Roxane Gay is a bestselling author, New York Times contributor, associate English professor at Purdue University and one of the most prolific writers working today.
In an interview with Lifehacker, the successful author and teacher shares the career advice that has kept her on track throughout her professional journey.
"When I was going on the academic job market, worrying about the campus interview, my friend Matt Seigel told me to just be myself because otherwise, if I got hired as the person I was pretending to be, I would have to keep up that pretense for the rest of my career," she says. "He was absolutely right about being myself, for better and worse."
In an interview with Rebecca Jarvis for her "No Limits" podcast, Uber's Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John also shared how bringing her truest self to work has been key to her success. But Saint John first had to take some bad advice.
Early in her career, she says she was told by a female leader at a former company to not wear red nail polish or red lipstick in the workplace.
"It would be a bold message, and you don't want to do that," Saint John says the executive told her. "You want to be sort of understated and let people take you seriously."
Though it was offered with good intentions, Saint John says the advice made her question whether or not she could be bold in the office.
For six months, she says she walked around in a slump while trying to live up to the executive's suggestion. Eventually a good friend asked her what was going on, observing that, "This isn't you." It was then when Saint John says a light bulb went off that made her realize the only way to succeed was to bring her full self to work.
Being authentically you is advice that has been offered by many women in leadership positions, including PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, who routinely advises professionals to "bring your whole self to work."
For Saint John, she says it was important for her to understand that "you are the only you — so why not bring that?"
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