While ClearEdge Marketing’s involvement in the TechServe Alliance women’s event was a bit different than years past (we traded an in-person luncheon for a virtual happy hour!) I was inspired by everything I heard. I wish I could share every nugget that sparked my imagination but here are a few takeaways, based on commentary.

One thing you wish someone told you as you continued to accelerate and take on leading roles?

  • Focus on building relationships first. They are what will move you through obstacles.
  • Leave space to think! If you do, you think more rationally. It empowers you to lead.
  • Be more balanced; there’s always more work to do.
  • Perfection is a trap. It is impossible.

What character traits have most benefited you?

  • Intellectual curiosity: I’m never satisfied with the way things are done today.
  • Creativity
  • Determination: If I feel strongly about anything, I push. I wish more women would embrace this⎯be authentic⎯I’ve never followed the crowd.
  • I don’t know everything, so I learned to be resourceful with the right people who have that proficiency. 
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Describe a moment where you faced a roadblock and the steps you took to overcome that hurdle.

  • My obstacle has always been my positioning in HR. Messages important to HR are not always important to production.
  • Rely on strong relationships with stakeholders.
  • Learn the landscape and the language.
  • If you can build a relationship, you can move through any obstacle.
  • When obstacles are in front of you, trust your gut.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away from something; you may be walking towards something else.

What can the staffing industry do now to improve diversity in the c-suite?

  • Real honest conversation. Once you know better, you do better.
  • It’s not a one and done thing.
  • No pronouncement, no announcement… engage!
  • When you acquire companies; think of putting someone diverse in the C-suite.

(For a deeper dive on Teresa’s perspective, listen to The Edge podcast on “It’s all about the people you impact.”)

 Leading in Today’s World

Following the keynote interviews, we took advantage of the breakout room feature for small group discussions, each led by an industry leader:

Gretchen KeefnerGretchen Keefner
VP Enterprise North America,

Lydia WilsonLydia Wilson
EVP Strategy & Development
Signature Consultants

Kerri QuigleyKerri Quigley
SVP Staffing Practice

Julie WesthoffJulie Westhoff
Senior IT Recruiter

Anna FrazzettoAnna Frazzetto
Chief Digital Technology Officer

Each group focused their discussion on one or more of the following four questions:

  1. As leaders, what are some ways (both small and big) we can address employee needs?
  2. How can you make yourself heard, even more so now, at a distance?
  3. What are the top three ways we can be more intentional about opening doors wider for those who come after you?
  4. What are three ways that we, as leaders, can speak productively about bias without letting ourselves off the hook?

Here are some AHA moments resulting from those discussions:


  • Keep engaged and connected to each other
  • Increase communication and transparency 
  • Maintain traditions
  • Ask, listen to what people need and respond with action

Ways to stay connected

  • Group dog walking when you share good news only — nothing work related
  • This or That with new team members 
  • Watercooler Wednesdays
  • Instacart team cook-off, sending groceries to everyone 
  • Question-of-the-day emails
  • ‘Ask me Anything’ with CEO 
  • First call of the day is a video call, so everyone is ready for the day (maintaining rituals)
  • Company happy hours, grub hubs

Company-sponsored resources introduced to support employees

  • Meditation class
  • Working parents’ class
  • Psychologist 

On being heard

  • Today’s environment makes everyone equal so turn it to your advantage
  • Be ready with your technology (ensure you’re not on mute); be present, be engaging 
  • An accountability partner in meetings can call you out if you’re not engaging in the conversation
  • Be prepared: if you want a seat at the table, you have to be prepared, non-apologetic and open minded
  • The power of listening

As I read over the list, I realize some of the underlying meaning may be lost in translation, so please reach out if you see anything here that intrigues you. We’ll connect you with the idea generator for more info.

A Toast to Playing It Big and Making Your Mark!

We closed the event with a happy hour toast. Nelson Mandela said, “There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

We are all capable of playing it big. When we do, we will open doors not only for ourselves, but for others behind us. How will you play it big?

Teresa: As a wife, mother and female leader, if I’m not failing as wife and mother in the end.

Anna: Anything is possible; fight for your passions. I fight for what I feel is right.

Shabana: You need someone you can jump out of the plane with.

Candy: If something’s been done before, you can do it too. If not, you can be the first. 

Cheers to all of us playing it BIG for ourselves and others!