NYC Recap: Changemaker Chat with Helene Gayle

All Hail Helene Gayle

hgayle recapThe theme of Changemaker Chats this month is IMPACT, and over the course of our Chat with Helene Gayle, we got to know just what impact means to her and how she makes impact in her life.

As the inaugural CEO of McKinsey Social Initiative, Helene opened up about her life and career transitions, which have spanned prestigious posts in government, philanthropy, and the private sector. Evident by her more than 30 years of work on global issues with CARE USA, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Helene’s life and work path, driven in pursuit of social impact, was a true inspiration.

“When you’ve lived a long time, there are lots of breakthrough moments,” said Dr. Gayle. Here are just a few takeaways.

  • Hammer or glove? Ask yourself, are you a hammer or a glove? That is, are you banging down doors or do you take a softer approach? Either can work, just be sure to stay true to yourself and be deliberate about your behavior. And remember, even glove people need to decide when and how to use a hammer.
  • Realistically, how idealistic should I be? When asked about how to balance realism and idealism, Helene advises on keeping up the idealism to guide your beliefs, but realize in order to accomplish your goals, you need to take concrete steps.
  • One life. When thinking about work-life balance, it’s not either work or life, it’s all a part of life. You may never have it equally balanced, but you can adjust from each side to establish your own equilibrium. It can be hard to set limits, but we are better professionals if we stay in the game of life as fully as we can.
  • Failing Forward. In moments of self-doubt or when confronted with possible failure, try to depersonalize the situation and separate your self-doubt from the mission. Staying focused will give you the courage to do things you might be afraid to do otherwise.
  • I am woman, hear me roar. It’s an awesome time to be a woman. While women may have a harder role with more obstacles and systemic challenges, times are changing and opportunities for women continue to grow.

Helene closed the chat by sharing her wish for women in the room, hoping that we believe in ourselves enough to accomplish the things we want to accomplish. Now, with that, let’s get going!

Thanks Helene for your thoughtfulness and commitment to being a Changemaker.