You can have all kinds of plans about where you’re going to land, but the reality is none of us ever know. Because the beauty of the journey is that the only thing you can do is kind of set your site in a general direction and then take one step at a time.Vanessa Peace, on navigating change
In this episode of Dominate Your Day, Dana Williams speaks with special guest Vanessa Peace about navigating transitions and change in her professional and personal life and how she has overcome obstacles along the way
Dominate Your Day Podcast
Welcome to the third episode of the Dominate Your Day Podcast! This podcast is for any professional or business owner who wants to live intentionally and dominate their day. Dana Williams and her guests will bring you practical advice about how to create a productive life through tools and experiences from guests who have designed the life they love.
At Dana Williams Consulting, we teach you everything you need to know about how to live intentionally and Dominate your Day based on your unique talents. We have also created some great tools like The Strengths Journal™. The Strengths Journal is a daily companion guide to the CliftonStrengths assessment.
Episode 3 ft. Vanessa Peace
Vanessa Peace, Vice President, Marketing at Children’s Health is responsible for leading a team of 60+ expert marketers who develop and implement marketing strategies, create award-winning brand campaigns and clinical content while continuously improving digital experiences for patient families.
An energetic and strategic thinker, Vanessa is a seasoned professional with 20 years of marketing and brand strategy experience in a diverse set of industries including Airline, Telecoms & Media, and Healthcare. An innovative and highly disciplined achiever who drives meaningful change through insights, instinct, and influence, she excels at developing Integrated Marketing Strategies, that drive acquisition and growth, and positioning brands from purpose to identity. She has a deep passion for people leadership, mentorship and driving organizational cultures through collaboration and inclusion.
Vanessa’s top 5 CliftonStrengths are
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including timestamps. To subscribe to Dominate Your Day on Apple Podcasts, click here.
The more I became comfortable with these being my strengths, and the more I stopped beating myself up about the other strengths that I might not be effective in, and I could really start to utilize these five strengths as my resource.Vanessa Peace, on the power of CliftonStrengths
There’s nothing too far out of reach because I can always fall back on my people, on my tribe.Vanessa Peace, on the importance of community
Narrator: [00:00:00] Welcome to the third episode of Dominate Your Day, where Dana Williams shares conversations with leaders, coaches, and visionaries from all facets of life. She talks about all that goes into leading a life with intention and dominating your day today. She speaks with Vanessa Peace about some unique professional and personal transitions throughout her life and career, how her strengths have contributed to her success and how she has persevered through obstacles along the way.
Dana Williams: [00:00:32] So Vanessa. So glad to have you here. I’m just loving having you here today because you have such energy and such spunk and you are just the epitome of going through challenges and getting on the other side of them and using your strengths. So why don’t you Introduce yourself and tell the audience where you are right now and what’s going on.
Let’s just go for it girl.
Vanessa Peace: [00:00:56] Well, I’m Vanessa Peace and Dana has been a long time leader and mentor to me. So I’m so grateful to have you in my life. And I’m so excited about this podcast and about the journal, which I have right here, because there’s so much. And I got it for all my teams. So right now I’m in my home in Avila, Texas.
So about 25 miles South of Dallas. And I’ve been home a lot lately. Like many of you listeners, I’m sure. The pandemic has meant that, you know, it’s forced me to work within the home and I had my children virtual schooling for a long time. They finally just went back and I’m just. You know, learning every day to be a better version of myself and definitely your journal has helped.
And I’m a huge supporter of, of the StrengthsFinder model and I’ve been using it for a long time. So I’m excited to talk today about just being a woman in business and, you know, falling our hearts and our minds.
Dana Williams: [00:01:49] Well, I love that. I think for those of you who don’t know Vanessa, or you probably have somebody in your life like this, but she was the light
when I walked into the office every day, always, always figuring out a better way to do things. So talk to the audience about your career. When I first met you, you had come in on the ad team, we were on the ad team together and then. Kind of worked your way up and kind of moved around. So talk about your career and where you, where you’ve been and where you are now.
Vanessa Peace: [00:02:15] That’s awesome. Well, I guess I’ll start from the beginning where I was a bit of a atypical, unusual, maybe a bit eclectic young lady and I did not take the traditional college path. In fact, I took the 20 year college path. And, but through it all I had, you know , I worked in Montreal. I should say.
I come from Montreal. I’m Canadian and now American and I worked as a street marketer while I also was working in restaurants and you know, serving customers and doing my own internal research of like marketable consumers. And so with time in Montreal, as I was. Taking, you know, part-time studies.
I found myself with a bunch of Renegade, other like-minded people building a small business, which was a street marketing business. And then we also evolved it into a record label French hip-hop. Pretty pretty.
Dana Williams: [00:03:05] I don’t think I knew that story. I love that. Yeah. I have, I know you met your husband at a concert, but I didn’t know you were in the street.
Vanessa Peace: [00:03:14] Okay. Music is in my bones. Both my parents were musicians, so it’s always been part of my ecosystem. So fast-forward to industry street marketing, a gig that I had created for myself. I got noticed by an advertising agency. We were actually you know creating marketing for. And so they were my client and eventually they hired me on, so Mick McCann Erickson is one of the larger, you know, ad agency conglomerates.
