Comcast VP Toni Murphy: “My mother always said it’s important for you to know not just who you are but whose you are.”
My mother always said it’s important for you to know not just who you are but whose you are. This freed me up to be my whole self both in a spiritual sense as well as a child of parents who I knew would always support me. It was a good reminder to not lose yourself in the world and to walk in your own light. The world deserves to see the person that you truly are.
I had the pleasure to interview Toni Murphy. Toni is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Keystone Region at Comcast.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Toni! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My career path might be described as wandering but during my ten years at Comcast, I’ve consistently raised my hand when there was a problem that needed to be solved. That willingness to find solutions took me from operations to finance to capital management to deploying fiber in some of our largest markets. All along the way, I kept my eye on a new business unit: Comcast Business. When the time was right and the organization needed new leadership, my track record allowed me to step up and lead more broadly. My reputation as a problem solver was much more important and impactful than my experience in a sales organization.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
We’re the fastest provider of data broadband services in the industry. When we started Comcast Business ten years ago, people second-guessed our strategy and we weren’t getting as much traction in the media as we would have liked. Comcast Business is now a meaningful contributor to Comcast’s revenue growth and we’ve gained significant attention from analysts and the financial community.
We went from serving nail salons and two-person accounting firms to providing connectivity to universities and hospital systems, growing the mid-market space because of our reliability and robust product portfolio. The proof-point is that mission-critical organizations are now hand-over-fist choosing Comcast over other providers. We’ve increased data speeds almost every year, launched new products that provide fail-safe solutions to ensure that our customers’ systems never go down. Customers are also telling us that our monitoring products provide crystal clear images that are helping them prevent theft. We’re constantly innovating and challenging the status quo for our customers.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share how they made an impact?
I’ve had a range of both mentors and sponsors, some of whom have been exactly the opposite of who I am: successful and tenured men. The commonality among mentors who have made an impact on me is that they’ve challenged the way I think. There were times that I went to them with a problem and wanted them to reaffirm what I believed to be the best solution and they challenged me and brought me to a completely different outcome. They’ve helped in terms of my personal style and presence, helped me find my leadership voice and helped me find opportunities to expand my horizons. I’ve had some wonderful people in my life who have given me great advice about how to maneuver in my career and how to navigate the “unwritten rules” of an organization.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Takeover: One of my first managers, Jeff Sine, told me “you’re not here to take sides, you’re here to take over.” He helped me understand that I was there to take on as much as I possibly could and to learn all I could so that I’d be invaluable. He helped me understand how to deepen my impact and make sure I had my name associated with it.
Whose: My mother always said it’s important for you to know not just who you are but whose you are. This freed me up to be my whole self both in a spiritual sense as well as a child of parents who I knew would always support me. It was a good reminder to not lose yourself in the world and to walk in your own light. The world deserves to see the person that you truly are.
Waiting: Bob Victor, my first boss at Comcast, used to say “what are you waiting for?” Whenever I would come to him with ideas, he encouraged me not to wait for someone to give consent to do what I thought was right for the business. He gave me permission early in my career to feel empowered to share my point of view and step into myself.
How are you going to shake things up next?
As leader of the Diversity & Inclusion Council for Comcast’s Keystone Region, I’m committed to driving great talent to the table who looks and sounds different. Business and competition are changing under our feet and what got us here won’t get us there.
I’ve taken people with zero sales experience and given them sales roles. I’ve brought in leaders with little familiarity with Comcast and asked them to manage teams. We need to get bolder in identifying talent and bolder in retaining and promoting them once they’re here. I’m grateful that I’ve worked for courageous leaders who took chances on me when there wasn’t other millennial, African-American females in the room. The organization has benefited greatly from someone taking a chance on a bright, smart person and I want to continue that legacy with our next generation of Comcasters.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
“Nelson Mandela: In His Own Words,” spoke to my fascination and appreciation for people who are willing to sacrifice and stand firmly in what they believe to advance not only themselves but others. Like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela believed in the importance of selflessness.
During his time in jail, when he reflected on what he and his family were sacrificing, he found solace that he represented something greater. It’s made a big impact on how I approach leadership. Most of what I do every day isn’t about me. My life’s perspective is to be a vessel on behalf of other people. I try to approach every day with humility and use my gifts to further advance others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’d love to inspire people to see the world thorough someone else’s eyes. We need to create an environment where we’re forced to engage with and understand the perspective of someone else. We’re so far from where we need to be and need a great movement of creating understanding. Today, we’re more educated and cultured than ever before in history but mired in our own belief systems. We need to be tested more.
So my movement would be for every person on earth to seek out someone who is different and ask one simple question, “I do not know as much as I should know about you. Is there anything courageous that you would be willing to share with me?”
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The future bears down upon each one of us with all the hazards of the unknown. The only way out is through,” by Plutarch
The only way you’ll totally arrive at the destination is going through something. I recently lost my father and sister within a short period of time. It was a difficult time that had me asking myself “why me?” when I really should have been asking myself “why not me?” Life is about the discovery of oneself and I realize that their deaths were an opportunity to see how strong I really am. You never know how strong you are until you are forced to show it. Without a challenge, it’s just bravado. When you get through difficult moments like these, you absolutely see what you are capable of!
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