Tools for Maximizing Your Success | Carla Harris | Talent Connect 2018


– Well, good morning, Talent Connect 2018! (audience cheers and applauds) Good morning! It is indeed my honor
and privilege to be here, and I thank the LinkedIn family for inviting me to spend
a few minutes with you talking about something
Rosanna and her colleagues know that I love, love, love talking about. Carla’s pearls. As I like to call them (clears throat), my hard-earned and hard-learned pearls after being a woman on
Wall Street for 31 years. (audience cheers and applauds) I dare say, ladies and gentlemen, that I have learned a few things about not only surviving,
but more importantly thriving in the seat that you sit in or the seat that you aspire to sit in, and frankly that’s what
the pearls are all about. And this morning I wanna leave
you with three of the pearls. Two from my first book Expect to Win, and one from my most recent
book Strategize to Win. And then I wanna close with some thoughts around powerful, impactful,
influential leadership, because all of you, no matter
where you are in your career are in the leadership seat. Because I believe strongly that
you can lead from any seat. But I wanna leave you with some thoughts around what you must be intentional about if you are in fact not only gonna lead but to fulfill that which you
are doing as HR professionals, and that is creating the
next generation of leaders. Informing the leaders that
are in your organization. I wanna give you a few thoughts that you might in fact pass on to them so that they might be the
most powerful and impactful, influential leaders that they can be. Now, first, the three
pearls that I give to you. The first one is the most important thing that I learned after three
decades on the street. So do not be fooled if
you read Expect to Win and you see that it is Chapter Four, because it was indeed the most important thing that I learned, and that is perception is
the copilot to reality. How people perceive you will directly impact
how they deal with you. Yes, the reality of how smart you are has something to do with
your success equation. The reality of how hard you work has something to do with
your success equation. But a very big component of
anybody’s success equation is the perception that the
marketplace has about you. What lens are they looking through when they are looking at you? And if you wanna maximize your success in the seat that you’re sitting in or the seat that you aspire to sit in, it is imperative that you
understand the adjectives that are associated with success for the seat that you’re sitting in or the seat that you aspire to sit in. If you don’t understand the adjectives that are associated with success, oh you can work really hard, but you won’t maximize
your success in that seat because you’re working in
a way that is inconsistent with the way they are
thinking about success. If you would like to manage
a large group of people, but you are not perceived
as being motivational, inspirational or organized, it doesn’t matter that you can do it. It doesn’t even matter that you did do it. You won’t get the opportunity to do that if you are not perceived as such. If you would like to
manage a large P and L, but you are not perceived as being analytical,
quantitative, or strategic, it doesn’t matter that you can do it. It doesn’t even matter that you did do it. You won’t get the opportunity to do that if you are not perceived as such. Now generally when I say that, people say to me all the time, “Well, wait a minute,
Carla, I am who I am. “I can’t make anybody think
about me in a certain way.” If you remember nothing else
about our time together today, remember that you can train
people to think about you in the way that you want
them to think about you. And how do you do that? You pick three adjectives that
you would like people to use to describe you when
you are not in the room. And why do I say when
you’re not in the room? Is because all of the important
decisions about your career will be made when you are not in the room. (audience laughs) Compensation decisions will be made when you are not in the room, promotion decisions will be made when you’re not in the room, and new assignments will be given out when you are not in the room. So how do you want people to describe you when you’re not in the room? Pick three adjectives that
are absolutely consistent with who you really are, because I’m a big fan of
the authenticity point nobody can be you the
way that you can be you. It is indeed your distinct
competitive advantage, and we’ll talk about that this morning. So pick three adjectives that
are absolutely consistent with who you really are. However, pick three adjectives that are also valued in your organization. And if you don’t know by now what’s valued in your organization, you can go to the website. There isn’t a company today
(audience laughs) that doesn’t describe itself
or its values on the website. And if they don’t, think
about what they told you when they hired you. “Oh, Joy, we hired you for
the following five reasons,” or “Rosanna, you beat
out these two candidates “for these three reasons.” They told you then what
they valued about you. So the trick is to continue to improve upon that which they value. The three adjectives that
are absolutely consistent with who you really are, the three adjectives that are
valued in your organization, where they intersect is how you must behave consistently if you wanna train
people to think about you in a certain way. It is simply consistent behavior around those three adjectives. And my big ah-ha happened five
to six years into my career. And I’ve told this
story hundreds of times, but every time I have the privilege and the honor of speaking in
front of a group of people, I tell this story because it