And so the Montreal arm of that is Market Tel. So I worked at market Tel for about three and a half years, and I started from the bottom as a coordinator, serving coffee and doing photocopies cause at the time, we used to photocopy everything all the way to being an account executive on the air Canada account. So that was the national airline there.
Which was awesome and fascinating. And I grew in so many different ways. And then fast forward to then moving to the client side where I got to work on the air Canada brand. And there I worked on the advertising team and the sponsorship team. And it’s really where I learned the business of branding at the time where I was at air Canada.
The airline had just filed for bankruptcy and we’re in the instances of rebranding. And so I got a little seat at the table while we were rebranding the airline and just became very passionate about that, that you know, that the idea of building relationships with consumers as a brand and travel was just so obviously, you know, sexy and luxurious, but also really necessary.
And so I, you know, I found great pleasure in doing that. And then, yeah. Meet my husband at the jazz festival and my husband is a Texan. His name is Mike, a wonderful gentleman, and he would meet the Southern, the Southern charm, got the Montreal girl out of Montreal. And I moved here for love and not really knowing what my work experience
would be worth here. And so I started to just, you know, apply to some jobs. And what I did is I researched all the fortune 500 companies in the area in North Texas. And I went to so many interviews and eventually kind of, it wasn’t clicking, I wasn’t finding the right fit. And so I kind of put that to the side and, yeah.
Became pregnant with our first born Gabriela who was the light of our life. And right at that moment, I got a call from this airline that I had applied very many months ago. Calling me back for for a new round of interviews for a different position. And this time it was for advertising where I got to meet my mentor at the time who was my leader, Dana.
Loved, loved my time at Southwest airlines. Never thought I would leave Southwest, to be honest, I had the opportunity of working on advertising campaigns and then that role blossomed into leading the brand. So fun fact, there was no brand team at Southwest. When I started the brand had just been home grown from the culture into this external facing relationship with the consumers.
And so I had seen an opportunity to create more consistency, at least at first through the visual articulation of the brand. And so I raised my hand and asked for that opportunity and it was handed to me. Thank goodness, because then the rest is history for me. So I had the rare and amazing privilege of getting to rebrand the airline with others.
Of course, it’s Southwest. And it was truly the pinnacle of my career. I think I never want to work that hard again, but I will always cherish the really four and a half years that it took from, you know, being a, a secret project all the way to seeing that first aircraft come with that beautiful heart on the belly.
And so everything from the peanut packs to the colors of the aircraft. I got to put my hands on all of it, and I really poured my heart and soul into it with so many others within the, this amazing company. And so I really had my whole spirit and soul. My soul, my mind was completely connected to the Southwest culture.
And I truly thought I would just continue my career there forever. And then by all kinds of different relationships that I’d had in the past, I had this amazing opportunity equally amazing opportunity to join AT&T . And to me, that was like, Super scary. Going from this beloved airline, where there was a, roughly around 50,000 employees at the time to the, this a huge fortune four fortune three, whatever they are now organization with over 280,000 employees, I felt like the tiniest fish and the
ocean. And for some reason, my heart led me to take that risk. And I did, and I left my beloved family and friends at Southwest airlines where I had really grown to be just you know, just so loved by so many people and loving so much the culture and the folks I worked with. And then being this new lady who had a lot to prove in this really, really big corporate environment.
Dana Williams: [00:07:56] I want to stop you right there.
Cause I think there was a lot that happened in your career. . Yeah. I mean, from the time you moved to Texas and then you had to meet all new people, you, you know, not only getting married, having a baby, but you had a child with special needs during that time. And that was, I remember those days and working through that and how you worked through that as a working mom and managing all of that and celebrating these iconic moments.
So let’s just take a moment
and say, wow. Wow.
Wow. . And let’s talk about your strengths. So tell everybody your top five strengths, cause you guys are going to hear these as she talks. I probably heard some of them during that time.
Vanessa Peace: [00:08:39] Well, that’s a great place for us to stop right. Because you know, becoming a mother in the midst of building a career is just challenging enough.
Right. So I should say I have two children. Gabriela is now 12, she’s 12 and Preston is nine. And what’s unique about, yeah. Can you believe it? And I had both of them while I was at Southwest with Dana as my leader. So it was amazing. But I’ll, so I’ll stop and say, I’m going to read them in order.
My top five are communication. Woo achiever, activator and positivity. And yeah, and I so embrace that five, dynamic five only that, you know, the more I became comfortable with these being my strengths, and the more I stopped beating myself up about the other strengths that I might not be,
as you know, effective in and I could really start to utilize these five strengths as my resource. You know, the, the more, I feel like I became an efficient as a person, more productive and more goal-oriented right. And, and more, more focused on yeah. The big picture, not just what was in front of me. And so one of the biggest life-changing moments for me and for my family is that my little girl was diagnosed.
In my time at Southwest airlines was diagnosed with Rett syndrome. And Rett syndrome is a rare neurological disorder. And it impacts mostly younger girls, baby girls. And so she was born. Perfectly typical little beautiful bouncy baby. And then within the first seven, eight months, she started to show signs of regression with which is classic and typical for this disorder.
And then all my mommy flags were raised and was really very scared and it was a, it was a difficult time and I’m so grateful that I had my career and I had my colleagues who were so supportive because quite frankly, when I think back at the woman, I was then. First of all, I, I had no idea of all my strengths and I felt like I was drowning, but somehow with the help of people and with the help of my own strengths, and of course my supportive husband and family, we got through the first phases of her being diagnosed and the, we call it the D day, but diagnosis is difficult.
