When I was younger, I thought if you achieved the most, you should be the most valued. I was the goal-setting, high achiever type. I worked long hours, volunteering for complex and tough cases. I never spent much time following up with clients or doing anything other than working hard on being a lawyer. I ended up being, hopefully, a very good lawyer. However, I didn’t know what mattered most to my clients—or to my firm.
Upon becoming a partner, I began to learn firm economics. I learned what it takes to run a firm profitably and how to motivate others to reach goals. This opened my eyes to the notion that just being the best isn’t what makes you valuable. I changed how I related to my clients—learning more about their businesses and their needs, which made me like and care more about them and their success. I became a better partner to my clients and to my firm. I also realized that learning about my clients and my colleagues helped me become more successful in all aspects of my life.
The first few years managing were challenging and time-consuming, with a big learning curve. I loved the strategic planning, but struggled with managing equals. Working with a coach, I learned how to build trust to achieve common goals. I found that I liked contributing to the success of the firm by helping others meet their goals. In a way, it helped me relax and realize it’s not all on me. I could help others to help all of us. I opened up more and, in turn, became more successful without always having to try so hard. I’m still driven—don’t get me wrong—but now I share the load.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
Success requires drive; hard work; charisma; excellent listening, communication and analytical skills; integrity; flexibility; and the ability to build trust. A strong desire to win doesn’t hurt either.
Tracey’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Get an education and do well in school. It matters almost all of the time and, even when it doesn’t, learning to be a critical thinker is worthy end in itself. Be physically active. You will need to be healthy to have the energy and drive to be very successful. Build relationships as part of your career strategy—and also, just for fun. Your friends and family will sustain you when your career doesn’t. Have allies and make allies. Volunteer for the jobs others might not want and then do them well. Fully engage in what you do and if you don’t enjoy your career, choose another one. Build wealth, so that you have the freedom of choice.