Last night “She Runs It” was an absolute pinch me moment. A massive congrats to my fellow Women of the Year honorees, Bea and Elizabeth. For those that could not attend, I wanted to share my remarks. These are VALUES I live by and a challenge for us all. Let’s lead with empathy, unity, and courage–and commit ourselves to service.
First of all, I just want to say it’s my husband’s birthday tonight. From day one, he’s believed that “She” could run it. And, Claudio, a big part of why this “she” can run it is because of all your support. Thank you for supporting me tonight and always. I love you.
Bea, Elizabeth—it’s an absolute honor to be recognized alongside you. I could never have imagined that I would be on a stage like this with both of you. You make me want to buy the entire world a Coke… which of course I would do with my Amex Platinum Card. Just think about the points!
Thank you Shelley, thank you Scott. You both are such meaningful voices in my life.
The thing I love about all four of you is that you have dedicated a large part of your professional lives to purpose and service. Whether it’s the incredible work Shelley is doing with the Female Quotient, opening the space for women of every walk of life; Or Scott’s leadership and vision at the Community Engagement and Opportunity Council—where we’re investing in transforming the most underserved communities, starting in Texas, and now moving all across this country; Or Bea’s dedication to sustainability, and being a responsible steward of the environment; Or Elizabeth’s commitment to supporting the small businesses that are the lifeblood and backbone of our economy.
You all make the world around you better. You inspire me to be better—and to serve others.
I believe we all have the power and the responsibility to do the same—and build a culture of service.
Many of us in this room are in the business of creating culture. But let’s be clear: it’s not just the CEOs, celebrities, and influencers. We all can create culture. In a million ways, we can shape how the people around us act, and feel, and treat each other.
I know this idea of “changing culture” can be a lot to wrap your arms around. So let’s focus on the people we serve—because that’s where it all starts.
The value of service has been ingrained in me from a very early age. Both of my parents were public servants, and because of them, I often find myself looking for ways to serve.
As a mother and—I know this is very hard to believe—as a brand new grandmother, my job is to serve my family. As an employee, my job is to serve the company and all of the people who depend on me. And as a leader, it’s easy to think that you’re now the person being served.
But if you are lucky enough to be in a position of leadership, you’re actually in a better position to serve. Your employees. Your colleagues. Your clients. Your partners. Your community.
No matter who you are, or where you sit, it’s up to us to build this culture of service together.
So, how do we do that?
First, let’s talk about empathy.
I remember when empathy was considered a personality trait solely ascribed to female leaders–one that, I was told, more than once: Linda, it’s going to hold you back. But now? It’s become one of the most sought-after traits for ALL leaders, because to really serve someone—you must understand what they are going through. And that takes work. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what YOU think. Instead of showing up the way you would want, you have to show up the way the other person needs you to show up!
Empathy helps us see other people more clearly, and find shared values, visions, and goals. And when I think about Bea and Elizabeth, Shelley and Scott, here’s another thing they all have in common: they embrace people of every background and color—including RED and BLUE.
To create a true culture of service, we must invest in unity.
When we are divided or disconnected, we work against each other, and it just hurts all of us. That’s true if we’re talking about a company, or an entire country. Silos keep people from working together to create the best product, or sharing th greatest ideas. But when we reach across the aisle—when we pool our knowledge, our resources, and relationships—we can do incredible good.
Last year, when the world needed us, the Ad Council rallied dozens of companies to step up. And I was honored to be the Chair at this historic moment, and witness this unity firsthand.
Competitors stood shoulder-to-shoulder, because we all knew what was at stake, and we understood what responsibility we shared. People came together, donated time and resources to make sure people across the country had the information they needed.
THAT’s what a culture of service looks like.
Just imagine if we gave that same energy, that same intention, that same selfless commitment every single day. What could we accomplish?
That’s why, a culture of service is more than just talking about values like empathy and unity—we need to dig deep, reach down into our souls, and find the courage to act.
It takes courage to ask others to be brave. And we need to be brave enough to reach out and serve others, even if it means putting ourselves at risk. Brave enough to keep trying, even if we make mistakes, and be compassionate when someone else makes them, too. Brave enough to extend your hand across the aisle, especially when everybody’s got their arms crossed. Because they can’t keep their arms crossed if they’re shaking your hand.
So here’s my challenge for all of you: Put in the effort. Extend the hand. Uncross your arms. Build those relationships. Choose empathy, unity, and courage. Commit to service.
And I promise you, if you accept that challenge, and build this culture–I’ll be the first person in your corner.
I thank God and all of you for this honor.
Chairman, Global Advertising & Partnerships
# # #