When, as a parent, you know, that something’s not right with your child it creates a lot of anxiety and fear. And then when you get the diagnoses, which not all families are fortunate enough to have many, many disabled and, and special needs children continue to not be diagnosed. But when you get that diagnosis, it puts a label.
And, and for the, for good and for bad label in that you have now the medical resources and advanced science and you know, literature and other families that you can turn to and lean into for support and at the very least an understanding of the road ahead, but then the bad is that once you get that label, and I think that also have special needs.
You know, just being a special needs mom and putting that in quotes, because I often use that to describe myself as a mother that special needs label it’s, it’s charged because it creates, you know, this sentiment that you’re different and you’re other, and, and that otherness sometimes can feel isolating.
Right. And so, Fortunately, my positivity kicked in high gear when Ella was first diagnosed. And I guess also my strength of communication, which was that I didn’t just bottle it up. I found an approach and a way for me to communicate openly what was happening without being overly dramatic. Well, maybe, sometimes I might’ve been, but I really tried to communicate, which ended up being very therapeutic for me and in doing so I also started to reach out to, you know, Past my colleagues and family and towards other families who were similar to ours.
And that’s when I became the representative for the North Texas region for Rettsyndrome.org where we started to do fundraising, you know, and over the years, Probably raised about $25,000. And so, you know, it was for me again, positivity was that I knew that there would be light at the end of the tunnels that we were walking through.
And Lord knows there were many, many tunnels. It seemed endless the appointments and the “if I have to fill another medical form again, I’m just going to scream” because there’s just so many medical forms. And so many times you have to retell the story of her development and her birth and her weight and all of that.
But with positivity, it was like each step we took felt like, okay, we’re, we’re moving in the right direction. And so, and then I guess my, my achiever, my activator for sure. And my achiever kicked into gear where I started to like, Use the information that I was learning about my own child and about my own family and the impact that Rett syndrome has had on us.
And I was able to then start to reach out and help other families, and then reach out further and get people interested in us as Rett families, which is what we often call ourselves so that there could be some fundraising that comes from it, where we could start helping other families and also help support the needs of the research.
So it’s been a fascinating journey this whole, this whole part. My, yeah.
Dana Williams: [00:13:50] And watching you on the journey. I mean, it’s just like, wow. I think I came out to one of your fundraiser, for Rett syndrome one time, and I know you’ve been doing that for now. What. Yeah. A long time
that you started that didn’t you, you started the in Texas.
Vanessa Peace: [00:14:03] Yeah.
Dana Williams: [00:14:04] So you did that while you were creating these iconic branding moments at Southwest airlines while you were also having another child and then thinking about your career. And it was like, wow. One thing I do know about you that the audience might not know is you’re very organized too. And I think that helped a lot, but, but I love how you use your communication talents and your positivity.
To get you through that time, but how you kind of, you seem to balance it all. Even though I know that’s not the word we use today because we, nobody can balance . But before we move to this next chapter, what was the advice you give new moms now, when they call you and they’re getting that diagnosis, what do you tell them?
How do you encourage them? Is there something that you learned or that somebody gave you when you were going through that?
That was early days.
Vanessa Peace: [00:14:53] I think that as a moms and I think women in general, we feel like we have to be superheroes and do it all on our own, on our own. And one thing that, you know, sadly, I think when I think back of just, you know, my mental health at the time I wasn’t aware that I was just, yes, I was using my communication and I was communicating what was happening, but people would offer to help.
And I had no idea how to. Ask for help or what they could help in. And, you know, in retrospect, I recognize now that it was just not embedded in me to ask for help. Like I had to be having it all under control and I was going to be fine and we were going to be fine. And one of the biggest, you know, things that I tell newly diagnosed.
Special needs families is you’re going to need help. It’s not, it’s not, if you need help, I’m here, you are going to be needing help. And, and the biggest thing is acknowledging that for me, it has been anyways acknowledging that it’s it’s necessary. We need the village and, you know, by proxy now our village has grown.
Our neighbors are involved in Ella and Preston’s life. Our family, of course, my coworkers everywhere I work. Even in interviewing for new positions, I immediately speak to the fact that my family dynamic is a little bit unique in that I might be called at the last second that my child has a seizure and she’s in an ambulance.
And so that’s going to be what I do. I’m going to run out of this conference room and go to her. And so being open and transparent about what my needs are, has really helped. Not only just me personally, with the friends and the. You know, nurse, you know, all the help that we’ve been able to receive, but even professionally as I’ve grown my own career and continued to grow in spite of right.
Dana Williams: [00:16:40] And I
love the fact that you’ve built your career while you were building your family and creating. Even through obstacles and I, and, and taken advantage of this, here comes this opportunity to at and T to build and, and tell us about that. Tell us kind of, this was a great opportunity for you to come in at a, at a different role.
Vanessa Peace: [00:16:59] Yes. Yeah. So this was an opportunity for me to go and lead a brand team. For an extremely large company, which was much you know, more complex than I even gave it credit for when I started quite frankly. And so the thing about having been an airline for a long time, I’d grown up with air Canada and then Southwest airlines.
