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May 27, 2015


Susan Packard’s New Rules of the Game – An Executive Roundtable

by wictseblog

by Jordan C. Lofton

Tuesday, May 19, 2015, Atlanta, GA and other remote locations

It was a Tuesday evening to be remembered.  The WICT-SE women met in Atlanta, Georgia at Cox Communication’s beautiful conference center, and was joined remotely by three other WICT-SE groups across the Southeast.

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Co-founder and former COO of Scripps Network, Susan Packard was the feature speaker at the event which was divided into two parts.  Susan opened the event by sharing with the women her journey.  She encouraged the women that they too have the ability to become women leaders.  As she looked back at her career she noted several of the leadership lessons that she learned along the way and documented in her new book “New Rules of the Game”.  The book has 10 practical tips every woman (and man) can learn from.  We’ll be highlighting the book in another blog post but here are some main take-aways.

  1. Conditioning
  2. Composure
  3. Playing Offense
  4. Brinksmanship
  5. Fan Clubs
  6. Practice, Practice, Practice
  7. Suit Up
  8. Good Sportsmanship
  9. Grit
  10. Team Play

Then we moved to my favorite part of the evening.  Susan was joined on the stage by 5 female leaders from across the Cable and Telecommunications industry.  They had each read her book, and within the context of the 10 areas, Susan carefully lead a round table discussion engaging each woman to gather her thoughts and real world experience.  The floor was opened up for questions and audience members who were remote as well as audience members in attendance in Atlanta were given an opportunity to ask the Susan and the entire panel questions.

What are the key take-aways you learned from the event?

The Round-Table featured five outstanding women.  Over the course of the hour they discussed many different topics, but here are a few tips and takeaways from each woman.

Jennifer Dorian – GM of Turner Classic Movies, Turner – Jennifer D., when asked by Susan about Composure, shared that she believes that composure is key, but she believes sometimes a leader needs to lose their composure to show their passion and authenticity.  She also highlighted that she often sees women asking for validation when making a decision.  Jennifer D. mentioned an article she read that inspired her, which spoke about how a Navy Lieutenant would ask his Captain for a change in course.  Jennifer says that as women, we tend to try to provide a defense and proof for our course of action rather than asking for approval.  Just as the Lieutenant would read out the coordinates and the Captain would simply say, “Carry on.”, be ready to execute versus defending your course of action.

Jennifer Garrett – SVP, National Sales, Cox Communication – Jennifer G. highlighted that the chapter on Playing Offense really spoke to her.  In her role in sales she noted that there are many calls in the call center where the Customer Service Representative does a great job of reviewing the details of the product, but never asks for the sale.  Early in her career Jennifer experienced a pivotal moment when she was passed over for a promotion.  Rather than being passive, she decided to play some offense by speaking directly with her manager without emotion and reviewed the facts.  The outcome didn’t change immediately, but because of that feedback she was able to progress at a point in her near future.  Had she never asked, who knows where the path would have lead?

Karen Ellis – CFO, Home Category, Scripps Network – Karen shared that her biggest fan was her husband.  She was just finishing her education when she saw an opening for a Public Accounting role.  She thought it was a long shot, but her husband encouraged her by saying, “What’s the worst that can happen?”  Karen showed up with resume in hand and applied for the job.  Not only did she get the job, but it was a role that gave her career the foundation she was seeking.  She highlights this as an experience she learned early on about how critical her Fan Club as well as Playing Offense in her own career.

Lisa Chang – SVP, Human Resources, AMB Group LLC – In Lisa’s role she gets  front row seat to watch the Atlanta Falcons on and off the field.  When asked about Sportsmanship, she says that what she sees the players exhibit on the field is directly transferrable to her business role.  While watching the team practice she sees players get into heated arguments and brawls, then only moments later when practice is over they walk off of the field shaking hands and making dinner plans.  She reminds us that decisions that are made in the heat of the battle, particularly business decisions, may inspire debate.  Lisa says, just like the Atlanta Falcons, women should not hang onto the baggage after the decision is made.  She encourages everyone, that once a decision is made it’s time to be a team player and to work hard on behalf of the team.

Robin Sangston – VP & COO, Cox Communications – At the end of the event, the floor was opened for questions.  The panel was asked “How do you recover from a time when you didn’t hold your composure?”  Robin shared a saying she learned from another Cox female leader.  “If you mess up, fess up, and dress up.”  By starting by acknowledging the mistake and then doing the work to repair you go a long way in showing you’ve not only regained your composure, but you’re contributing back to the team.

If someone missed the event, why should they attend next time?

If you missed last Tuesday’s event I’d encourage you to read “New Rules of the Game” by Susan Packard.  The tips she provided our WICT-SE audience were relevant and appropriate for any level. Keep your eyes open for future events which leverage the Round-Table format.  It’s a wonderful way to hear from not just one but many women leaders in a single, enjoyable evening out with the ladies.

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