In this edition that’s chock-full of great advice, we have Avon CEO Laurie Ann Goldman’s 5 Rules For Life. Laurie Ann joined Avon’s Board of Managers last August and is a marketing and branding executive with more than 30 years of experience at leading consumer products companies.
Prior to Avon, she was the CEO of Spanx for 12 years, and was instrumental in building the brand from a small start-up to a successful global business with a number-one position in market and mind share. Earlier in her career, Laurie Ann held senior leadership roles in the Global Marketing division of The Coca Cola Company.
Here, her rules in her words.
1. Passion is always stronger than fear.
I’ve never felt fear is a bad thing. At some level, it comes with any new situation or challenge. It makes you ask yourself a question: “Am I good enough?” And then you get on with the job of showing yourself that you are. The problem comes in that fine line between energized and paralyzed. Fortunately, there is an antidote for that kind of paralysis. Have real passion for what you’re doing. Passion gives you the power to blow through self-doubt. If you love it, you’re going to find a way to do it.
2. Trust until there is a reason not to.
When you look around today, pick your institution, there is a debris field of reasons not to trust. So I think too many times we throw up the emotional hurricane shutters before we have a reason to. I go into every relationship believing that people are who they say they are and will do what they say they will. Now that can change in a heartbeat when I think the words don’t match the music. But trust is the place to start.
3. Gender is only an issue when you allow it in.
There’s absolutely no doubt that things like gender discrimination and harassment are real. And awful. This might not work for everybody — and it’s probably social heresy — but my superpower has always been to act like my gender doesn’t exist. I’m not one the boys. I’m not one of the girls. I’m just a person with a job description. I took my place at the conference table. I asked questions. I asked for the tough assignments. I asked for more money. But all of that had to be predicated on one thing. I always made sure that I was really good at my job. The funny thing is, that kind of confidence doesn’t come naturally to me. But it doesn’t have to. It’s an acquired skill. And like any skill, you get better with practice.
4. You can run from who you really are. But people will find you. I had one of those bosses who was an emotional terrorist in the office, but actually a pretty nice person when you got her out alone. Even fun. One day, I asked her: why are you so different when you’re outside the office? And she said that she didn’t think that her real personality would work – if people didn’t fear her, they wouldn’t follow her. And then she gave me some advice: I was too nice. If was going to progress in my career I was going to have to decide whether I was a nice person or an effective boss. Her advice stayed with me. And I’ve ignored it. It takes courage to be yourself, especially if – like me – your confidence is a conscious decision rather than a natural gift. But in the long run, if you’re good at your job, being who you are makes things a whole lot easier on everybody. It removes the guesswork.
5. When in doubt, trust what you don’t know you know.
My father was a surgeon and the CEO of a major university hospital. My mother was an artist. One day she woke up and said to my father: “We need to sell every stock that we have.” And she had never read a Wall Street Journal. And he did. That was a week before the 2008 market meltdown. I asked her how she knew. And she shrugged her shoulders and said: “I just did.” I believe strongly in the quantitative side of life. In business, my mantra is: if you can’t measure it, it isn’t real. But many times you have to act on this mysterious alchemy of who you are, what you’ve learned and where you’ve been. It’s a combination that works in mysterious ways. Sometimes you know what to do because, as my mother said, you just do.
Thanks, Laurie Ann! Stay tuned for more Five Rules installments.
“Five Rules,” is a series on Rouge18 in which I ask others to share their five rules for life about anything and everything. You can learn a lot about a person by reading which five things govern their actions, no?