Recently, I attended a breakfast hosted by, She Runs It, the go-to organization for women in advertising. The event included an inspiring conversation between Tara Walpert Levy, VP of Agency and Media Solutions at Google and the Ad Council’s very own President & CEO Lisa Sherman.
In a world where only 21% of all senior leadership positions in the United States are held by women, there’s a special place of honor for women who make it all the way to the C-Suite. So special that She Runs it hosts a regular event series titled “C-Suite Meet.”
The conversation featured Lisa’s career path through marketing, advertising and television — from Verizon to a stint as an entrepreneur to Viacom’s LogoTV — which ultimately led her to what she refers to as “the best job on the planet,” President & CEO of the Ad Council.
It’s at the Ad Council where Lisa combines purpose with passion by using the power of communications to tackle the country’s toughest issues. It wasn’t always such an easy path though. During Thursday’s discussion, she shared some of the more challenging moments that led her to this moment. She also offered her insights on bringing your whole self to work and the power in taking risks.
Here are three key takeaways from Lisa Sherman on how to “make it to the C-Suite.”
1. Take risks.
It’s OK to do things that are scary and that push you outside your comfort zone. In fact, it’s recommended! As Lisa likes to say, “A boat that doesn’t rock won’t move.” If you aren’t a little scared, are you even doing anything worthwhile? When striving to have your voice heard, don’t be afraid to take risks. Trust your instincts, and remember that in order to create change, we have to step outside our comfort zones and really stretch.
2. Lean into your passion.
Your gut will never lie to you. Pay attention to when you’re happiest. Is it in certain meetings? Maybe when you’re working with particular kinds of teams? Or with companies creating a certain type of end product? Figure out what those connecting dots are and leverage it. For Lisa, she learned early on that she was happiest when she felt like she was building towards a greater cause. That’s what has made the Ad Council such a perfect fit for her — it’s where creativity and causes converge. Keep that lesson in mind: When you marry your passion with purpose, you can’t go wrong.
3. Be true to yourself.
Sure, you may have heard this one before, but there’s a reason — it’s because it’s true! Above all else, being anything else than yourself takes a lot of energy — and it can hinder you from bringing your best self to work — the self that’s creative, energized and engaging! There’s power in the personal and sharing who you truly are will make you a more effective leader.
Overall, the C-Suite Meet was filled with interesting conversation, compelling questions and inspiring women who want to make a difference. It’s clear that when purpose-driven women are at the helm, the future is bright.