Ericka Spradley: Confident Career Woman Chief PowHer Officer & Founder

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Native Admission Statement: I am the planner who didn’t have a plan; the woman who took a leap of faith after spending most of her career in her comfort zone and who quite honestly took 22 years to get a 4-year degree!! Although my bio and website will tell you that I’m the Chief PowHer Officer and Founder of Confident Career Woman – which is true, I believe it’s equally important to share aspects of my non-traditional career story so that other women feel compelled to define professional success on their own terms; not necessarily what society says success should be. In my role as Chief PowHer Officer, I coach women to do exactly that – leverage strategy to achieve career success based on their goals. In addition, I provide ongoing support and advice for my clients, I coach them to master the interview (at least 80% of my clients get hired) and I also partner with organizations who are committed to advancing women in the workplace by facilitating customized workshops, typically with their Employee Resource Groups.

How did your past professional experience lead you to where you are now?

While I can articulate who I am today, that hasn’t historically been the case for most of my career. I spent many years in retail as a Store Manager minus my college degree, mentors, sponsors and a career strategy. It wasn’t until I wanted something different but couldn’t identify “it” that my life shifted. I provided my employer with a 6-week notice, withdrew my 401k balance, posted my resume online and went on vacation! My leap of faith landed my initial role (that I never applied for) in Banking as a Financial Center Manager which sparked a life-changing lesson: skills are transferrable. That “leap” led to relocating to a city where I knew no one and finishing my undergraduate degree at the age of 40 while launching a business as a Career Coach and working full-time. Because I was responsible for running a business as a Store Manager, I believed I could do the same for myself. It was simply a matter of leveraging transferable skills I used on a daily basis such as coaching, sales, customer service, strategic planning, etc. through entrepreneurship. Since launching the business, I have published 3 books in addition to securing a role as an Adjunct Professor (my degree isn’t in Education and I have no “formal teaching experience) and I’ve launched an online career course platform for women.

What inspired you to start your own business?

As a senior in high school, I was advised to go to college, get a good job and save some money. The idea at that time was to follow the aforementioned blueprint and I’d be “alright.” What I discovered is that I wasn’t alright. I didn’t have as much money as I thought I should have so I knew something needed to change– starting with my mindset, my decisions, my actions and the information I was consuming. After researching entrepreneurship and reflecting on the success I achieved managing someone else’s business, I decided to bet on myself. I made a promise to myself which states: “The only way my business will fail is when I die or if my health fails.” With that being said, I refuse to quit on my dreams when I’ve committed most of my life to building someone else’s dreams. Being employed is a blessing that prepared me for where I am today; therefore, I’m grateful for every opportunity and each employer. I’m simply stating that abandoning my dreams is no longer an option for me – especially when I believe I am currently doing the work God created me to do.

Do you find that confidence is something that most women struggle with finding?

Confidence is absolutely a challenge for women, so much so I published a book about ittitled “Confident Career Woman: Ditch Perfection Play Bigger and Make PowHerMoves.” The book includes 25 PowHer Principles and actionable steps (PowHer Moves) that encourage women to succeed at work in a way that best suits them. In essence, I implore women to believe in themselves, persevere, plan for their career success and play to win – especially after coaching women across the nation and digesting the statistics in KPMG’s Women’s Leadership Study.

According to the study, women believe the following will drive their careers forward:

 – being confident in their abilities (75%)

 – asking for what they deserve (67%)

 – owning their success (62%)

 – knowing they are meant to have a seat at the table (49%)

In addition:

 – 92% don’t feel confident asking for a sponsor

 – 73% won’t pursue a role beyond their experience

 – 69% lack confidence when it comes to asking for a career path/plan

 – 61% don’t feel confident asking for a raise

The root of these statistics is unfortunately a lack of confidence. The GREAT news is that every woman has the power to make confidence a lifestyle. Confidence is simply a choice.

What is your advice for women who may be struggling with finding their voice or speaking up for themselves?

Because I believe every woman should excel at work and know her worth, I suggest 3 things for women who may be struggling with finding their voice or speaking up for themselves once they’ve committed to being courageous:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings while considering the facts. I can’t tell anyone how to feel nor how they should feel, however there are instances when we allow fear to become a reality. For example, if I know I’m being underpaid but believe asking my boss for more money will result in a rejected proposal, I won’t ask. I’ll make the decision for my boss, talk myself out of what’s rightfully mine and select silence over speaking up. Meanwhile, the facts are my boss hasn’t said no; I didn’t give him/her the option to say yes.

  2. Silence the “inner critic”. There’s this tendency to focus on our flaws, limitations and shortcomings vs our strengths, skillset, accomplishments and results. When negative thoughts, self-limiting beliefs, etc. arise, replace them immediately with positive, affirming, powerful thoughts.

  3. Clarify your losses. When faced with the choice to stand up, speak up or even speak out, be fully aware of what it costs you to remain silent. If you believe the pros of advocating for yourself aren’t worth it, then by all means say nothing. In addition, I recommend women consider timing when clarifying losses. Your options are to say nothing at all or to say nothing right now and depending on the situation, it may be wise to do one or the other.

How has your work impacted your clients?

The impact of my work results in the following for my clients which has also included promotions, upward mobility and salary increases:

 – a career strategy that elevates their career, confidence and helps them achieve career success

 – clarity where blind spots and the unknown exists to reveal their competitive advantage

 – identification of transferrable skills that create broader career options

 – interview mastery combined with confidence so they secure their “next level” position  

What is your favorite part about what you do?

Helping women succeed. I’m blessed to hang out in the background while another woman confidently positions herself in the forefront as a leader or individual contributor who is committed to making PowHer Moves in her career. 

What are your future ambitions for your business?

To help one million women around the world advance their career and achieve professional success via my online courses.

 Any other information you want to include.

Yes, I invite women to visit Confident Career Woman (www.ConfidentCareerWoman.com) and take advantage of an opportunity to accelerate their career with anytime/anywhere learning. Some of the courses are free such as “Ditch The Downplay” and always will be. However, one course that’s changing the game for women is #RelationshipGoals. We are accustomed to performing but we sometimes neglect the “people” aspect of our career, meaning we don’t intentionally build and sustain relationships that foster support, advocacy and yield opportunity while producing mutual wins. Career success is definitely available for women; however my job is to provide impactful content that is accessible and applicable for those who are committed to making PowHer Moves.

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Confident Career Woman is the premiere firm helping confident women around the globe maximize their career. I believe every woman should excel at work and know her worth. At Confident Career Woman, we provide consulting services to corporations and we partner with the mid-career woman who wants to advance, better manage her career and go further faster. Not only do we help to identify your next career move, we assist with career strategy, career guidance and interview mastery. We are the best in the business at preparing women for their futures and guiding them to go boldly in their career dreams. 100% of our clients state their interviewing skills improve as a result of our coaching; 84% secure the job they seek.