Sometimes things are just fated.
When my long-time friend Christy asked me to help her out with a panel she was moderating, a point kicked in (Christy is not only a dear friend but embraced the positive stuff way before it was trendy 😉 ). When I learned that the topic was “career agility” lots of points kicked in. There are few better words to describe my career than “agility” (though “diversity” is right up there). And the kicker? Learning that my former boss and amazingly inspiring leader Kirsten Wolberg was one of the panelists. The icing on the cake was having my spunky kick-butt girlfriend Dana attend. Indeed, the fate had been sealed.
The panel was put on by Linda Holroyd, CEO of FountainBlue as part of her “When She Speaks” series focused on providing resources and insights for women in leadership in Silicon Valley. I was impressed by the number of repeat visitors to the series – many I met at the event make it a point to attend every one – and the degree of effort that Linda puts into ensuring that the program meets the needs and interests of those attending. There was ample time to get input from the attendees on the topic at hand and take questions.
Certainly Kirsten and the other panelists Roli Saxena and Barbara Williams have very different career histories than I; what was encouraging was how much our individual perspectives aligned regarding the proactive steps that women can take to have a thriving, adaptive career.
I personally touched on the need to stay curious and “social,” constantly connecting with people not necessarily germaine to your particular duties in your current role. A hungry mind and genuine interest in others will serve you well in the times when you need them and count far more than seeking to jump-start a “network” artificially in times of great need.
The other panelists also touched on the need to constantly be learning (which curiosity tends to facilitate), and making the effort to discover what your own core skills are regardless of company or job title. While industries and products change, people do not: there will always be a need for strong <communicators, analysts, process people, fill-in-the-blank>. Take the time to flesh out what your core skills are and use them as a compass amidst the changes in your environment.
Tied to this is focusing to what you truly care about – this can be either in the workplace or through involvement in outside activities such as non-profits and community service. The latter often provides a safe way to get involved with others you normally would not in the course of your routine life. And it is highly enriching and rewarding. If you have an hour to spare, you can actually view the entire panel here.
Kirsten shared these buttons she encourages her staff to sport with integrity. If they can’t, she encourages them to explore how to get to that place – whether in the job or company they are at or elsewhere.
In fact, “enriching” and “rewarding” were exactly what the afternoon was to me. What a treat that one’s own experience can (hopefully) in itself be helpful to others.
Go forth and learn!
Having lifelong friends is a treat in itself.