To have influence and be able to influence others, do you have everything in life figured out? Nope! In fact, influencers are needed in every step of a journey, because there will always be someone behind you who needs the knowledge you just gained by going through their current issue. Tracey Newell wraps up her time with 4word by encouraging each of us to find balance that includes realistic expectations, people who aren’t afraid to push us toward our ‘best,’ and a dedication to take things one baby step at a time.
You can listen to this entire conversation with Tracey on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.
If you’re influencing others and making waves in your professional life, how do you make sure that you aren’t neglecting the other parts of your life?
The main idea of work-life balance is that it really is a balance. Sometimes work takes 100% and sometimes life takes 100%, so you have to figure out a balance that works for you. There will be times when life takes 100% and you’ve got to give yourself permission to make sure that you do what you need to do for the people in your life who matter the most.
It took me a long time to figure out this idea of giving myself permission to have balance. As a working mom, I would go to my boss and say, ‘Hey, I have to leave at three today because I’m taking my daughter to the doctor and she’s really sick’ and on and on. But then the guy sitting next to me would say, ‘Hey, I have a hard stop at three. I have another meeting.’ And what was he doing? Going to the the baseball game! So figure out your work-life balance because it’s important. You’ll be a better employee and more successful, personally and professionally.
My second piece of advice is be comfortable with your choices. Again, one of my personal experiences: I was in Arizona, working for a gentleman who ran a $20 billion company. His communications person was next to me and we were talking and I asked, ‘How you doing Alison?’ She said, ‘I miss Max.’ And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so hard.’ Well, Max was five and Alison was sad because she felt really bad that she wasn’t with her son. My boss and her boss was eavesdropping and said, ‘I don’t understand; what’s the problem?’ And I told them, ‘You don’t understand because you’re a man. Women have this problem. We want to be perfect at work.’ My boss replied, ‘I don’t get it. I have four kids. They’re all going to have to work. I’m being a great role model and providing them a great life. If I wasn’t doing what I was doing, how would they exist?’
I really thought about that for a couple of days…and it came to me. He was choosing not to feel guilty. He was making a conscious choice to be comfortable with his choices. Fast forward a week later, my five year old is in the back of the car and I’m driving her to school, which I didn’t do all that often. My daughter says, ‘Mom, how come you don’t come to kindergarten and make the brownies and read the stories and correct the math?’ Normally, I would’ve been crushed. I kind of hesitated and I said, ‘You know what? There are two kinds of moms. There’s the one that works inside the house and one that works outside the house. They’re both really important. I work outside of the house and I really like my job and I’m good at my job and I enjoy it. And because of this job, we get to live in the house that we live in and we get to go on vacations.’ My daughter got really quiet and we moved on. Two days later, she’s in the backseat of the car again with two little five year olds. And as I’m listening to their conversation, I hear my daughter say, ‘My mom’s got a really big job and she’s really good at it, and she gets to do this and she gets to do that.’ I started laughing and thought, ‘I’m torturing myself instead of just being comfortable with my choices.’ The people around us feel that comfort or discomfort and they mirror it back to us. So stop torturing yourself. Pick a direction and go for it. But be present when it matters and make sure that you are present and balanced for the people and the things that you care about.
Should someone go on this journey toward being a woman of influence alone, or does it help to have others included?
If you would’ve told me that at 20 years old I’d be leading a company, I would’ve said you were crazy. No one in my my family had ever done that. The only reason I was able to do that is because I had amazing mentors and friends and advisors and peers who helped me along the way, through the good times and especially in the tougher situations. If you don’t have a mentor, get one. Mentorship is really important and you’ll need different mentors along the way, because your circumstances will change and the advice that you need will change. And while you are making sure you have a couple of mentors throughout your career, don’t forget to also be one. Women need help and encouragement.
A couple of times throughout my life, a trusted person would tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘You can do more.’ If they hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have known that I could, in fact, do more. I tried to spend my whole career finding those people to say, ‘You can do more.’ It’s amazing how humble people are and until somebody tells you that you can push yourself to do more, you may not know what you’re capable of.
What is one thought or piece of advice that you want our readers to remember most from everything we’ve talked about?
That’s pretty easy! I have spent a career studying people and the power of human potential. What I’ve learned is that most people do get what they want in life, but they sell themselves too short. What I mean is that they set short-term goals, like wanting a new refrigerator, or a new car…and that’s the extent of their dreaming. I would encourage everyone that’s reading this to be bold and think bigger. Five or ten years from now, if all your dreams aligned, what do you want to achieve personally, professionally, spiritually?
We need more women leaders. We just do. If you’re even just a little bit open to taking that next manager job, or VP job, then why can’t you run a company? I promise you that no one running a company today thought that they could do that when they were 15, 20, or 25 years old. They had the big plan, took baby steps, and did the work. So I would encourage y’all to be bold, dream big, and go after those dreams.
Specializing in accelerating go-to-market teams and top line revenue growth, Tracey Newell serves on the board of five high growth software companies, to include Sailpoint, Sumo Logic, Druve, Highspot and DataRobot. Tracey also serves as an advisor for Blackrock Long Term Private Capital.
Tracey is the former president of Informatica, where she served as a member of Informatica’s board of directors for two years, prior to being asked to join Informatica’s management team. As president of Informatica, Tracey was responsible for sales, marketing, revenue operations, and customer success.
Prior to joining Informatica, Tracey was EVP of global field operations at Proofpoint, where she led sales through a five-year period of hypergrowth from 96M to 700M. Recognized as a Top 100 Sales Leader by The Modern Sale, Tracey led Proofpoint’s go-to-market team to became a top five leader in the cybersecurity market. Before Proofpoint, Tracey was EVP of global sales at Polycom. She has also held sales leadership positions at Juniper Networks, Webex, and Cisco Systems. During her tenure at Cisco, Tracey was recognized by the organization Women Worth Watching.
From a philanthropic standpoint, Tracey is on the board of advisors for the University of California, Santa Barbara’s economic department, providing counsel on long term strategy for the department. Tracey has also served in non-profit organizations to include Impact 100, whose mission is to unite women to make a difference in our communities, as well as the National Charity League. Tracey graduated with honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and completed Stanford’s 26th Annual Directors College in June 2021.
Tracey is married to Vince Newell, together for 30+ years, and is blessed with two adult daughters, Megan (28) and Brittany (25).