23_Forum_Takeaways_Blog (1)

Forum 2023 Key Takeaways

NextUp Executive Forum 2023 was incredible! We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to connect and learn with so many members of our network. We know there was a lot to absorb, so we’ve compiled a handy list of takeaways below from each of our major sessions to jog your memory about what you learned.Let us know which strategies you’ll be taking back to your organizations to continue our work to Advance All Women! 

Day 1 – Key Takeaways

The Waymakers: Illuminating Your Leadership Promise

Tara Jaye Frank, CEO of TFJ Career Modeling and author of The Waymakers

  • We need to be the people who do more than hope. We need to be the peoplewho make hope happen.
  • Every person in your organization has four needs:
    • To be seen.
    • To be respected.
    • To be valued.
    • To be protected.
  • Norms are how people learn our unwritten rules. Experience – > norms – > policies – > claims (what we want to say about ourselves) – > aspirations (who we say we want to be)
  • You can’t develop people to power, you have to share it.
  • Creating and cultivating a workplace where everyone feels included creates a more vibrant, unleashed workforce, and a more sustainable company.
  • How do you take responsibility for being more of the leader you want to be every day? You can’t do it passively. You have to do it actively.
  • Your good intentions are not enough. Women and people of color need meaningful and public recognition.

Ripple Effects: When Leadership Spreads

Trudy Rautio, Board Director at The Donaldson Company, Inc. and Securian Holding Company, and retired CEO & President of Carlson Companies
Molly Biwer, Chair, Brand, Strategy at Mayo Clinic

Moderator: Nicole Wright, Regions Market Manager, NextUp

  • How do you create environment where all women feel like they can thrive? Look for people who have potential in your organization, and reach out to help them.
  • Skip level conversations with people – you get to find out what they’re interested in.
  • It takes a lot of time – time is something you have to give your mentees.
  • Reverse mentorship is an effective strategy to advocate and amplify voices of women ensuring their contributions are recognized.
  • “Were there any women considered for that role?”
  • When you know positions are going to be open, offer up people within your organization. Don’t be selfish and keep people in your organization – we need to develop them.
  • Advocating for women without burning them out can include advising them to step off of a few things – holding back is a good strategy to give them time to develop in areas they’re less proficient in, and ensure they like what they’re involved in.
  • For ‘Queen Bee’ women, keep in mind – as long as you hold on to that power position you won’t be promoted if you don’t have a ready successor.
  • How do you ensure your support extends to women from different backgrounds? Reaching out and getting to know people. You need to understand their journey and step into their shoes. Look for them – they might not be barging into your office.
  • Give negative feedback in the context of what you can do to improve, and build that mentorship relationship so they trust you – it makes feedback easier to hear.
  • You earned a seat at the table, start acting like it!
  • Show up how the people you are leading need you to show up

The Status Game: How to Play for Maximum Impact

Will Storr, the bestselling author of The Status Game: On Human Life and How to Play It

Moderator: Danit Schleman, VP, Strategic Value, NextUp

  • What are the different types of status games we play?
    • Dominance – violence (physical, social, psychological).
    • Virtue – know, follow, and enforce the rules.
    • Competence – be as successful as we can for the group.
  • There’s always a mix of the three types above used. All groups tend to play these games at all times.
  • Men pursue their goals shoulder to shoulder. Women tend to do it face to face. Men bond over activities, while women are more communicative when bonding.
  • Often we are awarded status based on our identity – humans are naturally xenophobic or “groupish.” Ex: if the group is primarily straight white men, they will succeed in that system. This can lead to xenophobic behaviors
  • People react a couple different ways when they feel their status is being threatened – fight or flight or tend to befriend.
  • People need to feel safe when reporting bad behavior.
  • An organization (and the people within it) is like a river – people will divert their path in order to get to the outcomes they need. MeToo movement as an example – the reporting of the bad behavior was diverted from the org to the internet.
  • Some orgs are “status generating machines.” Status is a human need – when it lacks it can affect the individual.
  • Crossfit is a great example of a status organization. People aren’t competing with each other, they are competing with themselves. There are lavish rewards – cheering on by other peers that the individuals feed off of.
  • With warmth, sincerity, and competence, you win the game.

