Your brand is what you wish for people to associate with you when they think of your name. It is the expertise or the qualities that are linked to you. It’s what you start out with, and when people are working with you or getting to know you in any capacity—personal or professional— it’s what people think of you.
I strive for my brand to be associated with excellence. I am by no means perfect, but people who know me would attest that I approach every situation with 100 percent effort. I give my best in hopes of achieving my excellence. Other words associated with my brand include hard-working, firm, fair, listener, problem solver, caring, integrity, bold, fun, mother, wife, and friend.
As general counsel it is also important that my legal brand includes subject expertise and partnership. I try to demonstrate that in everything I do. When I’m interacting with my in-house clients, I always come to the table with a business solution, not just a legal problem. It is important to me that my business partners know I am not just their general counsel; I am also their business partner who happens to have a legal degree. I am not there solely to advise on rules and regulations, but to suggest solutions and alternatives. I’m proactively involved with the company, not passively sitting and waiting for a problem to hit my desk. I am always thinking about how I can make Ziegler better. I am just as concerned about revenue and bottom line as my business partners.
“It is important to me that my business partners know I am not just their general counsel; I am also their business partner who happens to have a legal degree.”
Building and maintaining one’s brand never ends. All of these qualities are always with you and are what you exude when people see you. That is your brand.
If you look up the definition of integrity, I think you’ll see something about the quality of having strong moral principles and moral uprightness. If you always have integrity, you will never have regrets because everything you do will come from a place in your heart that’s moral and upright.
I have two little girls, a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old. They’re the absolute loves of my life. For me to be a successful general, counsel I have to be a successful mother. Being a mother and a wife and maintaining a happy, healthy, spiritually sound family is more important than anything that I could ever do in my career. Family comes first. It’s not easy, but to achieve balance, start by finding a company that respects and welcomes work-life balance. Then make sure you have open and honest conversations with your manager about the importance of family to you. Again, it goes back to your brand. If your manager knows that you’re a hard-working person, you’re dedicated, and you’re going to always strive to achieve excellence, then he or she will have confidence and trust in you and know that if you take off a little early today or if you work from home tomorrow, the work isn’t going to fall through the cracks.
With today’s technology, there are so many ways to get things done remotely. I’ve been on conference calls in Disney, at the doctor’s office, outside of dance rehearsal—you name it. You do not have to be in the office to get things done. You can get things done really from anywhere, anytime. You can always send out e-mail; you can always get back online. You had that communication, starting with the reputation that you set for yourself, so that you can have the flexibility that you need.
As a leader, my job is to motivate and inspire people to achieve a common goal or execute a vision. A good leader encourages growth and creativity, and is always willing to listen. I am a firm believer that people work for people, not companies. As such, I try to lead by the example of how I would want to be led. I am supportive, always willing to listen and enjoy bringing the best out of people. I am known for challenging people to do their best, to grow, and to step out of their comfort zone.