There’s no doubt that women can do anything – from excelling in their careers to caring for their families, their accomplishments deserve to be celebrated every day. International Women’s Day, coming up on March 8, is a special day to recognize the amazing women in our lives, as well as to challenge gender stereotypes as we work toward a more equitable society.
In preparation for this special day, SouthEast Bank asked eight influential women to answer one question: What is a piece of advice that’s helped you to succeed? Their responses offered steps each of us can take to succeed, both at work and in our everyday lives. From a U.S. Senator and SouthEast Bank CFO to a local city mayor and non-profit director, here’s what we learned:
Marsha Blackburn, U.S. Senator
“Each and every woman is blessed with unique talents that contribute to success. Still, we often hesitate before speaking our minds or actively going after what we want. My best advice is to take initiative—don’t wait for permission to pursue your goals.”
Star Starks, Program Director at Girl Talk, Inc.
“Success requires vision; however, vision without action is merely a dream. For me, unlocking my true potential begins with creating an action plan and giving the continuous effort for God to bring it to fruition. Prayer, vision and action have led to the life of success that I hope to pass to every person I am blessed to embrace.”
Indya Kincannon, Mayor of Knoxville
“My advice is to never forget the power of personal interactions. Genuine, one-on-one conversations will mean more to an individual than any email, text or social media post. More than a year and half after my successful run to become the Mayor of Knoxville, I am often stopped and told how a knock on someone’s door or a conversation at a local park–led to their decision to vote for me. This reminds me to always take the time to stop and truly listen to those around me.”
Barbara Thomas, Chief Operating Officer at SouthEast Bank
“The one piece of advice I would have for young women who are embarking on a new career or a career change is to consider these three priorities when confronted with a new job offering:
- Opportunity: Does the job offer the opportunity to expand your skillset and expertise as well as enhance your knowledge base? Make sure that you remain on a career trajectory that rounds out your CV.
- People: Do you stand to learn substantially from the professionals you will be working with, does their experience complement the expertise you hope to gain and will there be strong networking opportunities?
- Place: Is it a nurturing work environment, is there a strong mentoring platform and is it the right place for you? This is especially important because you will be spending most of your waking hours with your work colleagues. One of my favorite quotes is ‘Success is not measured by the destination but the quality of the journey.'”
Sabrena Smedley, Hamilton County Commissioner for District 7
“In order to succeed, you can never give up. You have to persevere, work hard and stay focused on reaching your goal. It helps if you maintain a positive outlook and attitude. Always keep your passion and do what you love!”
Rhonda Thurman, Hamilton County District 1 School Board
“My mom told me, ‘You only deserve what you are willing to work for. Nobody owes you anything.’ This has always made me work hard on my job as well as in politics.”
Eva Todd, Chief Human Resources Officer at SouthEast Bank
“Show up by doing what you said you would do. Often, either at work or in life situations, there are expectations placed upon us. Showing up and taking our responsibilities seriously is the first step toward building others’ trust in us and respecting ourselves. You’d be surprised how often people get noticed by just showing up!
Ready to take it to the next level? Arrive on time (or early) and prepared to fully participate. This entails planning ahead, anticipating what will be needed and fully engaging in the conversation or activity. You’d be surprised how often people help themselves by showing up whole-heartedly and prepared.
One final step. Choose your attitude and how you will ‘show up.’ This has to do with presuming good intent when relating to others. When I give others the benefit of the doubt, I approach my interactions with them differently. For example, if I believe they want to do a good job, then I behave differently toward them than if I believe they’re planning to ruin my day. You’d be surprised how people positively impact situations by choosing to show up with a positive attitude and presuming good intent.”
Shellie Fugate, Chief Financial Officer at SouthEast Bank
“Narrowing it to only one piece of advice is difficult since many people who have crossed my path have shared insight. However, the most enduring is that ‘it only takes a little negative to wipe out a lot of positive.’ Always look for the good and focus your attention on that direction.”
We’re grateful for our Middle and East Tennessee communities and hope these influential leaders’ advice inspires you as much as it has us. Be sure to thank the women in your life who have helped you to grow and learn during International Women’s Day!
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Information contained in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing contained in this blog should be construed as legal or tax advice. An attorney or tax advisor should be consulted for advice on specific issues.