Legendary Leadership: Ideas for Staying Power

Laura Maxwell, SVP, Supply Chain, PepsiCo Foods North America
Sri Rajagopalan, Chief Customer Officer,  General Mills; Director At-Large, NextUp Board of Directors
Moderator: Libby Saylor Wright, COO, US Retail and Consumer Goods, Microsoft; Director-At-Large, NextUp Board of Directors

  • There is swagger with legendary leaders with staying power. They make a crisis look easy. When you’re in the middle of a crisis and others feel sorry for you – that is when a legendary leader leans in and leverages that.
  • Inspire – if you’re consistent with inspiration you will “land the play.” Listen – be willing to let your guard down. Build hope. But patience is most key.
  • “When you have patience you can drive inspiration. When you can drive inspiration you can drive hope.” – Sri Rajagopalan
  • #1 priority of a legendary leader is to follow through and take care of yourself – spend time with loved ones. Fill that, and you will then be powered to be a legendary leader. Without that priority in order, you’ll never be able to be the leader you want to be at work.
  • “The moment you disappoint someone you take away hope and inspiration.” – Sri Rajagopalan
  • “Women will say that the further they rise the lonelier they get, and men say the further they rise the more included they feel. NextUp creates community and network – these are the type of events that remove that sense of loneliness and remind you, ‘I have a community, I have mentors.'” -Laura Maxwell
  • Sometimes you realize the decisions you make can change someone’s life.
  • Even a supportive text can make a massive difference in someone’s confidence.
  • “Take that risk – if it succeeds you take the credit, if it fails I’ll take the blame.” – Sri Rajagopalan
  • “Every one of you sitting in this room is legendary and you have to think of yourself that way. There’s no level you get to and then you get to be a legendary. It’s leaving more than you get – helping and supporting others.” – Laura Maxwell

Culture Shift: Meeting the Future of Business

Nami Yamamoto, CEO and Helene Pamon, President, of Yamamotoyama U.S.A. and Stash Tea Company

Moderator: Veronica Fernandez, SVP, Regional Head of North America Business Solutions, Visa; Director-At-Large, NextUp Board of Directors

  • Your career is a dance – sometimes you take a step forward, sometimes you take a step back – but you have to make tough choices.
  • Making time for yourself is key – you never know what that next conversation could lead to.
  • Big jobs are created by navigating relationships.
  • Look ahead and use it as an opportunity to pivot your business. You can change company structure, make investments in different channels, and push for innovation and resilience.
  • “Every 100 years we have a breakthrough innovation. The next breakthrough innovation is due in my generation. I want it to happen in green tea. Transform culture from top-down to one that invests in individuals and people. The way we did business in the past won’t work in the future. That’s the only way we can survive in this period.” – Nami Yamamoto
  • A company’s heritage and story can be a catalyst for changing the culture.
  • It’s so important to feel that each and every employee understands how they are impacting the mission and vision of the company.
  • Compassion and kindness – that’s not a female trait but a core trait, that’s become a core part of our value.
  • “Courage, competence, compassion. If you need to make a decision, anchor yourself in that.” – Helene Pamon
  • “Great leaders give more than they receive. Women do that naturally – that’s why we need to have diversity in executive teams.” – Nami Yamamoto
  • “Transparency is so important. I’ve been through enough big organizational changes – this idea of ‘people don’t know, you have to keep this quiet.’ But everybody knows there are no secrets. If someone asks you a question and you dance around it, you’ve broken the trust.” – Helene Pamon
  • Do what you say you’re going to do.
  • You don’t have to be nice, but be kind.

Global Leadership Insights: Thriving in a Dynamic World

Elaine Bowers Coventry, Chief Customer & Commercial Officer, The Coca-Cola Company

  • When you think about what’s happening – the world needs more bold, authentic and inclusive leaders. Organizations like NextUp help unlock that you need inspiration, tools, and a support network to fully realize your potential.
  • There is power in vulnerability – it’s not a weakness.
  • Importance of being outcome focused instead of self-interested.
  • Work within different cultures instead of trying to bend them.
  • Showing vulnerability shows you care. It’s hard to feel comfortable with being vulnerable which is why networks are so important.
  • “People can smell it when you’re in it for yourself.”
  • “Understand people, their interests options and criteria. Work with people where they are are to help them achieve more.”
  • We need to understand other cultures and celebrate them – that’s our conscious mind. We do things on an unconscious level that shows it’s uncomfortable.
  • Successful leaders embrace cultures that are different from their own – you have to have clear intent and a lot of curiosity.
  • “Going slow helped us to go fast, allowed us to build more buy in and commitment.”
  • “When it comes to people, if you look for differences that’s all you’ll see, but if you look for things that bind and a sense of curiosity about others you’ll see so much more. Find ways to create inclusion in the world and be bold authentic leaders yourself”
  • Remove yourself from the situation if needed.
  • “If you don’t fall down once you didn’t ski very hard.”
  • Have a deep sense of empathy for young people today – they’re in an intense fishbowl. Having a sense of what that means and help young girls find their compass and confidence early is so important.

