Hilary. Advice, Accomplishments, Success and Significance

posted June 3rd, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

I asked Hilary what was the best advice she had ever been given and what she would  pass along to a young woman. She said:Work hard, be truthful, save the drama, and exercise whatever your ego needs outside of your work environment.  So there are times when, maybe your ego needs something, don’t look to work for stroking because I think it gets in the way. It traps you, or it changes you, or it gives off something that I think too many people are watching.  I think it is hard work.  Diplomacy and drama; women are guilty of drama.   Carly Fiorina takes a shot at Barbara Boxer’s hair shortly after she won the Republican nomination in California and she’s going to waste her time shooting that down and she’s going to look like a bitch.  Meg Whitman shoved an assistant.  A story comes out a week after she won a Republican nomination and it’s like, oh G_d, women and drama, keep it to a minimum.”


I asked Hilary whether she would advise a young woman to establish alliances with other women at the same firm or elsewhere. She said: “Yes, selectively and later.  Don’t establish them too early because you don’t know people well enough.  Again, be aloof and be very selective because before you realize it, and unwittingly, you’re in some club that if you look to leave it, it’s right out of high school.  It’s no different, I don’t think.  They’re not all like that but you have to be aloof and make sure.  Otherwise, yeah, I love women and you want to ally yourself with not just the successful ones but the ones that you want to model yourself after.  Absolutely.”


I asked Hilary when she considered her career in its entirety what she would do differently, if anything. She said: “I might have believed in my own leadership qualities a little bit earlier and pushed harder for a title that ultimately I didn’t get and, I don’t know, as confident as I am, I guess, for some reason I just didn’t view myself that way and when I look back I wish I had.  Other than that, I kind of had the accidental career, right?  No goals, no career plan, just bumbling along and things were going so well that I didn’t really think about it… and I’m lucky.  So I hope everyone has the amount of career luck that I had.  You can be as smart as you like but you’ve got to have some luck and I had an enormous amount of it.  My lucky streak ended and I was terminated but I had a pretty awesome run.”


I asked Hilary about her proudest accomplishments at work. She said: “It’s that I went all the way through menopause and never exploded on the desk.  I lost my job six months later.  I’m just so proud of it all.  It’s the sum of all the parts.  Twenty years doing one job, various degrees.  Start right at the bottom of the food chain and wind up… there really wasn’t much more that I could do… and I’m proud that as far as I’m concerned I went out at the top.  I had a sales citation in ’07 which was shocking to me.  It was like, wow, that’s pretty cool.”


I asked Hilary what she considered to be her greatest success at work. She said:     “Just being able to defy everyone’s expectations time and time and time and time again.  People judge people too early.  I’m well aware of that and it would be a lark to me. It was a game to me and I think that it was all pretty successful for me.  So, again, it’s the sum of the parts.  The whole journey was pretty cool.”


I asked Hilary what she considered to be her work of greatest significance. She said: “I embody that because despite everything, the journey that I was able to take and the success that I was able to achieve, I do not believe it can be replicated in this age.  You cannot come from these humble means, you cannot lack the education, you cannot start where I started, bumble around, be chosen for this or slither sideways into that with a couple of sideways handshakes. I don’t think that that can be replicated.”


When I asked Hilary what’s next for her, she said: “I don’t know.  I would like to do a few things.  I would like to build my own company because I think I’m a passionate marketer. I’ll try to keep myself balanced and not let the bad side come out and be too cynical but I think that I can help people whether they’re marketing a product or whether they need to market themselves in a tangible way. I think that I have something to offer.”


Hilary continued: “There’s another side to me… I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it yet… but as you may have noticed I am a bit of a raconteur.  I like telling stories.  I don’t know where I’m going to do that.  I don’t know how I’m going to do it.  I’m not going to be a lounge lizard or an actor or anything like that but I do like telling stories and I like hearing other people’s stories.  So I don’t know how I’m going to foster that but I wouldn’t mind.  The final thing is, what kind of bums me a little bit, I’m not really a person that looks back very much, but I’ve been without employment for awhile and I should have bought a piano.  I can play the piano and I used to play the piano and I have been thinking about playing it again.  I got rid of a grand piano quite a few years ago. I’ve been researching on my computer and I have an electric piano all picked out that I would like to have but I haven’t bought it.  It’s been quite a few years and I miss playing the piano but I just haven’t been able to deal with the logistics at home, where to fit one in but I think I’m going to get one. I do very little charity work. All those years of hospital visits and all that stuff just left me cold. I’m at a point now where I actually envision myself with a keyboard and playing an old song, from the 40’s or the 50’s which I knew how to play and have played. I have time to do some charity work but I haven’t found what I want to do. I wouldn’t mind having a piano, an electric one, going back to that and working up something that maybe I could go to old age homes and go to hospitals and give a little bit back that way.  Other than that, I don’t know what all my interests are. I like going and exploring when something strikes me but I haven’t figured all of that out yet.  I haven’t been a free agent that long, in my mind.”


I asked Hilary what she thought people would find most interesting about her story. She said: “Oh I have no idea.  I don’t know.  It’s interesting to me.  I wouldn’t mind reading this story but I would need to know who it was.  I’m trying to read a book right now that a friend recommended and it’s a guy writing in the female voice.  It’s driving me up the wall. I don’t think I can read it.  My story seems more interesting to you than it does to me.  I’m proud of myself, don’t get me wrong, I’m not quiet about that but I’m not so sure that my story will really interest anybody especially when I say I don’t think you can follow my path, so you can’t really go anywhere with it.”


What Strikes Me?


Work hard, be truthful, save the drama and exercise whatever your ego needs outside of your work environment


Strike alliances with women later in your career. Get to know people first, in the meantime, be aloof and be selective


Align yourself with successful women and women you want to model yourself after


Believe in yourself and push for just rewards


You can be smart but you have to have some luck


Be proud of an entire career — it is the sum of the parts


It’s a great success to be able to defy expectations


People judge people too early


What Strikes You?


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