Last night, Ivanka was interviewed alongside Eric Schmidt, the visionary businessman and executive chairman of Google. The two were invited by 100 Women in Hedge Funds, an organization that connects female executives in finance, to discuss technology and the future of leadership. Bloomberg anchor Stephanie Ruhle moderated the discussion. Both Ivanka and Eric provided excellent insights on the work landscape of the future, particularly for women. Get the highlights from their talk below.
Women’s lives are no longer compartmentalized
When Ivanka’s mother, Ivana, was a real estate executive in the 80s, her work life was in the office and her home life stayed at home. “She didn’t discuss her children at work, because that would have undermined her credibility in the office,” Ivanka said. Today, thanks to technology, the lines between work and life are increasingly blurred.
Corporate culture is catching up—but not quickly enough
Ivanka has created an environment that celebrates the fact that women who work are multidimensional—we have families and passions outside of the office, and our corporate culture allows us to make those things a priority while succeeding in our professional roles. This kind of office culture is becoming increasingly common, as women are starting to choose how they want to work and are building the lives they want to live. Not all industries have caught up. Ivanka says, “If you’re at a firm who doesn’t appreciate the fact that you have passions outside of work or you find yourself lying to your boss about taking your son to a 3 p.m. doctor’s appointment, despite the fact that you work really hard, that’s not a culture that you’re going to be able to thrive in.”
Be the kind of leader that you would want to work for
Eric asked, “Would you work for the firm that you now head? If the answer is, ‘no,’ then what are you doing wrong?” He is a proponent of leading with authenticity and motivation. “As a leader, you’re trying to get the very best performance out of somebody, and you usually get the best when people work hard and are highly motivated. You don’t get that by yelling and screaming or by discriminating. People are very attuned to what the leadership is doing—you can’t mislead your employees. They have quick detectors for bias and for you lying to them.”
Technology can be your greatest asset…
While some may argue that women answering emails at 2 a.m. is a sign of a world that’s “too connected,” Eric believes it’s a sign of women using technology as a tool to juggle their many roles. “I’m sure when Ivanka is up at 2 a.m. she’s not spending a lot of time trolling social networks. She had important responsibilities after she came home, like her family, and now she’s catching up on work.” He sees this constant connection as empowering—not only is it a tool that allows women like Ivanka to create lives they love, but it’s also a tool for education, innovation and spreading ideas.
…as long as you know how to use it
Eric says, “These technologies are great—you just have to know when not to use them. I practice being offline for 90 minutes a day during dinner.” Ivanka agreed, saying, “Technology is a tool, and it can be used to help you or to your detriment. The most important thing is to create boundaries. I’m offline from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown, and my children know they get me completely, without interruption, during that time. I used to worry about what would happen if I unplugged for 24 hours, but it’s always been fine. If people desperately need you, they’ll find you—I’ve had people knock on my door in the middle of a Saturday. People are resourceful and tend to figure things out themselves if you are not available.”
Stop being busy all the time
Technology has the ability to fill all of our time. When you’re riding in the elevator, riding the subway or waiting in line for coffee, it’s easy to spend that time online. Ivanka urges us to spend time just thinking instead, rather than filling every free moment. “My most interesting, exciting ideas come after a period of quiet, removed from technology,” she said.