Victoria’s Secret’s CEO: On for-now decisions and doing it with purpose.

One of the many reasons why I love going to Wharton is the total privilege of getting to see extraordinarily successful men and woman on the reg. One day it’s the founder of Twitter, then it’s the Executive VP of Google, and then it’s the friggin’ Vice President of the United States.
Almost a year ago, I heard an intimate speech with Gilt CEO Michelle Peluso, and she proved yet again what an unbelievably inspirational woman – professionally and personally – she is.
The other day, I hit up a chat with the CEO of Victoria’s Secret, Sharen Turney. I was hoping she would throw out free bras and panties into the crowd, but much to everyone’s dismay, she did not.
That being said, she did give us all the ultimate sneak peek into the 2014 Christmas commercials for VS, which – up until that moment – weren’t seen outside her own office doors. Ooooh, exclusive! In case you were wondering, they were phenomenal. And I can’t tell you much more than that if I ever hope to have free lingerie sent my way.
Her words of wisdom were solid, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t share them with you now.

1. It’s not a forever decision. It’s a for now decision. So often, we wig out over every decision regarding our careers or futures, because to some degree, we feel like the decisions we make have everlasting impact on any other decision there on out. That’s just not true. We’re human, and we’re allowed to change our minds. You can make a choice based on your current status, and you can make a new choice if things don’t work out. Or, if they do work out, you’re can still make a new choice again.

2. You’re only as smart as the ground you grew up on. Sharen grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, so she made this statement in reference to her apparent lack of knowledge when it came to the retail industry back in the day. Here’s where I’d like to add on to Sharen’s insight. You might start out as smart as the ground you grew up on, since your foundation as a person was rooted in your immediate surroundings – the people and places that helped you become yourself. But, that doesn’t serve to limit you. It’s a starting block, so plant yourself in that and blossom accordingly.

3. Be open to all opportunities. You may end up in the best job you never knew you wanted. Don’t pass something over because you think it’s just not good enough. Be willing to take risks and walk through open doors. You don’t know what’s through each one yet.

4. Feedback is a gift. Seek it out, appreciate it, be willing to give it back.

5. Great brands are stories well told. When you’re in the business of branding, it’s about being authentic and saying what you know. Tell your own story, and let people connect with you through theirs.

6. Leadership is all about listening, connecting, and inspiring. So start there and you’re one step ahead of the rest.

7. An inspired person sees past the obstacles and accomplishes a lot of things with the help of a lot of people. Obstacles will always be there. They don’t go away, and sometimes they find route into every avenue of your life. Let them stay there. Just find a way to get the heck around them and leave them behind.

8. Wherever you are in life and in your career, do it with passion and do it with purpose. And that one…it doesn’t get much simpler than that.



What do you think makes for a really great leader? What would you want to ask the VS CEO if you had the chance? (Besides “Can I have a free push-up? Kaythanks). And have you entered to win $300 to Kate Spade yet?

Happy Sunday to you and to all a good night.


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