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  • Memphis Daily News: Packard's Playbook Helps Women Thrive In A Corporate Business World

    Susan Packard, Memphis Daily News: Packard's Playbook Helps Women Thrive In A Corporate Business World

    Memphis Daily News: Packard's Playbook Helps Women Thrive In A Corporate Business World

    Susan Packard’s premise is straightforward: Business is a team sport. Winning doesn’t just happen, but requires everything any team sport would – preparation, strategy, spirit, competitiveness, composure, focus, creativity and, yes, gamesmanship.

    Her book, “New Rules of the Game: 10 Strategies for Women in the Workplace,” is more or less a playbook. Packard – who co-founded Scripps Interactive, served as chief operating officer of HGTV and also was a significant contributor to building other brands such as HBO and CNBC – will on March 30 deliver the keynote address at the Junior League of Memphis’ second annual Memphis Women’s Summit (

    Packard, by the way, sees lessons in the remarkable comeback just executed by quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in their Super Bowl victory. She doesn’t claim to know what Brady was thinking, can’t begin to say if the so-called Deflategate controversy that resulted in the NFL suspending Brady at the start of the season was a driving motivation or not.

    But she can say that he rose to that “moment of high stakes. He’s a great example of a competitive warrior.”

    She uses professional golfer Jordan Spieth and retired New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera as examples in her book. Rivera is featured in her second chapter, “Play it Cool,” and is a poster boy for Rule No. 2: Composure. The Yankees routinely handed Rivera the ball at the end of games to get the final outs and preserve a victory, hence the baseball designation as “closer” – a term borrowed from the business world.

    Spieth is a good example of adopting a winning mindset early in a career. He’s just 23 years old.

    “He carries around this little piece of paper: ‘Do. Or Do Not. There is No Try.’ His way of saying there is no second place,” Packard said.

    Packard didn’t play sports – “I don’t have an athletic bone in my body” – but she grew up in a house where cards and board games were a constant activity.

    So whether she knew it at the time or not, she learned the art of negotiation around the Monopoly board. She was one of those players that had a knack for trading someone two of the light blues and the electric company for the entire rich street, including Park Place and Boardwalk.

    “I’d throw in 10 dollars,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll be honest, pretty ruthless. But my whole family was like that. I had a standard I had to live up to.”

    And so it goes in business, in a real negotiation. Packard says too many women approach such a setting as though it is “life and death.”

    “Look at it as a game,” she said. “I learned men saw it as a game.”

    And what is true in sports is also true in business: There will always be another game. Losing one opportunity does not have to mean the end of a career.

    Women, she says, too often struggle to realize that reality. The losses go deep.

    “They’re hard on themselves,” she said, adding that if they focus on the defeat they can “take themselves out of the game.”

    Make no mistake, much of this playbook is dedicated to understanding how men play the corporate game and, in turn, how women need to play the corporate game.

    “As of now, there are two sets of rules,” Packard said. “How you ask for resources as a woman is fragile. If you ask like a man, you get the b-word by your name.”

    So style of communication is crucial.

    “Having brevity in how you communicate is really powerful, which I learned from men,” she said. “I could see the moment I’d taken too long to make a point and I lost them. Time is the enemy in any business.”

    But her book is time well-spent. Even so, Packard says she’s not here to sell the idea that there is a golden straight-up path to the top.

    “There really is no (corporate) ladder,” she said. “That was always a myth. It’s more like the jungle gym.”

    For more information on women in business speaker Susan Packard, contact Executive Speakers Bureau at (901) 754-9404.

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