BLOG: Lessons from Leaders of Power

By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly

From left: Bruce Harrell, Florence Chang, Bill Gonzales, Sue McLain, Cindy Ryu, and Shaker Chandrasekaran (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

 

Six prominent leaders shared their inspiring stories and advice for men and women who want to be better leaders; they presented at a luncheon held at the House of Hong on Sept. 16. Organized by Executive Development Institute, the Washington Leaders of Power luncheon has been held annually for the past five years.  This was the first time that male panelists were invited to participate.

Lesson 1

Whenever Seattle Councilmember Bruce Harrell meets with his constituents, they usually ask him for this or that, be it transportation or other city services. Yet, not a single person has asked Harrell, “What do you need [in return]?” The point is, don’t just take; give. Find out what you can do to help the person who has served you well.

Lesson 2

You can beat it, even in the worst scenarios. Don’t ever say the word “can’t” to Shaker Chandrasekaran because he will prove you wrong. For instance, people doubted that he would find a job because he was a foreign student during the worst unemployment year in the United States, 1982. But he did.

“I am happy in everything I do,” said Chandrasekaran, senior vice president for Cellulose Fibers of Weyerhaeuser. He is one of the most positive people I have ever met.

Lesson 3

Reflecting on her career path, Susan McLain, senior vice president of Puget Sound Energy, said that not every job you apply for has to be an upward move. Sometimes, it can be a demotion. It’s okay because you learn new skills and meet new mentors. Once, a boss even suggested to her that it was time for her to change to a different job, for personal growth.

Lesson 4

Bill Gonzalez, general manager of worldwide distribution at Microsoft, has embraced change as an opportunity. Born in Chile, he has worked in Brazil, Canada, England, and the United States. He said opportunities don’t always come to you, but seize them while you can. Always expect the unexpected, and always have your eyes open.

Lesson 5

There are always conflicts and misunderstandings between the first generation and the second generation, according to state Rep. Cindy Ryu. The first generation complains that the younger generation always take things for granted, not appreciating the hard work, sacrifices, and entrepreneurial spirits of their parents. Ryu suggests that the children need not only to learn more from their parents’ journeys, but also to celebrate the accomplishments of the first generation.

Lesson 6

Is the measure of success how much money you make, the power you sustain, or your level of visibility? Or, is it the amount of time you spend with the most important person in your life? This was the question that woke up Florence Chang, senior vice president and chief information officer at MultiCare Health System of Tacoma. She discovered that, up to that time, her life had no balance and she had focused too much on her career, rather than her loved ones. (end)

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