Martina Sokolíková, from Google: Let's learn how to talk about our achievements and strengths - that's what #IamRemarkable is all about
Patrícia Beličková / October 25, 2019
Translation to English: Maximilián Weber, Georgios Merkouris
( 6 min read )
According to an internal report by Hewlett Packard, men apply for a job interview when they meet at least 60% of the required criteria. However, women only apply for work if they meet 100% of them. Uncertainty or dubiousness seems to be a more feminine character feature. I talked to Martina Sokolíková, who runs Google education and marketing activities in Slovakia under the heading Grow with Google. Through initiatives such as Digital Garage and #IamRemarkable, her team has trained more than 60,000 Slovaks for their future skills.
What is project #IamRemarkable about?
The main aim of the #IamRemarkable initiative is to help women and also the other social groups which are not represented enough (any minorities) to talk about their achievements and success, both inside and outside their workplace and thus break down prejudices about success in the company. The reality has shown us that our initiative is relevant not only to them but also to other people, when taking into consideration different gender, age, race or background they come from.
How did the project start?
Two women – both named Anna – can be found in the background story of #IamRemarkable. My Google colleagues realized they were having trouble when talking about their achievements in their workplace. And they also found out they were not alone with this problem. They were thinking about how to solve it, and the result was the small project #IamRemarkable, which was in its very beginnings just an internal training within the company Google. However, schools, companies, and non-profit organizations soon became interested in the project, so we decided to open the initiative to anyone who would be interested in it. #IamRemarkable workshops are now run in 82 countries around the world, including Slovakia, which, of course, makes us happy.
What is the main value of this project?
It is the change in our traditional perception of our self-promotion. Since childhood, we have been learning the „well-know truth“ that our actions speak louder than our words. What is more, many people say it is not ok to talk about achievements openly. They also say it is not polite, because if somebody is remarkable in their field their success speaks for themselves. On the other hand, it is important to realize that nowadays we are living at a time when there are so many impulses and so much information all around us, that we can't discover every success story or remarkable activity out there. At the same time, the project is a very effective way of how to teach people positive self-promotion and self-reflection. If we let other people do it for us, they often pigeonhole us according to their first impression, sympathetic, or antipathetic. And they will not discover what is hiding inside of us, who we truly are. However, if we make it easy for them to see our true qualities, our chances of being perceived positively are much higher.
Can you mention some real results? How did your project help women?
As of October 2019, more than 65,000 people already attended our workshops, which is a great result. We need to know whether we have helped somebody, or not. Based on the study we have done, I can say that in Slovakia, after our workshops, 71% of people who attended our workshops have found a job, or they have made a career shift and over 95% of them are more active in self-promotion. We are very pleased with these results and it motivates us to continue engaging as many people as possible in this project.
How do you personally participate in this initiative, what is your role?
I am involved in #IamRemarkable on two levels. I run the initiative in Slovakia and also the #IamRemarkable Trainers program in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Trainers program in both countries is our pilot project which we began to run for the first time only in Slovakia, as the first country in the world. And, at the same time, I am still an active trainer/coach at workshops, this is what I put my heart into.
What do you like about #IamRemarkable? Why did you decide to be engaged? How long have you been a part of this project?
I attended the workshop for the first time as a participant in 2017. I must admit that I was skeptical at the beginning because I had already attended several different workshops and lectures on this topic and most of them were very similar. They were typical motivational workshops, and after attending them I realized it was not my cup of tea. But #IamRemarkable was different. I was surprised by how great of an impact it had been on my personality and how it changed my mind. It was like a very simple exercise. And it is said the beauty is in simplicity (smiles).
Do you also feel some influence in your personal life? Has this project changed the way you think about your life?
As for me, I do not consider myself a person with a lack of self-confidence. Nevertheless, the project has helped me to speak openly about my success, about the things I have managed to do so far. And it also helped me to realize that everybody has his strengths, but it is necessary to reveal them.
Do you think that #IamRemarkable helps to solve a specific problem in Slovakia?
#IamRemarkable helps to solve problems that exist all around the world. Studies show that many women and some specific minority social groups, (but sometimes also men) do not feel comfortable when talking openly about their success and achievements. But what is different in many countries are the stereotypes and prejudices that affect our perception of other people. While in the U.S., it is the color of the skin or the origin, in our country it is mostly the gender, social conditions, and family background that are still prevailing.
How can we get involved in this project? Are there any conditions to participate in?
We are pleased to welcome anyone at the workshop – people of any age, nationality, gender, education, eye color, or social status. This is the reason why the workshops are always free :) Anybody who is interested can register at https://events.withgoogle.com/iamremarkable-trainers-sk/ (edit.note: or in English at https://iamremarkable.withgoogle.com/)
How do the workshops work? Can you describe it?
The workshop takes about 90 minutes. We begin with a brief introduction to the whole issue, where we always try to explain why it is important to communicate and present our success and achievements. We also talk about the importance of diversity and how it affects society. During the workshop, we share not only our own experience but we also give the chance to the participants to share their own. This approach is very good, it always helps to create an interesting discussion. Then the practical exercises, exchange of impressions and experience among participants follows. As for me, I think the workshops have always had a great atmosphere full of positive energy.
How is such a workshop prepared?
Before the workshop starts, we must take into consideration who the participants are and it is the basis for choosing the right methods and forms – the choice of right exercises, examples and later questions for our discussion. A different approach is used when talking to secondary school students, or teachers or seniors, of course.
Could you also tell us about some interesting feedback that you received from your participants?
For me, one of the strongest experiences was a meeting 70-years-old lady at our workshop. She told us that for the first time in her life somebody asked her about what she was proud of in her life. That was the point when we realized we are doing something meaningful.
Are there any other similar projects, workshops? I mean projects managed directly by Google, especially for young people to participate in something meaningful?
There are many opportunities for mentoring, self-development or free education today. As part of our “Grow with Google Initiative”, many online and offline courses on digital marketing, personal development, and startups are available. And if young people would like to get in closer contact with us, I recommend the Grow with Google Student Ambassadors program, which is designed for skilled secondary school students and university students from all over Slovakia.