Adena Friedman: “No More Mousy Voice”

April 23 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: What’s Your Fear?

What’s your biggest fear? Really. Not the dulled response you’d give during a job interview or the lighthearted response you’d share on a third date. When college kids were asked this question, they spoke candidly: Dying alone, failure, living a boring life, being a disappointment, losing someone you love. While these fears could very well happen, there are ways to combat them: Spend more time with loved ones, go on that Bumble date, apply for study abroad, study harder for that test. So, I’ll ask again: what’s your biggest fear? And what can you do to face it?


For some, the idea of something beyond our control is scary AF. For others, having an unpredictable day-to-day can be exhilarating. The latter must be the case for Wall Street peeps: Day traders are up bright and early and at their computers hoping for an opportunity. The days can be filled with adrenaline and good fortune, but can also be straight up exhausting. In their first two years at the job, 80 percent of day traders quit.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Adena Friedman, President & CEO of NASDAQ

If you’re thinking, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” you’re not alone, girl. Even though the stock exchange is integral to our economy, most of us plain Janes couldn’t answer a Jeopardy question on trading. So let’s talk about it, y’all. If you know of one buzzword, it’s probably NASDAQ, right? It turns out a woman is actually the president and CEO of NASDAQ, and her name is Adena Friedman.

The second-largest stock exchange in the world, NASDAQ started in 1971 as the first electronic stock market. Put simply, it’s an institution where shares of companies are bought and sold. Adena has put in her time at NASDAQ. In fact, she was an intern at the company in the early days, when there wasn’t quite a formal program for interns.

Adena had the education to propel her up the ladder, but she also relied heavily on her self-starter personality. Now, as the first woman to head a major American stock exchange operator, she’s paving the way for what has been largely a male-dominated industry. It’s a place she felt comfortable in at a young age, hanging out on the trading floor with her father who was in the biz.

Still, it takes some major balls—ahem, guts—to hang with the wolves of Wall Street. It’s no surprise, then, that Adena has a black belt in taekwondo. Some of those skills beyond the physical ones, like self-reliance, have helped Adena form the steps she’s taken in her career.

In contrast to her current environment, Adena went to all-girls schools until college, something she credits for fostering knowledge above all else. When Adena shares some of the tactics she used to grow her career, she shares the story of how she told an employee to speak up, rather than whisper, at meetings. Adena quite literally encouraged the woman to find her voice and use it.

As the leader of a major company, Adena also recognizes that there are instances when that voice can be ignored, or worse, denigrated. She urges women to share with their human resources department or pursue legal action if warranted; don’t shy away. As Adena demonstrates, look at what happens when one woman makes great strides.


Here’s what Adena said to her female employee:

"No more mousy voice. Get in the room and speak at the same tone as everyone else, and I can assure you your voice will be heard."

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