Was it from a boss? A mother? A friend? We asked our Women in the Channel executives to reach back and remember the best advice they've received and how it changed their lives.
"A boss once told me to focus more on connecting with people by sharing experiences with them. I've found this to be very valuable with our channel partners, who need to work with a vendor who understands their pain. We must understand them before we can offer solutions."
--Sue Alexander, VP, EMEA Consumer and Channels, McAfee
"The best advice I received was from a professor in graduate school as I walked out the door. What he said to me was, 'As you go the corporate route and make your way to the top, don't be the last to know.' What he meant by that was to always be in touch with your people, and to always understand what is happening. Be a good communicator. Don't be the last to know what is going on. Don't surround yourself in a bubble so you don't know what's going on."
--Celine Azizkhan, Channel Chief, ATandamp;T
" 'Hire people who are different from you and have the skills and talents that you do not in order to build a world-class team.' This was told to me by Gary Creighton at Bell Atlantic when I became a first line manager."
--Wendy Bahr, VP, U.S. and Canada Channels, Cisco
" 'Trust your gut.' This was from a terrific senior executive who acted as my career counselor and personal mentor for the bulk of my career at Accenture. I took this advice to heart midway through my career and it has not failed me yet in business and in life."
--Julie Bennani, GM, Partner Program, Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft
"Be grateful every day, live your values, serve others and think big."
--Laurie Benson, CEO, Inacom Information Systems
"The best advice I ever received came from my mother years ago. When I was growing up she told me, 'You can accomplish whatever you want to if you set your mind to it.' That advice has absolutely shaped who I am, how I approach challenges and what I have accomplished to date. I learned at an early age there is simply no limit to what you can accomplish, if you want to do it badly enough and are willing to put in the investment to make it happen."
--Johnna Bowley, Sr. Director, Channel and Partner Marketing, Riverbed Technology
"Enjoy what you're doing, do it well, and strike a balance."
--Sharon Brindley, VP, U.S. Business Channels and SMB, Lexmark
"I had a manager once explain about people who thought they were indispensable (we were in the middle of a software implementation). He said that only if you could put your hands in a bucket of water and part the water were you indispensable. I have always remembered that."
--Linda Brotherton, Chief Technology Officer, Connectwise
" 'The means never justify the end--the means are everything' from my late husband, Bill Cage
--Jane Cage, COO, Heartland Technology Solutions
"The importance of getting broad experience to better position yourself for leadership roles in the future."
--Linda Connly, VP of Strategic Alliances, Americas, EMC www.emc.com
"My dad, Parker Smith, has given me great advice over the years. One piece of advice most memorable to me is, 'You can be who you want to be an accomplish most anything through persistence and hard work.' This statement has motivated me throughout my education and career."
--Leslie Conway, VP, Marketing, Digium
" 'If you can't do your job in eight hours then you are either not working effectively or you have too much work and need to delegate. Most people who work 12- to 15-hour days waste a lot of time.' This advice came from my father, who is a colonel in the U.S. Army."
--Michelle Drolet, CEO, Towerwall
" 'If you're going to do something, do it right the first time,'" from my father, John McPherson."
--Katie Dumala, VP, Marketing Services, Tech Data
" 'You are what you thought about, you become what you think about.' At my first job after college I attended a new employee orientation. One of the executives said this statement and it has stuck with me ever since. It is extremely important to visualize where you want to be--personally, professionally and spiritually--in order to continue to grow and accomplish all of the things you have planned in life."
--Dawn Duross, Operations Director, Federal Channels and Government Systems Integrator, Cisco
" 'Enjoy what you do and be nice to people' (from my mother!)"
--Julie Eades, Director, Channel Marketing, VMware
"I was encouraged by a colleague to read the book 'Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman: What Men Know About Success That Women Need To Learn" by Gail Evans. The book suggested that men often view situations in the workplace differently than women, and it pointed out habits some women have that can be misinterpreted. Another good book was 'Games Mother Never Taught You' by Betty Lehan Harraga. Although I was an athlete in high school and college and knew the lingo of a jock, the book prepared me for how the world of sports is integrated into many workplace settings--how work is often perceived as one big game."
--Julie Criscenti Heck, Director, Channel Segment, VMware
"The best and most unique channel advice I was ever given, from Ross Brown, was to stay maniacally focused on the customer. If you get wrapped up in watching and reacting to what the competition is doing, you aren't taking your clues from the right source. Satisfied, well-serviced and educated customers equate to a strong long-term business from loyal customers. Starting from the point of delighted and loyal customers and working back to a channel strategy has served me well in my 10-plus years working in the channel."
--Colleen Kapase, Director, Programs, VMware
" 'Move toward the pain.' It is the single most important thing I continue to learn and it came from my exploration of Kabbalah.
