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On Thursday, May 13th, Klarna’s Head of Strategy and Clubhouse host Natalia Brzezinski was joined by Samantha Barry, Editor in Chief of Glamour Magazine, Marisa Thalberg, EVP, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer at Lowe’s Companies, Ruzwana Bashir, Founder of Peek.com, and Laurie Segall, Co-founder and Executive Producer, Dot Dot Dot Media, for “Who Does She Think She Is: Female Leaders in a Business World.” Their session featured personal stories and inspiring business lessons around the topic of reinvention and rising up, even in the face of extreme challenges and hardships. Here, we’ve recapped the 3 top takeaways from their conversation.
1. You can learn more from lobsters than you probably thought.
Yes, you read that right! When asked to describe a moment in her career that was particularly challenging and transformative, Laurie Segall shared a story about how her obsession with a YouTube video on how lobsters grow has inspired many of her decisions, both personally and professionally. “When lobsters grow, it’s the most stressful and uncomfortable thing: they have to lose their shell. But then they grow a new one.” Sometimes the biggest challenges and moments of extreme vulnerability lead to the biggest opportunities. By embracing what she called her “lobster moment,” Segall found the strength to make one of the biggest career transitions of her life: founding Dot Dot Dot Media—a media company dedicated to tech and humanity.
2. Adaptability is essential.
Business can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs, however, no one could have prepared for the volatility and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. Nearly every participating speaker described having had to face significant, unforeseen challenges throughout 2020. Peek.com, founded by Ruzwana Bashir, had just hit over $1B of bookings in January of 2020, only to see revenue go to zero as Americans stopped booking experiences and stayed at home. Costs needed to be cut and Bashir said that the company let go over 30% of its team.
But all was not lost. Despite a trying start to the year, Peek.com began to see things turn around by the summer, as Americans started to venture outside and invest in experiences, whether that be kayaking or walking tours. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but what goes down must come up—and vice versa. Being adaptable and willing to pivot to accommodate new challenges or unforeseen circumstances is critical in order to find success in an uncertain future.
3. In a remote world, open communication is more important than ever.
Many of us are now accustomed to operating remotely, having worked at home for over a year. While remote work certainly comes with conveniences, it also comes with new challenges. Samantha Barry shared that she’s found it challenging to be a manager remotely—particularly when it comes to ensuring that people feel really heard. To solve this problem, she initiated monthly town hall meetings to give colleagues the opportunity to share their questions and qualms.
The serendipity of casual conversations over coffee, or bonding over shared interests in the hallway, has also gone away. Barry mentioned that she’s therefore made an effort to have personal conversations more often. Rather than focus only on work 24/7, questions like “How’s your dog?” or “Where did you go for dinner last night?” add an important human element to virtual conversations to help build relationships outside of work.