You know, I really felt strongly that I understood that audience and that consumer and as a marketer and as a brand agent, that was so important to the. My role and then fast forward to this AT&T opportunity where I took a risk. I went into this giant ocean and then, you know, wanted to quickly prove that I could help and that I could help with the branding.
And then, you know, probably stumbled a couple of times. And I think that one of the best, you know, lessons I’ve taken back from my time in such a ginormous organization was that whenever you start anything, you know, You owe yourself and those around you to take a moment to truly listen and understand everywhere you’re going to go.
There’ll be a different culture. There’s going to be a different way. People do things. There’s a different set of expectations and you can’t just take what you brought with you and just assume that that’s naturally going to fit. You also have to learn the environment you’re now in so that you can be
respectful of those and not push your ideas and thoughts onto them. And so that was really a great recognition. I thought, you know, I’d been brought up in the best culture. Southwest airlines is known for their corporate culture. And so I brought all of that with me, and I was almost frustrated sometimes that in this large corporation things weren’t as close and people weren’t as you know, intuitively connected personally and quickly realized that.
That was, that was right for Southwest airlines and AT&T team has figured it out also there’s over a hundred year old company. Right. And so Started to realize that I had to pause and listen and take in my environment and learn from those. Who’d been there for very long time. And and then I ended up loving my time there.
And once again, finding myself thinking I’m never going to leave AT&T growth opportunities all around me, exceptionally. Smart really brilliant minds. Telecom is just this really interesting you know, industry that’s ever changing. You can never put your finger down on what the audience is going to expect today because it’s changing constantly.
Right? We’ve got, we’ve all got these things here, but then we’re consuming content on our televisions, on our screens, through social channels and the power of telecom. And at the time where I was there, the bridging of entertainment and telecom was so fascinating to me. So quick story within the first six
months of me joining AT&T was acquiring what was then called Time Warner, CNN, HBO cartoon network, and so many other channels. So here I come once again at this amazing time where I got to participate in the rebranding of this time Warner company, and I’ll now called Warner media. So. Again, fascinating brand work.
And then I got to work with some of the best brand strategists. I mean, my boss at the time he’s just been, he’s built a huge brands all over Microsoft and he’s , you know, I mean, there’s too many to name, and it would embarrass him if I did, but you know, got to learn so much about. The business of branding with him amazing brand strategists that I got to partner with on that kind of work.
So it was a great move for me. In retrospect, again, I never thought I would leave Southwest airlines. I was so happy there and I loved my career there and then took a giant risk and it paid off because AT&T taught me so much more about large corporations and organizing big teams and organizing ever changing market trends.
And so but then again, I got, I got something, you know, something came to get me again. So recruitment agency had reached out with this position and I read it. First thought, you know, I don’t want to leave AT&T I have such a great gig. Why would I do that? I’d finally been there three and a half years.
It finally taken me that long to get my good footing. And I felt like I was really, you know, getting my stride and making impactful work there and influencing, and this, you know, This new opportunity came into my lap and the more I read the job description and I tried to dismiss it, the more I was getting butterflies in my stomach and it was just kept calling me.
And, and funny, like I let my husband and my mom both read the job description. I was like, why am I so bothered by that? And they both read it and said, because this is the job you’re supposed to be doing. And so went through that whole process. And now I’m at Children’s Health and I’m the vice-president of the marketing department.
And I find myself just so giddy and so grateful and I’ll use the word. I am so blessed that my professional passionate of marketing and branding and all things, digital marketing is now completely aligned with my personal passion of being an advocate for families, with children who are ill or have special needs.
Like my little Ella does. And so, you know, it’s, it’s very rewarding and threw it out, you know, I’ll say that really. I just followed my gut and there was a lot of luck involved and a lot of great relationships I’ve made that have led me from one step to the next to the next.
Dana Williams: [00:22:20] I love that. I think there’s a lot of lessons in leadership here.
I think when we look back at the AT&T, I remember you telling me that you got excited because you were helping with some building culture there and helping with helping with that. So you kind of brought some of that. You bring that with you. And I think so much right now, we talk about building personal brand and how important personal brand is.
Cause you take that with you, wherever you go. It’s it’s not the company you bring that company brand, but it’s that personal brand. So talk a little bit about how you. How you took that, that step of risk going to AT&T and then also go into Children’s Health . Both of those were big steps. What, what did you use to power through?
Because sometimes I think when we’re walking and courage, it’s like taking a risk, but we always grow from it. Right. We always grow when we step into that fear. So what, what kind of catapulted you into both of those situations and how to you, what do you think that was? Could have been something in your strengths, it could have been your achiever.
I don’t know. A little bit.
Vanessa Peace: [00:23:18] I mean, it, it probably, even if you look back immigrating from Canada to Texas for love was a huge risk, you know, and I followed my heart there naturally. Right. Because I ended up married with two beautiful children. So there’s something, you know, it might be my activator.
Who’s always just willing to just. Get things started and get things to change and get things to be improved. And also my positivity, I just feel I’m, I’m incredibly fortunate. My, my parents, you know, I think that they instilled in, in my sisters, my brother and I just this innate feeling that we’ll always have a safety net, cause we always have family.