was a deep my ah-ha moment. Five to six years into my career I had a very senior
manager director say to me, “You know you’re smart. “You work hard. “But I don’t think you’re tough
enough for this business.” Now my first reaction
is what is he smoking? (audience laughs) You can call Carla Harris a lot of things, but ain’t tough ain’t one of them. But then I said wait a minute. Suppose this guy is not pulling my leg. Suppose he really doesn’t think that I’m tough enough for this business, and heaven forbid suppose
the rest of the organization doesn’t think that I’m tough
enough for this business. And as you might imagine,
ladies and gentlemen, the last thing that you want
to be thought of as a woman and a woman on Wall Street is not tough. And oh, by the way,
authentically that is who I am. So the fact that he was questioning whether or not I was tough enough was a wake-up call to me
that the real Carla Harris was no longer walking into Morgan Stanley. Somewhere I had lost my voice, somewhere I had lost my confidence, and it was creating a
competitive differential for me. So after I got that feedback I said okay, I know what I’ll do. For 90 days I decided I would walk tough, talk tough,
eat tough, drink tough. Use tough in my language, because it’s important that
if you wanna train people to think about you in a certain way you must have consistent behavior around those three adjectives. And you must use this
language in your environment particularly when you are
talking about yourself. So I had a reputation of being very good at critiquing management presentations. So much so that before we would
take a company on the road for a multibillion dollar IPO or a multi-hundred million
dollar common stock transaction, my colleagues would often
ask me to come into the room, listen to their CEO’s presentation, and give that CEO some feedback even when it was not my deal. So the next time someone
asked me to do that after I’d gotten that
feedback, I said wait a minute. Tell me a little bit about this CEO. Is this guy sensitive? Does he have a thin skin? I don’t wanna hurt anybody’s feelings, ’cause you know I’m tough. (audience laughs) And I kept using this language
over and over and over, and sure enough in
about 90 days it worked. I had a team of people come in to see me. They didn’t know I was behind them. The VP was beating up the poor associate. “Do you have the backup analysis? “Do you have the synergy analysis? “We’re going to see Carla Harris, “and you know she’s so tough.” (audience laughs) (audience applauds) So it’s important that you understand the adjectives that are
associated with success. If you are in a finance role, people better describe you
as analytical, quantitative. If you’re in a marketing role, they should say you are
creative, out-of-the-box thinker. If you are in an HR role or a sales role, they better call you commercial
and relationship-oriented. And, oh by the way, every day that you choose
to exercise your power and go into your seat, you should know exactly
what you’re playing for. It should never be a mystery to you as to what it takes to
get to the next promotion or the next pay scale, yet most of us go into our
seats every day and say, “I’m gonna put my head down. “I’m gonna work really hard. “They’ll see that I’m good and I’m loyal “and I’ll be rewarded accordingly,” and it doesn’t work that way. Because if you’re working in
a way that is inconsistent with the way they are
thinking about success, you won’t maximize your
success in that seat. Or let me say it differently. If you are for that which is not valued, you will not be rewarded. So it’s important that you understand exactly what you’re playing for, because when you know
what you’re playing for you are motivated and inspired to deliver excellence every day. And when you don’t know
what you’re playing for, it’s very easy to get distracted
by what I like to call outside atmospheric disturbances. What’s going on in the broader economy, or even what’s going on in your
internal political economy. So whenever you’re going to a new firm, or even internally you’re
going to a new department, or you’re starting with a new boss, never assume that you know
what success looks like. And remember what got you to that seat will not be the thing that will allow you to ascend from that seat. Always take the time to
have the conversation about what success looks like. And the conversation goes like this. “Jim, what needs to happen
in order for you to say “‘I knocked the cover off the ball “‘and the ball out of the park?'” If Jim says, “Mary, you do
the following five things, “and I will consider that an
out-of-the-box performance.” Now, Mary, you know exactly
what you’re playing for. You know how to maximize
your success in that seat. But more importantly, if Jim says, “I don’t know, Mary. “You always do a good job. “Just do what you always do.” Mary, note to self. Houston, we have a problem. (audience laughs) Because if Jim can’t tell
you what success looks like, you will never maximize
your success in that seat. Because success is always shifting, and that will make your
performance vulnerable to outside influences on Jim. So if Jim can’t answer that
question you should say, “Jim, you’re not sure
what success looks like? “I’ve been thinking about it. “I’ve got a pretty good idea “of what I think success
looks like on this project. “Give me 10 minutes. “Let me walk you through it. “You tell me what you like
and what you don’t like.” And after that 10 minutes, Mary, now you know exactly
what you’re playing for. You know how to maximize
your success in that seat. The second pearl that I
want to leave you with is from Strategize to Win, and it’s around this concept of currency. There are two types of
currency in any environment. Performance currency and
relationship currency. But I want you to think to yourself that a dollar is not a
