We are now in the societal version of the financial crisis that reared its head in 2008. I was working at American Express in 2008 and with a front row seat to the recession, the picture was bleak. And here’s what CEO Ken Chenault and his senior staff did: they talked to us, and kept talking to us. All the time. Every week. They told us what they were afraid of. They told us what kept them up at night. They shared data with us. They didn’t give up. They urged us to do whatever we could with whatever we had from wherever we were in the company. And so I did. I’m going to write him a letter and thank him for his example that I carry to this day.
I realize that my expectations of leadership are very high, and I have no intention of lowering them. I didn’t always agree with Ken’s decisions while I was at Amex (and sometimes I adamantly and publicly disagreed), but I certainly always respected him. I always believed he was trying to do the right thing given extenuating and complex circumstances. I know that no matter how hard I was working, he was working harder.
My boss at Toys R Us, Bob G., was the same way. He was always invested in who I was as a human being first, and as an employee second. And he would often tell me that in addition to showing it through his world-class mentoring and advice.
I recognize that I have been tremendously fortunate to have had many great leaders during my career. (Some god-awful ones, too, but we’ll save that for another post.) CEOs, don’t throw away an opportunity to exercise leadership and to inspire your people, especially during these trying and difficult times. That’s when your people need leaders the most—not when the sailing is smooth but when the water is choppy and the direction unclear. Your people need you. Don’t fail them.
Published by Christa Avampato
The short of it:
Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day.
The long of it:
My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events.
While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, Boston.com, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series.
A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist.
I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media:
• I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference;
• I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable;
• I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me.
Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.
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