ABC’s Ginger Zee Shares How She Overcame Her Fears and Her Key To Success

ABC NEWS - Ginger Zee )ABC/Heidi Gutman)

 

Ginger Zee is the chief meteorologist at ABC, a mom and a former contestant on Dancing with the Stars. The on-air personality always knew she wanted to pursue a career in science but television not so much. Zee credits her internship experiences for motivating her to step out of her comfort zone and into broadcasting.  Now, Zee, 35, is an Emmy Award-winning meteorologist and has reported on some major weather events across the country. We caught up with Zee to talk about her journey, tips to success and the many challenges she’s faced along the way.

Zee wasn’t always the confident powerhouse she is now; in fact she struggled with self-confidence growing up. “I was painfully shy as a child. I was very into reading, loved science and shirked away from cameras,” she said. “Even as I was storm chasing in college, the camera pans to me and I duck to get out of the picture.” Once she realized that science and TV could go hand-in-hand, she found ways of communicating the two areas. “Science plus TV is my livelihood and I have found that if you speak about what you are passionate about, there is no need for a script, no need for nerves—it’s just sharing your passion.”

However, that wasn’t the only challenge that Zee overcame, as a teen she also struggled with anorexia. The meteorologist recently opened up about her battle with the eating disorder to help others who maybe going through a similar situation. With the help of her family and therapy, Zee was able to recover without the disease getting worse.

With her drive and passion for meteorology, science and math, Zee landed a number of internships at news stations such as, ABC 33/40 and WYIN PBS. One internship in particular that really inspired Zee was at ABC 33/40 working alongside legendary Alabama weatherman James Spann. “I came back from that summer internship learning the power in saying ‘yes’ and taking chances and came back with a tape that helped me get my first on-air gig at age 19 at WYIN PBS,” Zee said. “Every minute I could get on TV I knew would be invaluable in my development.”

The veteran storm chaser is always ready for an adventure. From reporting on floods, snowstorms, and ice lope racing – storm chasing has always been her favorite assignment. Hurricane Katrina which struck the Gulf Coast in 2005 was her first major storm and one she’ll never forget. “I had been storm chasing for severe storms with tornadoes etc. in college, but on a large scale, covering disaster, [Hurricane] Katrina was my first. And still stands as the worst,” she said. “There were moments I was scared, moments I was starving, confused, exhausted and most of all that moment I felt guilt as we finally got gas and 7 days later got to drive away,” said Zee. “We got to go home, where we had electricity, air conditioning, running water [and] mailboxes. All things these folks would not have for months if not years.”

In December 2015, Zee and her husband, NBC correspondent Ben Aaron, welcomed their first son Adrian Benjamin. Even though she became a new mom, that didn’t stop Zee from taking on her next challenge – as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. “I believe the timing of doing DWTS played a big part in my ability to live in the moment,” she said. “But really it only made sense, it was just another adventure, another time I said ‘yes’ and poured myself into a new experience that at the end of the day turned into a platform for getting kids, especially young women, interested in science. Even if it was through dance in the arms of an awesome pro like Val [Chmerkovskiy].”

As a new mom, Zee continued to appear on Good Morning America in New York City and performing on DWTS every Monday. She didn’t let anything get in her way and she lived every day in the moment. “There was no chance to procrastinate. If I was with the baby, I focused on the baby, if I was dancing, I focused on dancing, at work, focused on work,” she said. “It sounds simple but it reset my priorities and ability to live in the moment and focus. Habits I will take with me for as long as I possibly can.”

Her key to success? “Don’t shy away from what you are good at and what you are passionate about.” Zee believes you shouldn’t just go for that job or career for the money or because it’s better, but to really go after something that makes you happy. “If you are always playing with hair, love being creative with hair – don’t say you want to go be a teacher or a dentist just because you think it is a better career, or will make you more money. Go do hair! You will be the best at it because you love it and you will find success.”

Ginger Zee isn’t slowing down any time soon. As for what’s next for the chief meteorologist? She’s writing and producing a new show, Food Forecast, writing not one but two books and working on several other projects she has in the works. Plus, she still makes time to get involved with charities like, The Brain Injury Association of Illinois and Standup for a Cure. Her family is still her biggest accomplishment yet and her constant motivation to keep moving forward. “As much as I love my husband and life changed when it was not just one but two…the third is the one that drives us,” she said. “I want to be great for [my son] now and for him in the future. Finding the balance of staying true to me and finding my new identity as a mother has been the coolest experience in life.”

