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Posts tagged ‘Women in Tech’


Leadership Interview: Susan Packard

Author of "The New Rules of the Game"

Susan Packard: Author of “The New Rules of the Game”

by Jordan C. Lofton

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:

  1. I have two cats named Dot & Trudy.
  2. I grew up in a suburb in Detroit surrounded by family. It was a great childhood and everyone was very close.
  3. 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.


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

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.


6 Inspirational Women in Technology

by:  Craig Newmark

A lot of times women don’t get the recognition they deserve in the tech industry. In the last few blog posts I’ve shared about really good women in tech, we asked folks to suggest women they thought really had their boots on the ground.

My team (which includes Justyn Hintze of Rad Campaign and Allyson Kapin, Founder of Women Who Tech and Rad Campaign) and I researched your suggestions, and created a list of 6 women (or orgs run for women, by women) who are doing tech right. You should follow and support these women, if you’re able.

J. Kelly Hoey, @jkhoey, is a strategist, speaker, startup board member and angel investor focused on social/digital and the human motivations which fuel innovation. A connection-maker, networking strategist and expert community builder, Kelly is known for her leadership in building valuable professional networks, understanding the dynamics of engaged communities and the “how” of raising visibility, online and off.

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