--Mary Gilbert, VP, Marketing, Mindjet
"Corporate commitment to continuous quality performance; embracing professional principles for highest standard of ethical behavior and professional integrity; and empowering employees' entrepreneurial spirit for innovation. In a backstage (green room) conversation with Jack Stack of SRC Holdings Corp. at the Washington, D.C., event where we shared a presentation on Keynote Panel: State of Our Economy: Securing Our Economic Future: The White House Conference on the Economy. This conversation made a lasting impression on me as he truly exemplified the empowerment of each employee's entrepreneurial spirit with his corporate model of human intellectual capital--'when employees think and act like owners developing success through a highly motivated and business-savvy workforce."
--Catherine H. Giordano, President and CEO, Knowledge Information Solutions
"I believe the best advice I received was from my parents. They always told me that I could accomplish anything--the sky is the limit. They told me never to quit--always give everything I can to ensure success."
--Tonia Gonsalves, Director, Global Partner Enablement, Hitachi Data Systems www.hds.com
"The best career advice I received was from my mom. She said, 'Find a position in a field that you like because you'll be doing it for a long time.' "
--Donna Grothjan, VP, Channel Strategy and Operations, Juniper Networks
"From Jack Thompson, the former CIO of McCormick Spice Company and a dear friend: He told me to focus. Sounds simple and always not so easy to do."
--Hope Hayes, CEO, Alliance Technology Group
Next: Nancy Kay Hedrick
"I think the best advice I ever received was being told that I could not accomplish something. From the outset, my parents never pushed us too hard but also never held us back. So I've ended up with a very can-do attitude. And attitude goes a long way in this world."
--Nancy Kay Hedrick, President/CEO, Computer Software Innovations
" 'Be impeccable in your words.' The power of language and communication is critical in any leadership role. It's so important to be mindful of the words you choose to ensure that you are always driving positive responses, a culture of respect and exceptional teamwork."
Julie Hens, VP/Channels U.S. Canada Distribution, Cisco
"If you are going to dream, dream big. There are no limits to what you can achieve except the ones you set for yourself."
--Michelle Johnston Holthaus, GM, Channel Mobile Platforms Group, Intel
"One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to take the long-term view, both for business and for my career. This was from a senior vice president at Microsoft for the Developer Division. His name is s. Somasagar."
--Marie Huwe, GM, Worldwide Partner Marketing Group, Microsoft
"On risk taking: 'Path finders end up with more arrows in their back than their front. Stop occasionally and let me pull them out so you can run faster.' On leading a complex organization: 'Your job is to make it work and bend the structure and culture to get people to do the right things. Good people, good ideas and high expectations are what make the world go round. You can influence all three every day.' On basic business: 'Surprises are for birthdays, not business relationships.' "
--Lila Ibrahim, GM, Emerging Markets Platform Group, Intel www.intel.com
"Learn to take five-minute vacations."
--Felise Katz, CEO, PKA Technologies
"The best advice I ever had was from my mother. She had a saying that translated to, 'Don't say no right away.' Her advice meant that every move or action is a potential opportunity. Don't be quick to discard. It is better to investigate and only then make the wisest choice for yourself and others."
--Choo Kim-Isgitt, Senior Director, Americas Marketing, Websense
"If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. The key is finding what you love to do!"
--Erin Malone, Director, Channel Enablement, Websense
"When I first started at CDW, Michael Krasny repeatedly told his employees, 'People do business with people they like.' It eventually became a known saying around CDW internally. I'm glad that I learned this advice early on as it helped shape me as a sales rep and into a director of sales."
--Kendra Krause, Director of Channel Sales, Fortinet
"My uncle once told me to start my career at a big company vs. a small one. His rationale was that by working at a big company out of the gate, I'd gain exposure as to how a corporation really worked and have a lot more opportunity in terms of formal training and career paths. It was great advice that really kick-started my career."
--Carol Kurimsky, VP Marketing, Ingram Micro North America
"'Don't look down.' I'm not a natural risk-taker and yet here I am out on the entrepreneurial precipice. My amazing husband and business partner has helped me immensely over the years with his sound advice. This is only one example."
--Jane Linder, Principal, NWN
"No silent disagreements. When you have an issue with someone, anyone, you are obligated to discuss it with him/her. Brutal intellectual honesty is the only way to grow as an individual and as a company."
--Selina Lo, President and CEO, Ruckus Wireless
"Wake up every day and love what you do. That energy and passion will translate into exceptional results."
--Katie McAuliff, VP, Channels Americas, Novell
"Always keep your eyes and ears open because someone has already made the mistake you are about to make or has the best advice o how to successfully get to your goal--MBA professor."
