In episode five I talk to Kelly about the specific actions she took which led her to many amazing career opportunities, as well as her advice on topics ranging from confidence, vulnerability, and giving/receiving feedback.

Listen now:

This episode is also available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

A little about Kelly:

Kelly is the Director of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook and has been leading sales and product teams at Facebook since 2010 (longer than 98% of the company!) Before Facebook, Kelly was a Managing Director at Yahoo!, and overall has 20 years of sales, marketing, and product expertise. She’s also a Board Member for Pacific Community Ventures and is the mom of two little boys.

Show notes:

Her Recent Commencement Speech at CU – Was a reflective moment, both in preparing her speech and then the weekend of, seeing her friends and family there supporting her. This opportunity came about after she had participated in smaller opportunities with the university over the years, each one building on each other, until they asked her to be the commencement speaker. The very first ask years ago came from a former professor.

Say ‘yes’ to the small moments and opportunities because those can lead to really big moments and opportunities.

Advice to the students: choices – When she thinks of her various pivot points, it always came down to making a choice. One of the biggest was choosing to join Facebook. Had a three month old baby and was about to return to work at Yahoo. She tried to avoid conversation with friend recruiting her, but eventually chose to hear him out. She had a great job, so was a very tough decision. Ultimately, she knew she didn’t want to sit on the sidelines. Also knew it wasn’t going to be the last decision she ever made and that she could just choose something else if this didn’t go as planned.

When I thought about saying “no” and sitting on the sidelines when I had a chance to be a part of that rocket ship.. .I knew I wouldn’t be happy watching.

Earning a board member role – Pacific Community Ventures’ mission is to support small businesses, to enable them to create quality jobs in low income communities. Kelly was attracted by the business advising component of their services. Many people supported her in the pursuit of a board role – her manager encouraged her to pursue this, and other Facebook women who are on boards shared their experiences. They recommended choosing a non-profit first (one she’s passionate about) and learn how a board works, then recommended an executive recruiter. She chose the opportunity that was the best match. Process was similar to a job search. It has been a great learning opportunity.

Board experience learnings

  • Exposure to a whole different space (lending) has been a key learning opportunity.
  • How to be in an advisory capacity – must learn to resist the desire to over manage or take the actions on, while still feeling she’s adding value. This has also helped her be a better coach at work – asking questions in order to help guide, not just giving answers.

How she advanced to more senior roles at Facebook and Yahoo – She has volunteered often to take on problems, lead projects, and work with other teams. (Flip side is that she also needs to focus and not take on too much.) Kelly gravitates towards building new things, for example, joining Yahoo rather than Google in 2004 because she had the opportunity to start a new agency development team. Often times something that starts as a project may turn into a whole new team or a job – you’re well-positioned if you were part of the initial project.

Confidence in role transition– Kelly’s sales to product leadership shift was hard and a little scary. Initially, she felt everyone in the meeting was smarter and more technical, so she worried about her credibility and ability to influence and lead. ‘Aha’ moment was when she realized that often everyone in the room was trying to figure it out and that they needed each other and their different experiences to figure it out together.

The hardest part was probably my own internal dialog – how that made me show up and how that influenced my actions.

Vulnerability – In times when she has felt less confident, she was less willing to show vulnerability. It may have accelerated her transition if she was more confident about what she brought from the beginning and therefore had been more upfront about what she didn’t know. It’s not easy showing vulnerability when your confidence is low.

Giving tough feedback – At some point she had to re-frame how she thought about feedback in her head –  that feedback is a tool to help someone get better, not a criticism. It also helps to have a close and trusted relationship beforehand. Without the relationship, you’re not sure how the feedback will be received, so makes it harder to hear and to deliver.

Receiving feedback – Has learned she needs to learn from feedback but eventually let it go  – need to recognize that you’ve moved on and that this is not part of your identity. As a manger, important to customize feedback style for each person since some will hold onto it longer than others.

When receiving tough feedback, my advice is to hear it, to learn from it, and then move forward, but don’t let it define you. Many women hold onto negative feedback for a long time and it becomes part of our identify.

Advice for others

  • Say yes! Volunteer. Take on new challenges. Find those opportunities to learn. Even if you find out you don’t like it, you learn something. Important at every stage of your career.
  • Get good at giving and taking feedback. Pay attention to those who do it really well and how you might learn from their style. When you receive feedback, don’t let it shake your confidence.