With support from the ASA women in leadership council, ClearEdge Marketing CEO and Founder, Leslie Vickrey, led a panel discussion with powerhouse industry leaders Lauren B. Jones, Donna Carroll and Nina Vaca on creating your personal and professional brand. This dynamic group of women shared insight into how to exude an executive presence while being authentic, why taking risks can prepare you for leadership positions and the importance of pulling others up instead of keeping them down.
Here are some of the most fascinating takeaways from the 60-minute session.
Saying ‘YES’ to the Unknown
For years, Lauren Jones, Senior Director of Operations for Star Staffing, had a perfect suburban cul-de-sac life on the outside, but started to feel completely suffocated on the inside. Lauren decided she needed literal, physical space which resulted to moving her family into a fixer-upper on acres of land just outside of San Jose. What started as just a few sheep to help maintain the land has amassed to a flock of farm animals —and endless life lessons that have translated into work lessons.
“Now, every time there’s a challenge,” Lauren said, “I stop, look and listen to figure out how I can move forward effectively.” A lot of that, Lauren believes, has to do with jumping into the unknown and taking risks.
Regarding confidence, Lauren shared that there have definitely been moments where she’s questioned her decision to take on a project as big as a farm with no farming experience but that keeping the end result in mind has done wonders for her willingness to take risks, both in life and at work. And, when all else fails, Lauren looks to the goats on her farm for leadership advice.
“Goats like to do three things: have fun, be happy and are endlessly curious. Those are three things that we as human beings need to do—you need to have fun in what you’re doing, you need to find a way to be happy and continue to stay curious,” Lauren said.
Take Risks, Build Confidence
Donna Carroll, President of Local Office and Workforce Solutions for Supplemental Health Care, has more than 25 years of staffing industry experience. During her time in staffing, Donna has learned valuable lessons, all of which have shaped her own personal brand.
Donna said, “Strong brands have strong identities. What a personal brand is really knowing who you are as a person. And that evolves over time. And it certainly has evolved for me over time.” Though in the beginning, Donna was unclear about who she was and what she wanted out of life and her career, she was able to start building her own brand by observing others and pushing herself outside of her comfort zone—and sometimes that meant asking for help.
“I believe that women don’t leverage their network. I think as women we have a tendency to not want to impose on people or ask for help and I think men do a fabulous job at networking and using their relationships and resources to help them in business. This is an area that women can do better in,” Donna said.
Challenging herself to meet new people and put herself out there more often is something that Donna continues to do and has served her well. Building a network is a vital step in career development and Donna challenged listeners to go to more events and set a goal to meet at least two new people each time. You never know where those connections may lead or which ideas can help inspire you in your career.
Live Authentically and Earn Trust
“If you want to create change go to where the power lies.”
This is one of the many phrases that Nina Vaca, Chairman and CEO of Pinnacle Group, has always lived by. Nina believes that there should be no separation between personal and professional branding as they are not mutually exclusive. If you live your values each and every day, they will be reflected in your whole life, not just parts of it.
With a decorated career in staffing and member of numerous boards, Nina didn’t become successful by chance. Rather, she put in the work and proved herself along the way. She said, “I make daily deposits in the bank of relationships. In the beginning, that means doing things for others and expecting nothing in return.” When you do that, people begin to trust you and feel comfortable relying on you.
“As women we want to work on what we’re not good at but research shows that we’re far better off being successful when we work on things we’re actually good at,” Nina said. “So, double down on the things you’re good at, then you become crazy good – and when you become crazy good, you start to build a reputation for it.”
As others have helped her along the way, Nina feels a duty to return the favor by coaching and mentoring the next generation of women leaders. “Understand that you have to be intentional. You will not change a company by your words, but by your actions,” she said.
For more insight and valuable takeaways, you can watch a recording of the webinar here.