Disruptive Leadership: How to Push Past the Expected

Erin Newkirk, CMO, Caribou Coffee
Michele Allen, VP, Region Sales, Altria Group Distribution Company
Margot Goodson, VP, Head of North America Diversity & Inclusion, SAP

Moderator: Stuart Claxton, VP, Marketing and Communications, NextUp

  • Culture is highly decisive and sometimes divisive.
  • You can be a change leader no matter where you go.
  • There is a business imperative of DEI – it’s a positive disruption to the way we work.
  • “If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go long, you go together.” In a disruptive mindset you have to bring your teams along with you and encourage team members to embrace change.
  • Let people bring their own tactics to the table – the more open you are the easier it is for people to come back and be open with you.
  • “Your network is your net worth” not just what you know and who you know, but who knows you and the value you bring.
  • Engage people in what you want to do so it gets to the outcome you want to drive.
  • “When people are inspired to do it, that’s the secret sauce.”
  • “It’s not about the failure but how you land, what you do next.”
  • “Sometimes in organizations it’s ok for men to fail forward but not for everybody”
  • Women are over-mentored and under-sponsored. All boats rise together – if you know the value someone else brings, sticking by them and helping them through is not that hard. Be an advocate or sponsor for other people. It goes a long way to make sure others have the opportunities you had.
  • You can’t predict when people will stand up and stand out, but we want to give people the opportunity.
  • The ‘lazy girl work movement’ predicts more mental health forward approach. We don’t have to leave our homes to build our career. Make sure our team understands what’s criticalm what’s needed from them as a leader and what can go – that will be a breaking point in the next chapter.
  • “Believe in yourself – say ‘I know or I’m going to find out.’ When you show up, don’t just come in saying ‘I think’ or ‘I feel,’ show up with confidence – represent what’s in your heart.”
  • “Along with confidence have a vision for your life – have a vision for your career, your family – who it is you want to be and the things you want to achieve.”
  • “For the remainder of this year find one thing you can move forward with by leveraging your competencies and your network. Stand up stand out for your company”

Driving Burnout: How to Lead Your Teams to Health

Jim Young, author and founder of The Centered Coach
Newton Cheng, Director, Global Health & Performance at Google

Moderator: Jacque Fletcher Johnson, CEO, Heartwood Healing

  • We don’t have a clear picture of what burnout is which leads us to dismiss it as a problem. We’re not using a consistent definition of burnout. Burnout affects everyone the same way – chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed:
    • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
    • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job.
    • Reduced professional efficacy – “I can’t get the job done anymore.”
  • 5 top down factors that drive burnout (or health)
    • Workload
    • Reward
    • Community
    • Control
    • Fairness
    • Value
  • Leaders are responsible for burnout, which can be divisive and cause us to not see what’s going on
  • “It almost doesn’t matter what the workplace conditions were, with that personal history I was at high risk for burnout.”
  • “What I find over and over – there’s nothing that special about me – but there is such a hunger to have these conversations out in the open.”
  • “We don’t even try to measure suffering, instead we just say thank god it’s Friday because work for many of us is an ordeal to be survived.”
  • Burnout is a workforce planning problem as well. If you need much capacity and systemic forces are whittling it down, you can hire more people but you’re bleeding talent.

Moonshot Thinking: Marrying Technology & Humanity

Dr. Radhika Dirks, CEO and Co-founder of XLabs

  • “If it doesn’t sound crazy you’re not doing something incredible.”
  • Leaders that stand out will be agile and adaptable.
  • It doesn’t have to take decades and cost billions – just a different frame of mind and different processes.
  • Our training in the industrial revolution has been for our analytical skills – now we have to go the other way and rigorously train our gut and intuition.
  • Dare to go deeper – failures are not failures and successes are not successes.
  • Have people and systems in place for when ethical issues arise. Plant your values first.
  • Values give you an unfair advantage: attract the right opportunities, skills & people, and creates an automatic fabric of ethics.