dollar is not a dollar. Performance currency is the currency that is generated by
you’re delivering that which was asked of you
and a little bit extra. Every time you deliver on an assignment above people’s expectations, you generate performance currency. It works just like the stock market. Any time a company says to the street that they will deliver 25 cents a share and that company delivers
40 cents a share, that stock goes up. Every single time. And so will yours. Performance currency is
valuable for three reasons. Number one, early on in your career or early on in any new environment
it will get you noticed. It will create a reputation for you. Number two, early on in your career, early on in any new environment, it will get you paid and promoted. And number three, it may
even attract a sponsor. And as many of you know, the sponsor is the most
important relationship you can have in your career. A mentor, frankly, is a nice to have, and you can survive a long time in your career without a mentor, but you will not ascend in any environment without a sponsor. And if you have good performance
currency in an environment, it raises your level of
visibility in that environment such that a sponsor may
naturally be attracted to you. Now for many of us in this room it doesn’t happen that easily. And sometimes you have
to exercise your power and ask for a sponsor. And if you have great performance currency in that environment, it heightens the
probability that that person will answer in the affirmative
upon your approach. Why? Because everybody likes a star. But at the end of the day here is the issue with
performance currency. Over time, performance
currency starts to experience diminishing marginal returns. Early on, it’s worth about a buck 50, but over time that buck 50 works its way right back down to a dollar. Why? Because now you have created
a new standard of excellence. Everybody knows that
you will do a great job. Everybody expects that
you will always deliver. So there’s no longer a premium associated with your deliverable. The currency that’s now most important is the relationship currency. Relationship currency. And relationship currency
is worth about 2.25. And it never experiences any
diminishing marginal returns. Because relationship currency is the currency that is
generated by the investments that you make in the
people in your environment. The investments that you make in the people in your environment. None of us work in a silo anymore. We’re all working in highly
interdependent environment. So at a minimum you
must have a relationship with every seat that touches your seat. If the only person that knows that you’re doing a
great job is your boss, then your ability to ascend
is going to be vulnerable. Why? That person may leave the organization, they may leave their seat,
or they may lose their juice. So it’s your job to make sure
as many people as possible in the organization is aware
of your outside’s contribution. Here is the reason, ladies and gentlemen, why relationship currency
is so very important. Your ability to ascend
in anybody’s environment will be a function of somebody’s judgment. Judgment about whether
or not you’re ready, judgment about whether or
not the team will follow you, and judgment about whether or not you will ultimately be successful. And ladies and gentlemen, judgments are directly
influenced by relationships. And if you aren’t with me yet, let me give you my last piece of evidence. Everybody in this room has power. Hard-earned, personal,
influential currency. But I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, how many people in this room will use their hard-earned,
personal, influential currency on somebody that they do not know? Mm-hmm, exactly. So remind yourself that
when you are shying away from investing in relationships that your inability to ascend will rarely, if ever, be a function of whether or not somebody likes you. But it absolutely will be a function of whether or not somebody knows you. Why your performance currency may get your name on a short list that’s being discussed
behind closed doors, when your name is called, if no one in that room
can speak on your behalf, they simply go to the next name. And it has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to do the job, but everything to do with whether or not somebody knows you well
enough to say, “Oh, yeah, “Jim, he’s a safe pair of hands.” “Oh, yes, Mary, she’ll walk through walls “and she’ll take the team with her.” “Yes, Tina’s the right person to do this. “That has never been done
before in our environment. “She knows how to walk though risks.” It’s those kinds of comments, by the way, with no data attached, it’s those kinds of comments
(audience laughs) that make all the difference in whether or not you get the nod. So you must, must, must
invest in the relationships, because it is the most valuable currency that you can have in any environment. And then the last pearl
that I will leave with you is the authenticity pearl. As I said earlier, nobody can be you the
way that you can be you. It is your distinct competitive advantage, and the day that you
receive the opportunity that you all have today,
somebody else didn’t get the job. Because you are the
best person for the job. So the last thing any of us should ever do is to submerge that which is uniquely you. Any time that you’re trying to speak or behave in a way that is inauthentic to who you really are, you create a competitive disadvantage because you’re using valuable
intellectual capacity that you could use to really hear what your internal or your
external client is saying yet is not articulating. Valuable intellectual
capacity that you could use to show that quick twitch response. Valuable intellectual capacity that you could use to co-create with that person on the
