Bring Your Superpower!
by Kendra Violet
In October, Women Industry Leaders (WIL) held their first Coffee with a WIL Leader featuring Tina Reid, Co-Founder and Executive VP for Pivot Parking. Tina shared with us her journey through the world of parking. Now that I’ve had time to digest my notes, here are some key takeaways and thoughts.
…to opportunity. How many times have you refused an opportunity because it isn’t the “right” time or “fear” you don’t have the necessary skills? Stepping into her current role required Tina to enter a brand-new world. She thinks this was an advantage as it required her to be open-minded. She had a fear of failure and worried she wouldn’t have all the answers. However, she had a mentor who told her:
- Get in there and learn everything you can.
- Be ready to commit and prove you can do the job.
- It is going to be hard.
- Work-life balance is sometimes the most difficult.
Knowing this helps you think through what is most important to you at that moment, and really weigh whether you have the capacity to take the leap.
…to being the first or only one. One participant mentioned that she was offered a lucrative position but was hesitant to take it because she didn’t see herself represented amongst the senior team. Tina’s response, “I think 50% of that is personal in what makes you tick, what is your long-term path and what objective are you trying to meet. The other 50%, in the professional sense, is to learn to be a fighter. In this situation, I would have given you the advice to throw it back to the company: “I’d really like to come to this company; however, I don’t see representation of me, as a woman. I would like to know from you how you expect to change that in your company.” Companies need to be able to answer questions like these, and if the answer is that they haven’t thought about it…they need to be thinking about it. It gives you the opportunity to find out what kind of role there could potentially be for you in getting and promoting women into the business.
…to the realization that you don’t know everything. One of the best pieces of advice Tina has received was, “Don’t expect to know everything. Know a little bit of each thing that you need to but get people on the team that are the experts to promote what you need.” As she said, we all have a little piece of something that makes an environment successful.
Speaking of teams…
Build a Thriving Environment
I would say most of us want to enjoy what we do and be successful at it. For instance, if you are taking time to read this, it tells me that 1) you are invested in our industry and 2) you believe in continuous learning. How do we, as leaders, create an environment for staff to learn, grow and thrive?
- Give people a chance to learn. Allow new leaders the time to learn and develop their own style. Invest in your frontline employees so that you can build the next generation of leaders. Does your place of employment have a strong development program? If not, how do you find opportunities for them? Sometimes, we get so busy in the day-to-day operations that it is hard to step back and be deliberate in our staff development. I think every bit of energy we can spend providing opportunities for our staff will come back tenfold in staff productivity, satisfaction, and loyalty.
- Create an environment that allows people to “balance” their life and work. I know this is easier said than done, but as I think about this, to me, it is about realizing we are all human. Giving our employees opportunities to change their daily work routine (within reason) to handle the business of life is important and probably worth more than we can ever know.
- Invest in employees as individuals. We spend a good chunk of our lives with the people at work. How do you promote a positive environment? From things like birthday cards to “open door” policies, find ways to make employees feel seen and heard. As Tina said, “Try to acknowledge, to be available for what their needs are.”
- Recognize the struggle that has come before us (and in some cases continues). This is a group founded to support women, so we would be remiss if we didn’t ask a question about the challenges Tina faced as a woman in this industry. She said that early on it was feeling the need to continually prove herself as equally knowledgeable and capable as her colleagues and pay inequity. While I truly believe this isn’t the case everywhere, I know these same challenges still exist, and we need to continue to speak up and find ways to support women in this industry.
- Provide Resources. When asked how we can better support women in this industry, Tina spoke about changing times and how access to the internet has opened the door to so much knowledge. However, she would love to see an organization of women that can call upon each other to ask questions- a “resource list.” I think we at WIL had a light bulb moment with this, so stay tuned!
“Parking is Like Dust Bunnies; It Will Just Keep Coming”
I hope Tina doesn’t mind me stealing this quote because it is now, and forever, in my catalog of responses when people ask me about working in the parking industry. Here’s the thing: we all know that our industry is challenging in multiple ways. Right now, it seems like every day, there is a new company or solution appearing to help with those challenges, which is exciting…and daunting. As Tina said, “I have to figure out how to manage the extreme influx of new technologies” and figure out what to do with it. While we all like to play with shiny new toys, it also needs to make sense for our environment. What a municipality, airport, hospital, university, etc., needs can be different or sometimes exactly the same. Her advice is to determine the three objectives you are trying to achieve and find the technology that fits those objectives. Bottom line, it seems from the participants in this talk, that people drawn into the parking world really like challenges. The good news is that those dust bunnies will keep on coming.
Superpowers- Bring Them to the Table
Speaking to how women can be supported, Tina brought up this point: what can companies do to not just give you a title and say now you represent our company? It’s what about that title, or about that role that allows you to have more involvement, more leadership, and more decision-making. This resonated with one participant, who then spoke on “the superpowers” she brought to a new company she joined. I LOVED this concept of the superpower at work. How do we help our team members find their superpower and use it? Not everyone’s “voice” is vocal. For some, the superpower is behind the scenes, getting things done, or coming to you after a meeting with ideas and questions. As another participant put it, her superpower was finding ways to amplify the superpowers of those around her. If she sees anyone around her with a voice not being heard, she makes it her business to make sure that voice gets heard.
So I leave you with two questions…
What are your superpowers?
How are you encouraging others to find and use their superpowers?