Sometimes the moments where we feel knocked down and defeated are just what we need to propel us forward towards where we are destined to go. Michele Thornton, SVP, BET Networks/Centric, is living proof of that. Before charting her career path, Thornton was involved with a professional basketball player and was living a life that many women would envy. From the outside looking in, it seemed like she had it all. But on one of her birthdays when her baller boyfriend refused to buy her a CD that cost 18 bucks, she decided it was time for a change. She no longer wanted to feel as if she had to depend on someone else to get what she wanted; she wanted to have her own. That “aha moment” sparked a drive within her to be successful on her own accord. Her hard work and perseverance has pushed her up the corporate ladder and into a position where she is a power player for a successful television network.
Last week ColorComm, an organization designed to unite diverse women in the communications industry, hosted an intimate luncheon with Michele Thornton at the The Wayfarer in midtown Manhattan. During the luncheon, which was moderated by Dawn Kelly, VP of Global Communications, Prudential, Thornton engaged in an open discussion about her personal career experiences, the importance of having sponsors in your corner, and what it means to be “strate-chic.” Check out my takeaways from the event below!
Learn the art of being “strate-chic.”
You can’t expect opportunities to fall into your lap, you have to get out and chase them. Thornton defines being “strate-chic” as the art of combining your intellect and femininity. During the luncheon she stressed how being knowledgeable and sharing useful information will not only make you memorable, but it will influence people to advocate for you. When you’re trying to get to the next level, it’s all about strategy. Connecting with the right people, knowing and showing your value, and being able to get people to back you all while embracing your womanhood and remaining fabulous is the art of being “strate-chic.”
You can bring your entrepreneurial skillset to the corporate world.
You don’t have to be at the head of your own company to let your entrepreneurial skills flourish; you have the ability to do it within the company that you work for. Thornton explained how although she isn’t the founder of the company that she works for she still brings her entrepreneurial skills to the table. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart; I just do it through a corporate lens,” she said. Although we may not be at the helm of our own companies we can tackle projects with an entrepreneurial approach when it comes to organizing, executing, and seeing them through.
Sponsors and advocates are essential to helping you get to the next level. Align yourself with the right people.
Although mentors are essential towards helping you get to the next level in your career, it’s important to have sponsors who can vouch for you and speak highly of your worth ethic. Mentors can show you the way and be a source of support along your journey, but sponsors have the ability to place you in certain positions. “I didn’t have a lot of mentors but I’ve had sponsors and advocates,” said Thornton. Having sponsors in your industry as well as outside of your field can be instrumental in rising to the next level and taking advantage of different career opportunities.