"Be Phenomenal." That was the simple the message was from the afternoon keynote at the Dynamic Women in Business Conference held at Harvard Business School this past weekend. I was invited to the conference by the leaders of HBS's women's network and spent a day attending the conference, and a second day in an planning session for a cross-MBA women's coalition with the leaders from our our peer schools. Having the opportunity to spend the weekend listening, brainstorming, and sharing with such an amazingly powerful, thoughtful, and proactive group of women will definitely be a highlight in my MBA career.
Back to "being phenomenal" - Ann Mukherjee, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Frito-Lay, continued her keynote by outlining the lessons she learned along her journey and what it meant for her to "be phenomenal." I found the lessons and vignettes relevant, and thought I would share the advice with all of you:
- Know thyself, LOVE thyself - understand who you are; do a personal SWOT analysis; know how to strategically compensate for your gaps; and most importantly: do not fear, but rather embrace, your weaknesses without judgment. Ask yourself: do you know and strive for your best self, or are you always focused on what you are not?
- Earn credibility - know your stuff; consistently deliver; and most importantly: keep your head down and be in the moment. If you focus too much on getting ahead and moving forward, you will never be able perform to the best of your ability
- Celebrate people - be inspiring and motivating to the people around you; find out what other people's gifts are - and help them "be phenomenal"
- Be passionate - have a point of view and love what you are doing - life is too short to go through the mechanics and not have passion and fury
- Challenge the status quo - don't become complacent and don't settle for mediocrity because it is the easy thing to do; be a change agent and make an impact
- Keep perspective - be secure in yourself; success should be defined by the standards YOU set because life is too short to try and live up to other people's expectations
- Live by the K.I.S.S. principle - be precise; talk in headlines; and know the desired outcome of your efforts
- Embrace failures - journal, reflect, and learn from every failure so you can course-correct the next time around
- Define your legacy - set a vision; have conviction; be motivated; you have to know what you are working towards
- Enjoy the journey - don't confuse expectations with what is really important to you; life is too short to settle, so enjoy the journey and don't be so focused on the destination that you lose all sight of the ultimate journey
A few months ago, I logged an entry about how my second year of business school was going to be the best (and hardest) year of my life. The premise was straightforward: as someone who is always moving, shaking, and hopping from one thing to the next, I was going to consciously take my second year at Darden to do some thinking and digging around who I am, what I value, how I want to live my life, and the type of impact I want to make to the world. While I didn't realize it when I set out on my path, in a way, I was trying to figure out how to "be phenomenal" in my personal and professional life.
I still have a long path and a lot of work to do in my personal quest to be phenomenal, but I hope the lessons above help some of my classmates and other members of the Darden community frame and move forward in their personal journeys as well!