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Takeaways from Magic Johnson and Sheila Lirio Marcelo at the 2021 Women in Leadership Institute | Day 2 of #LinkageWIL

November 3, 2021 Kristen Howe

The Women in Leadership Institute™ is underway—and Day 2 was simply incredible

This week, attendees are participating in a program carefully designed to accelerate personal and professional growth. Each of the 2,600 women leaders in attendance in Orlando, Florida, and on our virtual platform is experiencing a journey of self-discovery and transformation—and we are thrilled to give you an insider’s look.

Today, women leaders heard from two innovative and forward-thinking keynote speakers, Magic Johnson and Sheila Lirio Marcelo, who shared insights with us that have the power to change the way we approach life and leadership. We also heard from four incredible women leaders at the Intersectionality & Advancement in the Workplace panel, as they shared their experiences in corporate America and outlined how leaders can model better allyship in the workplace. 

Be sure to check out our key takeaways from Day 1 of #LinkageWIL, then dive into Day 2: 


Do you assert yourself courageously and professionally? Do you speak assertively and are you willing to promote yourself and your ideas? 

The “Bold” competency is all about how you present yourself to the world—and when you unlock bold leadership, you can ascend to new leadership heights. 

Bold leaders project and actively manage a professional image. They volunteer to take on high-profile projects, empowering themselves to do what they do best in a public setting. They always show a willingness to take calculated risks to accomplish results, and they “seize the moment” to make decisions to move things forward—even when they are not in a formalized leadership role.  

Magic Johnson’s superpower is his bold leadership. He has become one of the most successful African American businessmen in the world. He is an NBA legend, a Major League Baseball and WNBA owner, a 2-time Hall of Famer, and an entrepreneur, philanthropist and motivational speaker. He has successfully parlayed his skills and tenacity on the court into the business world, propelling his company to the status of #1 Brand in Urban America. 

He uses his professional image and his experience to assertively present his ideasand inspire those around him to move forward alongside him. He is Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE), which provides high-quality products and services that focus primarily on ethnically diverse and underserved urban communities through strategic alliances, investments, consulting and endorsements.

It’s time to unlock the power of the Bold competency to move our goals forwardand achieve our dreams. 

Key Takeaways: 
  • During his keynote address, Magic shared his journey from leading on the court to leading in the C-suite—enabled by a Bold strategy that involved harnessing the untapped spending power of urban minority communities in order to develop, uplift and invest in traditionally underserved communities.
  • One of the Boldest actions you can take is in striving to be better. Magic suggested using the “SWOT” analysis—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats—regularly, in both a personal and professional capacity, to foster continuous self-improvement.
  • Think carefully about what you want your brand to stand for, and don’t compromise on those ideals.
  • Use your power to impact your community, and use your influence as a leader to uplift those around you. As Magic said, “Being bold is stepping up in a time of need, when it’s not going to benefit you—it’s going to benefit somebody else.”  
More from Magic: 



Every woman is different in how they experience the world. Factors like race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, cultural differences and differing abilities “intersect” and overlap with one another. For women, the discrimination that stems from this intersectionality profoundly impacts their ability to professionally advance.

Our panelists were:

  • Lucy De La Cruz, MD, Chief of Breast Surgery & Director, Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (MGUH)
  • Ashley T Brundage, Founder & President, Empowering Differences
  • Sherlaender (Lani) Phillips, Vice President, US Channel Sales, Microsoft
  • Elisa Bolduc, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Disney General Entertainment

Bev Wright, Executive Coach and Women in Leadership Learning Team Leader, moderated the panel and sparked a meaningful discussion about intersectionality, allyship and mentorship.

Key Takeaways: 
  • Don’t accept “no” as an answer for something you truly want, said Lucy. Find people who embrace your dreams, who help and guide you. And be that force for other people as well, advocating for those who are also told that they can’t get where they want to go.
  • Embrace your authentic self, and don’t be afraid to jump into the “uncomfortable zone,” shared Ashley. When we are able to sit with discomfort and address difficult questions, we access the greatest amount of learning—and it’s crucial that leaders be able to access this space and get curious.
  • Driving real change requires believing in people and empowering them. As Lani described her decision to take on mentorship: “To whom much is given, much is required—I have a platform I need to use.”
  • Don’t let yourself get put into a box, said Elisa. Vulnerability and authenticity are crucial to understanding who you are as a leader and how to drive change.



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.

Sheila Lirio Marcelo is a transformative and visionary leader who embodies the Clear competency. When faced with the challenge of balancing a career with child and senior care responsibilities, Sheila went to work. She founded with a keen understanding of the massive care needs of families everywhere and the untapped opportunity to provide solutions for those challenges. Today, is the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care—serving more than 35 million people across 20 countries. 

During her keynote session, Sheila shared how she brought her purpose to life, creating vision for herself and her company in a way that inspired those around her to succeed.  

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

Key Takeaways: 
  • Getting clear needs to start from a place of “authentic boldness”—by balancing vulnerability with strength, you can become a better leader and understand what you truly want and how to get it. 
  • Clarity takes work—it’s a “journey of self-awareness.” And you won’t always feel clear. Use the days you feel uncertain to spend time with your thoughts and emotions, perhaps by journaling or meditating.
  • Don’t hesitate to give yourself space to get clear. In a difficult situation, “Walk away, get clarity, address it later,” said Sheila. 
  • Having a “board of advisors” in life is crucial to gaining clarity—you need people you trust, who can push you to understand exactly what you want.   
More from Sheila: 

What’s next at the Women in Leadership Institute? Tomorrow, we turn our attention to keynote presentations from Erica Dhawan on the “Connected” competency and Molly Fletcher on the “Influential” competency, with a special Legends in Leadership Q&A with Carla Harris. Be sure to continue to follow along here on the Linkage Leadership Insights blog and follow us on social media for in-the-moment insights. 

Linkage’s Women in Leadership Institute is taking place November 2–5, 2021. Didn’t get a chance to join us for the live experience? On-Demand passes are now available, giving you on-demand access to the recorded conference from November 10, 2021–January 31, 2022. Learn more about On-Demand passes.

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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