Women Of The Channel 2014 Success Tips: Overcome Fears, Bolster Your Brand

Workplace Success

Last week's Women of the Channel West event brought together female executives from throughout the channel to lead a variety of discussions with their peers on achieving success in their personal and professional lives.

The full-day conference was filled with panelists, keynotes and workshops themed around empowerment.

Here, two more executives shared their personal paths to success and some of the lessons learned during that time in building a stronger personal brand.

Swimming With Sharks

Michele Hayes (pictured), Riverbed Technology vice president of global partner programs and marketing operations, has made the swim from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park in San Francisco seven times. That trek's the perfect metaphor for taking risks in the office and embracing fears, she said. It was also the theme of her conference keynote.

"Be willing to be afraid," she said. "Otherwise, you're not going to go anywhere."

On Hayes' first time making the swim she missed her opening to get to dry land and ended up getting sucked back toward the Golden Gate Bridge. Hayes had to climb over a wall covered with barnacles and swim through the fishing lines, but she made it.

Make Mistakes

Be decisive when taking those risks, even if they result in mistakes.

"It's about how do you rebound? How do you make a decisive decision?" she said. "Managers are looking for people who take action when something falls apart."

Once the comfort zones are removed, lessons from mistakes can be learned, Hayes said. And "fail big because you're really, really going to learn a lot," she said.

How She Started

Hayes joined Riverbed roughly 18 months ago at a time when she said there was a perception internally that corporate silos were standing in the way of innovation.

It's best to be prepared to run into workers who are unwilling to change up their routine.

"Be prepared for the rejection," Hayes said.

"You don't always have to get consensus on things," she said. "You don't have to accept 'no' as an answer."

Collaborate, Collaborate

Breaking out of those corporate silos will lead to more interaction with workers from other departments.

Hayes joined Riverbed to manage a small group of workers, but she said her role quickly expanded as she collaborated more with sales, marketing, IT, finance and other departments at the company.

"I work with these teams on a daily basis," she said. "Working with these teams was critical to my success."

Promote Wins

Don't hesitate to point out personal accomplishments in the workplace, Hayes said.

"You have to promote your wins," she said.

Don't wait for the annual performance reviews, either, she suggested. Do it weekly and put those successes out there for others to recognize.

Building A Brand

Avnet Senior Vice President of Global HR Solutions Therese Bassett (pictured) also looked at personal development in her conference talk. However, she took a more macro approach to personal brand building for inside and outside the office.

She organized her talk with a top-down approach beginning with Avnet and how company employees impact the corporate brand.

"A distributor doesn't make anything ... we're a supply chain company. And a supply chain company differentiates itself by its people," she said.

Focus On Employees

It's important for companies looking to build brands to focus on what's best for their employees, or brand ambassadors.

Employees should be engaged when they're at work, she said. It's good for the company and it's good for the individual workers.

"There is no greater buzzkill than to say we want you to be engaged so that you can pound out more work," Bassett said.

Be Understanding

Employers need to understand what makes their employees tick professionally and personally.

That's key to keeping workers engaged, enabled and energized.

"The traditional model of what an employer is has changed," Bassett said.

Building Successful Brands

Bassett offered a few tips for personal brand building during her talk:

1. Self-Reflect: "What jazzes you, differentiates you?"

2. Living the Life of Your Dreams: Figure out goals and how to make them happen.

3. Challenges: Be realistic about what might get in your way and then face those fears.

4. Supporters: Surround yourself with people who support your brand objective.