At The Hatchery's recent 2013 Women Leaders Summit, attendees had an opportunity to hear from highly accomplished women leaders including author Christine Comaford, President and CEO of Leader to Leader Institute Frances Hesselbein, and author and motivational speaker Carole Hyatt.
In a panel moderated by the Wall Street Journal's Gabriella Stern, the women offered their collective knowledge on topics ranging from discrimination (Hyatt couldn’t take out an American Express card to start her first business in 1960), to work-life balance, to failure. Fast Company's Cecelia Bittner had a chance to attend. Here's what she heard:
According to Hesselbein, facing and overcoming failure requires a sense of exuberance that young people today are bringing into the work force. She describes it as a positive attitude that allows one to view a challenge not as a burden but as ”an opportunity to do something remarkable.”
Hyatt said it’s all about how one handles the disappointment, explaining that an individual can choose to focus their energy on moving past and growing from event.
When asked for 15-minutes of wisdom, Comaford shared the secret to influencing anyone.Emotional intelligence. Comaford explained that all humans crave one of three things: safety, belonging, or mattering. If you can figure out which of those things an individual needs, you can make them do what you want. (Comaford made the entire audience promise to only use that power for good.)
“If the work you’re promoting on social media isn’t getting enough traction to build a customer base, the answer is seldom that you need to promote it more. What it probably means is that you need to do better work—or at least refocus that work to be more valuable to its intended audience.”
“People think I have a lot of discipline because I danced every day for 365 days in a row. But the truth is, I have no discipline. I never did anything else for 365 days before. Dance was different because I loved it the most. When you find something you’re truly passionate about, it will prioritize itself.”
“Try everything. Be curious, ask questions. Let yourself be pulled in weird and interesting directions. Let your friends drag you to that thing you’re not so sure about. Go to a real bookstore. Sign up for an art class, a cycling class, an improv class. Bring a friend. When your friend bails, show up to class anyway.”
Writer Rebecca Thorman’s advice on interview preparation: "Rifle through your resume and cover letter to find three times where you felt unstoppable—anecdotes that ‘illustrate your relevant skills, experience, and lessons learned.’”
“I think one of the things that most 21-year-old people should do is to recognize now that you can make life choices which control your expenses, and that controlling your expenses is one of the most crucial steps toward the kind of financial independence that you need in order to follow your dreams in the future. Whether it is a change of job, or an entrepreneurial dream, the less you NEED to spend each month, the easier it is to follow those dreams.”
You had coffee with someone from a company you’d love to work for. So how do you snag the gig? Make your messages as easy to take in as possible and have surprising amounts of helpfulness. i.e. shorter words, as well as minimum transaction cost and maximized utility for the reader.
Whatever vocation you decide on, track down the best people in the world at doing it and surround yourself with them. Aim high and be ridiculously persistent. Your happiness is at the intersection of your passions and learning from great people. Working at a big company sucks—avoid it. Smaller companies are 10 times better for learning. Be generous with your time and money—it has an amazingly fast payback. Be in the moment with everyone you love—and this frequently means tuning out work completely.
“I decided to become a designer, but I had no design skills… So I taught myself—everyday I would do my day job in record time and rush home to learn design. Super talented people go to RISD for 4 years and learn design properly. I hacked together my piecemeal design education in 6 months—there was no way I was ready to become a designer. But I was so ready to leave Microsoft. So I started the job search and got rejected a few times. Then I got the job at Exec.”
Cheng’s after-hours side hustle is evidence of one of the principles of building an antifragile career: When you have a secure but unsatisfying day job, you can take an unbridled bent to your next calling by night.