Enjoy what you do. You spend so much time at work. You have to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it you need to reevaluate what you are doing.
As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Domenici.
Jamie Domenici is a passionate, out-of-the-box thinker and an established strategic leader with a proven track record of leading sophisticated, customer-centric, multi-channel go-to-market teams. For more than a decade, Jamie led cloud adoption initiatives for small and midsize businesses at Salesforce — she recently joined LogMeIn, a leader in empowering the work-from-anywhere era, as Chief Marketing Officer. At LogMeIn, Jamie oversees a nearly 200-person marketing team focused on delivering an outstanding customer experience.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I had spent most of my career working on the backend and ops and, about 10 years into my career at Salesforce, I was able to both be creative and combine my love for data. I was hooked on marketing and never looked back.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I’ve been at LogMeIn for less than a month, so I’m still ramping up here, but I see a tremendous amount of opportunity for the organization. Mostly due to this shift we are all seeing with an increase in remote work. I was very much a “butts in seats” kind of person up until about a year ago. I never would have imagined leading a team that was fully remote, but I’ve found that I’ve personally been brought into the remote work trend and I’m loving it. It’s still very possible to make connections and build relationships while remote.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I was presenting at a large event in front of thousands of people. Part of the presentation involved a big reveal with the stage opening. Well, we got to that part of the presentation and nothing happened. After a few seconds of panic, I thought to myself: Just. Keep. Going. I pushed on and the audience was none the wiser. When anything goes wrong, I now keep moving forward and most of the time everything works out just fine.
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?
Yes. Very early in my career I worked for OSIsoft’s CFO, Betty Hung. She was a great role model and strong female leader. Not only did I look up to her as a women C-level exec, but I remember being impressed by her bold decision making. She advised me to try lots of different roles and keep learning. It was great advice that greatly impacted my career path and it is part of why I am where I am today.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
Whether it’s a small meeting or huge presentation, it’s important to practice. That may sound like common sense, but everyone needs to do it. And I mean talk out loud, walk the stage, run through the deck over and over again, type of practice. Without it you will spend the meeting wondering if you are presenting it in the right way, rather than focusing on the reactions and reading the room.
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
I remember when I used to go into the office I would get onto an elevator in my building and more often than not I would be the only woman in there. One day I verbalized my observation and It definitely made people uncomfortable. But I was okay with that because it also made people acknowledge and think about this fact. If even one of those men left that elevator and thought about the lack of diversity next time they went to make a hire it was worth it. It’s important to have different voices at the table to think about different perspectives. And we need to make people aware of the problem, even if it causes discomfort, in order to start to change it.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
- Step one is to acknowledge discrepancy exists. I found that listening to other people’s stories or sharing my own was a great place to start.
- Step two is to be open to learning and understand where inequality and bias exists. This can be difficult and evoke a sense of vulnerability. You don’t want to do or say the wrong thing, but I find it is my responsibility as an executive to be an ally.
- In addition, I always set metrics and goals around equality. These are goals I discuss regularly with my team and track to ensure we are hitting our targets, whether that’s hiring internally or making sure that at external events we have diverse customers speaking on our behalf.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
Execs needs to set the strategy and lead the team to execute on it. I subscribe to the Naval saying “ship, shipmate, self.” As an executive I feel like you have to always put the company first, then your team and lastly yourself.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?
- You don’t have all the answers. Listening to your team is key. Hire smart capable people, empower them and leverage their expertise to help you get to the answer.
- Execs have done it all and can’t improve. Feedback is a gift. I encourage my team to provide ongoing feedback and I will do the same for them.
- Just because I’m an exec doesn’t mean I don’t have more to learn. I believe you need to continuously invest in yourself and your own growth. Be self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses and work to improve each and every day. You can never stop learning.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I am a direct person and I speak up. I have been faced with moments in my career where I have been told I have “sharp elbows” or come off as aggressive. In those moments I often wondered if a man said the same thing in the same way would you have said that to them? Working to get where I am now, I felt I had to speak a little louder to be heard. I would not change that, but as a woman I think there is a balance and an art to honing being strong vs. aggressive.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
If you ever thought being an executive was easier or less work let me tell you that is not the case. I am working harder than I ever have and I love it. As an executive, you do have to learn to spend less time in the details and more time on the strategy. I would also say a big part of my role is about relationship building and leading and growing my team.
Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
There are a few things. I think a good exec has to be able to understand and articulate the vision. They need to see the big picture and how all the pieces they manage are going to come together to achieve that vision. But they have to understand they can’t do that alone or by micromanaging. A good leader needs to put the right people in the right seats and empower them to do their best.
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
Build a strong network. While I was at Salesforce, one of the co-founders of the company, started a High Potential Woman Group of the then 10 female VPs in the T&P group. We had mentors and access to a lot, but the best part for me was the bond with the other woman in the group. We were and still are facing similar challenges and even now, ten years later I still call on my fellow “lady clubers” when I need support or advice.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I am very passionate about helping women in the workplace. I feel that as a leader it’s very important to reach behind and pull the next generation up in whatever ways you can. To this end, I’m proud to be involved in organizations like Girls Inc. that are helping girls and young women develop their strengths to set them up for success later in life.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Enjoy what you do. You spend so much time at work. You have to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it you need to reevaluate what you are doing.
- Make sure you believe in leadership and work hard to make them look good. You want to work for someone you believe in and trust. If you are working for someone you want to follow, it’s natural to do your best work, which is turn makes them look good and raises the whole team
- Do the job that needs to be done, not just the job you have. This will expand your skill set and help the company. Whenever I see a problem, I raise my hand to solve it no matter if it is my role or not.
- Embrace change. With change comes opportunity.
- Storytelling and words matter. The better you can tell the story the more likely you will leave an impression.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would democratize education so that regardless of economic standing or gender people had equal access to learning. I would work to level the playing field with education so that more diverse voices could be heard.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have a sign that hangs in my office that says “whatevs”. That may sound funny, but it reminds me not to get frustrated or caught up with the small stuff. When I’m at a breaking point I just say “whatevs” and move on.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment 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
100% Michelle Obama. I so respect how she navigates politics with so much grace and authenticity…not to mention a great fashion sense!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.