Translator: Yufei Zhong
Reviewer: Denise RQ My favorite kinds of problems
are the ones that solve themselves. I have a charming,
sweet, bright eight-year-old and my mother promises me that despite she still needs
to go to bed every night with every single transitional object
she attached herself to as a baby, I will not be dropping her off at college
with all of those transitional objects. And when we think about why there aren’t more women in leadership roles,
in politics, in business, people rarely think about it
as a problem that’s going to solve itself. But I recently heard
a statistic that amazed me, and that is that currently,
women earn two bachelor’s degrees for every one bachelor’s degree
that is earned by a man. And for the reverse to be true,
you would have to go back to 1970, when Gwen Trindle was told that she shouldn’t be looking
for a position at Northwestern and shouldn’t be going back to work. I mean, if you think about that, the pool of eligible executives,
of eligible politicians, of eligible everything
that requires a college degree, that pool is going to be filled
with many more women than it has ever been in the past. So, to some extent,
it’s a problem that solves itself. But as the mother
of three young daughters, I’m concern that it won’t solve itself
as quickly as it needs to. And in January of this year,
Pew came out with a research poll that looked at biases
that still may exist, about why women aren’t getting
further in leadership roles in business, and why they’re not getting further
in leadership roles in politics. I’m going to focus on the business results because that’s an area
that I’m more familiar with. And to a large degree, women and men are perceived
absolutely equally capable of managing large businesses, of executing
difficult multi-years strategies, and doing all the things
that it requires an executive to do. High executive’s functioning skills. And in some instances,
25% of the people polled found that women
were actually better than men at things like being ethical and honest, at providing fair pay
and fair benefits to their employees, at mentoring employees. So, women actually exceeded men
in categories that, in my experience having come up
through a lot of different businesses, I would want to work for somebody who had every single one
of those qualities. Where women were found lacking
in what I wanted to talk about today were in two areas. And it wasn’t a huge percentage
of the people that were polled, but it was enough
that it kind of got my backup and that was in women are perceived as not negotiating
profitable deals as well as men, and they’re not perceived
as taking risks as well as men. And I had a problem with that, because I am in the commercial
real estate business, I am one of the few
woman developers that I know, and as a result,
I pretty much negotiate for a living. I negotiate with investors,
I negotiate with retail tenants, I negotiate with lenders,
I negotiate with office tenants, I negotiate with community residents and the communities
where I have shopping centers, I negotiate with municipal officials. And I felt like women bring a much different view
to the negotiation than men do and I wanted to talk a little about
where I think women have the advantage, and where I think men have the advantage. But risk isn’t easy one
because I think in my experience, the idea that women are less willing
to take risks than men is a perception problem,
it’s not a reality problem, because if the reality was that women were unwilling to take risks
the same way men were, there would be a lot
fewer babies born every year. A lot fewer babies born every year. So, that seems to me,
clearly a perception problem. it’s simply that women assess
risks differently, so, they take risks differently. And therefore, they’re perceived
as being more risk-averse, and we all know
that’s simply is not the case. But with regard
to negotiating profitable deals, I think that there is
a substantive difference. What I’ve noticed in my experience, and I’ve been doing what I’m doing for probably the better part
of the last 17 years, is that– You know, when you think about persuasion,
and you think about persuasive speech, you know, 1,300 years ago,
Aristotle described the three things that are necessary
for persuasive speech. You need logos, pathos, and ethos. You need logic, you need emotion,
and you need credibility as a speaker. If you put all the things together, and if you think about
all the speeches that you’ve read, all the great speeches, you know, FDR certainly comes to mind
as somebody who was so fast, like, combining all of those three things
into something that was so persuasive. You know, 1,300 years later,
it’s still the same persuasive components, but in my experience,
you are so much better at persuasion if you yourselves are open
to being persuaded. And you are more persuasive
when you are more comfortable in the environment
in which you are persuading. And in my experience, men are really good at negotiating
in a zero-sum context. So, if I win, you lose.
That’s the zero-sum. And women are much more comfortable,
and therefore much more persuasive, when they’re negotiating
in a positive-sum context, which is, this is what I need, what do you need, let’s figure out a way where we can come up
with some kind of structure here where we each get most of what we need and then we can decide
if we can move forward or not. And it kind of freaks people out
when I call up a retailer, and I say, “So, what do you really need?” “If you’re going to open a store
in my shopping center, what do you really need?” Because they’re used to– You know, every little point and adding it up at the end of the day
and seeing if it works. And the idea that it would become
a collective process is not really what they’re used to. And it can be problematic. But I think where women excel, and in an experience that I know people who certainly live
in one I could’ve experienced with is when a commercial property owner
has to negotiate with a municipal official
or community residents. Because real estate developers have
a very well-earned reputation of “It’s my way or the high way.” And you were never further in that hole
as a real estate developer than when you have to come
to a municipality where you want to do something that may or may not be welcomed
by the residents. And how are you going to dig
your way out of that hole? Well, I can tell you from experience that digging your way
out of that hole is much easier if you come in in a positive-sum approach of “This is what I need.
