Helping Women Climb the Ladder
West Side resident Lynette Lewis holds speaking engagements around the city to help empower young women in their careers
Lynette Lewis has delivered around 200 speeches in her career so far. She's done it all from corporate keynotes, to global webcasts, to coaching women on being single in the city.
After graduating from Oral Roberts University, a Christian university in Oklahoma where she's originally from, she started working at the school as a fundraiser and was asked to speak as a volunteer at women's conferences. Her talent as a public speaker was quickly realized and she was invited to talk at churches and nonprofits as well. In her late 30s, she moved to New York to work at Deloitte and Touche, and it was there that she truly launched her profession, and began getting paid to impart her wisdom on larger venues.
Her newest project, Love Your Life, consists of networking events for women around Manhattan, which she described as a "forum for women to come together and have strategic networking moments."
How did you get started in motivational speaking?
When I worked for Deloitte, that's what got me in the city 17 years ago when I transferred from Oklahoma. I worked for eight years in a senior marketing role downtown in the World Financial Center. That's what kind of launched me more into my speaking career, and I got invited to speak at larger, paid venues. I had always done Christian faith-based talks in churches and women's retreats, but now have a parallel track in the corporate world where I do conferences. I don't just speak to women. I've been doing it full-time for the last eight years, but, before that, had been doing it off and on for 25 years. My advice for emerging speakers is to take advantage of every invitation you get and go for it.
Who are some women you look up to in New York's corporate world?
Cathy Benko, who is vice chairman at Deloitte. I worked for her when she led their national women's initiative. She's been a real mentor to me and an innovator in the work force. She's someone I greatly admire as a very devoted mom and wife. My other mentor would be author and speaker Carole Hyatt, a renowned New Yorker who started leadership forum seminars for women. Her "Getting to Next" workshop set me up for living my dreams.
You also work for George W. Bush Presidential Center Women's Initiative. How did your role there come about?
Two young women who attended one of my very first book signings worked for Laura Bush. One of the women ended up starting the women's initiative and remembered hearing me speak and asked me to serve as one of the mentors for the program. The learning lesson is you never know how people you meet and the impact you make will bear fruit for your own life later on.
You also wrote a book. How would you sum up "Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos?"
The tagline is "10 Strategies for Success and Satisfaction at Work." I'm big on fulfillment and maximizing the season you're in in your life and career. And I think there are real strategies to doing that. I don't think fulfillment happens naturally. If you look at the statistics, they usually run that about 85 percent of people are not that fulfilled in their career. I think that there are techniques to use to deepen your fulfillment without having to switch careers or make big job changes. When my book got published, that opened up a much broader audience for me. A lot of people read the book and heard about my work.
You went to a Christian college and although you wanted to get married, you started speaking on being single.
I was raised in a Christian family and faith has always been a big part of our lives. I went to Oral Roberts University, and got nurtured in all of that. A lot of pastors and pastors' kids attend there, and they started a women's conference on campus. They asked me to come and speak, and the title was "Contentment in Singleness." And it's so funny because I really wanted to get married. So I'm thinking to myself, "This is not good because if it goes well, I'll probably get stuck being single and speaking on this topic." And I actually did end up speaking on being single for a lot of years.
You met your husband at Every Nation Church here in the city.
I did. I met him in New York, right after September 11th. He came to the city three days after 9/11 to start a church in Times Square. I started attending the church and became friends with him, never thinking there would be a future there. But it ended up being a great match, and we got married when I was 42.
How do you integrate religion and God in the workplace?
That's a great question. The way I would describe it is integrating your faith with your work. That is definitely something I focused on. I think that the best way to do that is through relationships, friendships you make in the work force. When you're friends with someone, you can really sit down and have great conversations about faith and religion. I've worked with people of all faiths and have had fascinating discussions on those topics.
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