Leverage strengths to fulfill dreams, Renda advises
Friday, August 3, 2012
Life’s obstacles are opportunities to grow, learn, advance and make a difference, according to Larree Renda, the first woman and youngest person to become a vice president for Safeway Inc. and the company's first female executive vice president.
In her featured address, "Fearless: Challenging Boundaries to Reach Your Full Potential," Renda urged NEW Executive Leaders Forum attendees to never give up on their dreams, no matter the obstacles. She related how the loss of her father from cancer when she was a teenager prompted her to dream of becoming a doctor and curing the disease. But the reality of being on her own -- her mother lived elsewhere -- led her to a job at Safeway at age 16. She threw aside her dream of going to college and becoming a doctor, but held on to the dream of curing cancer. Living on her own without a support network, she stayed at Safeway, which offered her a career path. Fast forward to 2001, when Renda helped establish the Safeway Foundation, one of the most charitable foundations in America. Through the foundation, more than $179 million has been donated to cancer research projects and Renda’s dream continues.
A strong believer in women leveraging their strengths to fulfill their potential, Renda advised the crowd to "Do what comes naturally. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Don’t apologize for your differences. Capitalize on the traits that contributed to your success.”
Women lead with their brains and hearts, a different leadership style than a man’s, she said. Women are cooperative, supportive, nurturing and participative and women’s leadership instills pride, loyalty, high morale and peak performance.
"Trying to be a man is a big waste of a woman!” Renda’s said.
She encouraged women to be assertive, speak up and self-promote. "I’ve never seen anyone who’s been promoted because they did what was in their job description,” she said, adding that it’s often necessary to chart your own course.
The loss of her husband, also to cancer, taught Renda the importance of measuring life in quality, rather than quantity. "We need to nurture friendships. Share in the things important to loved ones. Tell people we love them, and why we love them.”
"Happiness,” she said, "keeps you sweet. Trials and tribulations keep you strong. Sweet and strong makes us irresistible.”