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Keys to Competing Successfully in the Workplace


Susan Packard, co-founder of Scripps Network and former COO of HGTV, participated in the 2015 AWESOME Symposium as moderator of the C-Suite Panel, “Inspiration in Action.” Before the discussion began, she offered some key insights from her book, New Rules of the Game: 10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace.

On why she wrote the book:

    “I worked with men my whole career and what I learned is they see the workplace as one grand game. We’re competing to win, and that’s what capitalism is all about and that’s what’s succeeding in our companies is all about. Men have had so many repetitions of winning and losing that when they get into the workplace as adults how they express their competitive spirit is different from many women who haven’t had those same experiences. I learned that it is one grand game and the book serves to show you how to bridge those differences. “

    “The other thing that it does is it shows you that there are lots of people on this playing field, called your workplace, lots of people who can impact your success. It’s not just about you and your supervisor, and so when you have a broader view of your workplace it will help you to advance.”

On how women can gain more influence:

    She related her experience during the founding of HGTV when the start-up team was seven men and Susan. “Out of that meeting came core values like work/life balance, diversity, shared responsibility, compassion, support that seem like gender female values. When you get into that seat of authority you can influence the creation of cultures that are inclusive, that are collaborative, all the things that we value as women.”

On what we can learn from athletes:

    “I am asking you to think like an athlete would, composed, calm, confident, mental focus, those kinds of things that get us ahead in the workplace, and composure’s a big one for women because again the bias is we’re too emotional to occupy senior roles. We’re not well reasoned enough because we’re too emotional. So it is important that we learn ways to be composed.”

On how women communicate:

    “McKinsey did a study and women say an average of 20,000 words a day and men say an average of 7,000 words a day, and we wonder why we have a communication gap. So these kinds of things I had to learn. I could tell when I was losing them. You know, it didn’t take me much, but I could see, okay, they’re gone. I’ve got to get them back, and so I would learn how to crystallize my thinking.”

What it means to have emotional maturity:

  • Good sportsmanship – being graceful when you lose
  • Grit – realizing that tough life and work situations can be moments of grace and can teach important lessons
  • Team play – supporting other women

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