Learning from Robin Matlock

I spent two years of my life in business school, fell off the blog train, and have finally returned to the real world. I am now a product manager at VMware in Palo Alto, which is surreal when I think about it. I was drawn to Silicon Valley by the power of some invisible magnet; even the dissipating sheen of the Valley hasn’t dimmed the excitement for me. I feel lucky to be here, and I want to make the best use of this opportunity that not many people get. One of these opportunities most recently allowed me to sit it on an intimate discussion with Robin Matlock, the CMO at VMware. She shared with the group her five mantras for success in the context of empowering women in business and I want to list them here for posterity.

  1. Have a growth mindset: I haven’t read the book, but I believe the general idea is that even if you think you’re not innately skilled at something, you can work towards getting good at it. I definitely think there is truth to the idea that some things just come more naturally to people (athletic prowess, mental acuity). But I also believe that hard work and repetition can be substitutes for natural talent, and that requires a change in mindset.
  2. Ramp up your resonance: Find your voice. We play a passive role in the dialogue and expect to be heard without actually speaking. If you have an informed point of view, then you need the courage and voice to assert that. It is okay if there’s gaps in your knowledge – people at work do this all the time and I often mistake confidence for competence.
  3. Network: It’s a journey, not a destination. Set a goal for how many new people you want to meet, and more importantly, think about who it is you want to meet (internal, external, customers, peers). Don’t clump with people you know, and this one for me is personally harder than it sounds.
  4. Move on to move up: Fight hard on the court but once the fight is over, let it go. Don’t take it personally, don’t dwell on it. This one I think speaks for itself.
  5. Connect with your core: Spend time to introspect and discover what truly matters to you. If you’re not working towards some larger purpose, there is truly nothing anchoring you to your job.

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