L3 Leadership Podcast Transcriptions: Executive Leadership, Working With Boards, And Making A Difference In The World With Audrey Russo, CEO Of The Pittsburgh Technology Council

By February 18, 2019Transcripts

Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with Audrey Russo. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Audrey,  check out our shownotes.

Audrey Russo: 00:00 You know my advice to people who are in leadership know that it, it’s everything you do matters. You know sometimes I hear people say, well I didn’t sign up for all that. I go, yeah, well you didn’t have a choice cause that’s sort of what the job always has been. Whether it was written that way or not.

Doug Smith: 00:21 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 218.

Doug Smith: 00:38 What’s up everyone and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In today’s episode. You’ll hear my interview with Audrey Russo. If you’re unfamiliar with the Audrey, she is the president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council, which is the oldest and largest technology trade association in North America. She’s previously worked for large multinational fortune 500 companies as well as Maya Design and she also co hosts TechVibe Radio on Kdka 10:20 AM Friday nights at seven where she explores technology companies and entrepreneurial issues. In the interview, you’ll hear us talk about executive leadership, how to effectively work with boards, how to make an impact in the world as a leader in so much more. There’s a ton of wisdom in this. I know that you’re going to absolutely love it, but before we dive into the interview with Audrey, just a few announcements.

Doug Smith: 01:24 I wanted to let you know, we are hosting our first annual L3 one-day leadership conference on Friday, March 15th, 2019 at the Marriott in Cranberry Township, just 20 minutes outside of the city of Pittsburgh. Our keynote speakers include Matt Keller, who is a pastor and next level church in Fort Myers, Florida. Dr. Chris Howard, who is the president of Robert Morris University, Saleem Ghubril, the executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, Kim Fleming, the CEO of Hefren Tillotson and many other speakers that’ll be on panels and breakout sessions. It’s going to be an incredible day. I hope that you’ll join us and I hope that you’ll bring your team, invest in their leadership. You can learn more about the conference and register for it at L3one-day.com again, that’s L3one-day.com I hope to see you there. I also want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you are looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. You can learn more@pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. With that being said, enjoy the interview and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements.

Doug Smith: 02:29 Hey Audrey, thank you so much for being willing to do this interview. And why don’t we just start off with you just giving us a brief overview of who you are and when you do.

Audrey Russo: 02:35 Oh my gosh. So a brief overview? I’m Audry Russo. I’m president and CEO of Pittsburgh Tech Council. And also, we have a nonprofit called 40 by 80. And I’ve been at the Tech Council, which is like 11 years sorta crazy. Wow. Every time I think I’m going to leave something great happens. And, I get re-engaged and reinvigorated. So, I started my career off in many different ways. Um, thought I would be a social worker for a little while and then realize I was too much of a capitalist, very much interested in systems and technology. Then got into tech, worked for a company called Reynolds Metals and that was just fabulous. It was in a time where, you know, the tech people were working in visual basic and, working in big server rooms are very proud of our big mainframe computers and, the days of ASfour hundred and we thought we were all innovative talking about land t one lines and et cetera.

Audrey Russo: 03:38 So totally love that. Really love systems. And, and that’s really been my theme if I could say around the course of my career is short of understanding the macro view of how pieces fit together. As my mother used to say, I was like born doing puzzles. And so it’s sort of, that’s been the analogy for the work that I’ve done. So came to Pittsburgh in 2001 with Alcoa. They acquired the company that I worked for and I ran a global Erp for Alcoa. So, and then I worked for Maya Design and then they found me across the river from where I was and I got recruited for this job that I’ve been at.

Doug Smith: 04:16 Wow. Well, I don’t want to talk to you a little bit about your leadership journey. When I listened to a podcast about your story, it sounds like the leadership was just something that you inherited very early on, 22 years old. Right. And overseeing 115 people. I can you just talk about what do you wish people knew about your leadership journey that may not they know?

Audrey Russo: 04:32 Well, first of all, you know, when I look back at that in many ways, I’m a little bit amazed. I also realize that I’ve always been a person that’s grabbed onto more. I’ve always wanted to do more than what I’m doing at the current moment. And that can be not a great thing, right? I mean, if you’re a parent or you have friends who knew that, that can be a little bit of an annoying characteristic. But I learned, I had these amazing internships when I was an Undergrad. I probably have like eight internships, maybe an undergrad because I’m such an applied person. I’m really not. I’m a voracious reader, but I’m much more of an applied kinesthetic learner. And so I have to feel and touch things and experience things. So I’ve always been one to raise my hand to do things. And I think that’s what happened early on.