 

 

– Mabel Martinez

 

Jess Lee, Co-founder and CEO of Polyvore on transparency as an asset to being a tech leader

 

Jess Lee headshot

 

Straight out from college, tossing the cap and gown and heading into the workforce, college graduates face the real world with excitement and anticipation of what’s to come. When Jess Lee graduated from Stanford University, her first step was not the norm. She obtained her first job at the tech giant: Google as a product manager. After four years, she would leave and later become a co-founder and CEO of Polyvore, a fashion commerce site that provides users with the latest trends in fashion, beauty and home.

Jess recently sat down with Dress for Success to discuss her willingness to be open about her ideas and pursuit for a challenge, that has led her trajectory to the top.

As a product manager for Google, Jess worked on Google Maps, a web mapping service that offers satellite imagery, street maps and 360 panoramic views of streets. She launched features such as “My Maps” which gave users drawing tools and location pins so that they can create their own maps.

The work at Google provided Jess with great responsibility and a supportive network. It was where she met Marissa Mayer, presently CEO of Yahoo. Marissa served as a mentor to Jess, encouraging her to challenge herself, to seek opportunities that lead to growth.

“I was very happy working on Google Maps. I became Google Maps’ Program Manager at age 22. The work was fun, challenging and very rewarding. I wasn’t looking for a new job but a great opportunity fell in my lap that I felt I had to take,” said Jess. In her blog, “jessblog,” she said that leaving Google was a difficult decision.

Her next venture in the tech space would be Polyvore. Polyvore is known as the platform to find the latest in fashion trends. It has a global community of stylists that share tips on how to mix and match looks, in addition to predicting trends before they hit the mainstream. Through Polyvore, users can arrange images of clothing into outfits and sets of outfits.

Jess admired the platform as she often browsed through the site creating different sets of looks. However, Jess had some reservations. What could be implemented into the site to improve it? She sent a detailed email to the team at Polyvore with praise but also feedback about how to improve user experience of the site.  Her ideas included image rotation as opposed to loading images in the search results and adding a lightweight method of bookmarking items for future use.  She added that the terms “Fgnd” and “Bgnd” in the site should be changed to “Send to front” and “Send to back” because it was more user-friendly. The email of suggestions led to a coffee meeting with one of the co-founders, Pasha Sadri. After their coffee meeting, Jess was hired at Polyvore first as a product manager, all the ideas she had were put into place. From product manager, she went on to become the Vice President of Product. Soon after, Sadri along with all other company co-founders, asked her to be recognized as an honorary co-founder due to her continuous innovation and passion for the company.

“I knew I wanted to help build a platform for others to creatively express their style and set trends around the world. One of my favorite things about Polyvore is that we’ve built technology and a platform that’s similar to a blank canvas, all our members fill it with their creativity” says Jess.

As a co-founder and CEO, Jess describes her leadership style as transparent. She’s open, direct and encourages her employees to feel comfortable coming to her with ideas to make things better.

“It’s important to me to be an approachable leader. I want people to always feel comfortable coming to me with their ideas, and feel like they can tell me the hard truths, because I can only fix problems that I know about.”

Aside from leading a company, Jess has been invited to several high profile events often serving as the keynote speaker. She’s spoken at the San Francisco Technology Summit and the CMX Summit, the premier conference for tech founders. Though she admits she doesn’t enjoy public speaking, she’s often willing to offer advice and encouragement, especially for women. She proudly served as a keynote speaker at Montgomery Summit: The Rise of the Female Entrepreneur. By speaking at these events and through her experience in leadership, she wants to inspire women with an entrepreneurial spirit.

“I’m not extroverted. I’m not male. I’m not white and my path to CEO was a bit unusual. So I think my success represents that there are a lot of different types of leaders and you can be a successful leader even if you don’t fit the classic mold of a CEO. I hope that inspires other people to try to start their own companies.”