other side of the table. As quiet as it’s kept,
ladies and gentlemen, most people are not
comfortable in their own skin. So when they see someone
who is comfortable and confident in their skin, they will gravitate towards you. They absolutely want some of that. Your success, like mine,
depends upon your ability to successfully penetrate relationships. And the easiest way to
penetrate a relationship is to bring your authentic
self to the table. When you bring your
authentic self to the table, people will trust you. And trust is at the heart of
any successful relationship. This was a very interesting
lesson for me to learn. As you heard, I am a singer. I have done five sold-out
concerts at Carnegie Hall and recorded three gospel CDs. But when I first…
(audience cheers) Thank you. (audience applauds) But I when I first
started in this business, I didn’t want anybody
to talk about the fact that I was a singer. I wanted to be known as a
no nonsense, hard-driving, analytical, quantitative
investment banker. I’m not here to sing and dance, boys. Let’s not get it twisted. (audience laughs) I didn’t want anybody to talk about it, but against my objections, my colleagues would often
walk into a pitch and say, “Oh, this is Carla Harris
our capital markets banker, “but what you really
ought to know about Carla, “she is an amazing gospel singer. “She’s sung at Carnegie Hall, Radio City, “the Apollo Theater.” And I’m there rolling my eyes until I saw the client reaction. “Oh, you’re a singer! “Oh, I so admire people who can sing, “and I personally love to sing “but my family will only
let me sing in the shower. “And maybe you can talk to my daughter “about how she integrates
her love of the arts “and her academics.” And there we were having
a 15 minute meeting before the meeting. Are you with me, Talent Connect? (audience cheers) The meeting before the meeting. So when I sat down to pitch, they heard me with a different ear. They saw me through a different lens, because Carla Harris the singer was allowed to be in the room
with Carla Harris the banker. So I naturally differentiated myself from the other five bankers
that would come in there and pitch that same IPO. So now whenever I go into a new situation I bring Carla Harris
the investment banker, I bring Carla Harris the prayer warrior, Carla Harris, investment manager, Carla Harris the singer,
Carla Harris the writer, Carla Harris the speaker,
Carla Harris the mother, Carla Harris the golfer,
Carla Harris the football fan. I bring all of those Carla’s to the table. (audience cheers and applauds) Because frankly I don’t know which Carla will be the one that will connect and allow me to own that
relationship in a proprietary way. Your authenticity is your
distinct competitive advantage, and it is at the heart of powerful, impactful, influential leadership. And as I close, let me
give you a few thoughts around intentional leadership. As I’m sure you know already, no doubt, ladies and gentlemen, that leadership does
not happen by accident. You must be intentional. If you have made the decision that you wanna be in the leadership seat, that you are making the decision that every time you show up you’re showing up
intentionally as a leader. Leadership is contact sport. So you must be intentional, and in my mind you must be
intentional around eight things. You must be intentional as I
just said around authenticity. And it’s really important if
you’re in the leadership seat that you show up authentically, because then you motivate and inspire those who are working with you, those who are working around you. You inspire and motivate them to bring their authentic
selves to the table. And anytime any of us is in an environment where we can be who we really are, we will always outperform, and that will now accrue to your status in the leadership seat. You must also be intentional
about building trust. I talked about trust as a
core tenant to authenticity, but trust is the thing that will allow you to be
a transformational leader. It will allow you to lead
the team into the unknown. To do the things that you have never done. To take the organization in a
place where it has never been. And people will follow you
simply because they trust you. So it’s not about you’re
having the right answer. It’s not about you knowing what the next five steps are going to be. It’s about having the trust of your team that they will follow you
even as you figure it out. That matters more than the right answer in many cases when you are doing something for the first time. You must be intentional about clarity. When you can define what success
looks like for your team, again you stimulate people to outperform. When people don’t know
what they’re playing for, it’s easy as I said before to become distracted, disillusioned, and then you lose your best talent. So no matter what, even
in the face of obscurity, if you’ve chosen to be
in the leadership seat, you must be intentional
about providing clarity even if it’s for the day. If you can’t do it for the year, you can’t do it for the quarter, do it for the month, do it for the week, even do it for the day. I’ve had the privilege of doing
some very innovative things at my firm in the last year and a half, and it had never been done before. So there was no play book. But at the end of the day I knew that in order to
keep the team engaged I had to be very clear about
what we were trying to do in the short term, in
the intermediate term, what the vision looked like on Monday. And by Friday the vision
could have changed, but it didn’t matter. I had to define what it looked like. You must be intentional also
about creating other leaders. You must remember that once
you take that leadership seat you’ve taken on a different
level of responsibility. It’s not about being an
