The Language of Success, Part I

Yesterday I attended an event honoring successful business women in the community. These women were very inspiring, and I wanted to share some of what they said at a panel discussion early in the day.

Gay, president and CEO of an independent, advertising agency, was the moderator. She asked the panelists if they had any special comments in keeping with the event’s theme, "The Language of Success".

Randa, who oversees the external relations office of a major university, encouraged us to never underestimate the skills we bring to the table. She also cautioned us not to try to be the smartest in the room – instead surround ourselves with talented people.

Mary, attorney and partner in an environmental law firm, said that to be successful, she has had to be more assertive than she ever felt comfortable being.

While trying to prove to herself early on that she was smart and worthy of success, Kristen, an executive in the banking industry, said that she decided to act more successful than she felt. Amazingly, others began to regard her as a success.

Long before making regional managing partner with an international accounting firm, Amy raised her head from her work to see that her fellow male colleagues were gaining more ground in their careers because they were spending time building relationships. She switched gears, deciding that it’s not only about the hard work. She learned to focus on what’s most important versus what’s urgent.

Linda, an entrepreneur who has gotten three small businesses off the ground and is working on a fourth, said that we should focus on what opportunities we have rather than complain about the glass ceiling. She also advised that if we help others get what they want, we’ll be able to get what we want.

Gay added that she always asks herself how she can enrich the lives of others, especially wondering how she can help her employees grow.

So, here’s a summary of their secrets to success:

  • Don’t underestimate your skills and surround yourself with other talented people
  • Stretch and push yourself to be assertive when you aren’t naturally assertive
  • Act more successful than you feel, and you’ll become successful because others will see you that way
  • It’s not all about hard work, it’s also about relationships
  • Focus on what’s important rather than what’s urgent
  • Focus on the opportunities you have rather than on what you don’t have
  • You need to give in order to get
  • Help others around you grow to success so that they can add to your success

There’s one more thing I’d like to add, and that is that successful people never give up – they are persistent.

  • After Fred Astaire’s first screen test, a 1933 memo from the MGM testing director said, "Can’t act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little."
  • A relatively unsuccessful marketer of restaurant equipment, he didn’t sell his first hamburger until age 52.  At a time when many people prepare for retirement, Ray Kroc built McDonald’s from a handful of hamburger stands into the world’s largest food chain.
  • When his older brother was killed during WWII, he first withdrew into a shell.  Then he began to listen to the radio to ease his pain. Soon he was dreaming about hosting his own radio show.  That led Dick Clark to start American Bandstand.
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper for lacking ideas. He also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.

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