And so to me, that almost meant like, There’s, there’s nothing too far out of reach because I can always fall back on my, on my people, on my tribe. And then as I’ve grown, my tribe has gotten bigger so that I have people like you and colleagues from different organizations where I’ve worked, that have made up this tribe.
And I feel like then that just gives me. The courage because I heard you use that word and it’s so true, the courage to take the leap to the next step. And even when I’m not feeling so sure about myself, there’s always someone at that right time that texts me a nice little note to remind me I’m loved or, or someone reaches out and, you know, says I’d love some mentorship from you.
And I’m like, for me, really, you want to be mentored by me. And, that, again, just fills my tank, I guess, and makes me feel that I can get to that next step. And the reality is, is and I tell this to people I mentor too, when you start. Whatever journey you’re on. You can have all kinds of plans about where you’re going to land, but the reality is none of us ever know, because the beauty of the journey is that the only thing you can do is kind of set your site in a general direction and then take one step at a time.
And that’s the same about parenting it’s the same about marriage. You can only do one day at a time. You can try to agonize over. When I make this change to this new job, will I be able to be as successful as the last job will, will my skills you know, be applicable to this new role? Will I you know, get to carve my own space and leave a little bit of myself there?
You know, that can cause a lot of That can cause a lot of agony and angst, but if you’re really sure of who you are fundamentally, and that you have a tribe and you have a net. And you’re just, all you can do is the best you can do every day. Just one day at a time, then to me, that’s, that’s really the only way you get there.
I think that’s, that’s been for me, if there’s a secret to success, it’s just to take it one day at a time and to utilize my strengths and know that I’m well surrounded and well loved and supported and, and keep moving forward. You just keep moving forward. Yeah.
Dana Williams: [00:26:13] I love that. And I love that it’s kind of catapulted you to keep trying, and you’ve created those opportunities for yourself and you just keep trying and keep going.
So what, where do you get your advice? Who I know you have different role models, but is there been a female? And I say female because women’s history month this month, but is there a female role model that, or several that you recall that have really poured into you or given you advice that has helped you as you’ve moved
Vanessa Peace: [00:26:43] Yeah, I think that that’s the beauty of you know, having the opportunity of building a career and moving around is I’ve been influenced by so many powerful inspirational women, wherever I’ve gone. And I’ve always had the beautiful opportunity of them taking me under their wing. And I don’t know how I always, they always just these, these godmothers, these fairy godmothers that might have theirs have just appeared in my life, but, you know Not just cause I’m talking with you, Dana, but you know, I used to frequently sit out on your couch in your office.
And all of those deep conversations that we had, you know, were really inspirational to me because you showed me that you could bring your whole self to work and you could just pour yourself and give of your, every fiber and leave a lasting impression in many, many people. And I, you know, I have to credit.
You know, people like Colleen Barrett, right. And Theresa who were again, fairy godmothers in my life who really showed me that you absolutely can come with all of your passion and your emotion and it’s okay to be sensitive. And it’s okay to be what classically, you know we would have termed as like an emotional woman, right?
You would just bring your whole self. And then you tend to business and you can be successful and you can inspire and you can influence. And so, you know, I’ve, it’s hard to pick just one. Yeah. So many beautiful women, you know what I mean? I mean, I was raised by a really strong single mom and it always starts with our mom’s right.
And mom’s my best friend now. And we have the best relationship and I can always know that no matter how. Bad. I do. No matter if I fail this podcast horribly, I’ll go there and she’ll ask me, how do you do? And I’ll tell her, and she’ll say, let me hug you. Right? So having the support of many great women has been instrumental, I would say to my career development and, and to really then starting to carve out my own brand.
What kind of a female leader do I want to be? And how do I then in turn inspire and influence and mentor other young men and women who, you know, want to also feel accomplished and move up in their career. So
Dana Williams: [00:29:03] I saw and heard from you a great tidbit that I think would be helpful for our audience, because talk about the fact that you were interviewing during COVID for this newest role.
Right. And you couldn’t see your team, but yet you were getting a team of 70 people or so I was like, wow. And I know there’s a lot of people moving around right now and we’re still kind of in this hybrid workspace. So. What did you do to engage? And how did you, how did you manage that, that change?
Vanessa Peace: [00:29:34] So, you know, going back to bringing your skill sets from your past experience and then paying attention to the new environment that you’re in, you know, I brought with me from Southwest airlines, this understanding this deep rooted feeling and knowledge that you to get.
You know, engaged employees, you actually have to engage with them. You have to build a culture and you have to be very clear about the culture, not just say, Oh, we’ve got a great corporate culture, but actually define it. And so that’s one of the first things I did when I joined. So fun fact, I started April 27th when the marketing team at Children’s Health had just all been sent home about three weeks prior and told you’re just going to work virtually for now until we figure things out.
Right. And, and that’s. The truth for so many The folks now that are working from home. So I’ve never been still to this day in the same room as any of the people that I lead. And I have six direct reports and between 65 with contractors of 65 to 70 employees. And so they’ve never been in the same room.
I’ve never been in this same room. And so we’ve not been able to feel each other’s energies. And so it was really important for me to, from the get-go be very transparent about who I am, what my values are. And you know, what I, I was coming to Children’s Health for and what I was hoping to accomplish with the help of the team.
And yeah. So we built a culture newsletter. So I started again, like by the time all the onboarding was completed, let’s call it, you know, mid may. I was starting to build my first culture corner newsletter, which is what we’ve affectionately it.
