On Monday, Diane blogged about setting career goals for the new year. One professional strength that most career women need to work on is being self-assured and assertive. So this week, we’re featuring an interview with Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive Vice President of the Dallas Cowboys Football Club, Chairwoman of The Salvation Army National Advisory Board and President of NFL Charities. Just talk with Charlotte for a few minutes, and you’ll see she has cultivated both of these traits.
4word: Can you give us an example of a time when you had to practice being self-assured?
Charlotte: It was in the late 90s, toward the beginning of my career, and the Dallas Cowboys were looking to partner with a charitable organization.
One day, I was at Frito Lay headquarters for a meeting, when Steve Reinemund passed me a note that he wanted to see me in his office afterwards. My boss at the time had been trying for weeks to get a meeting with Mr. Reinemund, and I knew I had a big opportunity to bring back good news to him if this meeting went well!
Almost right off the bat, he asked me, “Charlotte, do you know what charitable organization helps more children than any other organization in our country?” And I said, “No.” Then he asked, “Do you know what is the largest charitable organization in the country?” Again I had to say, “No.” Then he asked me if I knew what The Salvation Army did. I looked up at him and said, “Sure I do! That’s where I take my old clothes.”
He smiled and explained that was exactly the problem. He told me their biggest asset - their humility - was also their biggest challenge. At this point, I had answered all three questions incorrectly and really knew very little about the topic. If I hadn’t been self-assured, even after answering incorrectly, I would have missed the opportunity he was about to present.
Because what I also didn’t know was that he was the Chairman of the Army’s National Advisory Board. He told me that since the Salvation Army spent their time serving, they needed to find someone to promote all of the incredible work they do.
I knew right then that the Dallas Cowboys could do that for them. And that day in the office of Frito Lay, my love for the Salvation Army was born, as was their partnership with the Dallas Cowboys.
4word: Wow! That would take some self-assurance. And what about assertiveness? Is there another story there?
Charlotte: A short time later, I was with my dad in New York City on our way to 30 Rockefeller Center for a meeting with the head of NBC, Dick Ebersol. We arrived at his office, exchanged some pleasantries, and then he asked, “So what brings you to New York City, Mr. Jones?”
Although my dad had told me to let him do the talking during this meeting, he turned to me and said, “Charlotte has something to ask you.”
Now that he had turned the floor over to me, I had to take a deep breath and pitch him our idea.
I looked across the desk at Mr. Ebersol and briefly explained our new partnership with the Army and our plan to kick off their national Red Kettle Campaign with a hit music artist during the halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day game the Cowboys play every year. Then I asked him if he would feature a part of the show on national television and have his news announcers mention The Salvation Army during their coverage.
And what do you know? We walked out of that office with Mr. Ebersol’s promise to do both. But he wasn’t going to just feature part of the show, he was going to air the entire show!
4word: What advice do you have for our readers who aren’t naturally self-assured or assertive? How can they begin to cultivate these traits?
Charlotte: My father always told me to find something that I was passionate about, that I truly believed in and to look in the mirror everyday and ask myself if I was doing everything I could to turn my passion into reality. He said not to let setbacks, or "character building opportunities" as he used to call them, take me off track.
Although I was not always confident that the outcome I was hoping for was going to occur, I was able to develop confidence by assuring myself that I truly was doing all that I could to be successful at reaching my goals.
Would you describe yourself as self-assured or assertive? Do you agree that those are important traits for a working woman to possess?