• Laura Hay, Leadership |

If you’ve enjoyed my one-on-one chats with inspiring women in Mind the Gap, imagine what it was like to be literally surrounded by incredible peers from business, politics, sports and media at the same time!

I was so fortunate to experience that very scenario last week when I was invited to attend the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit - held as part of KPMG’s Women’s PGA Championship - and it was an absolute adrenaline rush.

After months of sharing stories from amazing women all over the world in this blog, it was exciting to meet more incredible colleagues, far from the office at the lush Hazeltine National Golf Club. I spent the flight back to New York frantically typing notes on my tray table, so I could share highlights that inspired me.

What is the Women’s Summit?

This was the fifth year that KPMG held this Summit. It was first launched in 2015 with the aspiration of both advancing women into key leadership roles and elevating women’s golf.

I had not been to the Summit for a few years, so I was extremely excited to attend. The guests included executive women from many Fortune 1000 companies who were personally selected by their CEOs to attend - an impressive group of women for sure! Plus, the speakers were simply brilliant with each one sharing personal stories and anecdotes for the benefit of others in the room. Let me share a little about what I heard.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice: Keep everyone focused on your purpose

One of the most inspiring speakers for me was Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th US Secretary of State. She talked about the importance of leading toward a common purpose. That really resonated with me because, too often, we get mired in our day-to-day job. Instead, if we are all aligned on the purpose or our shared mission, you realize that the day-to-day minutia is just one step closer to something greater.

As a leader, what I took away from that is that it is important to share the purpose and reference back to it often. It is partly inspiration for your team but it’s also an important reminder of the role that communication plays in leadership.

Now there are always times when things can become a little hectic – or a lot. Dr. Rice went on to say that in time of chaos, it is important to find an anchor. You can acknowledge the swirl that is going around, and that not everything is great at the time, but the anchor helps to lift your team out of the chaos and steer you out of the fray.

Olympian Mia Hamm: Raise the bar each time you succeed

Another favorite speaker was Mia Hamm, Olympic Medalist, Team USA Soccer, and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion. She was mightily focused on the two things. First, the importance of daily hard work and second, the vital role of your team.

She described how, every single day, every single practice, she would focus on making sure that on that day, she was as great as she could be. That means showing up to every practice, every game, and giving it her best. In fact, Mia is known for saying, “Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.”

And, while Mia is arguably one of the top 10 female athletes of all time, she also humbly says, “I didn’t get to where I am today without help. I was the player I was because of ALL my teammates.” This resonated with me, because I believe that in business, having the right team around you is vital. I feel strongly that striving for a diverse team of views and opinions is critical to success.

In sports as in business, you cannot always win. But I love how Mia told the audience, “Don’t be afraid to mess up, failure is part of growth and development.” She added that, you need to continue to invest in yourself and in your team, family, friends and teammates. I couldn’t agree more! We need to step out of our comfort zones, pursue new and different areas, and recognize that if it does not work, we just learn from it.

Alison Levin: Fear is okay – Complacency kills

One of the other presenters who I enjoyed greatly was motivational speaker Alison Levine. Among my favorite quotes from Alison: “Fear is okay as long as it does not paralyze you, but complacency is what will kill you.” I believe there is something about acknowledging that you are afraid but pushing yourself to move through it.

So, you can see that there were words of wisdom around every corner at the Summit. It was such a wonderful experience that I had to share it with you. After all, as Lynne Doughtie, KPMG’s US Chairman and CEO, told the Summit audience during her remarks: “You have what it takes … to inspire greatness.”

Let’s all continue to pay it forward, share what sparks our interest, and inspire greatness in each other. After all, the more we share with others, the more we lift all women up to achieve their potential!

For more inspiring stories from women leaders in financial services visit home.kpmg/mindthegap.

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