Dana Williams: [00:31:11] And nobody had done that before. Right.
You kind of want to have done that before.
Vanessa Peace: [00:31:14] Yeah, that’s right. So the culture corner newsletter, which is probably a little corny, but, you know, I decided that together we would have four pillars that would make up our marketing culture, which was to learn together, to collaborate together, to celebrate one another, and then to give back. And so those are our four pillars in every monthly culture corner.
I am consistent with the four pillars. And then, you know, we start sharing things that we want to learn together. We have a, you know, lunch and learn folks that come and speak from across the organization and outside the organization. And then, you know, we celebrate birthdays and we celebrate new babies and
buying new homes and, and then we give back together. And then the collaboration piece was really stemming from observations I’d made in my first 90 days as a leader there, which was that there was some really strong skill. I mean, I’ve got some really incredible marketers on my team and yet the way they were operating was very much in silos.
And so there was. Truly an official need for a deep collaboration. And so by building that into our culture and then celebrating each time, there’s a project that has shown great collaborative spirit highlighting that, highlighting those moments that mattered where the collaboration in the end, those connections happened.
And so, you know, we’ve been at it now, you know, gosh, 10 months and it’s really taken off. And I keep getting, you know, a lot of great feedback from the team and even my colleagues outside of marketing who hear about it and say, Oh my gosh, you know what a strange way to start during COVID when you’re remote, but, you know, yeah.
A great way to start to build rapport. And then I’ll tell you that I’ve had to find clever ways. I did zoom talks with every person on my team, and I did zoom talks with every executive at Children’s Health within the first I would say let’s call it four months. So for four months the wonderful lady, Janice, who helps me make all these appointments she’s was calling this my world tour.
But you know, it was, it was a lot, it was daunting, but it was so important because we don’t give enough credit body language and being in each other’s spaces and how important that is to building rapport. And I knew that I wanted to come in and influence and inspire. And even that I had to come in and create some change.
We had a reorg in July you know, there was a great many things that I wanted to go and help operationalize for a greater effective you know, marketing abilities. And so it, you know, it’s paid off that one-on-one time I’ve had with a great many people, because it was my opportunity to really learn and understand the implications of what I was going to go and suggest in terms of making changes.
So it’s been a great journey. Yeah.
Dana Williams: [00:33:54] Yeah. And I think you encourage those making change right now that are going to be in that spot where they’re going to have to connect with others. And, and really, I think being a mentor and finding those mentors and just reaching out like you did, you reached out to people just said, “I’m here.
I want to meet you.” But one of the other things you told me that I thought was pretty special is how you didn’t end your day without connecting with life. Two people each day. And that was a little thing you gave yourself. That’s right. Probably a little bit of your communication in your, a achiever, like okay,
two a day and just giving yourself that framework, right to connect.
Vanessa Peace: [00:34:29] And I think that even, even building culture has to be disciplined. I think that you have to. You have to plan that out. And like we talked about plans. You don’t necessarily know where you’re going to end up, but you have to have an intention.
And so if my intention is to create collaboration, then I have to be the one to show what that looks like. If my intention is to celebrate one another, then I have to show what that looks like. And so, yeah, and you know, in the opportunities that I have through now, you know, with this digital space, we’ve got teams, we’ve got Microsoft teams.
So I teams two, three, sometimes it’s five, six people a day. Just, you know, if they’ve past my mind, I keep my org chart open all day long. And then, you know, I might be touching something and I know that somebody worked on it and they’re not presenting to me, but I’m going to ping them real quick and tell them, thank you for all the work you did on that.
And it goes far along in, in that. Because they don’t get to see me and I don’t get to see them. And we can’t build that personal relationship at least feeling appreciated or knowing that you’re thought of or knowing that you’re hurt, you know, that, that your work mattered. I think that that goes a long way.
And so I, again, things I’ve learned along the way, Southwest, having such a huge influence on. My love of leading people and building culture. And so I, you know, I refined my tools and my tactics, but yeah, it’s, it’s been great to connect that way.
Dana Williams: [00:35:53] Yeah, and I love how you’ve built on the culture. You learn there, even coming from, you know, your first job in Canada and then all the way through, but how you’ve gone in and created things and left and better than you found them each time you, you really have.
And I’ve seen that in, in all these iconic moments. So as you think back, and you think about advice to new leaders or leaders that are just like you, that are transitioning from people are moving around right now. So transitioning from one company to the next, what would be the three or two or three simple things that you would recommend that we’ve we heard some of the things you did, but what would be your advice to them right now?
As they’re moving around?
Vanessa Peace: [00:36:31] Yeah. I’ll start at the beginning by saying that even when I think back at serving coffee and photocopying. Countless photocopy. Remember that when we had to photocopy everything. And I remember being a coordinator at an advertising agency and being that person who had to spend the night photocopying a pitch for the ad agency And even there I’m so grateful for all those moments, because I had the foresight at the time to get myself a copy of everything I photocopied.
And that’s where I learned the business of advertising. Right. And photocopy had copy of that budget and look at what things cost in the media, et cetera. And so I would say that from that experience and you find that in every job, no matter what level, there’s always these small jobs. And I would say that no job is too small, that there are lessons everywhere.
