Event Recap: 12 Things We Learned from Anomaly x Beth Comstock

In September, WIN New York hosted legendary business leader, change-maker, and glass ceiling breaker Beth Comstock at Anomaly for a conversation with Natasha Jakubowski, Managing Partner and Head of Innovation at Anomaly, and WIN Ambassador.

Beth’s first book, Imagine It Forward, came out on September 18th. We discussed tons of themes from the book, such as creativity, courage, and the power of change, as well as some tactical steps each woman in innovation can take to advance her career. We love how honest and vulnerable Beth is when telling her story, and highly recommend her book. We asked WIN attendees to share some of their favorite Beth tips that came out of our session – enjoy!

29679870817_54dc1f82f7_o (1).jpg

Arunima, R/GA

One of the many things she said that stuck with me was ‘innovators must be decisive.’ It’s a skill that requires you to not only leverage your experience in the field but also be in touch with your inner voice – something I’m trying to work on everyday as I take on more leadership roles. I’ll remember that one for a long time!

Elsie, Co:Collective

1. Beth models leadership with humanity. She embodies strength through openness and honesty about being a woman trying to create change in the corporate world, about emotions and struggles and about not knowing what her next step will be.

2. Beth shared a beautiful lesson of how she learned to make peace with the fact she's an introvert and, at the same time, to constantly push herself and not let being a introvert keep her from being heard, seen and respected. She inspired me to reflect on personal traits that I sometimes want to change about myself to be a better leader. Instead of rejecting those parts of myself, I can practice working with them, acknowledging that they shape my leadership style one way or the other.

3. "Get weird" is such a valuable advice for women in innovation. We are trained to have bold ideas and think without constraints. But how often do we push ourselves and our teams to get really weird and unconventional when approaching problems, ditching existing (and comfortable) frameworks and usual ways of getting to answers?

4. The idea of having a Personal Advisory Board was such an inspiration to me. To assemble an Advisory Board for my professional development, I must look for people who are invested in my progress and that bring diversity of thought, expertise and background, as a true Board would be selected.

Katie, Anomaly & WIN leadership team

I love Beth’s tip to spend time with your greatest critic. Even though you instinctively may want to avoid them, they actually might have a thing or two to each you about yourself.

Molka, Smart Design

One of the tips that resonated the most with me was her advice about being decisive. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to make a decision, even if, sometimes, it means not asking for permission first.

May, Sylvain Labs & WIN leadership team

I liked way Beth spoke about courage and decisiveness was what stick with me: "my insecurity runs deep, but I act in spite of it.”

Stephanie, Fahrenheit 212

I appreciated Beth’s self-awareness about introversion, and her advice on how she’s pushed herself to grow beyond it to become a better leader. While being an observer, listener, and critical thinker are all very important qualities, succeeding in business also means getting outside your comfort zone, meeting new people, and exposing yourself to new ideas.

Devon, Financial Times

“Agitate more – challenge people and use conflict to encourage ideas.”

I definitely don’t do this enough in my own work and it’s already inspired me to ask more conflicting questions personally and professionally.

I liked that Beth continuously instilled change in her various jobs, always pushing the boundaries. Her job wasn't necessarily to "innovate" but she always found ways to push boundaries and evolve the companies she was working with within her current job. 

Hania, Financial Times

My main take away was about re-thinking your career in a positive manner to ensure you're implementing measurable change/innovation. I've been considering the threat of tech disruption A LOT recently and how your career can withstand being replaced by AI or machine learning, and one common thread is human problem solving and innovation.

Another hot tip which felt so real on the night was networking: set small goals like saying hi to three people, then leave the event and go back to being an introvert (lol). Starting the conversation is always the hardest part.

Jenny, Fahrenheit 212

The one line that stood out to me during her interview was when she said “What are you actually managing everyday? How much of the outcome can you truly control?” Everyone laughed because it is such a needed reality check that at the end of the day, we can only influence so much in our roles, so we might as well be bold, take risks, and not let every little thing get to our heads.

Reema, independent consultant

As someone who puts my whole self into my work, learning from Beth’s book that “putting the work first gives you a measure of protection,” was a smart way to refocus myself and continue pushing an idea without getting too personal. Often times, we find ourselves wrapped up in a project without remembering the bigger goal at hand, sending us down a very “checklist” type mindset. In the book, Beth shared, “Having time to connect with people is as important as getting everything done,” a much-needed reminder to stay connected as much as you stay focused on the work.

Jana, Anomaly

Beth was an incredible speaker with an envious dose of energy. I loved that she didn't just talk about the importance of innovation applied on business, but she also exercised innovation in her own life, where after 30 years with GE she has become an author. In age where most people are slowing down, she keeps marching forward in full speed, excited for her next and new adventures.

This brings me to the concept of giving yourself permission, which Beth deconstructs in her book. To step out of an obvious path and allow oneself to pursue life of believing in your choices and ideas. To see opportunities where others don't, to create your own spaces and roles in which to thrive. Beth inspires us to take active lead in shaping our professional paths but first she understands the self imposed barriers one has to overcome and helps us bring them down.

Pearl, Fahrenheit 212

I loved her advice to “get weird” – and how important it is to carve out time in your week to explore what’s new. This is especially relevant for me as an innovator. It’s easy to get too comfortable in a regular work routine and forget to get out in the world and experience new things to spark new learnings and new ways to look at problems, sometime I get lost in reports and online research! In the book she talks about “Field Trip Fridays” and this is definitely something I’d love to try for myself and maybe even take my team out to gain new perspectives.


Post aggregated and photos by Katie Burwick

WIN: Women in Innovation Copyright (c) 2018 All rights reserved. This blog post may not be reproduced or repurposed without written permission from WIN: Women in Innovation (501(c)3). This blog post is provided for your personal use only.

WIN Women