“I get up every day and show up for life. Try to lead an intentional life.” –Gail Evans
Gail Evans wrote the bestselling book, “Play like a man, Win like a Woman: What men know about success that women need to learn”. She also wrote, “She wins you win: The most important rule every businesswoman needs to know”. Gail has a breadth of experience in government, news/media, teaching, public speaking and consulting. One of her most frequently discussed roles is when she was the Executive Vice President of CNN. She worked at the organization for twenty-one years. The knowledge she acquired throughout her career and frank advice she gives continues to help women around the globe.
For those that have met Gail or read one of her books, it should not be surprising that Gail’s favorite word is strategic. She is a direct, problem solving, action-oriented leader who believes there is always a solution. Gail recommends stepping outside of your box because the correct answers are not always obvious and restrategizing may be necessary. She will give you her all and teach you how to play the game, just make the request.
Gail first remembers leading at ten years old when she attended summer camp. In high school, she played field hockey and made the all-county team as a goalie. Gail has found that many women in leadership positions played team sports growing up. She noted that there’s been a shift in sports from focusing on the team as a whole to the strongest player. Gail cautions against this practice. She believes every team in sports or business has weak players; the best teams learn how to maximize every person on the team. Gail also puts this into practice in her life. She maximizes her strengths and weaknesses, owns what she doesn’t know, and surrounds herself with those that complement her.
Leaders that have inspired Gail include Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, and Claire Boothe Luce. Her mother was a very influential person in her life. Gail’s mother was a stay at home mom who made the time to volunteer multiple days a week assisting the Guild for the blind. Her first boss in college was a woman who advised an Indonesian president and had also fought in a war. All of these influences helped Gail believe she could do anything in a time where there were countless barriers for women in the workplace. If she could give her younger self advice, she would recommend, “Don’t be too timid. Trust in your own ability. Be less afraid of failure”.
As a leader, Gail firmly believes in speaking truth to power. She does not think people should feel fearful or stuck or work; leave if it’s not a good fit. Gail believes in never thinking too much of yourself, a job or career reset is sometimes necessary. Women and men should strive to have Gail’s drive and confidence. If she had to start over, she knows it would only be a matter of time before she worked her way up the ladder. She advises people to always look for the lesson whether you’re fired or make a mistake. Gail believes that success can come from bad experiences if a lesson is gained.
Gail believes in doing everything intentionally and full out. When you’re in her presence whether it’s professional or personal, she is fully engaged. The advice Gail gives is practical and applicable to all because she enjoys working in many different Worlds. When first seeing Gail you might be surprised that she teaches courses on “Race, Gender, and Ethnicity, until she speaks. Her candor and ability to understand the voices of those often marginalized is truly extraordinary. Gail believes that this class should be offered early on in life because practical teachings are often missing in school. She also feels the topics should be discussed from a business perspective, not solely sociological. Then the topics should be continuously reinforced and discussed throughout life.
When Gail is not busy spearheading change, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren. She counts herself lucky to have a sweet dog named Lucky. Gail also likes to read and watch television to unwind. Her favorite desserts are lemon meringue pie and cheesecake. A bucket list item of hers is to spend time in India.
Gail encourages future leaders to:
Always… be open to possibilities.
Never… do anything you don’t love or can’t figure out how to love.
Follow… your head and heart.
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