--Bonnie McMenomy, Channel Marketing Manager, ESET
"I am not sure where I picked it up, but 'Making no decision is making a decision' is the best advice I have ever received."
--M. Cathy Morris, Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer, Arrow Electronics
"'Just do the best you can--that's all you can do'--my father."
--Ann Elizabeth Moser, Senior VP, Ricoh Americas
"Don't take it personally. Business is a game--compete to win. When you find yourself in a bad situation, think like a coach. It's third and 20, 15 seconds left in the game, you're down by 7--open up the playbook, look at the options and make a call. And from Mom: This too shall pass. It might not happen as you planned, but it will work itself out. Just keep moving forward."
--Carol Giles Neslund, Executive Director, Americas Distribution Channel, Seagate Technology
"From an early business mentor: "You' don't need to have a particular style to be effective. Some people are better cheerleaders, some are better coaches and some are better players. Be the best at who you are, it just doesn't work if you try to be someone else.' Another favorite piece of advice from my father when he encourages me to take risks: "The turtle does not progress unless his neck is out.'"
--Lesley D. Norris, VP, Global Distributor and Reseller Channel Management, IBM
"Two pieces of advice that were given to me that I still use today. One: 'No one is looking out for you except you so you have to be the one to make it happen and ask for what you want,' given to me by one of my first managers out of college. And two, 'When thinking about investing in something and you can't afford it, that by doing what you do, it will turn out.' That came from my dad."
--Sheila O'Neil, VP, Channel, Panasonic
"To live a life that I can be proud of. For when I'm gone, I want to be remembered as a loving, caring, honest and happy person. I want to live my life to the fullest because our tomorrows are never guaranteed. Only I know the choices I have, so I need to make the right ones. I want to love and be loved, and to be successful under what I believe the definition of success is. My mother and I speak about this often. She has led a wonderful life and has experienced so much success. Her career aspirations were to be the best mother she could, and she certainly was. I could not have grown to be the intelligent, successful and caring woman I am today without her guidance and leadership."
--Amy O'Neill, Director of marketing, GreenPages Technology Solutions
"One of the best pieces of advice came from a manager early in my career. He said, 'You have two ears and one mouth and you should use them proportionately.' If we take the time to listen, we will learn more."
--Julie Parrish, VP, Global Channel Office, Symantec
"'Take one day at a time and be confident in who you are'--my mother."
--Wendy M. Petty, VP of Sales, FalconStor Software
"In 1989 I was seeking a management position and Tom Iannotti (now senior vice president at Hewlett-Packard) took a big chance and promoted me. I was thrilled but nervous, never having managed before. I asked Tom what my greatest challenge would be, and without missing a beat he said, 'There is no substitute for hard work, but you will be surprised how some people will not be willing to do what it takes and they won't work as hard as you will.' I have often thought of that through the years, and it really helped me to understand that my work ethic was mine, and I had to learn to motivate my team, not just do all the work myself."
--Mary Piehler, VP Operations, Systems Management Planning
"'Hope is not a strategy'--anonymous."
--Nancy D. Reynolds, VP, SMB and Channel Sales, North America, Trend Micro
"'To be here now,' from Scott Generux. I noticed Scott always had time when I called and never seemed to get interrupted. He told me this was his secret. It is simple advice, but much harder to do than it seems."
--Karen Sigman, VP, Worldwide Channels, Data Domain
"The best advice I received was from my father. He always said, 'Learn from your failures and always pick yourself up after defeat.' "
--Ramona Thibeault, VP, SMB Sales, Solution Partners Organization, Americas, Hewlett-Packard
"The best advice I received was when I first started out in my current role as leader for U.S. and Canada Channels Marketing. At that time, Paul Montford, a senior vice president at Cisco, told me to get out there and spend 90 percent of my time with the Cisco channel partners to learn first-hand what they needed, and then take that knowledge and use it to build a new Channels Marketing organization based on what our partners are asking for. Following this advice has allowed me to set a vision and develop marketing programs to most effectively address our partners' needs."
--Luanne Tierney, Director, U.S. Channel Marketing, Cisco
"'Don't forger the glitter!' From Kelly Higgins, my personal Pilates trainer who owns Body Wisdom, a Pilates studio in Rio Rancho, N.M. It makes me smile and keeps me grounded in my personal and professional life by reminding me to not take life so seriously and that I can keep my femininity in a man's world and be successful."
--Cheryl A. Turja, Director, U.S. Partner Programs, Sun
"Believe in yourself, care for others, and with a natural drive for results, you will win!"
--Allison Watson, Corporate VP, Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft
"You can overanalyze things and worry about what might happen or you can just get off your butt and make it happen," from my mentor Glen Harmon, who would drill this into me any time I was hesitant to make a decision."
--Sharon Woolley, Channel Sales Director, SpectorSoft