Be Loud, Be Proud, Work Smart

This week, I listened to a workshop by fellow Chief member Jennifer Barrett : “How to Think Like a Breadwinner”. In the workshop (and in her book “Think Like a Breadwinner”, The author discusses how women are actually discouraged from building their own wealth, pursuing their full earning potential, and providing for themselves and others financially. WTF!!??


I grew up within an affluent family in an impoverished small city where the benefits of wealth were on full display. My father was a banker and my grandmother was a trailblazer getting a master’s degree in Chemistry in the 1930s. I knew the difference between a savings account, the stock market, and a 401K. Education was our family’s highest goal, and being careful with money was an important secondary goal. With all this background, I was raised to be the ideal female breadwinner, right?




As Jennifer Barrett articulated, I was subject to institutional bias and my own subconscious beliefs. I made decisions which detracted from my financial stability. What happened?


Growing up, I received the message over and over again to “be humble, be quiet, and work hard”. I was told many times that “if you just work hard enough someday someone will notice you”. As for many women, at first this message was effective. In school, women are rewarded by being humble and quiet (ie likable) and working hard (pleasing the teacher and getting good grades). But in a professional setting, this pattern was holding me back. I worked so hard, but it just led to more and more hard work: I could be relied on to quietly get sh** done. I was humble and saw other (mostly male) colleagues being proud and loud – they made progress, got promoted, and took leadership positions. I never negotiated salary or asked for a raise (be humble), resulting in a lower salary. I thought about my income as a fixed entity without growth potential, so I focused on budgeting and saving as opposed to investing and growing.


Following the mantra “be quiet, be humble, work hard” was getting me nowhere fast. In my 40s, with the help of coaches and a progressive husband, I started to dig into these old ideas. What was adaptive for me as a student was completely maladaptive for me as a working adult. So I flipped the script. Now my mantra is “be loud, be proud, and work smart”. Repeating this phrase, writing it down, and sharing with others has helped me step into a new role. Now I work hard to think like a breadwinner and shed old ideas and behaviors.


I am curious if other women have experienced a similar path:

  • Are you working hard or are you working smart?

  • Are you thinking like a breadwinner?

  • Are you being humble, quiet, working hard and hoping that someone will someday notice you?

Dr Jennie Byrne © All Rights Reserved