And what do you need? And maybe we can figure out a way
that you get most of what you need, and I get most of what I need.” Nobody ever gets everything they need and certainly, you never get
everything that you want, right? But the approach is so important. And I can tell you that 10 years ago,
I proposed tearing down a 50 year-old, completely functionally
obsolete shopping center in Toledo, Ohio, and putting in Costco
in about 90,000 square feet next door. It seemed like
not a controversial proposal. The shopping center I was proposing
to take down was 50 years old, it was riddled with asbestos,
I was going to remediate the brownfield, we were going to do
all the things that we needed to do, and we were bringing in a great business,
and a great employer, and a great addition
to the city of Toledo. We weren’t kind of out in the sticks. I mean, this was their homes behind us
that have in-ground swimming pools. I mean, this is a fancy part of Toledo. And it was incredibly controversial. And I found myself having to be
both constructive and positive-sum and working with the people who lived immediately
behind the shopping center, and working with the community
residents beyond that, because we felt very strongly that we owed the people
immediately behind us a different duty
of information and timing, “Can we clean your pool?” and we need to survey
your heirloom tomatoes if we’re going to take down this fence. I mean, we did everything that we could to make them feel like we weren’t
going to bulldoze right over them. And then, certainly, the people
that lived beyond them needed a different level of care
and a different duty. And certainly with the City Council
and with the Planning Commission, that was a whole separate,
very structure process, but the mayor was against us,
really against us. Like, press conferences with big signs
“No Costco here” against us. And Costco said to me, “You know, Liz, we’ve been
through these fights in Illinois. We don’t win.
You can’ fight City Hall and win.” So, I was trying
to keep Costco in the game, I was trying to deal with the crazy mayor
and doing all the things I needed to do. He really wasn’t crazy. He was doing a lot
of what he needed to do to make it, you know, a campaign issue, I suppose. But what I found
at the end of the day was, it was very disarming,
particularly to the City Council, particularly to the Planning Commission
and most definitely to the residents, that I was very open and honest and I simply said,
“This is what we have to do and we really want to bring
this business here, and nobody loves
the shopping center more than I do, but it needs to be torn down,
and it needs to be rebuilt. And it was a fascinating experience
because, really, at the end of the day, we brought everybody along with us, including the mayor who vetoed
our development agreement, we had to override his veto, and two weeks later,
he and I stood next to each other in hard hats with shovels
and put the shovel in the ground, and we were off to the races. And people were shocked
that a) I invited him, and b) that I stood next to him
with a shovel and didn’t try to bean him. And, you know, because at this point,
we were six months past our timing and everything was changed and we had to clean
people’s pools as I said, because now, we were into summer
and Costco had to bring people pies and– But it was– You know, it was really
a fascinating experience because on the one hand,
I had to be very zero-sum with the mayor. There’s no– There’s no– He didn’t want it,
and I said it had to be here. But I had to be very constructive
with the neighbors, and with the community members, and with the Planning Commission
and with the other City Council people because they were the people ultimately
who suade the newspaper who was very, very good at being,
you know, very much on the fence. And it was an amazing lesson because it showed me how
different disagreement like this can go if you approach it completely differently, if you really try to persuade people in a way that acknowledges
that they have needs, too. And they–
It’s not your way or the high way. And when I see these fights
going in other places with people who very much take
that zero-sum approach, and I am certainly painted with
a very bright brush here today and it’s– You know, it can be men and women,
that’s certainly a style thing, but everybody is guilty of it
at any particular time. But it was an amazing lesson
about how to persuade, how to be persuasive
in a very hot league, contested situation where I had attendant to– convincing that this was
never going to happen and– I had to keep them there. You know, ultimately, it came off, and it’s been a great success, and it certainly has provided
all the goods and services to the members of that community
that we promised that it would. And I think if you think about it, and you think about how much
we can learn from each other when everybody’s in the same room,
and everybody’s on an equal footing, and everybody’s getting
equal pay, that’s… that is most certainly the message. And I truly believe
it’s a problem that solves itself. Thank you. (Applause)