Sunday, September 19, 2010

What would you do if you couldn't fail?

House of Hong Restaurant, Seattle -  This was the question I asked at a recently held Women of Power Luncheon hosted by Assunta Ng, Publisher of the NW Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post newspapers.  Before I get to the answer of that question, though, let me first tell you that this luncheon, now in its third year, benefits one of NAAAP Seattle's partners, the Executive Development Institute (EDI). Twelve lucky auction winners from EDI's Inclusion Fusion held earlier this year got to lunch with some very powerful women. In fact, I had the privilege and pleasure of being seated at one of the tables. I'll introduce them one by one as I go through their stories.

Women of Power Luncheon (l to r) Martha ChoeDonna Giordano, Grace Chien, and Amelia Ransom Letcher (Not pictured: Sandra Madrid)

As the food arrived, Donna Giordano, President of the Quality Food Centers (QFC), shared what she thought were her keys to success(es); that was:
  • to listen and learn from others;
  • to take any job offered as it would lead people to know that you're the obvious choice when opportunities arose;
  • to know you are in the driver's seat of your career;
  • to know and articulate your value; and most of all,
  • to have a positive attitude as this will assist you in achieving results, both at home and at work. 
Next, the top Girl Scout or CEO, Grace Chien, made a point to stand firm with your commitments and define successes and failures in relation to these.

Martha Choe, Chief Administrative Officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and also a 2010 NAAAP100 recipient, talked not only about change, but about having it be sustained and lasting. She talked about how important it is to building lasting and effective relationships and used the term, "total leadership", when addressing one's well-being: mind, body and soul. Said another way, "When you're health isn't well, neither is your leadership."

When addressing work life-balance, "there is no perfect balance and it's a matter of balancing daily or weekly based on what is important to you. Put another way, if you are on your death bed, would you regret having gone to one more meeting?"
(l to r) Sandra Madrid, Carol Butterfield and Sandi Heddington
Now, Amelia Ransom Letcher, VP Corp Diversity Affairs at Nordstrom, rallied around people first and effective communication. Can you imagine the power in having people believe flowers grow in concrete? Getting to this level of effectiveness can help you become very influential.

Sandra Madrid, Sr. Advisor to the Dean, UW, shared a story about her own career transition. She was let go from the UW after 20 years of service. Her main point was to be part of a community because no one can do it by themselves. It was with the community's support that she got her job back at the UW.

As by now, I'm guessing you want to know what they said when asked, "what would you do if you couldn't fail?" I asked this question because throughout our careers we face fear and indecision and having gone through this themselves, they would give really good insight. Well, in short, the answer was not surprising. To paraphrase what each one of them said, "I would do anything".

Given that we're already on the topic of powerful women, I would like now to take a moment to let you know about the Women in NAAAP! program, which is our own program created and developed to build competent and confident women leaders within NAAAP and within the Asian Pacific community. If you don't already know about it, you can visit our website.

Special thanks to Char Grinolds of EDI and Assunta Ng, Publisher of NW Asian Weekly and the Chinese Seattle Post newspapers for creating a great meeting.

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

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