Audrey Russo: 05:31 Early on there was an opportunity, I wrote some paper in Undergrad and there was an opportunity for me to explore how having to help them in an institution get deinstitutionalized. And that’s when I had 115 people work for me. And it was at the time when people who had mental health and developmental disabilities were erroneously placed in institutions and there was a load of class action suits across the United that were forcing people to think differently about putting people in institutions and they should go back into their communities. And for whatever reason, I worked for someone who said, you know what? I think you could really help sort of lead us through this. And I said, of course I can. Of course I can. I never, I don’t think I’ve ever suffered much from lack of confidence. Some people will call it bossiness.

Audrey Russo: 06:27 I say it’s just an accumulation of experience.

Doug Smith: Sure.

Audrey Russo: It’s just made me confident. I think being an oldest child, I think that my father was an entrepreneur first born American. Same thing with my mother. I think there are some feistiness and grit that I allowed myself to adopt. And I come from a big family with lots of cousins and lots of aunts and uncles and grandparents who all were first born, if not born in other countries. And I do think there’s this kind of passion, that, and determination that came from that. Our generation, my generation of cousins were the first ones that went to college, you know, the first ones to sort of lift themselves up out of that world. So I think it’s a combination of things. So I think that you are born with it. I think that there are some people who obviously are introverted but can be leaders.

Audrey Russo: 07:19 I think there are people who are extroverted that cannot be leaders. I think you have to find out what do you get your juice from being around other people and understanding that their greatness is part of what you deliver into the world. And I think I have that. I found that sort of early on and I like being able to problem solve. I liked being able to work on puzzles. I like being able, you know, I’m a competitive Scrabble player. I like playing, I like doing all those kinds of things. And I think putting that altogether, I made sure that I don’t care if I’m a woman, you know, I don’t care if, you know, I’m young, I don’t care. I want it, I deserve it. I also think it’s about having great interpersonal skills. Now there are people who know me that think I don’t have great interpersonal skills.

Audrey Russo: 08:10 They think I’m too bossy. They might think I’m not collaborative enough. But I love people, you know, I really love being able to work with people in my biggest love is essentially developing other people.

Doug Smith: So I’m curious on the development part, I love that. What have you found to be the best ways to develop people? I’ve read an article that said, uh, you’re a fantastic it pushing people far beyond their comfort zone. Right? So how do you do that?

Audrey Russo: I do do that. That is once, you know, one of my biggest issues is, is that very often I have bigger dreams for people than they have for themselves. You know, I’ll see the diamond in someone and they’ll go, whoa, I don’t know if I really want to do that. But if you talk with people who’ve worked with me over a long period of time, they will tell you that I pushed them out of their comfort zones and sort of demand that because I know that if you’re too comfortable, you’re really being mediocre to yourself and to the organization and to the world, your place in the world.

Audrey Russo: 09:17 But again, not everyone fits, fits that mold, right? Not everyone’s going to gravitate towards that. The other thing that I’ve sort of learned, and this is sort of cliche, but I really am very intentional about it. I love surrounding myself with people who are strong, people who have high intellectual aptitude and people who won’t to say yes to me because my personality is, and my leadership style is such that I need, most people need that, but I actually need it because I’m an outside thinker. So I’ve got to be able to talk out loud with people to understand their perspective, to see if what I’m going for is really the right journey. Now, sometimes I don’t listen. Okay. I mean, sometimes I’m just so emphatic and I absolutely do not listen. And there are people who will say to me, she’s absolutely stubborn and she will get laser focus and she will not listen.

Audrey Russo: 10:20 And I’ve made mistakes along the way I totally, I mean I’m a mortal as much as I wish I wasn’t a mere mortal. So, you know, I like to have fun. I think I have a great sense of humor. I love to talk in front of people and I learned that as, as a young age. That’s another thing. When I was very young, I learned that it was really important to learn how to, how to speak in front of crowds and how to work an audience and how to carve a story to make a point. And I learned that and I sort of look at anytime that I’m speaking, what’s the shape of that story? What’s the beginning, what’s the middle, what’s the end and what are the points that I want to get across? And I really honed on that.

