Parting Words and Special Thanks

04-29-2010 1:56 PM

I can’t believe it’s been 26 years.  I’ve enjoyed more than half of my life here in the Mary Kay pink bubble.

I came here in 1984 for a job, a paycheck to help with the family bills.  I never imagined the impact it would have on my life.  I have been incredibly blessed during these years to be surrounded by some of the most amazing people and business leaders, like Mary Kay and Richard Rogers, David Holl and our executive team, and the Mary Kay employees and members of our sales force.  From them, I’ve learned such valuable lessons about business, about dealing with people and about life.  Along the way what I learned most about was …me.  One of those lessons that I learned was to follow my heart.

There were so many times during my career where my heart was saying “your work here is done, there’s something new for you to do”.  Each time I listened and followed, it led me to an exciting new position at Mary Kay where I could grow and contribute in new ways.

A couple of years ago, I began to get that familiar feeling once again.  I argued with it for quite a while, but finally last June, I decided once again I had to listen to what my heart was saying, it had always been right before.  This time was different though, because this time it was leading me beyond the doors of Mary Kay.  I love this company and what I do here, and I would never leave to go work 40 hours a week for someone else.  But life is calling me to other things.  I’m not much of a planner, but more of a take it as it comes sort of person, so I can’t say definitively what I’ll be doing.  My thoughts so far are around spending more time with Van at the farm, volunteering more, developing up-and-coming executives, continuing to blog, possibly writing a book and getting involved in politics.

Alex Haley said “Anytime you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.”  Well, just like the turtle, I have had a lot of help. So many special people have impacted and influenced me in ways big and small, and so I must thank a few who were instrumental in shaping my career and the person I have become.

First of all, I thank God, for blessing me beyond measure and having a better plan for me than I had for myself.

Mom and Dad – for raising me up with a strong sense of personal responsibility and accountability and teaching me to always do the right thing

My husband and children – for their love and support all along the way, and the many sacrifices that they had to make so that I could do what I needed to do for Mary Kay and for me

Mary Kay Ash and Richard Rogers– for creating this amazing company, setting a tremendous example of Golden Rule leadership and giving me a safe place to take off my training wheels and go to places I never imagined going.

Betty Bessler – for hiring me in 1984

Connie White and *** Bartlett – for taking a chance on me in marketing

The economy in 1985 – for leading to a Mary Kay hiring freeze and the elimination of my new marketing job.  I thought it was the end and it turned out to be the beginning of something big.

Dennis Greaney – for teaching me a lot about products, packaging, manufacturing and the supply chain in my early years in marketing

Gary Jinks – for helping me to learn the sales side of Mary Kay and understand what really drives this business

Tom Whatley – for challenging me more than I had ever been challenged before, and for letting me get involved in everything I wanted to get involved with.  He also finally taught me that timing is everything. 

Myra Barker – for helping me to smooth out some rough edges that I needed to fix on my way to the executive team.  She was tougher on me than any boss I ever had, but I grew a lot and I know that her intentions were 100% focused on helping me to be successful.

David Holl – for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the executive team and for always being willing to listen when I needed to say something.  I’m certain there were and still are times when he didn’t want to hear it, but he listened patiently anyway.

Sheryl Adkins-Green, Peggy Davidson, Yvette Franco and Patricia Wanderley – amazing women and great leaders in their own right, for making it easy to be their leader.  In working with them, I saw very quickly that all I needed to do was to paint the picture and then get out of their way, occasionally moving an obstacle for them or just be a willing ear when they needed one.  I feel very confident leaving things in their very capable hands.

And my assistant, Barbara Bomar – Barb has been with me for more than 10 years.  She is such an incredible person, and leaves an indelible mark on everyone that has passed through my office all these years.  Sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself.  Not only has she kept things running smoothly for me and the entire division, she has been a dear friend and I appreciate her loyalty and service to me more than I am able to put into words.

Now, anyone who knows me well knows that I never let an opportunity for learning pass by, so here are just a few bits of wisdom that I figured out along the way.

In honor of Mary Kay, here are the "6 most important things" I think you need to do to be successful as a leader.

  1. A deep understanding of people.  When you are in a leadership role, things no longer get done because you do them.  Your success is the culmination of the success of others on your team.  The ability to get along with others, up, down and across; understanding why they do what they do and how to inspire them are critical success factors.
  2. Excellent communication skills, and the ability to adapt them to the context of the situation. One-on-one, to a group, good news, bad news, up, down and across.  Not only knowing how to communicate, but WHAT to communicate to WHO, and WHY.
  3. The mindset to get yourself out of the way.  I’ve seen so many people become stuck in their career path because everything revolves around them.  Every decision the company makes is about '"them", the meeting that’s being held down the hall certainly should include "them", the bosses door is shut so she must be talking about "them".  You know these people (or maybe it's you!).  Everyone else is getting promoted, and they aren’t, and they don’t understand why.  Get out of yourself and get into others, and things will begin to happen for you. 
  4. Get comfortable with conflict.  You don’t have to like it, but you do have to confront it and resolve it.  It is never as bad as you imagine it in your mind to be.  And the more you do it, the more comfortable with it you will become.
  5. The courage to speak the truth, even when it’s difficult.  Whether it’s pointing out to your colleagues the elephant in the room, giving feedback to a direct report, or admitting when you’ve made a mistake, people won’t follow you if they don’t trust you, and that trust is earned from a visible pattern of honesty and integrity.
  6. Release your control issues. Bill Cosby said “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”  I became much more effective when I finally learned to release what I couldn’t control and focus exclusively on the things that I could control.  The first thing I had to figure out was what I did have control over, which is not much.  It’s really quite simple, but is one of the biggest factors holding people back, and causes great stress and frustration.  So here’s the secret:  You can only control 3 things:  your thoughts, your words, and your actions.  Everything else is out of your hands.  Other people are going to think what they’re going to think, say what they want to say, and do what they want to do, in spite of your best efforts to sway them.  The best you can hope for is to influence them through your words and actions.  But at the end of the day, it’s up to them.  Accept it, and release that which you can’t control.  You will sleep much better at night and will be much happier as you continue on your journey that is called life.

One of my favorite quotes is from Steve Jobs of Apple.  He says, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

I am grateful to each of you for the role you play in keeping Mary Kay’s dream alive, and I look forward to watching you as you continue to grow toward the 50th anniversary and beyond.  May God bless you all.