I had the honor of participating in the American Health Lawyers Association’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Institute today. Our keynote speaker was Dr. Antonia Novello, former Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Novello was the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as Surgeon General, and her talk set the tone for a great day of sharing and learning for those of us committed to inclusion in the workplace.
Her presentation provided practical advice on how women can open doors to opportunity. As I reflect on her words, I realize her 10 key points can help anyone – men, women, black, white, Hispanic – improve their personal brands, and be more effective in their professional and personal relationships.
Dr. Novello’s 10 ways to open doors to opportunity are:
- Be a pioneer, forge a new direction. Rosa Parks sat down so we could stand up.
- Do not deny your roots or you lose your identity and dignity.
- Never underestimate your capabilities. Others will do that for you.
- Achieve the highest level of education you can. It opens the door to the highest opportunities.
- Set goals for yourself, and be realistic.
- When you get to the top, don’t deliver the sermon of equality – live it. Don’t forget how you got there. Being a leader can be a lonely job.
- Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Be concerned about your character, not your reputation.
- Take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually.
- Never lose sense of who you are. You were born as an original, don’t die as a copy.
- Plan big and dream of greatness.
As I think back on my career, I can think of countless situations where I could have used Dr. Novello’s advice. I want to thank her for being with us, and reminding me that doors to opportunity won’t open without pushing.