Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

It's challenging to balance family life with the desire to be a business leader. The work/life balance becomes easier when you learn to recognize that the lessons you need to grow your leadership skills won't come from business alone. In fact, those lessons often come from unexpected places. The important thing is to find pathways that build new thoughts, because new and better skills are the real engines of any business's performance.

Yes, we are the engines of our businesses and of our lives.

We all know what happens if we fail to respond to the "service the engine" light. Knowledge is the high-test fuel that powers our business engines. Which fuels are you using to power up your engine? If you are using the old low-grade fuel of the past, you are in trouble. Globalization and demographics, just to name two, have changed the terrain on which you drive. I just returned from a work/life example for powering up that engine: As Chief Cultural Officer of Corporate Subscription Management Services, I was awarded a scholarship by Microsoft to attend the 2008 Tuck-WBENC Executive Program. "Microsoft recognizes the relevance of the contributions women business leaders are making in the world," said Fernando Hernandez, Microsoft Supplier Diversity Director. "As a sponsor of this program, we cultivate and reinforce our belief in the importance of business education and empowerment, creating a future that values and embraces all women." As a certified women's business, I was given this unique opportunity.

IBM chose to sponsor this prestigious event at the IBM's premier conference facility in Palisades, N.Y., because of their leadership commitment to women in business. Michael Robinson, Marilyn Johnson, Patrice Knight, and Sherry Robison, all Senior IBM Procurement Specialists, generously gave of themselves to round out the learning experience. Other major sponsors that clearly see the benefit of empowering women in business as the largest growing sector of the economy are AT&T Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard Worldwide, and Office Depot. Women are nurturers by nature and as business owners they are committed to supporting those who support them.

The five-day executive development program, conducted by WBENC partner, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, promised to bring women business owners to the next level. It delivered women that are poised to improve and grow their businesses because we learned how to survive and prosper in today's fast-moving, volatile climate. Instead of sitting on the sidelines just worrying about the economy, we were arming ourselves to forge ahead. It is a strong academic program as well as a transformative experience where we master key leadership competencies and core business processes that focus on increasing the competitive advantage and robustness of the select attendees' own business.

As you "walk around your life," look for the two or three things that you can put into practice right away. My three immediate 'takeaways' from walking through my life with business thought leaders like Punam Keller, Leonard Greenhalgh, and Laura Morgan Roberts, were readily actionable. My employees were re-energized by the new highways of possibilities. By modeling this thought, our team is now inspired to evolve and compete on whatever new roads we travel. The work/life lesson is: Take time to continue learning and growing; our businesses will prosper for it.

I applaud those of you for the out-of-the-box thinking that enables you to take the time to step out of your lives and into experiences like Tuck. We are the magicians who weave impulses into the discernable and actionable possibilities that grow our companies. By learning together, we create a symphony of our success.

I want to be the leader of a company that works each day to innovate and bring new light to yesterday's thoughts. This only happens if we continue to dialogue and dream about our work/life. It is much easier, on the surface, to say that what we do now is all there is, but that is not where our purpose lies. Thanks all for taking the time to know there is more and for joining with me to discover what that is.

I am very grateful to Microsoft and to IBM in particular for recognizing the importance of programs such as Tuck and for sponsoring me for this opportunity.

I'd love to hear what fuels you are using to power your engine!

A Women-Owned Business • • Ramsey, N.J.