At T-Mobile, we are Trailblazers. We challenge convention, drive change, welcome bold thinking and embrace diversity. We are also well aware that there are a lot of other Trailblazers out there that we can learn from, who can inspire us – and who can make us think hard about what we are doing and how we do it!
So, earlier this year, we kicked off a new internal series called Talking with Trailblazers, a monthly guest-speaker series for T-Mobile employees that brings some of the brightest, most innovative, creative and diverse leaders from across the country inside the company’s magenta doors to talk about topics that matter. Recently, T-Mobile’s Executive Vice President of Communications and Community Engagement Janice V. Kapner sat down with newly minted Executive Vice Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, award-winning journalist and founder of career advice website Radiate, Betty Liu. In their conversation, Liu shared her top Trailblazer tips for building your personal brand and becoming a successful leader. Here are excerpts.
1. Stop thinking about what you want and start thinking about what you can give.
“When I started at Bloomberg TV, one of the first tasks I was given was to get an interview with Warren Buffet – a ‘get’ that the team had never ‘gotten.’ I spent about a year putting in interview requests. Nothing. Then I thought, I need to stop asking him what he can do for me and start thinking of what I can do for him. I started sending him articles on areas he was interested in. Still, radio silence. Then, one day we did a story on one of his companies, and I sent that. He sent back a letter that read, ‘That was a really great story, thanks so much.’ The next time I asked, I got the interview.”
2. Don’t underestimate perseverance and grit.
“If you follow your passion and you work really hard, you will get where you want to get. That interview with Warren Buffet? It took three years to land.”
3. Ask for help.
“Don’t just ask a potential mentor to coffee, ask them how to solve a problem. People who have attained a certain level of success in their lives tend to be givers and helpers.”
4. Get out of your comfort zone.
“Working, living or even just traveling abroad is so incredibly important to helping you think outside the box.”
5. Know when to press pause.
“I very much believe in work-life integration rather than work-life balance. Don’t apologize for wanting to work. But also take time to rest and rejuvenate.”
6. Update your idea of diversity.
“Ten years ago, diversity was thought of mainly as the color of our skin or gender. But diversity is also about having people who think differently than one another who can bring in their varied experiences and backgrounds.”
7. Be curious.
“Be open and malleable to new ideas and ways of thinking of things. But also be willing to adjust once you get new information.”
8. Be patient.
“Every no is the next step to a yes. Whenever you get a no, it’s just no for now, not no forever.”
9. Embrace radical candor.
“Give honest, genuine feedback – but with care. A lot of managers feel bad about giving direct feedback. But what they don’t realize is that without it, you don’t grow.”
10. Know your personal brand.
“Go to ten people who know you on a professional level – not your friends or family – and ask them to describe you in three or four words. You’ll see certain words pop up over and over – that’s your personal brand. It helps you understand how to relate, interact and work with people. Lean into it – let people know who you are.”
Over 1,400 employees watched Betty Liu and took her advice to heart, their enthusiastic responses ranging from “Thank you for the great advice and insights!” and “Excited to be hearing from such an inspiring leader” to simply “Incredible.” Stay tuned for more takeaways from T-Mobile’s Talking with Trailblazers series!