individual contributor. Leadership is a journey from
execution to empowerment. Now your job is to create other leaders. That’s the way you amplify
your impact in any environment. That is the way you amplify
your career success. Create other leaders. You must be intentional around diversity. Every company represented here today is in some way competing
around innovation. And if you are competing
around innovation, diversity is an imperative, because you need a lot of different ideas to get to that one idea
that will allow you to obtain and retain
a leadership position. So if you need a lot of ideas in the room, you need a lot of perspectives in the room because ideas are born from perspectives. If you need a lot of
perspectives in the room, you need a lot of experiences in the room because perspectives are
born from experiences. And if you need a lot of
experiences in the room, you gotta start with a lot of
different people in the room, because experiences are born from people. So you must have a lot of
different people in the room in order to get to that one idea that will allow you to truly
innovate in your industry and innovate in your company. That’s your business
case around diversity. And you must be intentional
about inclusivity. I have the privilege of
speaking at lots of companies, and when I’m doing closed-door
sessions with a c-suite, they often say, “Carla, we talk a lot “about inclusive leadership,
but what is that? “What does it look like? “How do I behave as an inclusive leader?” I said the number one thing you must do as an inclusive leader is to
solicit other people’s voices. Most people come into a meeting and they are thinking about whether or not they should say something, they’re trying to gauge whether or not it’s the right political thing to say, they’re trying to gauge
everybody’s reaction, and you don’t get the
best out of your people. Solicit their voices. You must go in and say, “Hey, how you thinking about that, Joe? “That’s an excellent idea, but Mary, “I want you to push back on Joe’s thought. “We’ve got to figure
out where the gaps are, “so if you were gonna give me “the other side of that
argument, what does it look like? “That’s really good. “Okay, so Ivan, I want you to
think about what Mary said. “How would you push back?” If four meetings in a row you solicit everybody on your team and you solicit their voices, by the fifth meeting you
won’t have to do it again. They will naturally want to contribute because they’re ready. And you have implicit to
say I value your voice. And everybody, everybody likes to be valued at the end of the day. So it is underscoring their value. You must also be intentional
about teaching innovation. And you’re going to teach
innovation, ladies and gentlemen, you must teach people how to fail. They have to know that
it’s okay for them to fail, because if they don’t fail
they’re not pushing hard enough and they will not innovate. You will not get that out-of-the-box idea. So it is important that
you teach them how to fail, and you teach them how to fail quickly. And you know what that means? Celebrating the failures. “You know, Rich? “We tried your idea. “It didn’t work. “It was a colossal failure, “but let’s talk about
why it was a good thing. (audience laughs) “Let’s talk about why it was
a good thing that we tried, “because here are the three
things that we learned. “And those three things will
help inform our next try “and maybe even our next success. “Good job, thank you
for the contribution.” That’s the way you keep the ideas coming, because if they fear
there’ll be retribution for making a mistake,
they will not innovate. And then finally, you must be intentional
about using your voice. You have to be willing
to call a thing a thing even when somebody doesn’t
want to call the thing out. That is your job as human
capital professionals. When you know something
is not right in the room, and it doesn’t matter who’s called it or who’s creating a win
in the other direction, you got to call a thing a thing. And the one thing that goes through all of those tenants around
intentional leadership is courage. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it takes courage to call a thing a thing when nobody wants to call it. And it’s a big 800-pound
elephant sitting the room. It takes courage to do that. It takes courage to give
up some of your power and create other leaders. It takes courage to build trust. It does take courage to create clarity when you know that there’s
nothing but obscurity there. Courage is the thread that
goes through leadership, and so often I have met people who have acquired the leadership seat, but they don’t have the courage to create the transformation. They don’t have the courage to
call and put the right people in the right seats at the right time. And if you are going to
be a powerful, impactful, influential leader,
you must be intentional about showing up every day in that way with those commitments and
having courage at your side. And every now and then when I get a little
worried about the thing, when I’m a little afraid
of taking that risk, I say to myself Carla, you’re very clear on what no looks like. That’s exactly where
you’re standing right now. Why wouldn’t you play for yes? Why wouldn’t you play for yes? Ladies and gentlemen, always play for yes. And if you want to maximize your success in the seat that you’re sitting in, or the seat that you aspire to sit in, you must both expect
and strategize to win. I thank you Talent Connect 2018! (audience cheers and applauds)

5 thoughts on “Tools for Maximizing Your Success | Carla Harris | Talent Connect 2018

  1. Carla Harris gives a powerful, practical presentation about workplace progression, client relationship development and authentic and inclusive leadership.

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