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'Imperfect' ProYo CEO inspires women to step up

Thursday, November 12, 2015  
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
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Jane Miller, CEO of ProYo Frozen Yogurt, shared her personal success story
at the NEW Denver fall learning event.

"I’ve made more mistakes than things I’ve done right,” Jane Miller, CEO of ProYo Frozen Yogurt told more than 80 NEW members and supporters at the NEW Denver fall learning event, Oct. 29, 2015 at Wynkoop Brewing Company. "But I never made the same mistake twice. Each one was a learning opportunity."

Miller shared her personal story during her keynote address "Career Success is Not about Luck; How to Create Your Serendipity at Work." The most senior-level woman at every company she has worked for over the last 20 years, Miller considers her poor single-parent upbringing "lucky" — noting it's one of the reasons she received a full college scholarship — and admits that she didn't get to the top by being perfect.

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Once under the impression that she had to be a superhero, Miller now counsels women to leverage their strengths. Instead of feeling pressured to be right all the time, or know all the answers, Miller tells leaders to "do what you’re good at and you’ll be passionate and engaged."

Miller recommends creating a network that functions as your personal advisory board. "It’s important to get other opinions, but ultimately you can decide what to do with the feedback," said Miller, who added that "everything is a choice. Don't compare yourself to someone else."

As a mentor, Miller finds that most women don’t ask her about the business side of her career. Instead, they want to discuss "interpersonal stuff," such as how to deal with a bad boss or a difficult coworker. Miller cautioned NEW members against overreacting.

She once derailed a male-coworker's career over an insensitive comment he made, which led to his firing. "It’s important to think about how your reactions can impact somebody else," Miller said.

Time, and open conversation, nurtured the healing. "A year after the incident, he and I had a chance to talk about what happened. It turns out he didn’t even remember saying what he said, and I discovered this guy and I actually had a lot in common. We ended up getting married.”

How you deal with setbacks and misperceptions can be a key to success. After landing a prestigious leadership position at age 36, Miller soon learned of a rumor that she had slept with someone to get there. It shook her confidence, and she vowed to inspire strength in fellow women leaders by writing a book about the experience: Sleep Your Way to the Top (And Other Myths about Career Success).

Companies sending delegations to the event include Atkins Nutritionals Inc., Boulder Brands, Frito-Lay Inc., King Soopers and WhiteWave Foods Company.

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