Doug Smith: 11:11 Yeah. I want to go back just for a second on the surrounding yourself with people who will tell no, that are stronger than you. What are some things you do intentionally there? Cause with strong personalities, I know it’s easy to be surrounded with people with nothing to say. So what do you do intentionally make sure that’s happening here?

Audrey Russo: 11:24 Well, what I do is what do you think? Do you think that I’m right, what are your ideas? Why are you not talking to me about certain things? What is it? Why do you think that I know all the answers? So I facilitate that kind of conversation. And the other thing is, is sometimes we can be strong and loud and I have to be sensitive to that because the last thing I want to do is create an uncomfortable work environment. But there are people who will work with me and we’ll go back and forth. I’ll just say no. And we’ll say in that person will say yes and I’ll say, why? Nope, don’t agree with you. I thought I asked you to do that. And it will get a little intentionally heated. But I want people to feel comfortable with that, you know? And because the world isn’t all some nicey-nice. And I think if you can get in touch with who you are as a leader and as a contributor because we’re all leaders in my organization, all leaders, they’re the face of working with, with our members. They’re the face of having conversations on subject matter content. So it’s really important for them to understand what it means to sort of lead people through thought, through engagement, through, through outcome. But you can’t be a shrinking violet and sorta work with me. That is absolutely true.

Doug Smith: 12:51 I’m curious, lot of people look at the perks of leadership or at least the perceived perks of leadership. Can you talk about the price of leadership and the responsibility that comes with it? Uh, I think a lot of times young leaders, especially here, are kind of drawn to it for the wrong reasons. What’s the price that comes with being in your seat?

Audrey Russo: 13:08 It’s lonely and you’re under a microscope, you’re really under a microscope. There are times where I have not realized what I’ve said to someone and it could be like three words that I’ve said to someone that so erroneously resonated with that person in a negative way and I didn’t even mean anything by it. Right? So the, it’s, just so fascinating about how you’re under the microscope from what you wear, from what you talk, who you talked to, who you spend time to, what you spend your time on, and making really, really hard decisions about people and people in their lives, whether you’re promoting them, whether you’re firing them, whether you’re hiring them. There’s a lot of times you have no one to talk to. No one, you know? Yes. If you have a partner, you can confide in certain situations and you know, hopefully, you have someone that that can be sort of supportive and listening and inquisitive and give you some perspective, but it’s lonely.

Audrey Russo: 14:18 You got to stand out there and be counted. I like to be responsible. I like to be responsible for things. I like to be responsible for others. I like to be responsible for seeing other people thrive but it’s not that pretty, you know, there, and in my role now, this role, there are many times that people will call, whether it’s the press, whether it’s local press, it’s national press asking about some cantankerous issue, whether it’s public policy, et cetera. And the news is fascinating because they don’t take everything that you’ve said. You know, there’ve been so many times where I have been misquoted or misrepresented, particularly in this day and age, which is one of the things I love about doing radio and love about these podcasts, like the one that we’re doing now. Because I can have like an authentic conversation that no one’s going to like cut off or bifurcate and say, you know, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, oh yeah, I really love that. Right. And that it will sound like in an article like I’m some flakey dingbat that just says, oh, she loves that, you know? So I’ve had to be like so intentional.

Doug Smith: 15:36 And how do you deal with that when that happens? I’m just curious internally and just?

Audrey Russo: 15:40 Oh well everyone here will tell you that. I’ll rant. I’ll just say you know, words and I’ll rant and I’ll just say words and rant. But the lesson is I have to learn to be more intentional. Now the way the news is today, the way the news is today is not how the news was 20 years ago. It’s so totally different and that’s great. And I’m, you know, I’m always an early adopter. I’m always one fascinated with changes. I’m a big user of social media. But I am fascinated with how big long, deep thoughts can get totally hijacked into one small sentence.

Doug Smith: 16:24 So what advice do, you talked about being under the magnifying glass as a leader, everything you do gets magnified. What advice do you have for leaders to represent themselves well and their organizations and in the world that we live in today?

Audrey Russo: 16:35 Right it’s complicated. I think what I say is, is that the have a serious responsibility you really do. Whether you’re running a startup that only has two or three people or one that has, you know, a hundred to someone who’s running a small nonprofit, you know that you have responsibility that your whole person, your whole person is a reflection of your work and vice versa. That your whole life is a reflection. So meaning how do you contribute in the community? Are you out partying on the weekends? And what does that mean? Right? You know, do you, do you overindulge and do other people see that? And can they judge you by that? Do you do things that perhaps you don’t want everyone to know about, which is okay, but just realize that that’s your responsibility now. You have the same kind of visual, um, visual awareness to the world that the CEO of General Electric might have had.

