2014 Program: "Failure: Own It, Learn and Succeed"

Keynote Speaker: Kathryn C. Mayer

On March 20th, the Women’s Leadership Forum of Greater Phildelphia (WLF) held their annual luncheon at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. The topic for the event was “Failure: Own it, Learn and Succeed.”

Dorothee Andermann, President of the WLF welcomed the guests and introduced Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake, Vice President of Community Affairs for Independence Blue Cross, for opening remarks.

The keynote speaker for the event was Kathryn C. Mayer, owner and president of KC Mayer Consulting. Kathryn really got the crowd interested by sharing her own “failure” story….taking a new job that she felt in her gut wasn’t the right fit. 

Kathryn went on to share lessons and best practices:

1. Take smart risks
Smart risks are the way that women can reach the top. Kathryn shared a quote from the Ceter for Creative Leadership’s Glass Ceiling Research, “Women who reach the top build confidence by actively seeking out difficult, unfamiliar experiences and taking smart risks.” 

Kathryn shared some ways to help us identify and take more smart risks: 
• Build on your strengths and manage your weaknesses
• Identify clear career goals of where you are willing to go and not go
• Be willing to go beyond your comfort zone. 

Women are natural relationship builders and they should use this skill more strategically to build out their network. When women have a strong, strategic network, they can take small risks more often because the network can help mitigate risk.

2. Do not be a perfectionist – be a “collaborative competitor”
In a competition, women tend to want to be perfect and well-liked while men want to win. Striving to be a perfectionist can lead women to take fewer risks, need to always be in control, failure to delegate, and get stuck in the details. And, according to Kathryn, “Perfectionism as an identity can limit your ability to perform as an effective competitor, take on leadership roles, or even enjoy life and its challenges.”

Instead, women should strive to be a “collaborative competitor”. Here are a few key insights from Kathryn:
• Those who have a healthy drive to win tended to take more of a strategic approach to collaboration rather than an extreme drive towards perfection and to winning and tended to enjoy work more, were more successful, and led happier lives.
• Those who have an overwhelming desire to win tended to have more of a tendency towards perfection and this seemed to inhibit teamwork; they also tended to have low scores for collaborating with others.

3. Strive to be in the top 5%
Kathryn shared some research done by Joel Deluca, author of Political Savvy on the top 5% successful people. Joel found that the key differentiators of these people are:
• Legitimize the task (savvy attitude)
• 3x the network
• Constantly took small (what I call smart) risks

The women were then able to reflect on and discuss their own personal failures and to work on their own personal self-compassion, which also served as a great networking opportunity. 
The luncheon ended with an announcement of the new and updated Board Members for the WLF: 
• President: Deanna Drnevich, Deloitte 
• Vice-President: Sharon Hafner, KPMG 
• Treasurer: Rachel Celiberti, PES 
• Secretary: Debbie Romer, Campbells 
• Programming: Angela Travagline, GSK and Jacquelyn King, KPMG 
• Membership: Elaine Francis, PNC and Shuchi Sharma, SAP 
• External Affairs: April Moore, SAP and Mikaele Racine, Dow 
• Communications/ Media: Liz Brenner, SAP and Ishita Sinha, KPMG 

A big thank you and congratulations to former President, Dorothee Andermann, who is moving back to Germany and took a new role with a start-up.​