As girls, we were taught at a young age that we could do anything, though, I share the belief that many of us got it confused and tried doing everything. My advice to women leaders would be to find a balance; become more self-aware, more self-compassionate and take the time to learn from your mistakes.
As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Beaudoin, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at Brightspot.
As Chief Customer Officer, Lisa is responsible for the long-term success of Brightspot’s customers and for the growth of the company. As co-founder, she assumes personal ownership in anticipating and exploring customers’ needs, and she is committed to ensuring 100% of those needs are met. In addition to bringing in new customers, Lisa provides strategic direction and account leadership for Brightspot customers, focusing on creating digital experiences that facilitate the right conversations between publishers and their audiences.
Prior to co-founding Brightspot, in 2008, Lisa worked as a Creative Consultant for WebMD and in 2006 and 2007, Lisa served as an Executive Creative Consultant to AXA Equitable Life Insurance, The Nature Conservancy and The Federal Reserve. Prior to that, Lisa held the position of Vice President, Creative Director at AOL. Lisa also worked as an Art Director for The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones and as a print designer for clients including NBC Networks, MSNBC, The Food Network and HBO.
Lisa is a graduate of Parsons School of Design.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I began my professional journey when I decided to leave Michigan and move to New York City to study art and design. Growing up in Michigan, I felt as though I was not exposed to a lot, whereas New York felt like Oz, a city with endless possibilities. After design school, I eventually came to work for The Wall Street Journal as an art director, where I found myself naturally drawn to the technology team. I quickly learned that I enjoyed owning the full process — from creation to development and deployment. It requires working closely with developers and engineers and communicating the vision of the user experience so that the designs come to life on digital properties in the right way. I then made my way to working at AOL as a creative director. AOL was a natural home to me, working closely with technology and having the pride of ownership in my work from start to finish. This is central to the company we founded, accountability, ownership and realizing great experiences through technology. Our customers come to us with an idea and we help put something back in their hands that helps move their business forward.
Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Within the first six months of starting Brightspot, I went on a road trip to Richmond, Virginia for a business meeting. After the meeting, I jumped back in the car and I immediately got on my phone and started making calls.. What should have been a 2–3 hour drive back to Washington DC, resulted in a 6+ hour drive, as I drove from Richmond, Virginia all the way to North Carolina — the opposite direction of where I needed to go! Here’s the moral of the story and lesson I’ve since implemented as a leader: slow down to hurry up. I was caught up in the busyness of starting a new company and trying to juggle everything at once that I ended up rushing and wasting valuable time, simply by not taking a moment to look up and assess where I was going. More than a decade later, this lesson still rings true: sometimes you need to slow down. Being a thoughtful leader means applying this lesson to all aspects of work-life and home-life.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As the co-founder of a company that helps other companies communicate with their most important stakeholders — customers, investors, employees, and partners — we are very aware of our responsibility. Internally, we have a phrase that everyone in our company knows —purposeful partnership — because that’s the mindset that helps us do the right things for our customers, every day.
We are not perfect, and we have made mistakes along the way on projects. What differentiates us is that we own them, we stay in the room, and we do whatever it takes to make it right. It is the foundation of all good relationships, the knowing and trust that we will always do the right thing.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?
More often than not I hear young women and girls say how they are “not good at math or science,” so there’s no way they can pursue a career in STEM or the technology field. This is the biggest myth I’d love to squash: You do not need to be a math or science prodigy to find your place within a technology organization. I believe women, especially from a young age, tend to be self-limiting with their talents and completely write off the technology field if they aren’t “good” at math or science. I encourage women to take a chance and try it out for themselves. There are so many skills and paths you can take to flourish in the tech industry. It has been the best decision of my life to combine my love of art and design with technology. It’s opened a career path for myself that continues to challenge me in all the best ways.
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
Remember, you are setting an example with everything you do. Treat yourself with a lot of compassion and again, try to slow down to hurry up. I often say to turn the “M word” into the “L world,” meaning don’t refer to something as a Mistake, rather vocalize and internalize it as a Lesson learned. As girls, we were taught at a young age that we could do anything, though, I share the belief that many of us got it confused and tried doing everything. My advice to women leaders would be to find a balance; become more self-aware, more self-compassionate and take the time to learn from your mistakes.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I believe in the power of people I call “Expanders”. I look for people who have achieved a goal in their own life that I find inspiring and want to emulate. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow is an example of a celebrity expander. She’s built an incredible brand and business in addition to her acting career and expands my thinking when I want to try something new, or take a risk. But, expanders are not limited to the celebrities of the world. I group her in with my neighbor who raised a great kid, and put them in the same group as a close friend who recently closed a big deal at her company. I’m inspired by all of these hard-working women who are continuing to achieve their goals, which gives me further motivation and drive in continuing to achieve mine.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This ties into the overall theme I’ve been aiming to communicate, which is that as a leader, it is valuable to take time to slow down and be thoughtful in your actions. Often, we get lost in the hustle of our jobs, when in fact we can get the job done the right way, the first time, if we are thoughtful with our teams and guide them in the right direction from the start.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Bill and Melinda Gates. Talk about purposeful partnership! I admire Bill’s brilliant analytical mind, his ability to look at problems from all different angles, and his drive to deliver on his ideas and innovations. Melinda’s accomplishments starting as an engineer at Microsoft to creating one of the most influential foundations in the world — another expander for us all. Authenticity and self-awareness are two key values to emulate as a leader, as the Gates have demonstrated throughout their careers.
I strongly believe having those qualities of being self-aware and being authentic, while also being able to slow down in key moments, helps us become the leaders who can ultimately set their teams up for success in the technology industry and elsewhere.