Growing up, Ivanka Trump didn’t have to look far for a strong female role model. She had her mom, Ivana, right down the hallway.
The first of Donald’s three wives, Ivana, now 68, worked tirelessly to ensure her daughter and two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, had a normal upbringing while also helping her husband run his multimillion-dollar empire.
Now, in her empowering new book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success (written before the 2016 presidential election), multi-hyphenate Ivanka, 35, credits her mom’s perseverance for her own drive to succeed — and her determination to help others do the same.
The mom of Arabella, 5, Joseph, 3, and Theodore, 13 months (with husband Jared Kushner), shares an exclusive excerpt with Us. The mom the mom of Arabella, 5, Joseph, 3, and Theodore, 13 months (with husband Jared Kushner), shares an exclusive excerpt with Us.
Warm scarf wrapped tightly around my neck, I carried everything I needed on my back. Around mile three of the eight- hour hike through Patagonia, I paused to take in the incredible view that stretched before me. I felt calm and grateful that morning, a contrast to the uneasiness I felt in New York, which had prompted this life-changing journey.
I had just decided to leave the Brooklyn-based real estate company Forest City Ratner, my first employer, to take the leap and join our family business. I had always intended to work at another firm for a while, to gather experience from a different perspective, and then to join my father and brother at The Trump Organization. But as the day approached, my mind swam with questions prompted by the unknown.
I knew from working at Forest City that I loved real estate and had the potential to excel. What I didn’t know was what working with my family would be like. Could I thrive in an environment where there were such high expectations, tied to the most personal of relationships? What would happen if I performed poorly? While I never questioned my passion for real estate or my love for my family, I was wrestling with whether the timing and the decision to combine them were right for me.
Perhaps some of my reservations stemmed from the fact that outside of my family’s business, I’d only ever known of a handful of women at the highest ranks in their industries. The one who mattered most to me, of course, was and still is the most capable woman I know— my mother.
When I was eight or nine, I would sometimes accompany her on construction site visits to the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York. As the top executive in charge of its redevelopment, she would meticulously inspect each inch of the prior day’s work— impeccably dressed, in full makeup and four- inch high heels— while I would run the hallways and explore the hotel.
It was my mother, unapologetically feminine in a male industry, who first embodied and defined for me what it meant to be a multidimensional woman— a woman who works at all aspects of her life. She ate breakfast with my brothers and me every morning, managed our schedules with careful attention to detail and orchestrated her own schedule to maximize spending time with us. A fashion icon, the consummate hostess, and a lifelong entrepreneur, my mother is today “Glamma” to my kids and one of my greatest sources of support. By example, she taught me to define success on my own terms, to set my own priorities, and to be true to my values. Now, as a wife, mother, and businesswoman myself, I understand that it wasn’t nearly as easy for my mother as she made it look.
It turns out that that soul-searching journey led me right where I belonged. Today, I’m an executive vice president at The Trump Organization, cofounder of Trump Hotels and Scion, and founder of my own eponymous fashion brand. Undeniably, one factor in my success has been the doors that my family’s name and my privileged upbringing have opened. Curiosity, passion, hard work, and perseverance have enabled me to prove my value to myself and others beyond my surname. I consider the position I’m in to be a great responsibility.
While we have made a lot of progress since my mother’s generation, many of the realities these women faced are still a concern for us today. We still say “working woman” as if she were an anomaly. We never say “working man.”
The time to change the narrative around women and work once and for all is long overdue; in fact, it’s become my life’s mission. The good news is that, for the first time in history, modern professional women, like you and me, are openly embracing the fact that our lives are multidimensional. We’re aspiring to do work that we love, work that inspires us, and we’re pursuing our passions and unabashedly making them priorities.
So why write a book about it? Because despite the many advancements women have made, we’ve still got a long way to go. Because I’m inspired to provide solutions that educate and empower women to be their best selves. Because I want my daughter’s generation to think about work differently. Like you, I’m a woman who works— at every aspect of my life.
From WOMEN WHO WORK: Rewriting the Rules for Success by Ivanka Trump, published on May 2, 2017 by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by IT WWW Pub LLC.
For more from Ivanka, pick up Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, on shelves now
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