Bossed Up Teaches Women to Balance Career and Wellness

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Wednesday August 13, 2014

When she was only 25 years old, Emilie Aries had gotten a great education, and had the opportunity to enter a leadership position organizing for a healthcare site. There was only one problem: she was completely burnt out, and her personal life was falling apart. So she founded Bossed Up, an organization that helps women balance career and wellness.

"I made a connection between personal sustainability and professional longevity," said Aries. "I had done so much work on closing the gender gap, I had a burning desire to go back toward my research roots as a grassroots organizer with digital strategy experience and ask, 'How can I be pragmatic and help middle class women navigate the transition to a new job or the next step, and give them the tools and community to invest in themselves."

So Aries came up with a business model for her boot camp training sessions, and did data testing for a year in Washington, DC. She launched a one-on-one career coaching program, with an associated app to help women balance all of their goals.

"Work, love and wellness are connected, and I wanted to create a courageous community of women committed to getting to their goals," said Aries. "It is grounded in research-based, results-based methodology that acknowledges that women experience goal conflict differently than men."

Her boot camp is a two-day training session that is customized around different reflections points in women's life like graduating and beginning the interview process, being on maternity leave and learning how to navigate that, or being a first-time manager and learning how to be a woman with power.

It involves finding a balance between work, love and wellness, includes a fitness class and has participants walking away with a professional headshot, because as Aries says, "I'm practical. I'm all about being pragmatic."

The training costs between $200-400, depending on early bird registration, or discounts for groups like active military. If it's Aries' first time holding a boot camp in a specific city, she'll lower her price to get women in the door who can help spread the word.

"The really cool thing is the level of diversity walking in our doors," said Aries. "It is solidly middle class, because we want it to be much more affordable than other options that exist, and we are not coming from a super-academic standpoint. We don't tell women to climb the corporate ladder, we have them come in and create a safe space to figure out what they want, and give them the tools to get it."

Their inaugural Boss of the Year campaign had members nominate those women who found success. At a recent event, Aries honored boot camper Hilary Gray, a "soft-spoken introvert" who attended the Boston boot camp, and mustered the courage to leave the non-profit that she felt was just not the right fit. This twenty-something lesbian wanted more, and she got it.

Within a couple of months, Gray had interviews lined up for a new job that she loves. She chose to negotiate her salary in person, and said her new boss shook her hand and congratulated her for asking for more.

"It was such an increase that boot camp paid for itself," said Aries. "Women are socially penalized for being assertive, and we need to advocate for ourselves, especially in negotiations. This is a positive reinforcement across gender barriers, and it meant a lot to me to see her take these tools and put them to work in her own life."

Although boot camper Melissa Sanchez ended up winning the Boss of the Year campaign, walking away from her legal career to start her own culinary business, Gray was on hand at a Launch Party at DuPont Circle in D.C., a living example of success in motion.

"I will show you how to be the boss of your own life, whether that means starting your own business, negotiating a higher salary, or even quitting your career path for something you like better," said Aries.

Bossed Up boot camp will hit San Francisco on August 23-24.

For more information, visit bossedup.org/

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.