I've compiled a list of lessons learned over the years. These are three that have made all the difference in my career as a woman in technology. Perhaps they will enhance yours.
#1 - Opt for the hard job. There is joy in the challenge.
“You do know there are easier jobs,” said one of my closest friends. “Yes, but they wouldn’t be as much fun,” I replied. I have disturbed hiring managers during interviews because of my incessant questioning about challenges they face.
I seek hard jobs; the ones people say can’t be done – the business consistently declining double digits, the team that abhors change, the product cycle or culture issue. Bring them on.
A few years ago, I had the honor of hosting a senior leadership exchange with new hire employees. One question asked by the new hires was, “How do we get noticed by people like you?” I was surprised when one of the senior executives responded, “Follow Kristie’s lead, embrace challenge. She’s here because we know she not only is willing to take on challenges, but also actively seeks them.”
What’s my approach? You have to see the joy in a challenge. The odds are stacked against you, more people are pessimistic than optimistic about what you can accomplish, there are more naysayers than there are people stepping in to help, but if you assemble a team bold enough to understand the root of the problems, collaborate with the broader ecosystem (including clients/partners), set the course to resolve and turn around the business, the rush of success is unparalleled.
#2 – Approach work (and life) with a spirit of abundance.
I worry that we may be experiencing an epidemic of scarcity mentalities, fear of lack (“not enough for me”) vs. attitudes of abundance (“more than enough for everyone”). When this happens, those who operate from a position of scarcity seek protection at the very moment we want them to pursue growth – the two cannot coexist. In my world, scarcity thinking is inconceivable and wholly limiting: “We have limited sales and enablement resources.”
I prefer abundance thinking: “We have huge market opportunity, and we need scale from a strengthened partner sales force.” Life is far more expansive when we consider the art of the possible. How do we collaborate with shared resources to achieve collective abundance? How do we create more “what ifs” and “why nots,” than “no ways”? Agitating the system in this way is never easy, and I love that our CEO said that growth and comfort do not coexist. I encourage you to ingest more of the art of the possible. Think big, make bold choices, ask for more than seems wise or reasonable and expect likewise.
#3 – Be persistent and courageous. Embody your role.
In my first management position, I was looking for quotes to motivate my team and was reminded of one from college. I had memorized it and interchanged persistence with courage, determination, commitment, diligence and perseverance: “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”—Calvin Coolidge
While we often tie courage and persistence to adversity, I am convinced this is more about perspective and principles. I enjoy fully committing to my appointed position. I do more than embrace it; I embody it and work exceptionally hard to gain expertise. That is empowering, and there is a gratifying consequence in that I become linked to the role “she’s sales,” “she’s strategy,” “she’s operations.” I encourage you to embody your roles and courage and persistence will come naturally. Fully commit to your position, then hold steadfast to your beliefs and never give in; never give up.
While these have made all the difference in my career, they are applicable to one's personal life as well. We have shifted from work life balance to integration – yet, I’m striving for “harmony," where there is abundance of time and energy for all facets of life.
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