Power Point: Make sure others get heard

May 21, 2009, 2:55 AM UTC
Fortune

“Make sure the people closest to the problem do the talking.”

— Geraldine Laybourne, founder of Oxygen Media, which she sold to NBC Universal for close to $1 billion in 2007. On Wednesday Laybourne hosted mentees from the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership at her home in Manhattan for a lively discussion about a range of topics — from why there is so little international news coverage in the U.S. to how women can use humor to navigate the workplace.

The media icon, who built Viacom’s Nickelodeon, shared an abundance of advice and personal stories. She told the group about attending meetings where she encountered men who tended not to listen to women’s ideas. So when another woman spoke up, Laybourne made sure to repeat what she said and give her credit. If a man then tried to take responsibility for the idea later on, she reminded the group who really came up with it. Eventually she found herself doing the same thing for the non-alpha males who were also ignored. She took on the role of “making sure everybody got heard, ” especially those who really understood what was going on. Makes sense, doesn’t it? –Jessica Shambora