Words of Wisdom: Christine O'Connell, Cooper Brand
Welcome to Pass the Mic’s series: Words of Wisdom, a unique opportunity to hear from the industry’s leading women on their personal inspirations and discover their advice on advancing as a woman in the audio and advertising field.
We are joined by Christine O’Connell, the Executive North American Marketing Director for Cooper Brand at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Throughout her career in marketing, Christine has seen the landscape of media evolve entirely, working to understand how media shapes consumers’ lives and brands’ places in that landscape.
Read more for Christine’s insights and wisdom as a strategic marketing leader, the joy of being a mentor to other women, and following in Brene Brown’s footsteps of leading as your authentic self:
What’s the best advice you were ever given: professional or otherwise?
I was hoping to be promoted and had worked crazy hard to get it. When it didn’t happen I was crushed and had the opportunity to sit down with my boss during a midyear discussion and I asked him what it was going to take to get there. He said that right now the organization didn’t see me in that position but what I could do is “start acting the part” so that not only could leadership visualize me in the role, but I was actually in the role that I wanted. That perspective resonated with me as a former musical theater major and it’s guided my path since then.
What does being a leader for other women mean to you?
The greatest gift I have ever been given is to guide my team and to grow them beyond what they ever thought they were capable of themselves. It’s fun to watch them surprise themselves and watching them say, “Wow, I didn’t know I could do that!” To be able to help others grow so that they achieve their dreams is a gift and blessing. It’s a joy to watch these women grow and become these amazing leaders themselves especially knowing I may be one tiny piece of their life puzzle that helped them to get there.
How do you use your “seat at the table” to elevate the other women around you?
I think one of the biggest things that prevent women from achieving their dreams is that we have this ability to be so humble to the point of self-depreciation – and those lies we tell ourselves that we’re not something. So, I love to push my team outside of their comfort zone. When they tell me they can’t, I tell them they can. When it comes to the literal seat at the table – I bring my team along to present their own work, even when that makes them uncomfortable. Oh, I make sure they are prepared for their audience, but nothing gives me more joy than watching my team getting passionate about their ideas and selling it in on their own, especially when they didn’t think they could do it at the start.
Who was your mentor? If you didn’t have one, who inspired you the most in your career?
I have had many mentors; interestingly, they have all been men – and I’ve been very blessed. None of them saw mentorship as something they had to do. They cared about me as a person to invest their precious time in me, but that they saw something in me that I may not have recognized in myself and helped me to find the path to get where I really wanted. They were my allies and honestly are my friends. So, I don’t know that there is any single mentor that I can point to that has inspired me the most, because each of them taught me something different and their time and wisdom were gifts.
What song, podcast, or audiobook would you recommend to your mentee?
Any of the Brene Brown audiobooks and her podcasts. None of us are perfect – and as women, we are taught our imperfections are liabilities and that we need to hide our true selves in the business world. It’s a lot of work to be what you think someone wants you to be. By bringing your authentic self to everything you do, you are courageous, and you grow. In her Unlocking Us podcast, she just released the first in six episodes with her sisters where they are exploring The Gifts of Imperfection.