Waze for Leadership: Navigating Your Career
By She Runs It
2017 Leadership Breakfast – Turning Setbacks into Success: Reaching Your Goals without a Defined Path Event Recap
by She Runs It Member Elana Ross
Being fresh out of college, new to the NYC and new to my job, I was wasn’t sure how much of the conversation at the She Runs It Leadership Breakfast: Turning Setback into Success would relevant to me. I was happily surprised by how much perspective the event gave me within my own, if young, career.
On uncertainty and learning in the digital age
All these women started their careers before the internet even existed. They experienced firsthand the launch of the digital age in their careers and the disruption digital marketing inflicted on the advertising industry. That led to a large amount of risk within in terms of career changes.
Many of the panelists made career changes that were seen as “steps back”, leaving prestigious job titles, to explore an industry people didn’t know or understand. They spoke to adapting to the industry and trying to forecast the “next big thing”.
Within their career changes they emphasized comfort within ambiguity, embracing the accidental nature of advertising, and a hunger to constantly learn. Sarah Personette discussed, “managing a diverse set of assets”, the assets being her skill set and striving to find ways to increase her knowledge in different areas of marketing. Gail Horwood said with each position she is presented she identifies what skills she would gain in the role, even if it’s in a field she hasn’t had experience in.
It was really refreshing to hear these women, as successful as they are, still search out opportunities to learn something new. Within my own job I can get so caught up in the day to day that it’s very easy to lose perspective. The panelists reminded me to look back at what I’ve done so far and motivated me to learn about different facets of marketing as they did in their own careers.
Conviction within their careers
Lisa Ryan Howard spoke of her move from Missouri to college to run track and then to New York to work in advertising. She advised, “Know your story, and embrace it”. Beyond embracing your history, the panelists advised creating your own destiny. Raise your hand and say, “I’m ready for a new challenge,” instead of waiting for the opportunity to present itself.
An interesting topic of conversation arose from how you negotiate salaries during interviews. The panelists said instead of framing the response as “I deserve” or “I want” X amount of money, frame the response as a representation of worth— “In this position I bring X, Y, and Z and I am worth $X”. That serves to contextualize what assets the assets you are bringing to the company and why you are asking for the salary you want. They also noted to fight the instinct to clam up and undervalue your worth when negotiating.
The personality traits of success
One of the attendees asked what traits they accredit to their success. While resilience was the first and most expected answer, the second response surprised me the most: kindness.
Being from the Midwest, since I started working I’ve noticed that my Midwestern niceness has put a target on my back (office politics was another point of conversation at the panel). My parents raised me to always take the high road and never start unnecessary drama—especially in the workplace. Keep your head down, do your job, and earn respect that way.
It was so immensely reassuring that these accomplished women credited their success to their kindness and empathy. Team member see and appreciate the kindness exhibited which leads to more collaborative and effective teams. As Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel”, which is even more true in the workplace.
As I left the panel I walked to work with my head held high. I made an effort to be my plucky, Midwestern self, not matter how different it makes me.
Thank you for reinstalling, just a little bit, my faith in kindness and decency.