Leadership in Heels

November 9th, 2015

The Leadership in Heels Speaker series presented by Scharrell Jackson, featuring Pernille Spiers-Lopez, former CEO & President IKEA North America and author of Design your Life left audience members inspired to design the life they desire.

Pernille asked the audience, If you could redesign any area of your life – professionally, personally or community, what would it be and why?  Her first piece of advice was to take ownership of your life and know what you want.  Key to doing this is being clear on your core values.  What do you value?  How do these values guide your behavior and your life choices?  Having a mentoring relationship can really help you get the clarity you need to take responsibility for what your want.  Here are some of other lessons she learned over the course of her life and career:

  • Learn from your failures and move on
  • Adversity provides opportunity to grow
  • Take care of the employees and the results will follow
  • Seek out and take on challenging assignments
  • Embrace imperfections
  • Chose the right partner   (She and her husband have been married for 26 years and raised two children.)
  • Take care of yourself

She shared a very personal story about a health crisis she experienced that caused her to reevaluate how she approached her life.  She reminded us all that high levels of stress over an extended period will get the best of you.  It can negatively affect your health, your relationships and your performance.  So at a certain point it’s not helping your career it’s getting in the way of you doing your best work.  So learn to ask for help, delegate, let go and take care of yourself.

Pernille’s parting words, “Don’t spend your life looking for the right job, your most important job is to create your life.”

The program also featured Women in Business Leader, Erica Zuniga, Principal, SAA and Melissa Beck, CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters Inc.

Jackson founded the Leadership in Heels Speakers series to bring women together in an environment where they can have authentic conversations about matters that directly impact every area of a women’s life.  Her goal is to inspire women to live the life they desire by providing tangible tips to rise to one’s highest potential. Jackson currently serves as Chief Financial and Administrative Officer of Squar Milner.

Young Professionals Leadership Summit

November 9th, 2015

Over 200 young professionals gathered at a leadership summit presented by Brandman University and hosted by Ed Linck.  The conference featured session on ethics and entrepreneurship as well as panels on enhancing your career with your cause.

One of the highlights was a panel featuring Edwards LIfesciences executives including Keith Newberry, VP & Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Allison Curtis, Director of Corporate Strategy, Ken St Cyr, VP Global Supply Chain sharing their career journeys and tips for success.  Moderator Marian Anderson, Director of Talent Management and Leadership Development, asked participants how they got noticed at the beginning of their career.

  • Rise above everyday assignments and finish what you start
  • Tackle challenging issues that solves problems for the organization
  • Ask questions, challenge the system in a way that works within the company culture
  • Find the intersection between what the company values, what you’re great at and what you love to do

Next  she inquired, what advice would  you give your younger self?

  • Focus on building the team
  • Develop leadership skills sooner
  • Find an internal sponsor who can mentor and advocate for you
  • Challenge the status quo

A few more pieces of career advice they offered:

  • Understand the culture that exists in the organization you are working for
  • Learn diplomacy skills
  • Drive results
  • Pick the company, not the job
  • Find senior leaders willing to share knowledge and mentor you

Wonderful words of wisdom for us all.


August 14th, 2015

Months of planning.  Weeks of anticipation.  Days of excitement. “Your passport is expired” are not the words you want to hear at the airport.  ”Excuse me?” I said.  ”Your passport is expired,” the agent at Chicago O’Hare replied.  I quickly realized that our family trip to Italy was in jeopardy because my eyes couldn’t decipher a 5 from a 6.

Sure there was a part of me that wanted to sit on the floor of the airport and cry.  Yes, I was mad – at myself for making such a mistake, but I knew I had a choice in how I was going to react in the moment.  So instead I asked, “What can I do?” My son anxiously waiting for the answer too.

The agent slide a piece of paper across the counter and said I could go to the Federal building downtown and try and get a new passport.  She generously put us on a flight for the following day and wished us luck.

It was 1:15 pm.  Downtown was an hour away by train and the office closed at 3:30.  Luggage in tow, we ran to catch the train.  After clearing security, I approached the window and was asked, “Do you have your form?” Right.  A form. I completed the form and returned to the window.  ”Do you have your photo?” No I did not and to get one I had to go back out and down the block to the UPS store. More running.  At 3:29 I slid my form and photos and got the last ticket which meant I would get my passport.

I still marvel at the fact that in a mere few hours I had a new passport and we only missed one day of our trip.  And boy, did we have a story to tell when we got there and met the rest our our group.

Life is full of moments where things don’t go our way.   We can either let that set-back get us down or we can take action to do something about it.  This is the heart of resiliency.  I see this travel debacle as a teachable moment for my son, whom when faced with adversity, I hope will seek help, look for options, be resourceful and believe his actions can achieve his desired result.






August 11th, 2015

I had an amazing meal at CLASS Kitchen a new pop-up restaurant in  Costa Mesa, CA  that serves excellent food and delivers an exceptional dining experience that is operated entirely by  high school culinary students. Yes kids – 16 and 17 years old who have come together to gain valuable work experience and offer their community something unique and inspiring. photo 1

Austin January and Noah Rosen, juniors at the Orange County School of the Arts (OSCA) utilized their skills learned in school to make their dream a reality. For the past five weekends. their team of over a dozen other students served a 4-course prix fixe menu to a sold out crowds.

photo 2

It was a pleasure and a joy to watch this group students who could have just as easily been at a beach bonfire, cooking and serving their patrons with smiles and a shared passion for food.  I couldn’t help but note the extreme effort and professionalism that they exhibited as individuals and a team.  If these are our future leaders and entrepreneurs, we are fortunate indeed.

From a shared vision, to clearly defined roles and working as a team these students are shining examples for us all.  This experience provides them perhaps the most important lesson of all – resiliency.  There will always be set backs in business and in life, the trick is to learn how to overcome them.

That night one of their two ovens didn’t work impairing their ability to make their famously know popover appetizer.  So instead each guest was served a salad and the soup (which was one of my favorite courses).  Adjust, be resourceful, solve the problem and take action – they nailed it.

Don’t miss out on their encore weekend.  Book your reservation now for August 14 and 15.