Female leaders in The FQ Equality Lounge @ NBA All Star on how to follow your passions and chart new territory.

Shooting for Greatness: Female Leaders on How To Change the Game

Author: Leigh Michael

The FQ Equality Lounge @ NBA All Star 2019 created a space for female leaders — in Charlotte and beyond — to unpack where their bravery comes from, what motivates them, and why it’s important to take risks (and, occasionally, fail). You can watch every unplugged conversation on our Facebook page. Here are some words of wisdom from women in the lounge who are changing the game on how to follow your passions and chart new territory.

Charles Bowman of Bank of America; Donna Julian, of Hornets Sports and Entertainment; Vi Lyles, Mayor of Charlotte; Catherine Horne of Discovery Place, Inc.; Andrea Smith of Bank of America in The FQ Loung
Charles Bowman of Bank of America; Donna Julian of HSE; Vi Lyles, Mayor of Charlotte; Catherine Horne of Discovery Place, Inc.; Andrea Smith of Bank of America in The FQ Lounge

There is power in perseverance.

“Step up and step out. Get out there, say you’re going to do it, and keep trying until you do do it.”

~Vi Lyles, Mayor of Charlotte, on the power of stating your intention… and not giving up until you achieve it.

Passion fuels success.

“I’m an example of pure determination. I’m also an example of someone taking a chance on someone who wasn’t the most qualified person for the job, but who had the best heart.”

~Donna Julian, SVP and GM for the Charlotte Hornets, reflecting that her lifelong passion for sports—a traditionally male-dominated industry—drove her to be bold. She encourages people to identify “the buzz” and use that to drive them to achieve what they want in their career.

Don’t be afraid to stand alone when you must.

“The hardest thing I have ever done is finding my voice in a situation where I am the only person with an opposite point of view (which happened to be all men).”

~Andrea Smith, Chief Administrative Officer of Bank of America, on the importance of being true to yourself and your values in every facet of your work.

But also have each other’s backs.

“I think the word ambition has often been a dirty word for women. We need to not only have ambition for ourselves, but we need to have ambition for each other. We need to have each other’s backs.”

~Deborah Curtis, Vice President, Head of Global Brand Experiences and Partnerships, American Express, on how women supporting women can lead to greater success.

It’s okay — and important — to create your own boundaries.

“I am one of those women who wanted it all — I just didn’t want it all at the same time.”

~Catherine Horne, President and CEO of Discovery Place, Inc. believes that women are often forced to make difficult choices when it comes to a work-life balance. She believes women should give themselves permission to step off and step back in when they’re ready.

Some of the best learning opportunities are borne from failures.

“There are plenty of times that I’ve failed. When I do, I try to sit back and take something from it. Hopefully, I don’t do it again. Failure is truly not a bad thing.”

~Rhonda Curry, Vice President of Human Resources at Hornets Sports & Entertainment on the perception that women have to be perfect and that they can’t make mistakes—and why some of the greatest lessons come from failure.

Risk-taking is a muscle you need to exercise.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

~Lisa Skeete Tatum, Founder and CEO of Landit, hung a sign with these words in her kitchen for her kids to read every time they come in for a snack.  Tatum reflects that “taking risks is a mindset,” and shares her guiding philosophy: to take “microbites,” little steps after setbacks that help you dust yourself off and set you up for success.

Failure is all about perspective: it can be a big mistake or the biggest opportunity of your life.

“I fail every single day. But I also do amazing things every single day. It’s important to fail, just as it’s important to learn.”

~Ann Rosenberg, Senior Vice President & Global Head of SAP Next-Gen, thinks that “failure” is a funny word. She encourages people to talk about failing in an optimistic way that encourages others.

Finding your work “home” is a key to success.

“It’s important to be true to yourself and find a place where you can be true to yourself so you can be successful.”

~Ishwara Glassman Chrein, Head of Sports Partnerships at Verizon Media/Yahoo Sports, reflects that she had a vision for where she wanted to work, and didn’t know if the corporate environment was right for her. But then she interviewed at Verizon and says, “I found a place where I could be me.”

It’s important to tell stories about taking risks (and how those risks don’t always pay off).

“If you’ve experienced success, it’s important to share your challenges in hopes that you can help someone else [and so we don’t feel alone]. Then people will realize that it’s okay to fail; that they’ll figure it out. Because ultimately, failure isn’t an option.

~Suzie Ford, Founder of NoDa Brewing, on why sharing our stories can help others rise up when faced with challenges.

These brave women demonstrate that persistence, passion, and perseverance are truly the ingredients of success. With these values in place, you don’t just shoot for greatness; you score.

For more secrets to success, check out:

Getting to Equal: Women, Sports & Parity

The Shine Factor: Female Leaders on Helping Women Rise

Spotlight on Astronaut Yvonne Cagle on What’s Possible