My daughter and I recently went to see a Cirque de Soleil show and we were mesmerized by the female athletes, artists, and musicians soaring high above us trapeze style throughout the show. Afterward, we had the opportunity to go back stage and meet some of them. We lingered in the costume trailer, not just because my daughter was bedazzled by all the sequences, sparkly costumes, and make-up, but because we were astounded by the hidden protective padding and supportive fabrics in their costumes that allowed them to look elegant on stage while empowering them to push artistic boundaries safely.

When I ponder about the talent assets we need, I think of women like the Cirque de Soleil artists who have built up a stock pile of “padding” and “protective mechanisms” that help them step out into the world to try new things and go places they may not have ever dreamt of.

Over my career I’ve learned to let my voice be heard. Don’t waste time trying to be the person you believe others imagine you are. Focus on making your strengths stronger. Build your stockpile of padding and protective mechanisms to bolster your confidence, and work on overcoming your self-critical “inner voice” that worries about what you may or may not know.

When you wake up every morning, you only have yourself looking back at you in the mirror, so make sure your life journey is one you’re happy with as you step boldly and bravely out of the shadows, and allow the light to shine on you. Make a difference, no matter how small, so the world can enjoy who you are and recognize why you are the wonderful, powerful, and brave person that you are.

Be true to yourself and no matter what—be comfortable with who you are.

On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Always look for new ways to learn and new ways to explore. Don’t be deterred by any looming adversity. Instead, focus on achieving your goal in a happy, joyful, and positive manner.

On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
A key sponsor in my career taught me early on to “put my hand up” and volunteer—to seize new opportunities, even if I worried I wasn’t qualified enough to be perfect for the role. How else can you experience new things and stretch your capabilities if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone?

On Facing Challenges
A major challenge for me is balancing the needs and requirements of the corporation, while managing my personal reputation.

Ruth’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Women often create invisible nonexistent reasons for not being promoted. So, be in a constant state of wonder, and don’t hesitate when opportunities come your way. Jump in!