Vern Hayden talks about how important it is to recognize and celebrate the abilities of women and how some of them have had a profound impact on his life.
It has always been my belief that women possess a unique skill set, and men can learn a lot from that. Over the past six decades of my career, I have worked with many terrific, dedicated women who are very good at what they do. My mother is one example. My father was a Minister, but it was my mother who was everyone’s favorite at our church.
It is my opinion that men should always do their best to empower women. And they should not do this with a return or reward in mind.
A few years ago I was at our local church, attending a dinner in honor of my mother. I was sitting at a table when two women came up to me and put their arms around me. I asked them, “What did I do to deserve that?”
They told me that thirty years ago, I had saved their lives. They were very young, and, despite warnings, went into the ocean and got caught in the undertow. At the time I was a certified lifeguard, and they remembered how I didn’t hesitate before jumping in to save them. They had come to thank me for it.
It was very symbolic, I felt. A good deed may not always be returned to you as a monetary gain. Instead, it may come back to you, years later, as a deep appreciation, or an act of goodwill. I believe it to be much more precious. Helping women and genuinely seeking to support them has definitely provided advantages to my career.
I remember a secretary at the company I worked at, named Leslie. I saw that she had great potential, and asked her to enroll in the CFP® program to advance her career. I helped her along the way, and she ended up on the board of the College for Financial Planning. She called me up one day and asked me to join her there, an offer which had a huge impact on my career, serving as the chairman for two years. When I’d helped her, I never guessed that she would help me one day too!
My rationale about the importance of men doing their best to help women also comes from my many experiences of collaborating with women over the course of my career. All showed themselves to be successful, disciplined investors and planners.
As to how men can support women, we have to consider all the ways men treat women. On one side, there are men who have a ‘macho’ complex, only helping women to feel superior. On the other hand, there are men who genuinely support women because they have their best interests at heart.
Many men find the idea of a woman outsmarting them, or being more resourceful than them threatening. This is a mindset that must change. Men need to understand that they’re not in competition with women, but rather in a collaboration. They should help each other. Luckily, we live in a world that is more conducive to this type of support and encouragement. More and more men are now open to empowering and supporting women without hesitation. I have found that one of the best ways to support women is to simply speak to them from the heart, and make them feel heard.
Genuine encouragement can do wonders. Many women I know already had the necessary skills and motivation, all they needed was a little push. I’ve seen the influence of women grow in finance. It’s not an easy career for anyone, but women face greater challenges. I always try to include them as I believe they often make better financial planners, possessing an understanding of the human mind. They often outshine men in many areas. In my view, it is crucial for men to adopt some of their skills, especially, communication and relationship-building.
A woman who really inspires me is Margaret Thatcher. While she’s not perfect, she’s smart, bold, confident, and a great leader. That’s who I’d advise young women today to be. I’d encourage them to have courage and take initiative. Be willing to take risks and don’t be afraid of mistakes. Learn how to ask for help from others. Be ready to learn, but also be ready to assert yourself in your quest for knowledge. In the end, have the courage to be imperfect. Don’t hold back. Be civil, but always be bold. I am cheering on all the women leaders of the future. Vern Hayden is your friend, today, and always.