“I was brave enough to say it.” Maybe this is how we all want to see ourselves. But when Shelly Lazarus, Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather, said this at the finale of the Ogilvy’s Women’s Leadership Panels Friday morning, the courage and confidence she shared with the audience were tangible. She was sharing how she was able to balance her roles as an Ogilvy executive and mother of three; she was brave enough to set her boundaries with her team and clients. If a meeting conflicted with an important family event, she simply said no.
“There is no work-life balance; you triangulate priorities with the possible outcomes,” says Lazarus. It seems the same attitude that made Shelly successful and indispensable at Ogilvy also made her a loving mother. It is in her character to attack projects (at work and home) with passion, to be decisive, and stay true to herself. These qualities are obvious in the role of a senior executive or dedicated parent, but these are the same qualities that have allowed her to change with the times, innovate, and move up the ranks to be a respected CEO and celebrated leader. She’s excited about the growth and utility of social media, and sees it as one of the next BIG creative movements for advertising.
Shelly looks at the changes and shifts in the advertising world as thrilling aspects of a business to which she has dedicated her career. “Find something you love,” she says, that way it never feels like you’re sacrificing. That is if you consistently act on your priorities and embrace your strengths and let go, let go of your weaknesses. “You’ll never get better at your weaknesses,” claims Lazarus.
What was so refreshing about Shelly’s talk was her honesty and candor regarding one of the most pressing issues women face in the work place, especially in new fields where there is so much potential for growth and leadership positions. “How can we do it all?” Shelly’s take on embracing strengths, letting go of your weaknesses on the job relates to the private sphere: attend field days and birthdays, but you may not be able to have the cleanest house or host a Wednesday dinner party. She describes working late on a Thursday evening, but never attending a conference on a Sunday evening.
Maybe there is no ‘balance,’ but we can learn from Shelly’s confidence and self-respect, and apply her enthusiasm for advertising and life outside the office to our daily routines: “Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s not the outside world imposing these standards; it’s internal. You’re not going to be perfect at anything.” As we close Women’s History Month, let’s take a little bit of that to heart – and practice.
I leave you with the three thoughts from our March Motivator:
1. “I didn’t ask for promotions, but I asked for credit.”
2. “I just did my job, I never had a career plan. I did my job full throttle.”
3. “Put a team together and release them to win for themselves.”