Early in my career, I found myself taking things very personally and having doubts. When I finally found the inner strength to be confident in my skills and in what I brought to the table, doors opened up for me. I am not always right or successful in reaching a goal, but I am always proud of my efforts and of my positive energy and attitude.
Being open comes with risks. Letting people in, especially as you move up the career ladder, is challenging. But being authentically you can help attract those you are trying to inspire, as well as those who want to know you are a “real” person. Balance is the key.
Finally, I don’t want to face all the stresses work can bring every day, without my most valuable tool—my passion. I not only feel passion for my work, I let it show, because when you share your passion, it spreads to everyone around you. It can help you gain momentum at work, and in your personal life. It is an important energy element that should be included on the periodic table! If you are not passionate about what you’re doing now, make a change.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
The world of marketing has changed so much, so fast. When I sold ads for my college newspaper, we mocked everything up using a typesetter and glued the strips to the ad mats to go to press. Today, I might be doing anything, from negotiating digital campaigns with media like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, to developing a new consumer facing app with Adobe DPS, or streamlining our video and content strategies. Change is okay! Welcome it, and have some fun. Stay on top of your field, but know when to delegate to those with greater expertise.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
Growing up near Detroit, I watched famed newscaster Diana Lewis deliver the news each night. She was a black woman who started in the male-dominated TV news industry in 1968. In 1977, she joined the Detroit station and became a role model to me. I liked her confidence and poise, but also how she allowed her personality to shine through. I was 12 years old then, and I began to admire what she did and how she did it, and believe that maybe one day I could do that too. My friends wrote in my high school yearbook, “Looking forward to seeing you be Diana Lewis one day!” While I went on to earn a Journalism degree, I would choose another career path instead. Being inspired to be like her, while believing I really could do anything, has had a profound impact on me to this day. It’s funny, she recently retired and has no idea that I have been appreciative of her all these years.
On Facing Challenges
My biggest challenge was hearing the words, “It’s cancer” and then, dealing with all that followed. Now, two years clear of Breast Cancer, I can honestly say that I lived through a battle that was fought inside my body as well as my mind. While I had many supporters who helped love me through it, it was really up to me to set the tone for how it would all go down. A good attitude and the shatterproof belief that I was going to beat it was at the core. But strength can waiver, as it often does, each time I go back for a mammogram. And in my mind, the fight begins again, until the doctor calls with clear results that allow me to go back to living life. A blessed life. This experience showed me there is nothing I can’t handle.
Wendy’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Work smart. Work hard. Do the right thing. Those three things will make up for any deficiencies you may have.