Career Advice from the Women I Admire
Finding your path is no easy task. For women it can be exponentially harder as there are challenges in the corporate world that our male counterparts do not have to deal with. In discussions with three successful women that I admire, I asked them to share advice based on their journey. I hope their experience sheds light on ways you can create your own success.
Meet three of the most inspiring and successful women I know:
Naomi McDougall Jones – Filmmaker, Writer, Producer, Actress
Naomi is an activist for women in the film industry. After seeing the scarcity of meaningful roles women could play in Hollywood, she made it her mission to write her own stories where women would be portrayed as the bright, complex creatures they are. She’s currently crisscrossing the U.S. on her Joyful Vampire tour promoting her new movie, Bite Me.
Cassandra Sanford – CEO & Owner, Kelly Mitchell Group, Inc.
Cassandra has grown Kelly Mitchell into a global business all while balancing being a mom to four children. She is one of a few leading women in the technology industry and is a non-stop force of nature that any person would be lucky to know.
Susan Packard – Author, Entrepreneur, Media Maven
Susan built a very successful career in the world of media and was co-founder of HGTV. Her books have inspired female employees all over the globe, helping them become winners in the workplace. Her most recent book, Fully Human, discusses how our emotions can fuel or sink us. In it, she offers us a guide to help grow our emotional fitness.
Each Path is Unique
Naomi says she must have come out of the womb with a burning compulsion to tell stories, because that desire traces further back than she can reasonably explain. Every stage of her career has been chasing that original desire to tell stories in a way that makes her and the audience feel less alone and more connected to the rest of humanity.
In your 20’s, Susan states it’s as much about learning what you DON’T want to do as it is finding your passion. She explains, “Media was not a conscious choice I made. I was working at a consumer research company and my girlfriend from graduate school called saying she was working at HBO and needed more salespeople.” Susan left consumer research for HBO and from there, grew a career in the media.
Cassandra was working her way up the corporate ladder at a Fortune 25 company and realized she was great at her job. Meanwhile, the company was contracting with other organizations to augment the internal team’s work, and she thought, “Why not me?” This daring choice prompted her to start her company and also provide a more nimble option to her clients as technology changes and evolves.
Finding Your Passion
There are differing schools of thought on this topic. On one side, Cassandra believes that rather than finding your passion and building a career on that, consider figuring out what you’re really good at. Sometimes the best careers are built around strengths. Most of us get confidence and enjoyment from doing things we are good at.
On the other side, Naomi suggests discovering what you feel most fulfilled by and spending the most hours of each day engaged in doing that. “This approach has led me to currently being the happiest and most fulfilled in my career that I’ve ever been,” Naomi says. She suggests asking what things make you the happiest or most fulfilled when doing them? It could be anything from baking to posting on social media to reading books to being outdoors. Then, reverse engineer a life/career in which the largest number of hours possible are spent doing those things.
Finding your passion presupposes a level of self-awareness that very few of us have early on, Susan shares, until our world gets dis-ordered, something falls apart or you realize you’re human. She says walking through tough times and getting out the other side gives you confidence. “It’s when you really come to know who you are and what you stand for that makes it easier to know if a job or company is a good fit for you.”
During challenging situations, Cassandra focuses on her mindset. She feels a challenge is just something to figure out and move on and learn from.
For Naomi, perseverance is key. Being an artist is not an easy row to hoe. There were years at the beginning when nobody believed in her. She faced an endless series of “no’s” and closed doors. But, she would do it all again. It cultivated a career doing what makes her happy and fulfilled.
Susan’s challenges always centered around people. For instance, when relocating candidates, inevitably, some of the moves didn’t work out. In those cases, she upset not only the life of the employee, but also their family. At IMPACT Group, we know how important family is to the success of the move, but in the end, it’s all about learning and growing. Challenges will arise and mistakes will happen in business. What’s important is how you move beyond them.
Don’t be scared to try. Don’t hesitate to find and go after your passion—it just may take a while before it becomes your career. Did you know studies show women possess more leadership competencies than their male colleagues?! It’s true. Now, go find the thing you love or the thing you’re best at, and go for it.