Jess aspires to do more as Polyvore is well in demand with over 20 million monthly subscribers. Last year, Yahoo acquired the fashion site for around $200 million. Jess hopes to continue to use the platform to change the way trendsetting happens across the fashion industry. She also has great aspirations for her employees, that they go on and become founders too.

“We’ve already helped make a few founders and CEOs and it’d be great to see even more!”

How to End the Cycle of Poverty

In 2014, the official overall poverty rate in the United States was at almost 15 percent. For children under the age of 18 years old, that statistic jumped significantly to more than 21 percent—almost a full quarter of our nation’s children. We have heard the phrase “cycle of poverty” repeated for so long at this point that we have forgotten just how very real the struggle to be financially stable is. And that is just in America. Today, over a quarter of the world’s population—so somewhere around 1.8 billion people—still don’t earn enough to have reliable access to food. And a billion people are “extremely poor,” earning less than $1.25 a day.

The numbers simply don’t lie: adults who remain in financially challenging situations pass these same obstacles down to their children and this pattern continues on through the generations. So how do we begin to change these numbers to tell a different truth? What would a world without poverty really look like?

When Dress for Success was first established, we were very much a welfare-to-work organization. Over the years, the face of the Dress for Success woman has changed—she can hold a Bachelor’s degree just as often as she could hold a benefits card (sometimes she is even the owner of both!)—but the fact still remains that we as a society have much to do to eradicate poverty and expedite the economic independence of those in our global community who are so eagerly striving to obtain it.

An undeniable barrier facing poverty is, quite frankly, getting jobs that pay living wages. Workers are finding it difficult to maintain themselves and their families because the only employment they’re able to secure are positions that pay them below what they need to simply survive—let  alone thrive—as productive members of society. In order to elevate the economic status of our lower income peers around the world, we need to find a way to increase their wages.

Millions of men and women are working low paying jobs as maintenance workers, janitors, taxi drivers, waitresses and other occupations in the restaurant/fast food industry. These are necessary roles that must be filled to maintain the quality of our collective life, but jobs such as these offer shockingly low wages and little—if any—benefits. And let’s not forget that most of these positions are only offered on a part-time basis. Many employers hire several part-time positions because having a high quantity of staff is still less expensive than having to provide benefits and paid time off to full-time employees, even though the quality of work arguably suffers. Whether part-time or full-time, all workers should be compensated with a wage that allows them to provide for themselves and their families, as well as to plan for their future—to those inevitable days that will come where they simply are not able to work any longer, be it due to an emergency or a planned retirement.

Once we see the wage increase that our global society so desperately needs, we need to ensure that it’s implemented justly across the board. As we all know, despite how far we’ve come with women’s equality, women are still paid more than 30% less than men here in the U.S. for doing the same work.

In 2014, the median income for women who worked full time was $39,621 compared to that of men which was $50,383. Due to the wage gap, it’s no surprise why a great amount of women fall into poverty. This is a problem that all businesses must rectify, however, the ability to make an impact does not solely fall on the institution. Working women can do their part by allowing their voices to be heard, asking for raises or promotions based on the value and performance they bring to their jobs. Yet women tend to shy away from such situations because of the fear that it will be detrimental to their careers. Speaking up and taking initiative is perceived to be a risky endeavor. A recent article in The New Yorker shows that when women take the initiative to ask, being assertive and authoritative, they are often seen in a negative light. They are perceived as “tough” and employers are less inclined to work with them.  We need to create infrastructures and environments that encourage more women to speak up for what they want and receive what they rightfully deserve. Closing the gender gap alone would cut poverty in half for working women and their families.

Unequal pay and low wages are just a few of the many challenges we face in poverty. Women who fall into poverty are often also caregivers—workers who are mothers caring for their children and also at times their sick or aging relatives. The hurdle they face is the lack of policies to support them. Among advanced economies, the U.S. stands alone in not mandating for paid leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act. When caregiving duties call and a woman must take time off from her job, the result can be a drastic reduction in her paid work hours.  One can imagine the conflict faced in deciding whether to stay to earn the money from the job she needs or take leave because of the necessity of caring for an elderly family member or a young child. Not having paid leave creates fear of financial security— anxiety of whether she can make enough money in spite of the other challenges in her life.  As a result, after an absence from the workplace, a women is less likely to return, leaving her struggling to find a new career path and leaving a company scrambling to fill a new position and train a new hire.

