By: Jennifer Scalzi
The event: On Friday, March 4, I had the great pleasure of participating both as a guest and speaker at Accenture’s International Women’s Day Celebration (IWD). The 200 attendees enjoyed a combination of live-streaming panels from the firm’s headquarters in NYC (with speakers such as Carolyn Everson of Facebook and Paula Price from Harvard Business School), live panels comprised of leadership from within Accenture (both men and women), as well as “outsiders” such as myself.
The lesson: Woven throughout all the wisdom shared that day was the realization that each and every one of us will surprise ourselves at some point during our lives by living “greater than” we thought possible. Success isn’t about comparing yourself to others- it comes down to acknowledging your strengths and combining them with work that you truly enjoy. Many speakers admitted they had fallen into the same trap all of us have experienced at some point- comparing themselves to others. Ultimately, they all realized that the only one truly worth pleasing in yourself. The result? Creating your own destiny.
1) Take a holistic approach to whatever business you’re in. Try very hard to understand how the company makes money, how decisions are made, what the market drivers are and use this information to make highly informed decisions. Relying solely on knowing your portion of the business is a sure way to become siloed, or worse… dispensable.
2) Be a connector. Put yourself in a position to let people know who you are and what problems you solve. If people don’t know how you can help, they can’t look to you when the right opportunities arise. To position yourself as a problem-solver means using your time wisely when meeting new connections. Ask thoughtful questions and actually listen to the answers. Then file away a nugget that might allow you to introduce them to someone who could be helpful to them in the future, or vice versa. Building an impressive network has been the difference for many high-performing executives.
3) As it relates to women: I believe that women are innately gifted storytellers. Perhaps it’s that maternal instinct deep within that we call on in an effort to connect with people. In situations where I have been competing for new business, my ability to relate on a human level has afforded many opportunities that I would not have gained had I not presented myself as a “real person” versus someone just selling something. It’s a given than most professionals can show up and answer the tough questions, but being able to connect to the human behind the executive makes you GREATER THAN.
More insights from the day:
- Step outside your comfort zone
- Embrace change and be adaptable
- Accept guidance and constructive criticism
- Never stop learning
- Develop a personal board of advisors
The constant among all of these is growth. In an ever-evolving world, our relevance is at stake if we continue to choose what is comfortable and safe.