Leading Through Challenges Conversations

The Leading Through Challenges Conversations series was launched to help inspire agency and build resilience. This virtual series is open to current Duke students and recent graduates, and done in partnership with Fuqua’s MBAA, Fuqua’s Office of Community Engagement & Inclusion, Business Oriented Women, Baldwin Scholars, Duke Masters in Engineering Management Program, and Duke Student Affairs. Watch the conversations below. You can also access the full playlist (12) here:

  1. Leading Through Challenges Conversation with Edith Cooper, co-founder of Medley; former Global Head of Human Capital for Goldman Sachs. She shared insights on how to lead through uncertain times, taking a pause to listen and be available and present with people, how students can prepare in the most effective way to enter the workforce now. 
  2. Leading Through Challenges Conversation with Ayse Birsel, co-founder & creative director, Birsel + Seck. She encouraged us to think of our lives right now through the metaphor of metamorphosis. We are currently caterpillars in the cocoon phase as we shelter in place, and in the process we are given the opportunity of deconstructing our lives. What everyone should be thinking right now is: What’s going to be my butterfly effect? What’s going to come out of this time period that will be strong and beautiful and help us fly to new places?
  3. Leading Through Challenges Conversation with General (R) Robert Brown, retired commander of the U.S. Army Pacific. Gen. Brown introduced us to these terms: Black swans and Pink flamingos. Black swans are events that come out of nowhere and surprises you; events that are difficult to predict, while pink flamingos (like COVID-19 pandemic) are events that are there but you do not necessarily notice and don’t really prepare for them. You can plan all you want but you will be hit by black swans and pink flamingos. The question now is: Are you resilient to thrive in the ambiguity and chaos that these events will bring?
  4. Leading Through Challenges Conversation with Lisa Borders, CEO of LMB Group, LLC; former president, WNBA.  Lisa reminded us that in times of uncertainty, we have the opportunity to stop, take a breath, and rethink everything. She encouraged us to ask ourselves the following: 1) Where are you going to focus your greatest energy? 2) In which direction will you point your colleagues, friends, and family members to get the biggest bang for your buck?
  5. Leading Through Challenges Conversation with Jen Fisher, U.S. Chief Well-being Officer, Deloitte Services LP.  Jen shares the importance of boundaries, routines and finding joy. Her tips include: how we can sustain high performance, by taking care of yourself (mentally and physically) to prevent burnout. Burnout should not be the price we pay for success. Give yourself permission to spend time thinking about what you’re stressing about, to honor what your feeling. It takes practice, it has to be intentional, to make it a habit. Journal or write it out so that you can worry about it the next day.
  6. Leading Through Challenges Conversation with Anne Sempowski Ward, CEO of CURIO Brands, on power dynamics, biases and being the change we want to see. Think about the power structures and how they need to change. We all have biases (particularly racial and cultural biases), but the question is are we fluent enough to overcome those biases? Start in your own sphere of influence and have courageous conversations with yourself, family and co-workers.
  7. Leading Through Challenges Conversations with Laurinda Rainey, Managing Director and General Manager, Travel and Affinity Portfolio at JPMorgan Chase, on Adversity, Empathy, Transparency, and clear accountability, traits that serve leaders well in good and bad times. Some key takeaways: 1) Empathy is the strongest muscle that you can develop. Take the time to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, especially when you have a seat at the table.  2) Put your oxygen mask on first. Resilience starts with leading yourself and discovering what YOU need first. When you do what’s best for yourself, you’ll then be in a position to give to others what they need most.
  8. Leading Through Challenges Conversations with Daniel Bassichis, co-founder and managing partner, Admiral Capital Group, which focused on Social Impact, Founding Your Own Business, Balancing Profits and Shaping Communities.  Some key takeaways: 1) Surround yourself with people that share your passion and possess incredible work ethics; constantly remind yourself of your priorities, and never give up.  2) In business, it’s crucial to build long-term relationships and trust through maintaining integrity and installing full transparency. 
  9. Leading Through Challenges Conversations with Devin Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, The Springhill Company, which focused on rebranding and pivoting, both on a personal and business level, in times of uncertainty.  Some key takeaways: 1) Be curious. Learn as much as possible and pursue what you are passionate about. Bet on yourself and never underestimate your potential. 2) Pause on big decisions until you have a chance to know yourself and understand the long-term ramifications. 3) Run your own “race”. It’s okay if your “race” takes you out of your comfort zone. 
  10. Leading Through Challenges Conversations with Kareem Cook, Managing Partner and CMO, Naturade, which focused on entrepreneurship and how to innovate and reinvent oneself by seeing possibilities instead of challenges”. Some key takeaways: 1) Perseverance is the key to success in entrepreneurship. 2) Be courageous because you will be tested. Don’t let other people’s dismissal dissuade you from persevering.  3) Once you WIN, realize that you are capable of winning. Even though you lose sometimes, you CAN win.
  11. Leading Through Challenges Conversations with Lesley Jane Seymour, CEO, CoveyClub.com, which focused on moving forward and on reinventing yourself at any stage of your career. Some key takeaways: 1) Pursuing what you are good at and passionate about will help you excel in the field. 2) Don’t look for a job; look for a place that utilizes your skills and maximizes your potentials. 3) Use learning as the solution to obstacles and challenges. 4) Keep an open mind; there is no one destination in your career path.
  12. Leading Through Challenges Conversations with ADM Bill Moran, USN (Ret.), 39th Vice Chief of Naval Operations, which focused on how to lead out of chaos. Some key takeaways: 1) There will always be challenges, so you need to understand where you need to spend your time instead of diving right into the process. 2) Culture, trust, stability, and balance are critical to an organization’s success. 3) Fill the organization with people who do not think like you. Diverse perspectives will help you select the best ideas.