Cindi Below, CEO of Bigelow Tea, based in Fairfield CT, was featured in the recent Forbes article
Aristotle incorrectly claimed that women had fewer teeth than the 32 men have. Just as it amazingly took over a thousand years to prove Aristotle’s claim wrong, one of America’s greatest opportunities for growth has been hidden in plain sight.
After interviewing 750 top CEOs, I’ve recognized that women are often better at seeing synergies between businesses, and yet today only 32 of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
A few years ago I shared my personal goal to have 50 Fortune 500 women CEOs, which frankly is still only 10%, but would be a smart first step towards elevating the American economy and society. In an effort to advance dialogue on success and advice to women, on September 18, 2017 I moderated a discussion of 6 exceptional women leaders:
- Cindi Bigelow, CEO, Bigelow Tea
- Henrietta Fore, Chairman and CEO, Holsman International
- Kate Gutmann, Chief Sales and Solutions Officer; SVP The UPS Store; UPS Capital, UPS
- Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus, Ogilvy & Mather
- Deanna Mulligan, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
- Sharon Prince, Chair of the Board, President and Co-Founder, Grace Farms Foundation
Robert Reiss: What key concept summarizes the essence of what drives you?
Cindi Bigelow: I just don’t know how to compromise on anything. You don’t have the luxury of a bad day, and you can never compromise because no matter how busy you are, no matter what comes across your desk, you are the final pass. So never compromise.
Henrietta Fore: I believe it is not only important what you do in life, but how you do it. So, I believe that being kind, compassionate, and respectful to people at every level in a company or a town or a society is of critical importance in how we work.
Sharon Prince: Your values are at the heart of why you do what you do. What drives me is creating new outcomes for good, by looking forward with an innovative, formidable team.
Deanna Mulligan: Be values driven. If you have a team that has a coherent set of values that everyone subscribes to and you put a goal out there that’s in line with the values, I think you can do anything. Without that, it’s pretty hard. Without being values driven, you fall back to being financially driven.
Shelly Lazarus: There is a lot to be said for what I’d call authenticity. It’s being who you are, doing things on your own terms, being comfortable in your own skin and being willing to go forward knowing that not everything you do will necessarily be popular, but it will be true to you.
Kate Gutmann: For me, it's problem solving. It is the, "If it can be written, it can be solved," and that's just the way my mind has always worked.
Reiss: Talk about success …
Lazarus: I never had a career plan. I just loved what I was doing and I just wanted to do more and more of it. It never felt like work to me. I was having the most fun with the most interesting people. I was intellectually challenged. And so I was oblivious to any kind of conscious career path, and I was always surprised when I was promoted … always. Someone would walk into my office and throw another title on my head and I’d go, “Okay, sure. Now, can I get back to work?”