Audrey Russo: 17:43 There’s no, you know, the entree into your life is the same. They probably are more protective now because they know how to, you know, sort of manage the way through it. You and I are just still bumbling through it and you have a responsibility if we’re responsibility, so it changes your life. The other thing is you also have to look at why, what do your relationships look like? How do you, how are our people in a relationship for you, for you, are they in a relationship for you because of the power that you willed or they relationship with you because they want something from you? Are they in a relationship with you because it looks good to them to be affiliated with you. You know, I’ve had to sort that out. And then to develop relationships in a business perspective and to have, I mean, cause I do have a lot of friends, right?

Audrey Russo: 18:35 I do have a lot of friends. But then to understand the nuances of that relationship when it comes to, it’s just business to really having some friendship and then knowing that at the end of whatever cycle you’re in, those relationships could dissipate. You can’t burn bridges. I’ve burned bridges in my life. I mean, again, as I mentioned earlier, I’m a mere mortal. I have burned bridges. I have a strong personality, I have a strong vision. I’m not, I’m someone who is cynical about Pittsburgh n ice. That whole thing of this over everyone’s Pittsburgh’s nice. Because I think that yields mediocrity. It doesn’t mean that you have to be nasty. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about rising tides, rising tides. So you know, my advice to people who are in leadership know that it, it’s everything you do matters. You know, you’ve got to have great financial acumen, you’ve got to have a lot of transparency. You’ve, it’s, spending time with people, not just doing stuff for an organization or company coalescing people so that they can do things on their own and drive tremendous outcomes. I mean it’s, almost like sometimes I hear people say, well, I didn’t sign up for all that. I go, yeah, well you didn’t have a choice. Cause that’s sort of what the job always has been, whether it was written that way or not.

Doug Smith: 20:07 Yeah. So, with that, on the responsibility side, so one is an executive leader, you, it’s not like you don’t report to anyone, right? You report to a board.

Audrey Russo: Yeah. A great Board.

Doug Smith: But you’ve also sat on many boards. So I’m just curious on that relationship. And I guess for anyone listening to this, it could be the supervisor you report to, but how do you interact with your board as an executive leader to get them what they want and make sure that they’re pleased with the results of your organization. And then I want to hear the opposite end of, as a board member, what are you looking forward to? Maybe it’s the same answer.

Audrey Russo: 20:36 Well, no, it’s interesting. That’s a great question. First of all, I’ve been very, the hardest part of my role, believe it or not, has been with my board. Not because they’re hard people, but they’re an amazing group of people. I have an amazing group of people who have led startups or who have been at the helm of corporate America. So they have this cartoon in their head, right? They have this cartoon in their head about what the tech council is, how it fits into their, you know, personal lives and their agenda as well as what does the Tech Council mean in terms of its impact to the community. Because I have a deep passion for it. Right. Some of the people on the board don’t have that deep passion. Many people do because of the way that we’ve recently reconfigured the board and you know, tried to give it some new life.

Audrey Russo: 21:31 But they are not an operational board. They’re an advisory board and they have some fiduciary responsibilities. But other than that, they’re not involved in the operations day to day. So it’s very interesting. When I first came, I had 38 people on the board.

Doug Smith: Oh my gosh.

Audrey Russo: We could have 42 and slowly over time, you know, we’ve kept some of these older people who have been on the board for a long time, who’d give it legacy and understand the purpose and have love for the work as well as bringing in new people. And it’s so fascinating because everyone has a different perspective. Every one of them is a leader in some way, have some huge company or they flipped three companies and made a ton of money or they’re, you know, they’ve been the ecosystem for a long time and they’ve seen their companies come up. So every single one of them has a different view.

Audrey Russo: 22:28 So I have to learn, I’ve had to learn what are their individual selfish interests, what motivates them to be a part of this? What’s the win for them? And so I’ve had to spend years spending time with different board members, understanding what their passions are, what are their priorities, and being open to them telling me what I’m doing wrong and where they’ve been disappointed. So the other piece of being a leader is hearing all that other feedback, right? So you get this feedback from the community, from the ink, from social media than from your board. So you constantly, you know, and if you have thin skin and you’re fragile, it’s hard to be a leader because you just become defensive. And then on top of that, you’re pretty lonely to begin with. So you can easily get into defensive mode. I like to lean into relationships, so I like to find out what motivates people and what does a win look like for them.

