Freddie. Obstacles, Success, Significance, Surprises and Advice

posted July 24th, 2009 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Freddie what she considered to be the major obstacles or difficulties she faced during her career and what she did when she faced them. She said every time she changed jobs, not employers but jobs, she found it extremely difficult. She thinks because she has a strong desire to be successful or a fear of failure she puts a tremendous amount of pressure on herself, in essence, she is an “insecure over achiever”. She says what usually happens is that the first two or three months of any new job or position, she gets sick a lot, loses weight and burns herself out. She says it’s almost like she has this incredible fear of failure that gets accentuated 100 times early on in any new position. She thinks that’s one of the reasons that she is so loyal to her employers, G-d forbid she would have to start over in a new position.

I asked Freddie where she gets support from in this type of circumstance and she said it is a really bad habit of hers that she probably becomes more isolated in these circumstances because she has to figure things out for herself and in her mind “I’ve got to turn this puppy around. I’ll talk about it after as a learning experience rather than during the crisis. I know I need to get better at reaching out during the crisis itself”.

She said the other thing that’s been an obstacle for her is that she doesn’t view herself as a very good politician and she says like most women she tends to put her head down and just get the work done. In terms of difficulties and learning from them, she says when she worked at the securities firm and her boss/mentor left, she found herself with very little support and very few people knowing what she actually did. In her words: “I hadn’t worked the shop well enough and I found myself with… it’s not that the people didn’t like me… but I found myself with senior management not knowing me or the value that I brought to the organization”. It was a situation she found difficult, an obstacle in her path and it led to her leaving the firm. She thinks that she has done better from this perspective at her current firm due to the coaching she received from her most recent boss.

I asked Freddie about the toughest thing she had ever faced at work and how she handled it. She said the toughest thing she ever faced was balancing between work and being a good Mom.

Freddie acknowledges, in terms of the rest of her career, although she has had a good time in most of her jobs and most of the firms that she has worked at and that it has been great fun, at the same time, every day has been challenging.

I asked Freddie when she considers her career in its entirety what she would do differently, if anything. And she said the only thing that she would do differently is that she wishes she had taken more time just for herself. She just doesn’t feel she has ever given herself any time and so she thinks that if there was a way for her to come back she would do very similar things to what she has done but give herself a little bit more personal time. She would like to do that. Today, she finds if she looks at her time, she doesn’t have enough time for her friends. Basically, she has time for work and family and no time for her hobbies or reading or anything else. She wishes she could do that differently.

I asked Freddie about her proudest accomplishments at work and she said one of her greatest accomplishments is seeing the colleagues who over the years have become her close friends. And she said she is proud of her overall success. She thinks the thing she does best, now that she has gotten to a point where she knows what she is good at and what she is not good at, she is a very thoughtful relationship builder as it relates to work and so she thinks this makes her a good sales person. Also, she believes she has become a good strategic thinker and she is most excited about that. She says she has always had this insecurity that she is not smart and not well read or knowledgeable and to discover that she is a good strategic thinker really excites her. She says it doesn’t mean that she is smart but certainly means that she has figured out how to play the game in a smart world.

I asked Freddie what she considered to be her greatest success at work and she said coaching and motivating people. She said her greatest success at work is when she hires people and watches them become successful. She says: “That is just a huge buzz for me and I would say that… so going back over the years I can actually talk about different individuals that became successful and I love just thinking back about having identified them, hired them, encouraged and coached them and then watching them become successful”.

When I asked Freddie what she considered to be her work of greatest significance, she said she hasn’t done that yet. She said: “That’s going to be my next life”. Although she added that the most surprising thing to her in terms of her work of great significance is the amount she has contributed to the well being of her step sons.

And so I asked her what’s next for you? And she said for sure giving back, doing something to make the world a better place. In her words: “What’s next for me will probably be something philanthropic, something where I’m going to give back. One of my goals in life is always to leave a mark and I haven’t done that yet, mostly on the personal front, so that’s kind of going to be my next life”.

I asked Freddie what she thought the difference was between what she had experienced during her career and the experience of a male peer or colleague and she said: “I think that as a woman you end up being more… you want to help, you listen better, you’re more empathetic, so I think it makes you more sensitive. You think more of others. I think men generally, it’s a gross generalization, think of themselves and I think I would kind of leave it at that, generally”.

I asked Freddie what she thought people would find most interesting about her story. She said she thought people would be surprised when they heard that she had been shy and that she often worries that she is not smart enough. And she thinks people are surprised when they hear that she started life on the wrong side of the tracks and some are surprised when they hear she is French Canadian. She says: “I don’t know. I mean, there’s no magic here, there’s no magic formula I guess. I don’t know what people will be surprised about to be honest with you”.

And in terms of a last word of advice, Freddie said: “The one thing I would say that is also important in addition to having a mentor or someone who believes in you, I think it’s actually important to have great friends who are positive reinforcers of you. This helps you believe in YOURSELF. I believe you can choose who you hang out with… and this is going to sound really callous… but you can hang out with takers or you can hang out with givers, and if you only hang out with takers that will have an impact on you. It’s like a vicious circle and I can’t remember exactly when I learned that but perhaps it’s when I moved from just hanging out with the underdogs to hanging out with givers, but it made a huge difference to me”. And she mentioned her friendship with her closest and best friend and says this woman was someone she worked with and had a high regard for and she was always full, full of positive reinforcement and coaching, always, and she thinks that’s important to anyone”.

With these last words of advice, I will leave Freddie’s story. What an inspiration!!

What Strikes Me?
Being a politician is part of every job description

The importance of balancing work and family

The blessing of having fun at your job

It is critical to market yourself to a broad audience

The importance of having great friends who have something to offer in terms of support

Making sure you take time for yourself

What Strikes You?
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