Out of 185 countries, the U.S. stands with Oman and Papua New Guinea, both developing nations, in not granting paid maternity leave. Some of the developed nations that do offer paid maternity leave include the United Kingdom, which offers 40 weeks, and Vietnam and Ireland, both offering 26 weeks. Research shows that paid maternity leave of up to five months increases mothers’ employment. More women will enter and remain in the workforce as a result of paid maternity leave. Providing employees with paid leave is vital because it fosters a workplace culture in which mothers and caregivers belong in the work world. A study based on California employees and employers provides evidence of this phenomenon. Workers with low-quality jobs who used family leave insurance were more likely to return to their employer: 82.7% of workers who used paid leave returned, compared to 73% who did not have paid leave.

Wage increases, pay equality and paid family leave are all major issues to tackle, but I think that we as a society are up to the challenge. As the saying goes, “there’s no better time than right now,” especially as we see more women becoming the main providers for their families and as more women are aspiring for greater leadership positions throughout all sectors of industry. Plainly put, every aspect of the world suffers when the employment rate is low and the poverty rate is high, and we have suffered long enough.

So what does a world without poverty look like? It’s a world where every child has an education and is able to read because they don’t have to drop out of school to earn money for their family. It’s a world where family structures are strong and sustainable because parents are afforded the time away from work that it takes to lay a solid foundation on which the family can be built. It’s a world where workers are happy to perform their jobs, which leads to higher rates of production and better quality work. It’s a world where women have a true voice because they are provided with infrastructures that empower and support them, which leads to more women in leadership and more profitable companies.

Achieving a world like this requires the efforts of everyone. It requires us all to advocate for the government to perform its duties by ensuring that it implements policies that serve to help all people. We need to be vocal about the need to maximize programs and policies that empower women because empowering women worldwide is not just a win for women, it’s a win for everyone—and it’s a huge leap forward in eradicating poverty across the globe.

What Are Some Great Jobs for Your Personality Type?

Is there a way that your personality can determine your dream job for you? The folks at CollegeMatchUp.net seem to think so. These crafty creatives have brought the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to life with the below infographic.

And if you’re thinking to yourself “the Myers-Brigss WHAT?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you! The MBTI was created by a mother-daughter team some years ago to make the theory of psychological types understandable and useful in people’s lives, the key word being “useful.” Once you’ve determined your personality type, you can apply that to job industries where those characteristics might be most fitting. So if you’re an admin assistant that secretly yearns to be a nurse, there may be more method to that madness than you think!

Find out what your personality type is here and then see what careers CollegeMatchUp.net thinks might be best for you:

The Best Jobs for your Personality Type
Source: CollegeMatchup.net

Being Emotional Intelligent Benefits Your Work

Thanks to Brighton School of Business and Management for these awesome statistics! Find out more about the great work this school is doing at www.brightonsbm.com!

How To Power Lunch Like A Boss

Guest post from the the wonderful ladies a Like a Boss Girls!

Success isn’t always about what you know – but it’s often about who you know and what THEY know.

Learning from people who’ve been there and done that is invaluable. They have wisdom, inspiration, useful advice and sometimes even useful-er admonitions.

Asking for an informational interview or for an opportunity to meet doesn’t have to be hard.  There is nothing wrong with contacting someone you’ve never met. However, every business person puts a value on time. Before they commit to a meeting, they want to be certain that time is going to be wasted. If you’re contacting a complete stranger, ask for something that promises to be shorter than lunch. Ask for a phone call or a discreet amount of time (no more than 30 minutes) at a location convenient for them.

If you do have some connection, be sure that you point this out in the first sentence of your email or phone call. Even better, include it in the first five words: “Dear Ms. Benson, Theresa Scanlon suggested I reach out to you…”

After you establish your association, get to the point and don’t be wishy-washy about it. “I’d love to bounce some ideas off you” is meaningless. If you want to find out more about someone’s pioneering marketing techniques, say it straight out.

For their convenience you can always ask to meet at the person’s office. But if you really want this to be the start of something big, try inviting this new would-be mentor to lunch. (Avoid the whole fighting-over-the-check situation by casually noting that this is your treat. “If you have time this week, I’d love to take you to a quick lunch.”)