The Future Has Arrived: Putting Tech to Work

Beth Marrion, Senior Managing Director, Global Retail Consulting Practice at Accenture
Anshu Bhardwaj, SVP & COO, Walmart Global Technology & Walmart Commerce Technologies, Walmart Global Tech

  • Not just about the technology but reinventing the ways of working powered by technology.
  • Start with business problem you’re trying to solve, not with technology.
  • “I’m going to bet on 10 things – one will go big – but I will learn from the other nine.”
  • Try to be responsible without blocking innovation – some companies learned the hard way that it’s easy to leak sensitive information in the background.
  • Don’t be shy about going external for help.
  • Customers are moving very fast with their adoption of technology. Associates are consumers of that tech in their private life and expect that same experience when they come into the store.
  • If you don’t ask the answer is always no.
  • “Don’t be impatient about things you’re learning just learn – things I learned 20 years ago are still helping me today.”
  • “It’s only the first no” – ask again a different way.

Untapped Talent: The Case for Accessibility

Haben Girma, winner of the Helen Keller Achievement Award, a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, and author of Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law

  • Society puts the pressure on the disabled person, but it’s a social responsibility to create an accessible world
  • “My disability is not what creates barriers for me, it’s ableism that creates barriers.”
  • “There’s so many ways to do things in the world and we often get stuck on only one way of doing it.”
  • “We need organizations to recognize disabled people are talented. Alternative ways of access are equal to mainstream ways of access.”
  • There are major opportunities in tactile communication.
  • “Many of you like to drink coffee – few of you harvest the beans. All of us depend on other people, and we are all interdependent.”
  • “When I advocate even for seemingly small things like menus, it makes a difference in our communities.”
  • “When you address the small things you build up the skills to address the larger obstacles.”
  • “Deafblind women have always been brilliant – it was Harvard that needed to change”
  • Any activity, department, or program can be made accessible when we take time to think about what are the barriers and take time to remove those barriers.
  • Describing photos and videos is a good accessibility practice – make sure everyone can engage in the content.
  • When you’re accessible, you reach 1.3 B disabled people in the world – which is a larger market and talent pool.
  • Increased content discovery – in a digital world adding alt text makes your videos and photos more discoverable by disabled and non disabled people.
  • “When you design for accessibility you literally pave the way for greater innovation.”
  • “Litigation is expensive and time consuming – it’s much easier to choose inclusion.”
  • Not providing full access from the start is like building a high rise and then adding elevators. It’s much cheaper and easier to design with accessibility from the beginning.
  • Separate is never equal.
  • “People say ‘you overcame your disability to come to Harvard.’ No, I’m still disabled. Harvard had to overcome their ableism.”

Slam Dunk: The Power of Active Allyship

Kiesha C. Nix, VP Charitable Affairs and Executive Director of the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation

Moderator: Lisa Baird, President and CEO, NextUp

  • Allyship, advice, and support won’t always come from who you think.
  • Competition should be on the field or in the court, not in the community. The community should be about collaboration.
  • “We put competition to the side. At the end of the day we’re all serving the same young people in Los Angeles.”
  • Hard work is the great equalizer. Someone is always watching.
  • “My son has gone so much further than I have and that’s everything to me – that’s my legacy.”
  • “Every day that I wake up I know I have the power to change someone’s life. I get to interface, talk to , visit, hear from youth in our community who don’t have a Kiesha Nix in their house. It’s important that I don’t just sit at my desk and send them resources, it’s important to know that I am the resource.”
  • You can’t wait for credit to happen, you have to do something about it
  • “Men will go after stuff they don’t deserve and they get it and we don’t. We sit in the background. We have great allies but you also have to be your own ally.”
  • “I speak at conferences all the time. This one was different. I am leaving with my cup filled! This organization is special and the relationships you have here are so important. I have to find those NextUp relationships in my life to pour into me so I can give back.”
  • “My advice for all of you out there when it comes to allyship – don’t look where you think it’s going to be. It could be someone who sees you and realizes you have a brain and listens to you at your company or somewhere else. Someone who sees you for who you are and what you want to do.”
Inclusive Networking

Elevating today's leaders and creating tomorrow's

Become a Member

Helping companies reach their DEI&B goals

Become a Partner

We use cookies to give you the best online experience.

Privacy Policy