“I am quitting and going to Deloitte, so that I can make partner.” Not what you want to hear from one of your highest performing Directors, especially a female. After several sleepless nights (for both of us I am sure), and much soul searching, we convinced her to stay with PwC. There were two conditions she mandated in order to stay at PwC: first, she would be put up for partner immediately, and second, I would be her sponsor. Over the next four months, I worked my butt off to ensure that she was not disappointed by the decision, and ultimately, she was not. This situation reinforced for me how passionate I am about the success of others, and how much impact I could have, especially for women. Coaching women to success within a man’s world is quite challenging, but at the same time it can be the most rewarding experience imaginable.
Napa Valley Exclusive was the name of the wine brokerage business that I co-founded in 1982. Representing only top wineries from Napa Valley, we sold to restaurants and retailers in Southern California. We grew very quickly, and while the business was an absolute blast, we realized that the only way to successfully monetize was through a disposition of the business. Thus, after four very successful years, we sold the company to the Henry Wine Group, which is still operational today. The key lesson for me is that I loved being an entrepreneur. Whether I was trying to make payroll at the wine business, or helping startups while at PwC, or chairing the board at BUILD, it is quite clear that being in an entrepreneurial mindset and environment is what really gets my juices flowing.
As a partner at PwC, discussing or showing vulnerability was not considered a core competency. There were so many learnings for me at the Hudson Institute, but the one which was most impactful was learning the benefits of vulnerability — both in terms of being unafraid to show it, and being more empathetic around it. As part of the training, we performed in coaching fishbowls. There was one specific session which literally changed my entire perspective around the power of vulnerability. I found myself in a mirrored coaching session with someone who could not show vulnerability — just like me. It changed me forever. A deeper dive on this topic via several readings, including Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, and I have done a complete 180 around vulnerability. This realization has made me a much better listener, more open and curious, and continues to be a work in progress for me.