Charting Your Course at Any Stage

Susan Schulz

On Tuesday evening, May 24, 2016, about 150 women from every aspect of the communications industry and all stages of careers gathered on the 29th floor of the Bloomberg building on Lexington Ave for the NYWICI 2016 Annual Meeting.

Jacki Kelley, NYWICI President, hand-picked a group of women that represented women at every stage in their career and across all aspects of the communications industry for the evening’s featured panel “Charting Your Course at Any Stage”.

We compiled just a few of the smartest quotes shared throughout the evening from this impressive multi-generational and multi-disciplinary group:

On relationships and how you treat people:

“The greatest gift one can give is candor and honesty. People are craving that, because it’s so rare. My best relationships have been based on mutual honesty. I hope we can all embrace that and not feel compelled to say what people want to hear. You gain respect and credibility when you speak with candor.” —Judy Jackson, global chief talent officer, Wunderman

“Cultivate relationships with people more experienced than you are, but keep your peer relationships — they will be your peers forever.” —Rachel Wehrspann, executive producer, Bloomberg

“Reputation is incredibly important and it’s so easy to lose. Those you’re working with today, you will likely meet again. [Keep in mind that] the way you work with them now will impact the way they deal with you down the line.” —Susan Lyne, president and managing partner, BBG (Built by Girls) Ventures and 2007 Matrix Award Winner

“I have worked with men for my entire career. And for the first half of my career all I did was yell. In the 2nd half of my career, I had an epiphany — I wasn’t going to yell them into working with me, I had to love them and cherish them into working with me.” —Nina DiSesa, managing director at Greenwich Marketing Group and former chairman and chief creative officer at McCann Erickson and a 2005 Matrix Award Winner

On saying no:

“At times throughout your career, you will have to say ‘no’ to people. The way you say ‘no’ to someone makes all the difference. Try to impart something useful to them even while you’re saying no.” —Susan Lyne

On things you wish you’d known:

“I wish I’d had more fun. But I look back and remember the fear we had: Will we have an idea? Will the client like the idea? It was impossible for me to have more fun at that time. But I wish I did.”— Nina DiSesa

“I wish I had learned finance — it would help me in my current role as a finance reporter. And I wish I had known more about how to create a voice on Twitter and still stay professional.” —Aisha Al-Muslim, a reporter for Newsday and a 2008 NYWICI Scholarship Winner

On what you’d say to the older generation:

“Those out there who have more experience, reach down more to help the next generation.” —Aisha Al-Muslim

“Learn from us and show an interest in how the business has changed. Give us more networking opportunities.”— Rachel Wehrspann

On advice to your younger self:

“You don’t learn from successes, you learn from failures. When we had a success we’d cheer for 30 seconds and then we’d focus on the failure and talk about it and analyze it for hours. But that’s what you learn from.”  —Nina DiSesa

“Don’t lose any sleep over the meeting that didn’t go well or the speech that you thought was off.  If I had known that nobody would remember any of these things! My advice is, get over yourself. It’s all going to be fine.” —Susan Lyne

“I lost my parents and was divorced at 35. I thought my life was over. But at 37 I got married again, and I had a baby. You just never know. Life doesn’t end because of one tragedy. And you can apply the same lesson to your work and your personal life: you just never know.” —Judy Jackson

On finding the silver lining:

“I was fired very publicly, and I thought the world had ended. I had never been fired before — I was always the person to get the next better job. I was mortified, I was sad. But I took that summer off — I hadn’t taken a summer off since high school, and I was 54 at the time. I had never sat back and said, I really want to do X. I had always listened to offers and taken the ones that sounded the best. So I took the time off, and I thought a lot about controlling my own destiny. So, the single worst thing that had ever happened to me turned out to be the beginning of a self-directed career.”  —Susan Lyne

On traits you admire in men:

“Confidence, for no apparent reason! How do they do it? They can make so many mistakes and keep rising to the top!” —Nina DiSesa

On female traits that men can admire:

“I’ve seen two men escalate a situation and a woman has come over and said, ‘Calm down, let’s get this in perspective…’ Women know how to diffuse things, men aren’t always that good at that.” —Rachel Wehrspann

On asking for a promotion:

“You say to your boss, ‘Here’s where I want to go. What do I have to do to get to that point?’ Then when you do it, it’s a win-win.” —Nina DiSesa

“So much will come from the way you ask for it. So practice in front of the mirror, practice with friends… you’ll feel stupid doing it, but say it until the words get old to you, because then it’ll be easier to go in and say those words to your boss.” —Susan Lyne

On how to know if you’re being fairly compensated:

“Compensation is about what you’re bringing to the table. So don’t always think about what’s fair but what you deserve based on your contribution — what is the value of that? Women look at equality in terms of pay, but men are looking above that. They ask for what they feel they deserve — they’re not worried about what Paul makes. Men are also more trusting in these cases, so they have conversations and share information. Women tend to be secretive about these things. If we trusted each other more, we would benefit from the information.” —Judy Jackson


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