DigitasLBi's Jill Kelly: 10 things I know for sure - sort of

A lens into lessons learned as a woman, mother, wife, daughter, manager, and a minority.

If you are a fan of Oprah Winfrey, you may be familiar with the column "What I Know for Sure" in O, The Oprah Magazine. I borrow this shamelessly and respectfully as a lens into the lessons I’ve learned as a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a manager, and a minority.

Don’t let the last name fool you. I was born in South Korea as Je Un Park. When I was adopted at age 5, a new identity was given to me, Jill Marie Kelly, along with the promise of a new life 6,675 miles away in a little place called the Bronx.

Over the years, I’ve mentally collected a collage of lessons learned and epiphanies realized or stumbled upon. This is not a pristine or permanent list – ergo the "sort of." Nor is it original. My list is informed and shaped by wiser people whom I had a chance to know, love, work with, admire, stand by, and read and hear about. I have adopted their knowledge, and by the simple act of documentation, I pass them on in the hope that it will inspire other "What I Know for Sure" lists worthy of sharing.

10. Sleep.
A well-rested brain is a productive brain. And most of us don’t get enough. Get more of it.

9. You don’t have to know everything, but know enough to ask good questions.
An expert is not a know-it-all and nor is it defined solely by statements made or recommendations declared. The kinds of questions one asks is an equally worthy indicator of IQ and emotional intelligence.

8. Focus on the people who give you energy.
We all know, perhaps painfully well, the people who simply exhaust and drain us. We also know the people who energize us, giving us fuel to run up hills with and for them. Invest and focus your calories on the hill-runners. 

7. Calluses of life are badges of honor.
We all have moments of pain, fear, trials. Sometimes we fail; sometimes we succeed. Each experience is a pixel in our individual portraits. This makes you colorful, interesting, and a bundle of stories waiting to be written and read. Display your pixels with pride.

6. Master compartmentalization.
Simply said, if you have a bad meeting at 9 am, your 10 am meeting shouldn’t know that your 9 am meeting was awful. Reset, shed and move on.

5. Be first to own the failure, and last to claim success.
This is a personal leadership behavior that I admire, and have tried to adopt as a manager of teams. Be magnanimous. Take the frontline hits for the team, just make sure you have enough credits for these "withdrawals," and let the warmth of the spotlight shine on your team, with you standing strong behind them.

4. Lean in, but be careful not to fall on your face.
Choose the battles you take on, and the things you stand (up) for. If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. Know when to back away. If you lean in too hard without a plan B, you may fall flat and end up with nothing but a bruised ego and an emotional black eye.

3. Bad people make good people second guess themselves.
You know those people. The ones who poke holes just to poke holes. And you end up feeling small. I have been both the recipient and giver of this, much to my shame. Give good folks oxygen to do great stuff. Most likely, they won’t disappoint.

2. Own the material, and the moment.
Whatever material you are presenting — whether it’s a discussion on the thickness of toilet paper to a growth plan that will open new revenue opportunities — own the material and command your moment. If you take it seriously, everyone else will, too. If you rush or don’t have confidence in your material, your audience won’t take you or the subject seriously.

1. You are braver than you think.
I believe we all have the brave gene. During the darkest days of life, I have known very few to falter because of cowardice. When you need to brave, have confidence that you will be. 

Now, go get some sleep.

Jill Kelly is chief communications officer at DigitasLBi. She was recently honored as a ColorComm 2015 Circle Award winner.

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