You just have to be open and embrace every opportunity in your day, even on the tasks that I don’t want to do, because I know they’re you know, they’re gonna either be boring or they’re going to be political. Or when I push myself to finally get to that item on my list, There’s always something I gained from it, whether it’s something I learned about myself and my resilience or my ability to navigate something complicated, or to actually sit through something boring without my mind.
But there’s always a lesson. So yeah, it would be a big, a big one for me. And then the other one, and back to those women who have inspired me that, you know, that we were talking about earlier being kind and attentive costs. Nothing. And for some reason, sadly, too few people you know, prioritize, being kind and attentive.
And you know, working in, in all types of organizations, you know, politics can get thick and politics is almost like a way of saying that, you know, I, as you progress through leadership, there’s a lot of, you know, push and pull and turmoil or misalignment, and it can become personal sometimes or feel personal at the, at the least.
But I, you know, if you consider that people are people at every level and just being kind and attentive just. As a human nevermind titles are nevermind what we’re misaligning on. It can go so far in just influencing and understanding each other meeting halfway. And so I think that it’s a funny thing to say in business, but being kind is really undervalued and is actually probably for me, just an incredible currency.
Dana Williams: [00:39:07] I’m glad you brought that up because I think sometimes by taking time to get to know your people, like their strengths, getting to know that’s like really seeing how they’re viewing the world. Right. And being, being kind is just taking a moment to understand them and understand where they’re coming from, as well as all the other things about bringing value and seeing, you know, seeing people where they are at this moment in time and how you can help them.
So, What do you think that you would say to the Vanessa that was 20 years old? To the Vanessa now, what are the three things that three big things you learned or say, keep on doing this sister? What we learned that and I mean, I think your positivity to shown through that time, but your younger self and
even I’m going to take you to your 90th birthday. What legacy do you want to leave? It’s your mom at your kids? It’s your, it’s all the people that you’ve touched with signs saying, we love you, Vanessa. What does that look like? And what do you do? And right now on your mission, your personal mission. To get there.
As you think, as you think about where you’ve been the little 20 year old to where you are now, this amazing leader, mom advocate for children’s health wife, and then you’re going to be, you know, where you get to the, the eighties and nineties and in what, what does that legacy that you want to
Vanessa Peace: [00:40:35] The 20 year old self, the 20 year old Vanessa, you know, wouldn’t have listened to any of that. I had to say because she was fearless and she was running in all kinds of directions. And she really didn’t know what she was going to be when she grew up. And she just wanted to have a good time. And I would say to her, keep that fearlessness you know, keep that, keep that fearlessness.
But also, you know, buckle, buckle up. It’s going to be a ride. I, you know, I would. I would let her know that she might want to finish college a little sooner instead of dropping out and traveling to Guatemala. But you know, I, I teased because I was quite unruly as a young lady, but I guess I wouldn’t change it, but I would definitely.
Tell her, you keep that fearless spirit it’s going to pay off.
Dana Williams: [00:41:23] The parents that have kids that are like that right now, just tell them it’s going to be okay, because this is what’s going to get that girl to the boardroom, you know.
Vanessa Peace: [00:41:31] Absolutely. Right. Because I do think that that’s exactly what it is, is that self-confidence, and that just innate knowledge that I can do whatever I’m going to, I’m going to make it through, even if I don’t know what that looks like.
And then fast forward to, you know, what I would say. What I would say to the ninety-year-old mirror, what I would hope that the nine-year-old me leaves is just a legacy of being, you know, I can’t overstate. It’s our motto in our home, kindness above all like that. No matter how successful. All that really doesn’t matter.
It’s how you let, how you leave people feeling. I think. And so being kind, helping people find their own purpose, I would hope that that would be a legacy I would leave. And then being an advocate for people who need advocates, being a voice for them. And so that’s. It’s so from being fearless to being an advocate, you know, I guess that’s kind of a odd spectrum, but that’s mine.
Dana Williams: [00:42:34] I love it. I love it. And I love how you been created. We all talk about you’re one in 34 million. There’s only one Vanessa. And you’re being that you’re living that every day, you’re energized, even though life throws you curve balls, you you’ve bounced back. But you’ve, you’ve surrounded yourself with your.
You know, your board of directors, of people that’s followed you around and you and your family. And, and I think there’s a lot of lessons here for those listening about how to create that and how to, how to lean into your strengths and how to find, keep moving. Even though when things seem tough and then how to take those risks.
When the opportunity comes, you are ready. When the opportunity comes, you want to be ready and you were ready, but at times, so. Congratulations. Well, is there anything that I didn’t get to ask you today, as we close out, that you want to share anything on your mind, as you think about. All the people out there in this situation, we’re still kind of in, we’re kind of coming out of COVID a little bit.
We’re still, but then just work home life, being a leader, being a mom all the, all the challenges that are out there with your people and, and people in your sphere, what would you like to share?
Vanessa Peace: [00:43:40] I think it, I think it goes back to, I guess it always goes back to your strengths, but you know, as a brand builder, I’ve had the,
you know, I have had this amazing career of being able to identify an organization’s mission and core values and put those on paper and then articulate what that sounds like and what that looks like and how you express it in TV commercials and on a, you know, within a brand guideline. And I think in all of that work, it became clear to me that I had to work on my own brand.
