Wisdom Warriors: A book review by Bob Morris

Wisdom Warriors: Journeys Through Leadership AND Life | Women with the Courage to be True to Themselves
Carol Seymour
Signature Leaders Publishing (2017)

Weapons of creative construction: Empathy, Experience, Knowledge, Wisdom, and Collaboration

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It is a national disgrace that after the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights became law in 1789, it was not until 1920 that women were eligible to vote. Almost a century later, women now comprise about 47% of workers in the United States; own almost ten million companies; and have earned more graduate degrees in business, law, and medicine (to name but three of several). Nonetheless, women occupy only 17% of C-level positions. Worse yet, only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. That is unconscionable.

Carol Seymour interviewed more than 1,000 “Wisdom Warriors” – women with the courage and the character to become and then remain true to themselves while pursuing and succeeding in their careers. She shares what she learned from them – and what they learned from others — organizing the information, insights and counsel within four separate thematic perspectives: Authenticity, Power, Peace, and Relationships.

As Seymour explains, “The stories in Wisdom Warriors are gathered from the executives who have attended, and taught, at the Signature Program over the years. They’re candid and authentic about their experiences; honest about their missteps. We see them testing the waters, making mistakes, and sometimes failing. They show us vulnerability. On any given day, the ordinary of one’s life might just be the story that changes another’s.”

Seymour learned that powerful women “embrace every opportunity and take advantage of the possibilities. They lead life intentionally. That makes them better colleagues, mothers, spouses, friends, sisters, and leaders. It makes them better people.”

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmer’s Market at which a few merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now share a representative selection of brief comments by a few of the Wisdom Warriors featured in the book.

“When you have no road map. you have to chart your own course. Every thing is possible, because you don’t have a map of what not to do.” Ann Fandozzi, CEO of ABRA Auto

“I found that I needed to have a much stronger personal statement. It needs to identify, and very clearly state, the two or three things for which I am known and valued in my company; the things that help me make more contributions to my company.” Tejal Kasria, VP Tax and Enterprise Risk Management/Catalent, Inc.

“Expose yourself to change and go for the unknown. Don’t stay where you are, because then you’ll never know your limits. The uncomfortable situations make you better.” Nese Tagma, Managing Director,

“My father used to say, ‘The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.’ Don’t get into a rut doing the same old stuff, because you may as well lie in your grave.” Anne Hill, SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer at Avery Dennison

“”You practice, you do swell. You practice more, you do even better. You practice a lot, you win!” Joan Wainwright, President, Channel and Customer Experience, TE Connectivity

“You can’t have any one else define your boundaries for you. You have to define them for yourself.” Teri McClure, Chief Human Resources Officer and SVP, Labor Relations, United Parcel Service of America, Inc.

“I only have one life. Work is part of my life. It’s one pie, and I divide it differently based on what I need to deal with at the moment.” Sarena Lin, President, Feed & Nutrition/Cargill

“You’ve got to give people space. If you do, they will occupy it.” Linda Knoll, Chief Human Resources Officer of CNH Industrial, N.V, and Chief Human Resources Officer/Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, N.V.

“When asked, ‘Who can be a reference for you?,’ it’s important to recognize that it is not about who you know, but who really knows you.” Pam Kimmet, Chief Human Resources Officer/Cardinal Health

I share Carol Seymour’s fervent hope: “Whatever you do…pass it along; to your neighbor, your direct report, your cousin, or your daughter. The torch of wisdom burns bright, and the Wisdom Warriors in this book share the honor of carrying it with you.”

There are battles yet to be won in today’s business world. We need men as well as women to fight them, armed with knowledge and wisdom. Together, true to themselves and to their shared vision and mission, I am certain they will prevail. Let’s all hope that doesn’t require decades to achieve!

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As previously indicated, I think the material in this volume is of the very highest quality, meticulously edited by Rob Seymour. I also wish to acknowledge brilliant contributions by Patricia Frey (Design) and Abby Pickus (Lotus Design).

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