Remember to Keep Lifting Others as You Climb

I am passionate about helping others to unlock their potential and achieve their goals. My passion comes from the fact that I have had great mentors, sponsors, and coaches throughout my life. These individuals have instilled three lessons that inform my approach to life, work, and relationships.

The first lesson came from my parents, who immigrated to America to create more opportunities for our family. They taught me the importance of sacrifice and courage. They faced challenges from overcoming prejudice to working to maintain their cultural identity, while adjusting to new cultural norms. They sacrificed many of their individual ambitions to create greater opportunities for our family. They instilled in me the lesson that personal sacrifices are often necessary to build strong teams. They taught me the importance of being courageous in the face of challenges, even when the risks are high and the outcomes uncertain. As a lawyer, that translates into a willingness to state a well-reasoned and thoughtful opinion and stand by it, even if when it is unpopular. As a leader, it means making personal investments in the growth and development of individual team members, and being aware and accountable for how my actions and choices affect the team.

The second lesson is the importance of having professional reference points and role models. As a black woman, I am often the only person who looks like me in many rooms I enter and spaces I occupy. Being or feeling different can be isolating and demoralizing. We should not underestimate the impact of seeing people with similar backgrounds who serve as a template for what is possible. I had two such reference points at critical stages in my development. Their presence and interest fueled my belief that a legal career was an option for me. First, the father of my childhood best friend was a lawyer. He talked to me about his professional journey in a way that made it seem attainable. The second was an adjunct professor in college, who was also the general counsel of a major corporation. She introduced me to the concept of regulatory law, and in so many ways, became the template for my current career. These early experiences emphasized the importance of building communities of people of color and allies who invest in each other’s success and well-being.

The final lesson is that there are no shortcuts or substitutes for hard work. Success takes time, grit, patience, and planning. To some extent, we all want immediate results, immediate rewards, and immediate acknowledgment for our efforts. I have found, however, the most impactful leaders are working when no one is watching, constantly perfecting their skills and lifting others as they climb.