And I would say that no matter where you are on your journey, I think COVID, and this pandemic has been a moment that has forced us physically into confinement and also has forced us to take stock of ourselves, our strengths, which is a perfect time to have this journal come out and take stock of the resources we have around us because the reality is we’ve been forced To have some introspection, if we think truly about, you know, what that looks like people have had financial crisis.
People have had children, virtual school learning and having to try to really wrap our minds around what our children are learning in school. And there’s just been a lot more Information that’s been close to home that we’ve been able to synthesize to where now maybe is a great time for everyone to build their own brand.
What is your core mission? What are your foundational values? What are your strengths? And then how do you want to articulate that? And then be concise. Assistant cause one thing is a brand manager I learned is a brand is the art of consistency. If you tell the same story with the same logo and the same colors and the same look and feel consistently people will recognize that corporate brand.
And so too, is that for people, if you’re consistent in your approach to how you communicate with people, how you collaborate the work product that you put out how you balance that quote, right? Cause no one really balances your home, your home sphere and your professional sphere and whether or not you bring those two closer together.
Like I’ve had the opportunity of doing where my professional spirit sphere knows of my personal sphere. Right. That’s becoming your brand once you really have a good understanding of all of those things that you’re made up of. And then knowing your brand helps you. I think too Get to your next phase on your journey in a more purposeful way.
And I do think that that’s when those opportunities start coming to you and things start aligning a little bit more clearly once you’ve been able to articulate for yourself what your brand is about, therefore, what your purpose is, then you can be more purposeful.
Dana Williams: [00:46:26] I love that, Vanessa, you epitomize that whole philosophy of making every moment matter.
I mean, I see that, but I also love the part that I see cause when I was at your home during Christmas or went dropped by in December. Yeah. It was hard because Ella , both her nurses had gotten COVID and you and Mike were trying, and your mom were trying to manage all of that. And, but I love the fact that, that, you know, and I want to show this with positivity because positivity yeah.
Thing, you get through things, but yet it’s also okay to say, you know, I’m having a rough day today and it’s okay. And I love that about you because you were saying out it’s not been easy. This has been a little hard.
Vanessa Peace: [00:47:06] And I found, you know, and maybe this is the, the feminist in me, but I found it, there’s always this picture, perfect image of women and mothers and we’re super moms.
And we can balance that God awful word. And, and I’m the first to tell people I dropped balls all the time. Like it is not easy. It is not easy and being positive doesn’t mean it’s Pollyanna. I can’t see it. My little girl’s about to have hip surgery on April 8th. I’m scared. And I tell anyone. I’m scared.
My little girl’s going to be in a surgery that she’s going to be in a cast, a full body cast. I don’t know how we’re going to lift her. We have to get a lift for the room. Like the reality is life is hard for everyone. People are out of work, right? People people have special needs. Kids. People are trying to virtual
schooled their kids. We’ve got, you know, aging women who find it difficult, young women who find it difficult. And the reality is, is that the more honest we are, the more we can approach those topics, honestly, and realize that we’re all going to survive it anyways. Yeah. Then I think it’s a little bit easier to see it as a
you know, an opportunity for positivity connection and supporting each other and being there for one another. And so on. I’m the first to say it’s not easy. My life is not easy. Most people’s lives are not easy. But, but I’m so grateful and blessed every day for every opportunity I have.
Dana Williams: [00:48:32] Wow. Well, I didn’t know that about Ella.
We will be praying for her. Oh my goodness. But you have, I mean, it was always something right. That was coming up, whether it was hip or back in the hospital or whatever, but I love how you have navigated life through that and found ways to get the energy through your, your sources of energy with your, your loved ones and people around you and making and asking for help, as you said.
So that’s great. And I also love your positivity and your realism. So that’s, that’s the definition of it’s like the Stockdale paradox. It’s, you know, how do you balance both so that you can be resilient? And I think that’s, what’s going to come. We don’t know what the name of this chapter is going to be until a long time from now, but
Resiliency is what I think of when I think of you, you know, in all that you’ve done and all that you’re doing and how you’re pouring out to so many and your family at the same time. So you’ve been such a blessing to us today. Thank you so much for being here and sharing your life and talking about all the fun and the challenges and how you stepped in faith and fear and made things happen.
So I know you’re encouraging all those out there that are thinking about steps they were thinking about taking, but not sure how.
Vanessa Peace: [00:49:48] Yeah. We’ll jump in. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. I love the journal. I just had to end with saying, I love the journal. It’s been great. Good resource for me. Yeah. Every day.
Dana Williams: [00:49:59] Good, good, good.
Wow. Thank you so much for listening in today to Vanessa Peace. What an amazing leader, mom, friend. An advocate for Children’s Health. She has taken a lot of bumps in the road and taken them and turned them lemons into lemonade. As she’s, as she’s gone through many challenges, she’s also challenged herself to take on new roles and take risks
and make things happen and just being ready when the opportunity comes. I love how she talked also about just being willing to, to take one step at a time each day and learning anything you can possibly learn. And most importantly, being kind to one another. So thank you for listening today. And I’d like to encourage you guys to take a moment to subscribe, to Dominate Your Day, wherever you listen to podcasts.
So you’re ready to listen to these life-changing stories. We can’t wait to bring you exactly what you need to dominate your day.