While your first business lunch can be nerve-wracking, it gets easier each time. Just keep it simple and take it bite by bite:

THE LOCATION

This is not the time to get all hoity-toity. Not only will suggesting a five-star restaurant with a seven-course meal come across as pretentious, it requires a greater time commitment than most can accommodate. Remember, a tightly-scheduled CEO won’t want to spend three hours at lunch no matter how charming you are.

Choose an eatery that doesn’t clash with your brand. If you’re launching a new yoga apparel line, suggesting that you grab a bite at the Heart Attack Grill will raise eyebrows. You want to demonstrate that your organization’s values are consistent with your own.

Since you’re the primary beneficiary of this lunch, you’re the one who travels. If possible, suggest a restaurant within ten minutes of your guest’s workplace.

THE ORDER

What to eat? Don’t over-think it. There are however, some items to steer clear of: food that’s likely to wind up decorating your shirt (pastas with sauce, chips and salsa, chili) and meals that take a long time to prepare (like risotto), for example.

Keep the special food requests to a minimum. Even if you’re a lo-carb lactose-intolerant pescatarian with a peanut allergy and have to ask for changes. While one or two substitutions are fine, asking the chef to completely remake a dish to suit your needs sends the message that you are high maintenance and difficult to work with. If you’re afraid you won’t be able to find something you can eat, go online, check out the restaurant’s menu and choose something ahead of time.

If there’s absolutely nothing you can ingest without sending written instructions to the kitchen, do everyone a favor and simply go out for coffee instead.

THE WRAP UP

Unless the conversation is flowing like the Niagara, look to wrap things up around the 45-minute mark. This may mean forgoing dessert and coffee. Take a cue from your “date”; ask if they have time for coffee/dessert.  If she/he is in a rush, have your credit card ready as the check is delivered and hand it over after taking a quick glance at the bill.

Just as important as the actual lunch is the day after the meeting. Be sure to follow-up with a thank you email, letting your dining companion know you appreciate their time. These meetings can and should be mutually beneficial. Offer up something to show your appreciation, even if it’s just mentioning some of the things you learned and how you’re going to follow-up.

Always remember: The real power in power lunching lies in the magical alchemy of connection!

For more tips on how to live, work, and rock like a boss,

check out Likea BossGirls.com!

How Networking Works

Guest Post by Reesa Staten of Robert Half

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature,

he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

Recently, I accepted an invitation to attend an industry conference in Chicago. I rarely go to these events because my job in California takes so much of my time. But I was curious to meet the people at this particular meeting because they hold roles similar to my own. It was a chance to compare notes on our jobs and make new connections.

Networking doesn’t come second nature to me. But connections do. Career experts will often tell you to “keep moving” when you are at a networking event or reception: make small talk, share a few things about yourself, exchange cards and go on to the next person. That never works for me. I like to connect with the people I meet by finding common ground, sharing a personal story, looking for ways I can use my experience to help the other person, or vice versa. I may spend the majority of my networking time speaking to just a handful of people.

This approach doesn’t work for everyone. It might not even work for the majority. But it feels right to me. And that is exactly the point. You need to find the networking style that best fits your personality. I like to get to know people, and I’m not thinking about how they can benefit me professionally — not immediately that is. Later when I reflect on our conversations, those opportunities to ask for advice or assistance invariably surface. I’m convinced this wouldn’t happen if I hadn’t taken the time to make a genuine connection. When I do, the door is wide open.

When you network, meeting new people is part of the process, but don’t forget your own self-interests. If you are in the job market, make sure you let people know. If you’re currently employed but exploring new job opportunities, let them know that, too.

A recent OfficeTeam survey of senior managers found that not asking others for help is the top networking mistake people make. Failing to keep in touch with contacts and not thanking the people who help you were also common pitfalls.

If you’re not yet confident networking, here are few tips to increase your comfort level:

1. Leave no stone unturned. Don’t rely solely on formal networking events or social media to broaden your list of contacts. Everywhere you go, you have an opportunity to make new connections that could lead you to your next big thing. Look at even chance encounters as opportunities for networking.

