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Overcoming Insecurities: Insights from the Greatest Night in Pop and A Panel of Experienced GCs

Last week at our Palo Alto program, RSGC Advisory Board member Vicki Donati moderated an engaging panel with experienced General Counsels Julie Gruber (Gap, Inc.), Jaci Lee (Flynn Group), Jan Kang (3Degrees Group, Inc.), and Malissia Clinton (Meritage Homes).

Vicki kicked off the panel with a comparison inspired by her viewing the night before of Netflix’s documentary, The Greatest Night in Pop, which chronicles the making of the iconic “We Are the World” anthem in January 1985. Vicki expressed surprise at seeing that so many of music's biggest talents - Lionel Ritchie, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Cindy Lauper, and Huey Lewis – were nervous and unsure of themselves as they stood in a room of peers, wanting to make a difference. Each took multiple takes to shake off the pressure and lay down their tracks. Even the legendary Bob Dylan needed Stevie Wonder to guide and coach him to get his bit out. How could such enormous talents feel insecure stepping up to the mic?

Turning to the room of new GCs, Vicki observed that the angst captured by the documentary served as a poignant metaphor for the insecurities we all face, even at the height of our careers. Even the best of the best sometimes feel that they aren’t worthy, that their gifts aren’t enough.

That analogy resonated. It allowed the new GCs to feel that it was ok – even normal – to feel inadequate and uncertain. The reality is, we all feel like imposters sometimes, like the person sitting next to us is more talented or capable or smarter than we are. One way we can fight through those feelings, and let our intellect and skill come through, is through the help and support of a few mentors and coaches along the way (the Stevie Wonders among us). The panel then talked about ways to lean into their strengths, to overcome their fears, and to embrace the building blocks of success, with a series of shared successes and challenges, tips and tricks, ways to approach the implicit and explicit work of being a successful GC.

The panel’s wisdom, and their sharing of vulnerabilities, served as a powerful reminder that we are so much more than our doubts and personal insecurities. More than the mistakes we’ve made and the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. We just need to step to the mic and do what we do … just like our heroes on the Greatest Night in Pop.

Thank you Vicki for that insightful perspective. Thank you to Julie, Jaci, Jan and Malissia for helping us to learn, grow, reflect and recenter ourselves on our worth and capabilities.



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