My Experience at Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit

  • by Liz Kaplow

Before this week, I never really thought consciously about the meaning of power. As a kid, there was a kind of natural power and energy swirling around my parents: My mom’s power as an artist came through in her ability to create. My dad, a textile executive, let me in on his world of business. Even as a kid, he asked me my opinion and let me visit him in the office, where his decisive yet collaborative leadership left a striking impression. Both left me with the idea that power can show up in many ways.

Last week, I attended Fortune MPW Summit, bringing together outstanding voices from every industry. The theme was finding your New Power. In a time when the world is fraught with extreme challenges and polarization, it was promising to continually hear the importance of empathy and purpose in business today. Here are some inspiring takeaways that reinforce what power means in our times:

Mary Dillon, CEO, Ulta: “Ask questions (of each other). . .otherwise you are walking around in the dark.”

Jewel: “Happiness is controlled by what you think. Not all thoughts and feelings are facts. . .my job is to be a full and happy human.”

Shira Goodman, CEO, Staples: “Nothing happens about a company’s performance that’s not about a human being. . .never say, I have to do this, say: I get to do this.”

Marni Walden, EVP and President, Global Media, Verizon: “Who I work with and making a difference are what really matters to me.”

Anne Finucane, Vice Chairman, Bank of America on social good: “It’s no longer a ‘nice to have.’ Social good is now an embedded part of the corporate world.”

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada: What he learned from his father: “Trust people.”

Billie Jean King, Icon: “Never underestimate the human spirit.”

I have seen, in the 26 years leading Kaplow, that our best work, our best days, have been those when we worked together to make great things happen. When we exude the kind of power that is generous and collaborative. I am energized by the notion that empathy and purpose is now at the heart of modern business. Let’s continue to use our practice of communications to plant seeds of New Power so that they will take hold and flourish for years to come.

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