Doug Smith: That’s amazing.

Audrey Russo: 23:39 That’s sort of how I operate. Sometimes it’s exhausting. You know, I’m sometimes out almost every night of the week and sometimes by a Friday night I just want to curl up with my dog and not talk to another human. Right. Just because I do need some sort of, you know, been pistol whipped for, you know, for like the whole week. But I have a huge sense of pride in, you know, trying to be a leader that has operational expertise, financial expertise, be a leader. But I also have occasionally will have people say to me on my team, like, hey, you’re slipping a little bit. Here’s what we expect out of you and you’re slipping. And sometimes I like that makes me feel bad, but thank you. Yeah. So if anyone thinks being leaders all sexy, it can be, it certainly can be, but it’s not all that can be easily articulated in a little book that says, here’s the how-tos.

Doug Smith: 24:43 Yeah. I am curious. You talked about when you become a leader, you don’t just do stuff for the organization anymore. You actually have to spend time with people and help people. In your position what is the greatest investment of your time and resources on a daily basis? And how do you even determine that?

Audrey Russo: 24:59 Sometimes I can’t determine that. Right. Sometimes it’s like awfully crazy. My best investment of time is when I’m sitting working with someone who’s stuck on a problem.

Doug Smith: Love it.

Audrey Russo: And that’s my best investment. It really is. And then, and then for them to come up with a way to solve it and own it. Because there’s another trick here that people tend to do. They tend to manage up meaning, I don’t know what to do with this, Audrey, you do it. You, you know, you helped me do it and it’s really easy and very seductive to go solved that problem, solved that problem. But that’s a flaw. The flaw is to help them have the tools so that they can solve that problem and they’re feeling powerful not to push it up.

Doug Smith: 25:55 Yeah. So I’m curious, how do you deal with difficult people? Or people that that may ultimately have to be like, oh, I’m just curious.

Audrey Russo: 26:01 I’ve had that a lot of my life and I’ve just done it so many times.

Doug Smith: So are you, is it a real quick process for you or do you give people grace?

Audrey Russo: Yeah, it really, really depends. If their greed, just things that happen that violate the law, that, that are morally reprehensible, that is discriminatory. It’s instantly if it’s someone who has been on a journey for a while and you know, we all have life issues, right? My mother just died. My, you know, I’m just like, I’m not myself. Right. You know, I’m not, it’s sort of fresh. I’m fresh off of that. I’m not necessarily in my game. Well, but I’ve been in my game for a long time. Right. So no one’s going to be on me just because, um, you know, have a few weeks of not being in my game. So the variables are so different.

Audrey Russo: 26:49 You got to know your people though. You got to know like, okay, hey, you just had a baby. You’re up all night. Yeah. What can I do to help you? How can I accommodate you? Yeah. One thing about working at the tech council and give a lot of accommodations, we really work with people to figure out how to accommodate them. It even if it means letting them come in cause there’s traffic coming out and letting them come in later or you know because our people work all different kinds of crazy hours. If it means that, we get amazing benefits, we close down during Christmas, you know, and they don’t have to use their own paid time off for like 14 days, 13 days. We make sure that they’re, everyone’s competitive. We give them the best health insurance.

Doug Smith: If someone is listening to this, are you hiring?

Audrey Russo: 27:40 I am. I’m actually, I have one job that is open. Yes. It’s a position that reports to me. So yes, look on our website. Yeah, but I mean we work hard and it’s not a place where you come where people are just sitting around shooting the shit. You know, our wind here w is when, when one of our members and their companies went, yeah, that’s what we celebrate and that’s what we’re measured by. We set up that process so that we’re measured by that. So you have to, in order to work here, you have to love that. And if you don’t love that, it’s not a good fit. So I’ve made a ton of difficult decisions. You know, I’ve had to fire people. I’ve had horror stories of, horrible things happening with, with employees in my work environment. When my, like almost 28 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, someone worked for me and murdered his wife.

Audrey Russo: 28:38 You know, I mean, I had an employee that was killed in the office. I’ve had, you know, I mean, I could tell you some crazy things of domestic violence. You know, it’s like I didn’t sign up to you, but that’s what you’re, you’re dealing with humans. And the more humans you deal with, the more you understand what national statistics are. You know, domestic violence does happen at work. So I’ve been, I’ve learned, I’ve really been in the line of fire in terms of working with people and that’s just because if you look at numbers it’s just how long I’ve been doing it. Right. The likelihood is that I’m going to run into that yet.

