Emceed by Chef Lynne Weems Ryan, the women on the panel answered a series of questions, some lighthearted, others more serious, about their lives and careers. Early in the presentation, the women described the best advice they had ever received, and here’s what they had to say.
Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, recalls when she was told NOT to open her business. She said that this advice caused her to reflect on the lives of entrepreneurs; then, knowing this lifestyle wouldn’t be easy, she moved ahead with her plan with eyes open.
Susan Ungaro, meanwhile, said the best advice she ever received was to work hard, but also to play hard – the components of a balanced life. While at work, it’s important to focus; while away from work, it’s best to try not to think about the job. Ungaro is the president of the James Beard Foundation.
Finally, Dr. Jodi Berg, president and CEO of Vitamix, recalls how her mother told her she could accomplish anything. It wouldn’t necessarily be easy but, if something mattered to her, she should move forward. You can see all three women expand upon those answers here:
Another question asked was about the biggest challenge that each woman faced in her job, and how she addressed that challenge – and here are summaries of their answers. For Berg, it’s that, in a world that moves so quickly, one in which everyone needs to be so nimble, it’s too easy to forget the “why” in the midst of the “what” and “how.” There are many ways to solve challenges, she says, but it’s crucial to always remember the objective – the “why” – that is being addressed, and then give your team freedom in the methods they use to accomplish that objective.
Ungaro recalled the amount of debt she inherited when she took over the foundation, and the gap between the money coming in each year, and the money going out. The challenges were solved, she explains, by taking a rationally optimistic approach, by recognizing that they couldn’t really make the situation worse. She gleaned the wisdom of the leaders surrounding her who were vested in making the foundation succeed to boost revenue and manage costs in a way that brought them incrementally closer to their shared vision and goals – and then to surpass them.
Bauer’s biggest challenge was to face, head on, problems that needed solved, and to be willing to change production methodologies and whatever else needed changed to succeed while still holding on to treasured values. She reminds us how, as an entrepreneur, highs are so high, while lows are so low; during those lows, it’s important to be willing to consider a wide range of ideas to move forward towards success.
Here is more information on that subject from each of these women:
Other questions answered include what the women were most proud of, the three key attributes they believe make them good leaders, their biggest triumphs, what characteristics they look for in employees, and much more. You can listen to the entire presentation here: