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Key Insights from Anne Chow and Magie Cook | Day 3 of the Women in Leadership Institute

November 15, 2023 Kristen Howe

It’s Day 3 of the 24th annual Women in Leadership Institutetm (WIL) and energy is electric here in Orlando, Florida—and on our virtual platform. Thousands of women leaders are coming together to share their experiences, build their networks, and gain the freshest insights on the topics most impacting women in the workplace.

This week’s theme is ReCHARGE, ReIMAGINE, ReIGNITE. We are recharging our batteries through a week of dedicated time focused on us. We are reimagining a new leadership future for ourselves. And, we are reigniting the passion and the focus that has empowered us on this journey so far.

Here on the Linkage Leadership Insights blog, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the Institute and sharing some of our favorite, must-know insights from the main stage.

Today, we heard from two incredibly inspiring women at the Women in Leadership Institute— Anne Chow and Magie Cook. We also heard from Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis, faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Wharton School of Business, in conversation with Theresa Harrison, CEO of George Street Services, about the progress of women’s advancement.

Missed our Day 2 highlights, featuring Carla Harris and Reshma Saujani? Check out the recap of insights here and be sure to follow along on social media for in-the-moment coverage.

ANNE CHOW ON “CONNECTED”: Embrace “Networking” to Unlock New Possibilities 

Are you actively working to build and expand your network of trusted relationships? Do you understand the power and importance of building beneficial relationships with your colleagues? 

Through the “Connected” competency, we unlock the power of relationships. When we are connected, we leverage a broad network of relationships inside and outside of our organizations, and we demonstrate openness and appreciation of viewpoints and support the credibility of our colleagues. Above all, we look for opportunities to truly connect with others and contribute to their success.

It’s time to unlock the power of relationships (especially in a virtual world!) to best leverage the resources available to us and seize opportunity. 

Anne ChowAnne Chow is a transformative business leader whose trailblazing corporate career spans over three decades in the technology and business sectors. As the first woman of color CEO in AT&T’s 140+ year history, she led AT&T Business, a $35B global operating unit comprised of more than 30,000 people. Appointed to this role in 2019, Anne guided this team through the pandemic in the midst of unprecedented market upheaval around the world, serving customers with communications solutions across all sectors including small- and medium-sized businesses, global multinational enterprises, the public sector as well as nearly all of the Fortune 1000. Her leadership experiences span product management, marketing, sales, strategy, customer service, operations, network engineering and more. Currently Anne is Lead Director on the Board of Directors of FranklinCovey, a company dedicated to organizational transformation through leadership, individual effectiveness, execution and culture.

Key Takeaways from Anne:  

  • Anne shared her three foundational leadership beliefs:
    • Every business is a people business.
    • Leadership is a choice—and anyone can be a leader.
    • Culture is your ultimate competitive advantage—no one can beat that, no matter their resources.
  • Sitting at the center of people, leadership and culture is the most powerful force of all: human connection.
  • There are many reasons we seek connection with others, both personal and professional: career advancement, to give and receive support, for new perspectives and growth, for meaningful relationships, and perhaps above all, to survive and thrive. Research has shown that an important factor in human longevity is meaningful human connection and community.
  • Connection is crucial, but not always easy—barriers to meaningful connection with others include proximity, time and energy, demographic differences, lack of shared purpose or other similarities, internal worries about being judged, being vulnerable, or being a burden, and for women particularly, bias.
  • “Your network is your net worth,” according to Anne, and there are four key roles we all need to fill in our network to succeed, both in our personal and professional lives: allies, coaches, mentors, and sponsors.
    • Allies support you.
    • Coaches talk to you.
    • Mentors talk with you.
    • Sponsors talk about and advocate for you.
  • In order to expand your network and build meaningful connections, you need to take action.
    • Make the effort—connection is important, and it’s worth the time and energy.
    • Assess your current networks—you don’t have to start from scratch!
    • Activate strong connections—your allies, mentors, buddies, posse—people who already know you and want you to success will help you get where you need to go.
    • Focus and prioritize—who do you need to connect with to get what you want?
    • Communicate clearly—practice active listening, know the value you bring and know how to articulate it, and follow up!
    • Be you—authenticity is crucial to connection.


MAGIE COOK ON “CLEAR”: Create Your Future Leadership Vision with “Clarity”    

Are you clear about your vision? Are you able to articulate your ideas in a way that inspires forward momentum? 

The “Clear” competency is all about having a compelling vision for who we want to be as a leader and how we want to contribute in the working world. It’s about using communication to inspire action and support from your teams.

When we communicate our opinions clearly and accurately and demonstrate creativity in developing our ideas, we unlock huge potential. Clear leaders distill ideas into focused messages, and when put into practice, the Clear competency empowers women leaders to realize new leadership heights.

It’s time for us to define the type of leader we want to become—and clearly articulate that message to the world. 

Magie CookMagie Cook is a self-made businesswoman and the founder of Maggie’s Salsas, LLC, a company she started with just an $800 investment and later sold with Garden Fresh to Campbell’s Soup for $231 million.

Magie specializes in sharing the power of mindfulness in the workplace. She uses simple, research-backed strategies to optimize performance, improve employee happiness and well-being, and transform workplace cultures into more equitable, creative environments for leaders to grow. She also helps entrepreneurs discover their hidden personal power so they can increase their revenue and make a bigger impact in the world.

During her keynote, Magie shared that one of the most powerful qualities that sets apart successful leaders is their ability to be clear, focused, and to shift their mindset in the face of obstacles. If something is not working, they persevere and change their approach 1,000 times until they achieve their ultimate outcomes. Magie revealed her inspirational journey through stories of how her mindset and clarity played an essential role in overcoming personal obstacles and in creating her multimillion-dollar salsa company. When leaders adopt these practices, it leads to increased team trust, more creative thinking, and a higher capacity for dealing with change.

Key Takeaways from Magie: 

  • No matter how strong your purpose is, you will always face some type of adversity. You need to keep moving forward and believe in yourself. “You are the architect of your life,” said Magie.
  • You need a routine that primes your mind for success and clarity. Start every day with a clear and powerful intention for yourself. We have two choices every morning when we wake up, according to Magie: “We either let life control us, or we take control of our life.” When we take control of our life and replace the negative, repetitive thoughts that consume most of our energy and attention with positive, inspirational mantras, good things happen.
  • Clarity also requires taking care of our physical health with good food, plenty of quality sleep, and regular movement.
  • Think about achieving clarity and success in terms of “lights, camera, action.”
    • For “lights,” you need to be able to answer the question: Why do you do what you do? Give yourself the time and space to take inventory of your life and think about what truly matters and where you want to go.
    • For “camera,” you are refining the focus of what you want to achieve and beginning to visualize yourself being successful. Magie describes this as “Intentional practice”—the power of visualization and practicing intended outcomes with your mind. Magie also emphasized the power of tapping into deeper potential inside yourself using different personas, in the spirit of Beyonce’s performing alter ego known as “Sasha Fierce.”
    • The last piece, “action,” is the strategy you devise to get where you want to go—and to overcome the inevitable obstacles in your path. You need to believe in yourself and maintain a positive outlook, and believe that “if not this, then something better,” said Magie.



How did we get here—and how far do we have left to climb? Only 55 years ago, a woman could not get a credit card in her own name, fight on the front lines, be admitted to an Ivy League school or take action against workplace sexual harassment—and she could be fired for being pregnant.

During this fireside chat, we examined the state of women in the workplace and the hard work that has been done to support women’s progress. We heard from Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis, faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Wharton School of Business, in conversation with Theresa Harrison, CEO of George Street Services. These women, together with many other activists, trailblazers and researchers, are charting a path forward toward achieving gender parity, and they shared sage wisdom and insight about their journeys, and the collective journeys of women leaders.

Here were some key takeaways from their conversation: 

  • Supporting women’s advancement is not just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing to do from a global economic perspective. “Women’s leadership is a human rights guarantee—it is not a charitable act,” said Rangita.
  • We need to identify and make visible the “thousand papercuts” we receive as women. Women are called upon to prove themselves over and over, facing both internal and external bias, stereotypes, and countless other inequities such as the “motherhood penalty.” The burden of caretaking falls largely on women, which causes our advancement in the workplace to suffer.
  • A critical mass of women in leadership creates a tipping point for change, like a nuclear reaction. “Think about how you’re causing the ‘boom’ to happen,” said Theresa.
  • Quotas for women in leadership positions are not charity—they are meant to “address the wrongs of the past” and use corrective justice to bring about transformative change for women.
  • Allyship is critical to accelerating women’s advancement. Men need to join the cause—this is really about human welfare, and about redefining what excellence in leadership looks like for the betterment of all people.


What’s next at the Women in Leadership Institute? There’s more to come! Tomorrow, Molly Fletcher takes to the main stage to share her insights on the “Bold” competency and will help bring the 24th annual Women in Leadership Institute to a close. Be sure to continue to follow along here on the Linkage Leadership Insights blog and on social media for in-the-moment insights.

The Women in Leadership Institute is taking place November 13–16, 2023.  

Didn’t get a chance to join us for the experience? The Women in Leadership returns in 2024! Find more information here.   

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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