‘Get Uncomfortable’ – Advice from Beth Comstock
Beth Comstock, former vice chair of General Electric, author of Imagine It Forward, and 2016 NYWICI Matrix winner, is a self-described “troublemaker.” She shared valuable advice and personal anecdotes during her 2019 discussion with Jacki Kelley, president and chief client officer at Dentsu Aegis Network. You won’t want to miss Beth’s thoughts on overcoming introversion, the imagination gap, and building team magic in the office. Here are some of the key takeaways from the interview that will help you excel in your own career. And you can listen to a podcast of the event here.
As an introvert, Beth had to learn to push herself out of her comfort zone. “Early on, I just realized that I was holding myself back in the course of my career because I wasn’t putting myself out there,” she says. Once she came to that realization, she set about making changes. For starters, she made a point of introducing herself to a higher-up at a work event, even when she felt weird about it. Ultimately, leaving her comfort zone helped her find her voice. “My journey of introversion was always awkward, but I was still proud of myself because I put myself out there,” she says.
And of course, she also learned to embrace the helpful qualities of being an introvert: “We’re observers, we’re listeners, we’re good synthesizers,” she says. Whatever your personality type, it’s all about learning to focus your energy and harness your individual skills.
Trust your gut—to a point
When Beth was offered a job with Apple, she couldn’t shake the feeling that the opportunity wasn’t the right match for her. In that instance, she followed her intuition with confidence. But she also agrees with a Think Advisor article by Daniel Kahneman that explains how your intuition can often be wrong. “To me, that gut check tells me that I’m onto something,” she says. “It doesn’t tell me the answer.”
Keep an open mind
Curiosity is key, Beth says. She recommends opening yourself up to new ideas and perspectives whenever possible. “Pick a magazine about something you would never read,” she suggests. “Challenge yourself to think about something really different.” When you have the ability to look at things from a variety of angles, you’ll become even more creative and innovative.
No matter what position you hold at your company, you should always be anticipating what problems may arise in the future and how you might solve them. “Be this leader who’s ready to deal with what’s new,” Beth says. That way, you’ll be prepared for whatever gets thrown your way.
To listen to all the episodes of Coffee Break w/ NYWICI, visit nywici.org/podcast.