to some degree – is inevitable if you’re attempting to do great things in the world. And always fail forward!
Q: How can the media be used as a platform to promote the advancement of women?
A: Media can be a powerful tool in raising awareness around issues that impact the advancement of women. But the real power of platforms like ForbesWoman is that they have the potential to build communities around a shared vision and then inspire those communities to take action. A media platform like ForbesWoman not only has considerable reach, it also has the power to convene insightful thought leadership, which paves the way for actionable solutions.
Q: What advice would you give to girls that want to work in the media industry?
A: My advice to girls looking to work in the media industry, or in ANY industry for that matter, is try your best to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. In other words, approach whatever job you have as if you were working for yourself. Most entrepreneurs share certain qualities – they are resilient, resourceful, and are very adept at overcoming challenges and obstacles. Imagine that your role is critical to the overall survival and success of the company regardless of your position. An entrepreneurial mindset naturally produces a heightened engagement with your job and, thus, encourages innovation. It really is the best pathway to leadership.
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