2. Nurture your network. Keep connections alive by checking in with your contacts periodically. Networking should be a process, not a one-time event. If you see something in the news you know would be interesting to people you know, share it with them. If you learn of a job that seems right for someone, pass that information along, too.

3. Don’t procrastinate. You should follow up with people within a week of meeting them and ideally sooner. That way, your conversation is still top of mind. If someone contacts you, respond quickly to show your interest in keeping in touch.

4. Be courteous. Don’t make networking all about you by constantly pushing your agenda. Not everyone you meet is in a position to help you, nor will they always have time to stop everything and hear you out. Treat new connections like you would any new friendship by being friendly, diplomatic and open. You’ll be rewarded with a more loyal network.

5. Perfect your grip. Networking may not come naturally to you. If you’re afraid or embarrassed to meet new people in a business setting, have more career-related conversations with people you already know. It will give you practice describing what you are looking for and what you can do. The more you have these conversations, the more confident you will be when you meet someone who could more directly influence your job prospects.

When we are very young, making new friends comes easily. But as we grow older, insecurities emerge that chip away at our confidence. Just remember that other people have the same insecurities — and the same desire to make connections — that you do. Take your cue from your 5-year-old self, and don’t be afraid to start a new conversation. If you’re positive and genuine, the people you meet will be happy not only to make a connection with you but also to invite you into their network. That’s how networking works!

Reesa Staten is senior vice president of Corporate Communications and director of workplace research for Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Staten has been writing job search advice for more than 15 years and oversees Robert Half’s extensive workplace research program. Write to her at reesa@roberthalf.com.

Poise in the Workplace

Guest Post by Jennifer L. Scott

Do you know what your most valuable asset in the workplace is? It might not be what you think. If you acquire this asset, you will instantly stand out in your job as a valuable employee. People will take notice of you for all the right reasons. You will command respect, no matter what your position in the company is.

So what could this mysterious asset possibly be? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not something that you can buy. It has nothing to do with money. I’ll give you another hint: it’s something that anyone can have. Yes, anyone. Here’s one last hint: it is something you can’t quite put your finger on, but when someone has it you just know there is something special about them.

The asset I am talking about is poise. Poise is a graceful and elegant bearing in someone. Poised people have good manners, good decorum and present themselves well. This is such a valuable asset in the workplace because all of these traits show that you are reliable, dependable and committed. Your behavior and the way you present yourself puts others at ease, whether they realize it or not. Poise is powerful because those who have it command respect.

A major part of poise is personal presentation, not only with good posture, diction and eye contact, but also with how you dress and how you express your personal style.

Every morning when you get dressed, you make a choice of how you would like to present yourself to the world. As a poised person in the workplace, your wardrobe choices should be appropriate, professional and reflect your individual style. You do not need to buy expensive clothes or even have a wardrobe filled with lots of clothes to do this. You just need a few key outfits that fit you well, are appropriate for your job and reflect your personality.

If you are unsure what your true style is, it is a great idea to pick neutral, basic clothing. You can always inject personality with your accessories like scarves or jewelry. If you work in a conservative office environment, for example, you can never go wrong with classic looks like a simple, black dress, navy or beige trousers, a white blouse or a black blazer. These items can be worn in so many different ways with many combinations that you will never get bored of, but can feel confident in. The great news is you can find outfits that meet this criterion at any price range.

We all make visual judgments every day and your employer, customers and coworkers are no different. As we work on our poise, our newfound changes will be reflected in our wardrobe choices and set us up for success in whatever career we choose.

Jennifer L. Scott is the New York Times bestselling author of Lessons from Madame Chic, At Home with Madame Chic and Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic (Simon & Schuster) and creator of the blog The Daily Connoisseur.

She is a contributing writer for Huffington Post Style and has been featured on CNN, BBC, and CBS News, and in The New York TimesVanity FairUSA TodayNewsweek, and The Daily Mail. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California.

Lizanne Kindler on Rekindling the Talbots Brand

 

In 2012, Talbots was predicted to be one of top ten brands that would disappear by 2013. Coming out of the recession, the Massachusetts-based women’s clothing company experienced a period of profit losses, waning clientele and was looking to close almost 20% of their stores. Enter Lizanne Kindler. The retailer was barely treading water when Lizanne, the brand’s former Executive Vice President of Merchandising, returned to the company as the President and Chief Executive Officer.

