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Influence: Expand Your Influence, Create Your Legacy

Posted By Robert Wray, Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Facilitator Angela Joyner (Vice President, General Manager, Refrigerated Portfolio, ConAgra Foods)
Donna Giordano (President, Ralphs Division, The Kroger Co.)
Roz Hudnell (Chief Diversity Officer, Global Director of Education & External Relations, Intel Corporation)

The Theodora Effect, Angela Joyner’s study of women’s character strengths, and differences from their male counterparts as leaders, proved a fitting introduction to this session.

Character strengths explored were wisdom, courage, justice. humanity, temperance and transcendence – important as it encompasses such positively-affecting tools as hope, humor and perspective.

Do women sometimes suppress their character strengths in service of notions about executive behavior? Sometimes, they do, noted Joyner. However, when women leverage their strengths, such as expressing gratitude in the workplace, professional results increase. So how many women are there who have leveraged their strengths in such an effective, and affecting manner?

Examples include Cleopatra, who introduced herself - with her characteristic creativity - to Caesar, by "unrolling” out of a carpet.

Another is Byzantine Empress Theodora, who co-ruled with her husband Justinian. With no education, an impoverished upbringing, and a mother who urged her to become an actress (frowned upon at that time), Theodora nevertheless changed the world around her with her bravery and social intelligence, among a number of other strengths.

Speaking to modern-day pioneers, the focus shifted to esteemed guests Roz Hudnell and Donna Giordano.

Roz Hudnell has always been able to perform well under pressure, owing partly to her experience as a competitive ice skater. She credits her success to being analytical, strategic, and a ruler. After a career in cable television, she realized she was happiest when doing work "for the people,” and found her place at Intel, where legacy is continually created, through the global and women’s programs she has spearheaded that positively influence the thinking and development of future generations.

A video presentation shared Intel’s emphasis on learning through the Computer Clubhouse program. The moving piece shared the progress and hope of many of the young minds it encourages.

Donna Giordano’s legacy is about a story of where she came from and where she is today. During her four decades at Kroger, she’s made mistakes as well as successes. As a young girl, she watched her mother go through the schedule of a stay-at-home mom. At six years old, she asked her mother, isn’t there more to life?

In 1972, she began working in the retail segment, and set her sights on becoming a store manager. She recognized that she was in charge of her own destiny and got an education. Never succumbing to obstacles, and always doing the right thing were tantamount to the success of her career and business.

The legacy she pointed out is that people matter… an ideal she shares with her fellow panelists.

Angela asked, "What is one strength you wish you were using more?”

Donna admitted that she needs to forgive herself at those times when she feels she isn’t doing enough, to let go of the guilt that often plagues women professionals.

Roz feels it’s more a question of serving herself, with the strengths she uses in service of others. "I was never as strategic with myself as I have been with work.”

A visualization exercise asked the crowd to close their eyes. As the audience kept eyes closed, Angela guided participants to their future selves, twenty years from now, as well as their homes and surroundings.

"What piece of advice would your future self give you, to lead you through the next twenty years, and to your legacy?” asked Angela.

After the exercise, Angela directed her questions to the panelists.

"What is the one thing you are doing now to nurture your legacy?” she asked both Roz and Donna.

Roz spends time developing and sponsoring others and their abilities. Donna stresses the educational part of business. Both leaders, it seems, are highly focused on influencing future generations through growth and learning.

In closing the session, Angela brought up five steps to using your strengths and create your legacy:

- Determine your legacy.
- Identify & develop your strengths.
- Use your strengths to add value to your organization
- Build a powerful network
- Tell your story.

Roz urged everyone to build five strong relationships both within and outside your company, a network of support in the event of job loss.

The event closed with an inspiring quote from Marianne Williamson:

"We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

(pictured, l-r: Donna Giordano of Ralphs, The Kroger Co., Roz Hudnell of Intel Corporation, Angela Joyner of ConAgra Foods and Trudy Bourgeois of The Center for Workforce Excellence)

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