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Sallie Krawcheck on embracing a growth mindset: ‘I don’t do imposter syndrome’

December 3, 2023
Diversity & Inclusion

As the former CEO at Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, and Citi Private Bank, Sallie Krawcheck knows that confidence is key to not only believing in yourself, but also convincing others that you can do something too. That’s why, when she stepped away from her banking career in 2014 to launch Ellevest, the only investment and wealth management company built by women for women, she had no doubts about her success.

“I don’t do imposter syndrome, and none of us should,” Krawcheck said at the first-ever ChiefX conference in regards to a question about whether she knew she would be successful as an entrepreneur. “I was fortunate that right out of college I went to Wall Street and was with the cream of the crop and the best of the best. I sat at the table with them starting from early in my career, and they are smart. But, they are not that much smarter than I am.”

Krawcheck says that much of her success is credited to hard work and “having a growth mindset before it was called a growth mindset.”

“I just figured, this is figure-outable,” she says of her entrepreneurial journey. “I’ve just got to surround myself with the right people, not be scared of failing, not be scared of being out there, and if need be, failing in public.”

Her fearlessness paid off. Since launching Ellevest, Krawcheck has stayed true to her mission to “get more money in the hands of women” despite the bias she faced. Today, her company has a community of over three million and roughly $1.8 billion in assets under management.

“I think everybody thought we were going to fail,” she says. “And it wasn’t just my old firms, but we even had some women [who thought we would fail].”

Some of the criticism Krawcheck received was that she was focusing on the wrong metric for advancing women by creating an investing platform rather than addressing the wage gap between women and men.

“We hear about the gender pay gap, which is $0.80 to a White man’s dollar,” she says. “But the gender wealth gap is $0.30 to a White man’s dollar. And it’s $0.01 for Black women and going backwards.” To close that staggering and growing wealth gap Krawcheck says it’s imperative that women learn about the value of investing over time.

“My biggest mistake is not recognizing the power of compounding and the ability for it to build wealth, and therefore, not investing early enough,” she says. “To me, if there is one thing that can change our society, our economy, and the world, it is getting more money in the hands of women, because nothing bad happens when women have more money.”

By Courtney Connley


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