What Do You Want?

Barbara Stewart challenges us to answer a very simple question about our next life choices.


Barbara Stewart
July 18, 2013

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  • In our 20’s and 30’s my friends and I were intensely focused on achievement – we made life choices that would allow us to accomplish great things in our careers and families. Now in our 40’s and 50’s our focus has shifted inward … when it is most important that we make sure we are truly doing the things we want to do with the rest of our lives. A recent Sunday New York Times interview had a profound effect on me: Bill McDermott, the Co-CEO of SAP, offered what he considers to be the single best question for potential hires. He simply says “What do you want?” The reason? “If you ask somebody what they want, you’ll know everything there is to know about them. We’re looking for people who have a clarity about who they are and what they want, and where they want to go. They should have a keen understanding of how the job they’re interviewing for fits into their personal passions.” I stared at the page for a long while. Then I finally put the paper aside. What Do I Want? I wear two hats. I work hard at my job investing on behalf of entrepreneurs and executives who either don’t have the time or the interest in managing their own money.  I also spend at least a hundred hours a year researching various aspects of women and finance. I am compelled to make a positive contribution in this area – we desperately need role models for the next generation.  The first job pays well and the second job actually costs me money, at least so far! I have learned a lot over the last few years meeting other women that are passionate about their causes. Many of us spend our own savings because we are driven to make a difference in the area that matters to us. Over a quarter of the women I interviewed last year admitted to spending “a significant amount” of their resources on their personal cause. You can read the full report on www.barbarastewart.ca . Fortunately, there are ideas brewing to help bridge this gap. It feels a bit silly that we are actually penalizing ourselves financially for wanting to move the world forward in meaningful ways. In recent months I have encountered a few bold women who are starting investment vehicles that will capitalize on female-led ventures and/or finding ways to match capital with start-up talent. There is a growing realization that sharing in the old-fashioned female way is in fact a brilliant business tool. So what do I want? I want to spend my days managing investing portfolios for women so that I can put my energy and passion into helping the world make investments in women. I want to share ideas and connect smart women so that we all move forward in the ways that matter to us. What Do You Want? I hope this question helps you in the same way that it has helped me.