A few of Carla’s Pearls – What is YOUR Success Equation?

Carla will be the opening keynote at the 6th Annual IWL Women’s Leadership Conference, September 1st

In February 2014, I had the opportunity to tune into a live stream of the Take The Lead Launch and I was blown away by a speech from Carla Harris, Managing Director in the Strategic Client Group at Morgan Stanley in New York.

Now, a year and a half later, I had the opportunity to shake her hand and listen to her speak to a group of 100 leaders about some of what she calls “Carla’s Pearls.”

I loved how the host for the evening introduced Carla. She said she couldn’t possibly even begin to read her long and impressive bio, which is why they had it printed out on everyone’s seat. She went on to say, “If you are not already a Carla fan, you will be by the end of tonight.” How right she was!

Carla is a presence, a strong and impactful on stage motivator – and her message is even stronger. Here are some nuggets that have stuck with me for the past year and a half as well as some new thoughts Carla introduced when I saw her last week.

There is more to success that being smart and working hard.

Carla realized early on in her career that she couldn’t just put her head down and expect opportunities to come her way. She had to set herself apart and she also had to ask herself this next question…

What does success look like to you?

You need to know the answer to this question for yourself “so that you will know what you are playing for.” Then you can frame your actions around your ultimate goal.


“Fear has no place in your success equation.” I think this resonates with a lot of women. So often, we hold ourselves back for fear of failure or embarrassment. But Carla says, “failure always brings you a gift … and that gift is experience.”

Capitalize on what you have

You gain performance currency when you under promise and over deliver. You also have relationship currency and it is even more valuable. You gain this by forming relationships with everyone you “touch” at work. This will help you advance.


“Your authenticity is at the heart of your power.” This is the first step to Carla and it is exactly what we talk about at IWL. You have to start from the inside out and be authentically you. “Nobody can be you the way that you can be you.”

Can we have it all?

I loved this as a takeaway from Carla’s talk. This came in the form of a question from the audience. Carla’s answer was surprising to me. I’ve heard so many answers to this question.

Carla’s was simple – you can have it all. You can because she saw her mom have it all. But the trouble comes when you compare yourself to others and your idea of what “it all” means becomes jumbled. You define this for yourself, answer to yourself… and yes you can have it all.

Don’t miss Carla as the opening keynote at our September 1st IWL Women’s Leadership Conference. She will truly blow you away.

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