Women Of The Channel: 10 Lessons On Life And Business

Lessons To Be Learned

Every year, Women of the Channel executives gather to network and share their wisdom about leadership at the Winter Workshop in New York City. This year brought conversations about work-life balance, key leadership traits and how to grow their businesses.

Take a look at 10 key lessons on life and business from the event.

Develop Key Leadership Traits

To be the best leaders possible, women need to be visionary, connected, intentional and present, said Sally Helgesen, author of "The Female Vision: Women's Real Power At Work." Those traits can be as easy as noticing problems and acting on them, leveraging key relationships, having a long-term plan to recognize important opportunities, and acting as authentically as possible. Using 25 years of research, Helgesen said that she has found those are the four key traits that set women apart and allow them to succeed as top-level leaders.

Defeat Is Temporary

Lauren Manning brought the audience to tears with her inspirational story of courage in the face of grave injuries after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Manning faced overwhelming odds, with burns covering most of her body and a slim chance of survival. However, she said she didn't let that stop her from achieving a full recovery. One of the key lessons she presented was that defeat is only temporary. Instead of dwelling on the hardship, it is important to keep pushing for progress, she said.

"There's only one direction to go and that's forward," Manning said in her keynote.

Change The Conversation

To effect change in your career, you have to change the conversation, Rose Fass, founder of the fassforward Consulting Group and author of "The Chocolate Conversation: Lead Bittersweet Change, Transform your Business," said in her keynote. Women often believe they aren't good enough or have made too many mistakes for their dream job, she said, so they have to first change the conversation with themselves. Once they are able to do that, she said women can change the conversations in their companies by starting with an unmet need that leads to a different world view, instead of the other way around.

Win With Effort, Passion

Manning also shared lessons about how success doesn't come without hard work. To achieve her recovery, she said that she had to go "to work" seven days a week for eight hours a day. However, with a focus on her core vision and passion for recovery, she said that she was able to push harder to achieve her goals. That lesson can ring true in everyone's life, Manning said, no matter if it's in someone's personal life or in their career.

Re-Evaluate Marketing

If you're relying only on your sales force for new customers, you might be in trouble, said Lynn Anderson, senior vice president of demand generation and channel marketing at Hewlett-Packard, in her keynote. More than 80 percent of buyers already have made a shortlist of vendors before they engage a salesperson, Anderson said, citing a recent survey. To keep up with that, Anderson outlined how HP had to overhaul its marketing strategies to adapt to new buying habits such as multiple decision-makers and content overload by focusing on building emotional connections with end users.

Bring The CIO, CMO Together

Who owns the responsibility for technology in an organization? Especially when it comes to big data, it has to be a joint effort between the CIO and CMO, said Margaret Dawson, CMO at Rival IQ.

"The truth is the CMO does have a much larger control of IT services and projects, but if the CMO is not trying to partner and get help from the IT department, he or she will not succeed. You can't work in a vacuum," Dawson said.

By working together and setting standards for the relationship, Dawson said that the CMO and CIO can build a more secure and effective environment for big data. That's also a major opportunity for solution providers, she said, to help clients build that relationship between the CMO and CIO if it's not already in place.

Measure Your Own Work-Life Balance

It's a question that comes up a lot at Women Of The Channel events: What's the best way to handle work-life balance? In a survey of attendees at the event, The Channel Company found that the majority of women felt the biggest inhibitor to their career growth was work-life balance. While they all approached it differently, a panel of top female channel executives said that the key is not to try to measure up against anyone else. Instead, they said to find your own unique balance between family, work and personal interests that is the most fulfilling.

Perception Is Key

A big part of the success of female leaders is the market's perception of them, Carla Harris, vice chairman of global wealth management, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley, said in a keynote. For that reason, it's important to align yourself with adjectives associated with the seat you want to sit in, she said. For example, she said those who are not perceived as motivational, inspiring and organized will have a tough time managing large groups of people. Harris suggested picking three adjectives that you want people to say about you when you're not in the room and that are valued in the organization and to strive to embody those traits.

You Can't Do It Alone

Success can't be achieved by yourself, Harris said. To get to your dream job or maximize your current position, both women and men will need to make the most out of their relationships with others.

There are a few types of relationships that are useful, she said. First, find an adviser to ask discreet questions. Second, reach out to a mentor to give tailored advice on the good, the bad and the ugly. Finally, Harris suggested getting a sponsor to advocate passionately for you when you're not in the room.

Raise Your Voice

Women will fail at moving up the ranks again and again if they fail to speak up for themselves, Janet Schijns, vice president of vertical solutions and channels for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said.

"We fail at this revolution if each and every one of us doesn't rise up and have a voice," Schijns said.