Bellwethr Magazine

She’s the Boss

D.C.-based company Bossed Up teaches women to take command of their careers.

WORDS BY Jess Marshalek

At 25, Emilie Aries could boast several major accomplishments. She served as a grassroots state director in Rhode Island for President Barack Obama’s Organizing for America, where she held the distinction as the youngest person to serve in that position. And she worked as a digital strategist in several high-profile 2012 Senate races. But the 2009 Brown University graduate struggled with a psychological condition known as “imposter syndrome,” in which sufferers feel inadequate about their achievements despite evidence to the contrary.

“I failed to set healthy boundaries and quickly found myself consumed by work and in unhealthy, unsustainable relationships,” she told the audience at an event with Brown in DC, her alumni club.

“You’ll leave [Bootcamp] with a clear sense of where you want to go, how to get there, and you’ll feel prepared to tackle the successes and obstacles that await,” Aries says.

After her experience with imposter syndrome, Aries founded Bossed Up, an organization that focuses on empowering women to achieve their lifestyle and career goals. Bossed Up relies on a weekend seminar series that they’ve termed “Bootcamp.” So far, Bossed Up has brought its approach to Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington, D.C. This summer, Bossed Up returns to D.C. and premiers in San Francisco.

“You’ll leave [Bootcamp] with a clear sense of where you want to go, how to get there, and you’ll feel prepared to tackle the successes and obstacles that await,”Aries says. And she added that the experience gives the attendees a chance to connect with a community of like-minded women.

Aries isn’t the only successful woman to suffer from feelings of inadequacy. According to an article in Forbes, up to 70 percent of people have felt this way at some point in their lives. A Psychology Today article points out why. “One striking characteristic of the syndrome is that, although impostors crave acknowledgement and praise for their accomplishments, they do not feel comfortable when they receive it.”

A few well-known people who have suffered from this syndrome, according to Forbes, are Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet, Ernst & Young managing partner Liz Bingham, and the late Nobel laureate, Maya Angelou. “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out,’” Angelou said in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy.

“One striking characteristic of the syndrome is that, although impostors crave acknowledgement and praise for their accomplishments, they do not feel comfortable when they receive it.”

Chanelle Adams attended Bossed Up’s Bootcamp in D.C. in September 2013, and she wrote about her experience for the online magazine, Bluestockings. “Bootcamp provided a jam-packed schedule of motivational and informative lectures, breakout discussion groups, morning fitness classes, a Saturday night happy hour, and healthy snacks. During breaks, women swapped health tips and workout regimes,” she writes.

Other features of Bootcamp included lectures and workshops on setting goals led by Erin Vilardi and Tomika Rodriguez of the Barnard Athena Center for Leadership. Nicolette Pizitola, a career strategist and speaker, addressed non-verbal and verbal communication, and social media expert Abigail Collazo spoke about the importance of social-media branding.

Bootcamp helps foster community between women, a key factor in female success because women only hold a small fraction of top corporate positions and networking facilitates upward mobility regardless of gender. In an article from February, The New York Times estimated women comprise just 14 percent of top officers and 18 percent of board seats in corporate America.

Aries said that her favorite part of Bootcamp is “the way we intentionally create a safe space for being honest about the roadblocks we’re facing, knowing that we’re all on the same journey and that we have each others’ backs.”

Photos courtesy of Bossed Up.

Emilie Aries - The Boss! PHOTO COURTESY OF BOSSED UP.
Emilie Aries - The Boss! PHOTO COURTESY OF BOSSED UP.
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