Maria Eitel
Maria Eitel, Chairman, Girl Effect | Co-Chair, Nike Foundation

Want to see a room full of women leaning in? Put Maria Eitel in front of them and ask her to talk about her life and career. You’re bound to see just that. Captivated and inspired women, listening intently as Maria moved effortlessly and openly through one topic to the next.

Maria Eitel is the Chairman of Girl Effect and Co-Chair of Nike Foundation. She joined us for a chat at McCann Worldgroup co-hosted by the IPG Women’s Leadership Network. It was a packed event and ran well over than the planned time, but Maria graciously took question after question from the 60+ women in the room.

What we loved most about Maria is that for a woman so high powered and successful, she is incredibly down to earth and funny. Between her personal anecdotes of how she started off as a reporter with dreams of becoming a foreign correspondent, to her quest for being the best working mom she could be, to advocating for girls around the world, Maria showed that with the right amount of humility, humor, and smarts, you can get to where you want to go—wherever that may be. It was hard not to want Maria to be your friend, boss, and mom all in one.

But enough of our gushing, let’s get to brass tacks. Here are some gems that Maria shared:

Maria speaking

  1. Be with your people: Find a place to work where people think you’re great. Don’t try to succeed in a place or in a field that doesn’t support you.
  2. Be as precise as possible about what you want. Yes, it is important to stay open-minded, however, being precise will make it easier for someone to know how to help you.
  3. Find your beacon — your personal motivation that you return to when you begin to question your path.
  4. Be a positive disrupter. What is the status quo of the sector or place you are trying to change?  Think about positively disrupting it…start a meeting differently, engage with people differently, and create an opening for your different ideas.
  5. Don’t go into any battle without knowing your opponent. Do the hard work, prepare, and understand what motivates the individuals you need to influence.
  6. On personal branding: Be true with yourself and don’t fake it with others. People will see through it. Besides, honesty is free.
  7. Put down your device when you’re in a human environment. Let serendipity take its course.
  8. Know what you stand for–your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll feel more confident and friends and colleagues will appreciate your authenticity.
  9. Think about a destination that motivates you. Be married to it and keep coming back to it when you think you’re getting off course.
  10. Stop beating yourself up. Do the best you can but take care of yourself.

And finally, we must remember that there are millions of adolescent girls around the world who don’t have the same opportunity right now to engage with amazing women in NYC and pursue their dreams. These girls — adolescent girls — represent enormous promise for our world’s future and the fight to end world poverty. All of us stand on the shoulders of so many others that came before us, and it is our duty to not forget these young women, and pay it forward. To learn more about Maria and her work at the Girl Effect, please visit their website.

Thank you, Maria, for walking the journey a few steps ahead and helping to shed light on our paths.


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Photo credit: Debi Spindelman