“We like to call it my very long vacation away from Talbots,” she jokes.

Today, Talbots has more than 500 retail stores and outlets throughout the U.S. and Canada, and attracts some of the country’s most powerful women as clients, including First Lady Michelle Obama, who touted the brand on national television this year with Jimmy Fallon.

Emerging from years of brand dilution and experimentation with trends and audiences, Talbots has recreated a cohesive style, focused on women’s professional wear with a classic foundation and modern edge. Under Lizanne’s direction, Talbots has streamlined its marketing and defined itself as a brand that empowers women both through the power of fashion choices, as well as the company’s philanthropic support of our very own organization. Such tactics have brought Talbots out of the rat race and into a unique space in the retail industry. Lizanne credits her part in the redirection to an internal sense of competition.

“I don’t get caught up in what you would call the shiny bright objects,” she explains. “I don’t really think about my drive as it relates to other people and that has enabled me to stay extremely focused with a tremendous amount of clarity around what I can achieve.”

Unlike many in her field, Lizanne was equally attracted to the business aspect of retail as she was to the fashion. Before originally linking up with Talbots, Lizanne began her career at Ann Taylor Inc., where she climbed the ranks to serve as Senior Vice President of Merchandising over the course of 15 years. At Ann Taylor, Lizanne was instrumental in guiding the foundational stages of their ecommerce, as well as kick-starting the now lucrative youth brand, Ann Taylor Loft.  She then joined the Talbots team for a three-year period before accepting a position as Executive Vice President of Product Development at Kohl’s to gain a piece of retail education missing from her resume. Without any direct knowledge of product development and sourcing, Lizanne’s strong communication and relational skills gave her an edge, but the ability to recognize her own strengths and weaknesses became her most valuable asset.

“In any leadership position, but especially as a female executive, you don’t want to appear as if you don’t know, so you have this need to feel like you have everything under control, but I’ve found that it’s so much more powerful to just understand that you can’t control it all the way down to the lowest level, you have to trust that the talent you have around you is going to drive it,” she says.

Now back at Talbots, Lizanne has the self-awareness to trust in her own strengths as an executive and the humility to place the same amount of confidence in her team. This model has encouraged her employees to work collaboratively in cultivating a mutual respect and opening Talbots to new opportunities for growth, both internally and externally. Lizanne maintains a diverse team of professionals around her and is proud to lead an executive leadership team where seven out of 12 members are women.

With more than two decades of experience as an executive, Lizanne now leads an international brand with employees that number in the thousands, but her business savvy can be traced back to childhood.  Born in Denmark, Lizanne and her brother were raised by deaf parents. From a very young age, she became somewhat of the family ambassador, handling everything from her parent’s tax returns to booking their plane tickets. Early exposure to handling her parents’ external affairs gave Lizanne the interpersonal skills necessary to move steadily up the corporate ladder.

“I was sort of their ears and voice to the world, so I learned very early on that communication and how you connect with people can be very powerful, and can change the outcome of a situation,” she says.

As Lizanne got a little older, her parents braved drastic career changes, quitting their jobs in factories to become teachers for other deaf learners. As an integral part of their interaction with the outside, she was inspired by her parents’ strength and curiosity to make their mark on a world where they were intrinsically marginalized.

At 11 years old, Lizanne traveled to the United States for the first time to visit her aunt, who had moved to Washington, D.C., and ran a department store chain. Though Lizanne admittedly didn’t know exactly what she was witnessing at the time, she watched as her aunt in a leadership role and returned to Denmark devout in her career choice. Her aunt was breaking through “glass ceilings” before that phrase became commonplace and Lizanne became enamored with her aunt’s work ethic and business savvy, as well as her accomplishments within the workplace.

“She became my role model. My parents were my backbone, but she was really my north star,” says Lizanne.

Even with decades of experience and as an accomplished CEO, Lizanne consistently leverages the foundational skills she learned outside of the classroom and the office. “I wake up every day coming in to win and do better, but with the appropriate amount of humility and ambition,” she laughs. And it is this mix of qualities in Lizanne’s leadership that has helped Talbots recreate a legacy that is shared through generations and consistently keeps women coming back to shop for more.