Four dynamic and accomplished business leaders addressed a packed house to discuss “The Role of Mental Fortitude in Leadership” in honor of International Women’s Day at Antioch University on March 1. Wendy Yang, president of Performance Lifestyle Brands, Deckers; Karen Mims, portfolio and organizational director, The Towbes Group; and Kathryn Burba, Army Colonel (ret) shared their experience with an attentive audience. Author and entrepreneur Barbara Greenleaf moderated the panel.
Mental fortitude is: “the ability to focus on and execute solutions in the face of uncertainty or adversity.” (Forbes) Wendy Yang shared that she learned mental fortitude during her time as an athlete. “As a professional tennis player, I learned more from my losses than my wins. It taught me to dig deeper and bounce back.” She went on to say how those experiences as a tennis player helped her build the mental fortitude she relies on today in her job at Deckers.
Karen Mims shared one of her secrets, “I never let them see me sweat. I calm myself down by writing. Once I have centered myself, I look across the table and see what it is that THEY need. As a boss and a leader, it’s my job to make others successful and to see what it is I need to give to them to have them become their better self.”
When asked if mental fortitude should be an organizational value, Kathy Burba said: “It is important in business to develop a culture that builds mental fortitude, it creates transparency, tenacity, and achievement in the most adverse conditions. It builds resilient employees, teams, and leaders. What I learned in the Army was that the more adverse the situation, the more I grew as a leader.”
After the ninety-minute discussion, Anna Kwong, MBA chair, closed the evening with words of gratitude and praise and added; “Antioch’s MBA Program aims to educate students to be innovative and strategic business leaders, who balance a strong foundation in business and finance with social responsibility.” The audience lingered for personal questions and the entire evening reinforced the importance of business networking and mentorship.