Reflections on Mary Kay Ash
I feel very honored to be asked
to speak at The Legacy of Leadership networking breakfast. I hope you can
join us on Monday, April 10, at 7:45 a.m. at Stonebriar Country Club in Frisco, Texas.
Chief Marketing Officer of Mary Kay Inc., Sheryl Adkins-Green, and I will
discuss Mary Kay’s powerful legacy that influences so many people.
I first started at Mary Kay when
I was 19-years-old while working my way through college. The Company was
very small back then, and I worked directly with Mary Kay Ash as I finished my
college degree. What an incredible experience as an impressionable young
woman to watch first-hand a master at Leadership. Mary Kay Ash was not
only my mentor, but has been a mentor for hundreds of thousands of women around
the world. She had much to say about leadership. Some of her
favorite quotes were:
speed of the leader is the speed of the gang.
leader is someone who knows where she is going and is able to take others with
will support that which they help to create.
you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re say.
Throughout my career, I have
frequently read articles and books and attended workshops on
leadership. These usually include a list of “traits of a great
leader.” When I go through those lists, I always think that Mary Kay Ash
is the perfect example of every one of these characteristics.
Since I can’t discuss all of
these in one blog, I thought I would concentrate on my favorite trait of hers –
her ability to motivate. I loved watching Mary Kay with people.
When she first met someone, she would take their hand in hers and look them in
the eye. She listened very attentively to what they had to say, and then
she breathed belief in them. No one every left Mary Kay’s side without
her asking them to tell her their goal. If they didn’t have a goal, she
would share with them where she saw them in the future. Then she would
tell them with all sincerity, “You can do it.” And they did! I
heard countless testimonials from women who had shared a goal with Mary Kay and
had not only achieved that goal but been motivated to go on to even greater
heights. Mary Kay often heard from women who had left Mary Kay Inc.
and gone on to make a lifetime dream come true. They would write to her that her
belief in them and in women had given them the courage to step out of their
comfort zones and reach success. And of course, there are countless
stories among our Mary Kay sales force of women who were able to achieve beyond
their wildest dreams.
Last summer I visited the CocoAndre Chocolatier shop in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas. When the owner of the shop, Andrea Pedraza, heard that I had worked directly with Mary Kay Ash, she wanted to share her Mary Kay story with me. She had been an Independent Beauty Consultant while raising her daughters, but she also had a dream of owning her own chocolate shop. Today she is known for her chocolate covered high heels, which ship around the United States.
Like any great leader, Mary Kay
was full of ideas. When she had a new idea, her staff knew that it meant
extra work, but we didn’t mind all that work. Instead we never wanted to
disappoint Mary Kay – because she believed in us. She knew we would make
that idea happen.
Even though Mary Kay isn’t here
today, she still is motivating us. When she was in our presence, she
motivated by her example and her enthusiasm. Now she motivates us through
her legacy. Mary Kay motivated us because she had a vision, and she
pulled us into that vision. And that vision was to change the lives of
women around the world!
Jennifer Cook is the Director of The Mary Kay Foundation℠ and is also a Mary Kay Foundation Board Member. Having been a part of the Company since 1971, she worked closely with Mary Kay Ash and saw first-hand Mary Kay’s generous and fervent heart towards raising money for cancer research, and her tender heart towards those going through difficult times.