Jodi Glickman, Park Fellow MBA ’02, CEO & founder of Great On The Job, sat down with us to talk about her career journey, the importance of being “great on the job,” and how she’s making a difference by inspiring others.
Q: A large part of the Park program is about increasing our capability as leaders to have impact in ways that are important to each of us. How are you living out your impact?
A: I’m the CEO and founder of Great On The Job, LLC (a leadership development and communication training firm), and I’m passionate about developing leaders—both seasoned execs and next generation talent. I also care deeply about closing the skills gap—giving everyone a chance to thrive at work and unleash economic opportunity—regardless of whether you’ve got an Ivy League degree or work at a top-tier organization. I believe in the power of GIFT:
Generosity, Initiative, Forward Momentum, and Transparency
I use that model to inspire others to action—to become skilled communicators and better leaders. I’m genuinely surprised by the fact that I’m an entrepreneur, but it turns out that communication skills are my superpower and the and the only thing I’m really great at. I was a sub-par investment banker at best (four years at Goldman Sachs) and by no means a policy whiz (White House, EPA). Today, I love what I do and I’m excited by the idea of growing my business, expanding my reach and impact, and hopefully, continuing to change lives.
Q: Are there any specific Park experiences that influenced you?
A: I will never forget the kick-off week of the Park program with all of the leadership exercises and in particular, the Myers Briggs assessment where we lined up in ascending/descending order of our various characteristics. I’m an ENTP, and to this day, I remember the 30 or so of us moving around according to our extrovert or introvert tendencies—and dying laughing as we got to know each other through the lens of that assessment.
More importantly, as someone coming from the public sector with literally no business skills or acumen, I was really unsure about myself within the b-school ecosystem. That first week of skill building and friendship forming was crucial for me—it gave me a true sense of belonging, an enormous amount of gratitude toward the program, and also a healthy (and needed) dose of confidence that perhaps I did in fact deserve to be a Johnson MBA.
Q: What inspired the work you do today?
A: My husband has always struggled to communicate effectively at work. When we met, I was working 24/7 as an investment banker and he used to listen to me on conference calls and talking to my team. One day he told me that he could never communicate the way I did—he didn’t know how to ask for help and sound smart, or answer a question he didn’t know the answer to (and sound smart), or give someone junior to him feedback. He told me he learned more from listening to me on the phone than he did reading every business communication book on the market. And thus, the idea for Great On The Job was born. We’re like peanut butter and the jelly—we have perpendicular skill sets. He is creative and insightful and I’m super analytical and linear. We deconstructed and reverse engineered the communication strategies that come naturally to me—and created a curriculum that is teachable and learnable. So he was client #1, and I’m forever grateful to him for spotting my “gift” as I had spent a lot of time barking up the wrong tree trying to do things I wasn’t great at.
He’s a great communicator now, by the way!
Q: What advice would you give our alumni for making an impact each and every day?
A: I’m a bit of a renegade here (or underachiever) in that I find it really, really difficult to make an impact every day. For me, I’ve decided that I can’t possibly make an impact every day — but I give myself some slack and I’ve divided the world into 3 spheres (which I wrote about in HBR). I think about learning, earning and contributing, and I don’t necessarily do all of them all of the time. Sometimes I’m more focused on growing my business. Sometimes I need to be laser focused on my children and let my business go on autopilot. Sometimes I’m thinking about expanding my sphere of influence and impacting populations with my work who wouldn’t typically have access to the content I teach—like first generation college students, military vets, or opportunity youth (young people not in school and not working).
Life is cyclical and my energy and impact are influenced by so many things at a given time. So while I serve on boards and volunteer in my community (I’m sure not as often as I could or “should”), I do think of my impact on a broader scale and hope/know the the work I’m doing is making people’s lives better. I aspire to starting the Great On The Job Foundation one day that will be 100 percent mission driven. Although, right now I still have to earn.
Q: How do you manage competing work and life priorities?
A: I have three young children, and before my third child came along, I remember thinking that I probably couldn’t fit another little person into my life. But I decided that would defeat the whole purpose of being an entrepreneur—if I couldn’t live the life I wanted, what was the point of running my own business? So I made it work. I am not a very disciplined person by nature, but I’m good at turning off by 5:30 p.m., and working late at night. I travel often, but I do school pick up on the days I come back. I work hard to schedule meetings around what works for me (to the best I can) and I sometimes say no to clients if my personal life simply won’t allow me to be away from home on a certain day. I don’t feel the need to be available 24/7 (there are very few emergency learning and development needs).
Ultimately, I think that because I put GIFT into practice with my clients—I am generous, transparent, and always try to exceed their expectations—I’m able to put their needs first and run a thriving business, while not feeling like I have to sacrifice my own life and happiness for it. I don’t, however, get to the gym often enough.