Leadership Interview: Susan Packard
After our last WICT event, I was sitting in the audience. I had just heard Susan Packard, retired Cofounder of HGTV and author of new book “The New Rules of the Game“. The shy farm girl in me was feeling a bit intimidated. But I had just heard all of the women on the panel speak about pushing past your fears.
I mustered up some gusto, and introduced myself to Susan Packard after the event. Without any hestitation I asked if I could feature her in a WICT blog post so the entire WICT audience could get to know her. I’m so glad I did.
Please allow me to introduce you to Susan Packard.
What is your name? Susan Packard
Where do you currently work? Previously I was the Cofounder of HGTV and COO of Scripps Network. I left the corporate world 4 years ago.
What is your current role? I currently work as an author, speaker, and mentor.
Where are you currently located (city/state)? Knoxville, Tennessee
What is your favorite quote? Brene Brown “You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story & hustle for your worthiness.”
I like this because there are so many women who find themselves in a position of low self-esteem, but this quote really touches on a point in my book. Women don’t need to prove that they are worthy, they need to own it.
Share 3 Personal Facts So Our Readers Can Get to Know You:
- I have two cats named Dot & Trudy.
- I grew up in a suburb in Detroit surrounded by family. It was a great childhood and everyone was very close.
- Just last weekend I gave a TED Talk called “Whose Am I”. It’s still being edited, but I’m very excited it about it.
Describe your journey to your current position. Four years ago I left the corporate world because I wanted to do something new. I’m very entrepreneurial by nature. A friend, who was also a published author, recommended that I write a book about my journey. It took me three years to write the book, and now I’m enjoying sharing it with women who are still in their corporate journey. This year I have been on tour for the book and it has been very exciting.
What was the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
When I think back about obstacles I think of them as personal. I’ve been fortunate that most of the professional obstacles I’ve been able to push through. But one that comes to mind that is both personal and professional is the adoption of my son Andrew.
We had to go to a third world country. It was at a time when NBC was acquiring a new company and when I would call my boss there was always a bad connection on the line. I am sure it wasn’t the timing my co-workers would have liked, but it was so important and valuable to me. I had to work through that for my family and for my team.
How do you find joy and pleasure in your role? How do you encourage others on your team to share in this?
What I enjoy about my current role is how women love to learn and love to focus on improvement. It’s such an open audience. When I had my day job I couldn’t focus on that, but now I get to focus on that full time. I love working with women to see them face their fears and know they can succeed.
As far as my own team, I do the same with each of them. The team is just a little smaller now.
What is your best career advice for an emerging female leader?
I tend to think of this in two ways: Technical and Behavioral. On the technical side, getting involved in line work is so important. The work that you do that directly impacts the bottom line of the company is the most meaningful. If you want a seat in the boardroom, you have to know how the business runs.
On the behavioral side, you have to push through your fears. If you’re getting stuck and staying still, that really puts you at a disadvantage because your peers will advance. For example, I noticed for many years that my male counterparts used humor as a tool. They used it to break the ice, cut the tension, and to build relationships. For a long time I was uncomfortable using humor. But I had to face my fear and move past it. I spoke with a group last week and I incorporated humor into my talk. Some of the jokes were duds, but I still made a choice to use humor as a tool.
Our theme this year is “Connecting”. In what ways do you finding that “connecting” has helped you in your career? How would you advise other leaders to incorporate these lessons into their approach?
Everyone should read Chapter 5 of my book. It’s all about this. In it, I talk about fan clubs. I really emphasize the relationship of organizations like WICT and other affinity groups. And one thing I would also advise is to maintain your relationships with girlfriends. As I rose to the top, I didn’t take enough time to cultivate those relationships. I didn’t cut anyone off, but I didn’t reach out either. These relationships are important because the women in our lives keep us honest. They’ll tell us what they see and be there for support. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of building and maintaining these relationships.