When I began my career, I carried facts and thoughtfully crafted strategies in an organized notebook to every meeting. I was lauded for my knowledge. I relied on those notebooks like a comfort blanket, because I did not trust what I innately knew. I learned one does not always need to know the answer.
I love to work. I love the team building, business challenges, and sponsoring ideas that achieve results. As I advanced, I worked too much: twelve-hour days and no vacations. I estimate that I have missed forty-six weeks of vacation that would have allowed me other self-actualizing experiences. I’ve remedied that. Now, I have a bucket list that includes visiting every NASCAR track before I die and learning to scuba dive. Vacation is important. Let others grow their leadership skills while you’re away.
I’m told I am energetic and have an exceptional capacity to work. As a child, I loved checklists. In my early career years, I believed I was a professional multitasker. Then I learned the difference between conducting transactions and creating valued engagement. Now when I communicate with someone, I look them directly in their eyes and pause for a moment. Set clear purpose for your engagement, and ask more questions than you have answers. You will learn more and help someone not only solve their need, but also leave feeling more confident because you asked them what they think.
Twice in my career, my professional progress has been derailed by discrimination. It is important to cultivate an honorable reputation. When you have that reputation, no discrimination will matter. Don’t let obstacles defeat you; have faith that your skills and work ethic will prevail.
Is there a role model who has had a profound impact on your career and/or life? What did he/she motivate you to do?
My father demonstrated a work/life balance and ability to inspire people in all areas of his life—as a P&G executive, dedicated family man, and diversity advocate. He taught me that confidence comes from inner resilience and instilled the mantra: Lead, follow, or get out of the way!
What advice would you give young women building/preparing for a career?
Find your passion, and your career will never feel like work.