Optimistic. Empathetic. Curious. An Interview with Carly Broderick

Let me start this post where Carly Broderick and I ended our bold leader conversation. Optimistic, empathetic and curious were three adjectives Carly offered as the best descriptors of herself. I don’t know her well but in our few exchanges, all three of these characteristics have been on display.  I could add a few others: clearly brilliant, fearless, engaging, and focused.

After ten great years and progressively bigger roles with Target, Carly decided she was ready to step out on her own and start Brodstone. She sees a retail market in flux and knows she has some important things to contribute as consumer needs change, industry players change, and as innovations are introduced. Check out her simple, fun and pointed website for a glimpse of her personality and perspective!CarlyBroderick (41)WEB (1)

I asked her if she is aware of times when she sees what other don’t, and how she enrolls others in her ideas.  “First, I come from a place of total empathy for the consumer or end user. Whether they can articulate what they need or want or whether you see it for them (through their choices and behaviors), I start there.”

I loved her next thought. “If I can believe whatever we are doing is positive for the end consumer – that is my ‘GO’ signal.  From there it’s a puzzle and I’m finding the pieces and putting the puzzle together.”

By puzzle pieces she means everything: facts and figures, nuts and bolts, operational considerations to get from here to there and especially emotions. “So much of retail decisions come down to emotional attachments, so you have to figure out ‘what are they?’”

Carly is drawn to, “wowed” by, people that see things others don’t see.  These are folks that see the potential in an idea, have the creativity to bring it to life, and the ability to execute or build the organization so that it can live on its own. “They always have their eye on the prize. Even when mired in the muck.  They are humble and classy. They are generous of spirit.”

With her tenure in a Fortune 50 company and now as an entrepreneur, I asked her if these kinds of bold leaders can thrive in large institutions.  Absolutely was her immediate reply. “Someone I still think of as my mentor does both. He has a clear strength of character and a portfolio of successful work inside the company. He has credibility and a track record. He is definitely a bold leader…and a company guy.”   I found this a really important message. The kinds of bold leadership we are discussing through this collection of interviews can be found anywhere. It’s not the place that makes the difference. It’s the person and how they comport themselves in the place they’ve chosen to lead.

Like many I’ve spoken to, Carly has the same ‘it takes a team’ orientation. Bold leadership requires a clear focused vision and the ability to build teams and get things done. “I love the 30,000 foot idea AND the 1000 foot execution. Once I get clear about how to get from 30,000 to 1,000 feet, I can assess where others are at, how to help them see the whole opportunity, and help them get what they need to contribute to success.”

And since we were on the topic of teams, I asked Carly about her own behavior and how she handles herself and her team in positive stress situations differently than negative situations.

Positive stress is awesome; all about achieving growth, newness. It is still a lot of work so you have to really celebrate the little wins to keep momentum building. You need to build the team and other’s stakes in the momentum. Also you have to be careful not to be blinded by the new shining light, and constantly check progress to make sure you’re getting to the right outcomes.”

I have to do much more ‘self’ care in negative situations. I need a plan and my team needs much more empathy to help them through because it can feel much more mammoth (whether it actually is or not).  As a leader I’m thinking: ‘How fast can I dissipate the negative? Chip away at the things causing the negativity.”

Like all the bold leaders I’ve met in this process, Carly shares the forward motion, make the best decisions you can, learn, adjust, and keep moving orientation. She quotes her dad, hears his voice in her head reminding her “There are only two things you can control: your attitude and your effort. Make the best decisions you can and go from there.”

Carly has in her first year, built a very interesting portfolio of early clients. This is a young bold leader with a big future ahead of her. Lucky anyone who gets to work with her, for her, or beside her.

Do you know any emerging bold leaders that we should be talking to as we grow this network of amazing people? Let me know if this interview sparks a suggestion or two.

As the first Aveusian to work in the U.S., Asia and Europe, Chris has a unique perspective on how leaders drive material and positive outcomes in today’s global marketplace.