partnerships were announced, I had made my peace. There was nothing else that I could have shown the firm to prove that I was ready and I expected them to agree. After all I’d gone through, never crying, no matter what, the moment I walked into the room, I could feel my face getting hot and I could feel the tears coming.
There was a ring of men, and as I walked into the room, the senior [partner] said, “I just want to say congratulations to my newest partner.” It was a great moment.
If you had asked me 22 years ago what drives you? What makes you successful? How do you get these A’s? I would not have been able to answer you. My faith was there, but I wasn’t conscious of it and didn’t know how to call on it. Understanding where my power comes from, and knowing how to call on it and harness it and use it is the greatest lesson I’ve learned. I learned it through tough trials, through hitting a wall and questioning myself, through having my confidence busted then putting it back together, and through realizing it was the prayers, it was the faith, it was the expectation of winning that got me through. That’s why, every year, at the top of my to-do list is [the goal of] getting a little bit deeper into that. Because every year I learn a little bit more about how powerful I really am with Him in front. That’s been my greatest lesson, no question, hands down.
Don’t handicap yourself. “I would never say because I’m black I’m going to be behind, or imposed upon. I just do what my mom and grandmother said: Always go for the top. Be the best at whatever you’re doing.”
Here are the key points of her grab-it-all approach to living.
- Expect to have it all. “I work hard and I play hard and what gets sacrificed in the middle is some sleep. So I may have a couple of extra moles or lines from that, but I feel like I’ve had a chance to do it all.”
- Don’t go it alone. “If you want to sit and chitchat, and tell me everything’s fine when it’s really not, then you’re wasting my time. Let’s get to what the issues are so we can solve them together.”
- Take a risk. “Ask yourself, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ You get blown up. So you’ll get up and start all over again. What it costs you will be nothing compared to what you gain. You’ll learn something. And you’ll never make that same mistake again.”
- Remain humble. “I am one woman and my job is to do as much as I can with everything that I’ve been given. But it’s no better than what someone else is offering. Both are equally valued at the end of the day.”