Recently, SheSays DC invited local women in the digital communications industry to our Canvas co-working space for industry vets to share their stories, offer career tips and advice, and drop the nuggets of wisdom they’ve learned over the course of their professional journeys.
The panel included Karen Zuckerman (Chief Creative Officer & President, HZDG), Emily Lezner (SVP of Global Communications, Atlantic Media), and Kristen Jones (Director of Hospitality, Plank Industries). Moderated by Lauren Laitin—founder and Principal at Parachute Coaching—the panel tackled topics ranging from being hand-picked to be Michelle Obama’s personal assistant at 24 years old, to re-entering the workforce shortly after starting a new business.
Check out some of the conversation highlights:
On being propelled in your career by passion, drive and grit:
Kristen: [In the White House,] at first it was about drive. Every second of the day mattered. I stood out by making it a point to do something every week that benefitted everyone. I worked my butt off and had a lot of luck.
On being passionate vs. “showing up”:
Karen: Showing up is just doing your job and checking the box. Who is doing something extra? I’m looking for someone who is special and memorable. Sometimes people don’t know what their passion is, and that makes it hard for them to do more than just show up and check the box. The way you find out is to be open to things. If you don’t know your passion, just say yes. And remember that what you do now helps you get where you’re going.
On taking risks:
Emily: This is where grit and drive comes in. You can learn on the job. Sometimes you have no idea what you’re doing starting out, but you figure it out. Sometimes the best plan is to have no plan.
On things that have gotten in the way:
Kristen: Self-doubt is a feeling, not a fact. The fact is that if you are in a room, it is because you belong there. Get out of your own head and out of your way. When you stick to the facts, those feelings of imposter syndrome start to dissipate.
On being driven and also wanting to have "a life":
Emily: You have to make a choice to avoid burnout. Think about what’s important to you. You have to prioritize and know that some days will just suck. You just can’t commit to doing everything all the time.
Karen: Raise your hand. Get involved. Make relationships bring you success. When you build those relationships, people don’t forget you.