The smartest thing Debra Bednar-Clark has done for her career wasn’t an internship, or a meeting, or an elevator pitch.
It was redefining success.
Before starting her own company, career and leadership coaching firm DB+co, Bednar-Clark was the global head of strategy and growth at Facebook, and spent time as Microsoft’s director of US market strategy and engagement.
“When I look back,” she told Business Insider, “I think for a lot of my career I was in a tug of war between what I was supposed to do and who I actually am or aspire to be. Early in my career I was one of few female coders, and I felt compelled to really shut down the different sides of myself to fit in and earn the respect of my male colleagues. But what I realised is that when we’re separating our personal self from our professional self, we’re often leaving the best parts of who we are at the door when we walk into the office every day.”
Plus, she continued, “this fragmentation is self-limiting because you’re ultimately just showing a one-dimensional version of yourself rather than all of the things that make you unique. It’s also incredibly exhausting because you’re consciously delivering different versions of yourself at any given time.”
So, she said, “I redefined what success means to me. For me, success without fulfillment isn’t success.”
For Bednar-Clark, fulfillment meant being in a role where she could “bring all the different sides of who I am to work.” Those sides included her love of launching “disruptive businesses,” her enjoyment of coaching and mentoring, and her fascinating with how fashion and style can make someone feel.
“Because that didn’t exist on paper, it was a position I needed to create for myself,” she said.
Today she offers career and style coaching through DB+Co, and she helps her clients define success for themselves.
“Anyone that I work with is a multifaceted individual, and I think it’s the combination of all the different facets that differentiates your value,” she said. “What I’ve witnessed in myself, and in the leaders I admire, is that there’s so much strength and a positive snowball effect you get when you’re embracing everything that makes you unique so you can bring your whole authentic self to work.”
She continued: “When you bring your whole self forward you’re naturally going to be more confident, which naturally increases your confidence as a leader, which then unlocks all these new opportunities potentially for you and those around you.”
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