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Tips for success from top women leaders at Simmons Leadership Conference

Posted by Your Town  October 25, 2012 02:09 PM

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The Simmons Leadership Conference was held earlier this year at the Seaport World Trade Center with opening remarks by Meg Whitman, the recently named CEO of Hewlett Packard.

Simmons asked the some of the featured speakers, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, and Robin Chase, the co-founder of ZipCar, for their tips on careers, work/life balance, favorite books and the music on their IPod. Below are excerpts.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve gotten along the way?

“Relationships are everything. You never know how someone will touch or change your life or how or when you can change theirs.” – Billie Jean King, tennis legend

“My father, John Edison, taught me two things that have shaped my life and career: 1) Life is a series of trade-offs, so make sure you always know what you have traded for what you are getting. 2) Happiness is a decision.” – Jane Edison Stevenson, internationally known search executive from Korn/Ferry International.

“Cash flow...cash flow... cash flow” –Rhonda Kallman, co-founder of Boston Beer Company

“Write your future in pencil…Be prepared. Plan for the future. But also be ready to pivot if a new opportunity comes your way, or if you discover something that was not part of the master plan– makes your heart sing and your mind buzz with possibilities.” – Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered”

Why do you think women still have not attained more leadership positions in all industries/careers?

“Because to achieve it, you have to see it, feel it and believe it. Most women are what I call “unentitled.” Most men are “very entitled.” Until we women see ourselves as powerful, valuable and highly competent as leaders, we will primarily support men, and continue to feel frustrated that we are “doing most of the work,” but are not confident enough take the power and run with it.” – Jane Edison Stevenson, internationally known search executive from Korn/Ferry International.

“Frankly, I think it is by choice. Sometimes it is difficult to juggle family and career. I believe the success of a woman/mother/wife/daughter largely depends on the support of the people around her and her ability to manage it all,'' –– Rhonda Kallman, co-founder of Boston Beer Company

What was the last book you read?

“I'm reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. I recommend it to every person who has to communicate or market or design something. It is really fantastic and corresponds exactly with my experience of branding, marketing, and selling.” – Robin Chase, Zipcar co-founder and transportation innovator.

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. A classic and well worth reading. – Jane Edison Stevenson, internationally known search executive from Korn/Ferry International.

Any tips for work/life balance?

“First, take care of yourself so you have the stamina to lift up the work/life barbells. When someone asks ‘Can I help?’ swallow the urge to respond by saying ‘I've got it covered’ and listen to that little voice inside you that wants to say ‘yes!’ Build and nurture your village/posse/confab/circle – whatever you call it. There truly is strength in numbers. Recognize that things may look and feel a little ragged from time to time.

Give yourself permission to laugh when situations seem surreal. Laugh, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work. And finally, remember to breathe. Seriously….I have finally figured out that before jumping into anything it is a good idea to take a deep breath... and then exhale!” – Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered”

“Pick your significant other wisely.” – Rhonda Kallman, co-founder of Boston Beer Company

“Work/life balance is about choices, ultimately. When faced with choices between work and family or other things, I always ask myself the following: ‘When you are 80 years old and reflecting on your life, what will I want to remember, and, will this matter?’ It helps me to quickly zero in on the most important things. In over 26 years working with top executives, I have never once had someone say to me, “If only I had worked more!” On the other hand, I often hear regrets about the things they never did with their families, or the people they most care about in life.” – Jane Edison Stevenson, internationally known search executive from Korn/Ferry International.

Do you have a favorite quote?

“No one can ever make you feel inferior without your consent.” –– Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered”

From Thomas Watson of IBM: “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” – Robin Chase, Zipcar co-founder and transportation innovator

“Two quotes that I used in coaching and I use every day in business are ‘Champions Adjust’ and ‘Pressure is a Privilege’.” – Billie Jean King, tennis legend

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – Jesus Christ and “To lead people, walk beside them…When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘we did it ourselves!’ ” –Lao Tao (Selected by Jane Edison Stevenson, internationally known search executive from Korn/Ferry International.)

Who’s in your iPod playlist?

“Whatever my kids put there for me.” – Robin Chase, Zipcar co-founder and transportation innovator

“What isn’t on my iPod playlist? I have very eclectic tastes. Jazz. Classic Rock. Hip Hop. Ska. Soul. Electronica.World Music. Funk. Blues. Chamber Music. Reggaeton. Gospel. And a whole lot of Prince. (I am a Minnesota gal through and through.)” – Michele Norris, co-host of NPR’s “All Things Considered”

“All kinds of artists. My favorites and my kids’ too: Sinatra, Adele, Andy Grammer, Carrie Underwood, Black Eyed Peas, The Beatles, Alicia Keyes, Colbie Caillat, The Rolling Stones, Taylor Swift and of course, Madonna.” – Rhonda Kallman, co-founder of Boston Beer Company.

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