Quotation of the Week: Ursula Burns of Xerox

The accolades that I get for doing absolutely nothing are amazing–I’ve been named to every list, literally, since I became the C.E.O.–Ursula Burns, new CEO of Xerox.  First African-American named to a major American corporation, and the first time a woman succeeded another woman in the top job at a company of this size.I argued about the strength and dominating power of self-deprecation in a post about Meryl Streep, earlier this month.  A second thing that needs to be asserted about Ms. Burns is that she has had the good fortune to have been mentored all along her pathway.  It’s rather clear that those who succeed at the highest levels have a long history of great mentors.  In today’s world, your network is your mentor.  However, the dirty little secret about networks is that few people have really useful networks.  Again and again, clients at major companies around the nation have asked for help in developing useful networks.  The operative term is “useful.”  That would include people whose cooperation and compliance you’ll need, as well as those whose opposition you would need to be able to manage.  That’s an operational network, but you’ll also need a strategic network that will include peers and execs who can help you see the big picture at your company and make outside contacts.  Finally, you’ll need a personal network of those contacts that allow you to continue to develop professionally and to remain on the cutting edge of your profession.  These are the networks people often use when they want to make a career move. I detail the “useful network” in my post on who should be in my work network.
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