On February 25, 2017, I attended the 26th Annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference held at Harvard Business School. At this event, I heard from speakers including Jeanne Jackson, President at Nike, amongst many other powerful women in business. At this event, I took copious notes and think that if I were to write about it all, it would be a lot longer than a typical blog post! However, below are my notes from our opening session with Jeanne Jackson. I will likely continue to write about this conference in a separate blog post.
Opening Keynote with Jeanne Jackson of Nike called “Trailblazer in Retail, Branding and Sport: Lead Like you Mean It”
The fact that we are able to discuss female empowerment is a huge privilege in itself, since many women around the world today are still unable to use their voices. Back when Jackson attended HBS in 1976, only 7% of the class were women and traditionally, “power seeking” women were viewed negatively, unlike men during that same period.
Empowered comes from the word “power” (meaning: having the ability to control or influence others), but we should reclaim the word “empowered” to mean a person who chooses their own path.
The 4 Traits a Successful Person Must Have:
1.) Drive – Jackson admitted her drive was to make money, stemming from her need to pay off school loans. She provided an anecdote of having lunch with Serena Williams, and that Williams told her that she “threw out” all of her second place trophies, since she never would only accept being first.
2) Passion – Find something you love to do. With Jackson, she always found an emotional connection with a brand, which helped her in making decisions on where to work. “Happiness is the key to success, not the other way around” she stated.
3) Self-awareness – Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.
3) Initiative to Lead – Leaders must lead. People have expectations for you and business is not a popularity contest. As a person who has led 8 companies and has sat on 10 boards, Jackson knows! She also said to “be the person who punches the bully in the nose” when it comes to sticking up for your workers.
Jeanne Jackson gave an outstanding speech overall, urging a women to “take a seat at the table” next to men who continue to occupy the most positions in managerial and executive-level work. Despite us coming a long way in terms of women’s rights, we still have a lot more that needs to be done, but Jackson remains optimistic.