Doug Smith: 29:19 Yeah. I want to touch on this before we jump into what I call the lightning round. But you talked about national statistics and I love when you shared the beginning of your story that you started off your career wanting to go into social work, wanting to make a difference one person at a time, which so many people have that heart or at least when they start out cause they want to make an impact in the world, want to change the world. But you flipped that model or at least how you viewed it and it changed everything for you. And so can you talk to leaders one

Doug Smith: 29:42 about how you view making a difference in the world for you and it change and systems. I think that’s fascinating. And maybe your advice for leaders and making them back.  

Audrey Russo: Listen, there are people who like to make an impact one person at a time and thank goodness that we have people that are there doing that kind of work. That work is not for me. I like working on things that are bigger than me and that’s probably one of the reasons why I love the job at the Tech Council because I feel like I’m working on something that’s so large and so important and looking at the kind of growth and build up that happens in our quote-unquote ecosystem takes a momentous amount of effort that you have to influence, you have to drive, you have to partner, you have to watch fail sometimes, you know, you have to advocate for, you have to puff up, you have to tear down.

Audrey Russo: 30:40 So I like those bigger kinds of things. I’m not the person who wants to just help one person at a time, how I help one person at a time is through the people that work for me and with me and that’s, I’ve come to learn that.

Doug Smith: Did you do it with guilt or shame around that when you first started or was that an easy transition for you to make?

Audrey Russo: No, it clicked for me when I was in graduate school, all of a sudden clicked for me when I was in a systems class assist, an operational class and it really clicked for me. I said yes, I like moving the big stuff around because I feel like I’m part of something larger than myself and it seems more sustainable and it seems less emotional when you’re working one on one and trying to help people.

Audrey Russo: 31:27 It’s very emotional. I’m an emotional enough person in terms of my passion that for me to feel like I’ve failed in trying to help one person just did not align for me. So it was one of those things that went off in my head pretty quickly. I’m highly introspective and I’m highly hard on myself. Okay. You can hear, you can hear it right? You can hear it. I’m my worst critic and I’m not afraid of feedback. I’m not, you know, there are people who detest me and for whatever reason, I don’t know what to say. No one will ever say she’s not looking out for the good of this region though. No one will ever say she doesn’t care about the kinds of things that matter. And remember I got to love my board for picking a woman who was a dark horse in a male organization that was started by a whole bunch of men and they believed in me and they worked with me as we took the organization apart. We had all this turnaround to do the first three years that I was there and they supported me and I love them for that. And they were all men except for one. And she’s Marley Myers who was the founder of Morgan Lewis and Bakis office here in Pittsburgh that the rest of them were all men, all white men. And they were great. And they welcomed me and they respected my journey, my professional journey. And I was blown away by that.

Audrey Russo: 33:11 So my hat’s off to them really. Cause a lot of people wouldn’t want to work with me. They would think of why would we want to take on that kind of, you know, drive and passion.

Doug Smith: Yeah.

Doug Smith: 33:22 Well it certainly benefited the organization. Do you have a great track record and have made a great difference? Yeah, yeah.

Audrey Russo: 33:28 Yeah. So when people say, what about, you know, white guys and what about men and blah, blah, blah. I’m like, I’ve had a pretty good bunch of people that have been around me. It doesn’t mean that I’m not advocating for more diversity and more appropriate representation.

Doug Smith: 33:44 As we start to wrap up just for time sake, I’ll just leave this really open-ended. Anything you want to leave leaders with today?

Audrey Russo: 33:51 Well, you know, I’ve talked about, we’ve talked about leadership. I could talk about that forever, right? And I hope that I’ve given the listeners a good perspective on where I see things, you know, I have a lot of energy. I’ve been gifted with that or I have ADHD, whatever it may be. I have a lot of energy. I’m on a lot of boards. That’s another thing I would advise people. I always have been civic-minded since I was 15, 16? I’ve always been civic-minded. I’ve always been taught that you have to give, you have to give back. So I sit on a lot of boards. I’ve always sat on a lot of boards and those have cultivated some of the most fabulous relationships. One of the ways that I actually got to work at Maya was when I was at Alcoa sitting on the board of Cora and the founder of Maya was on the board.

Audrey Russo: 34:56 I mean, so you just don’t know what kinds of relationships get cultivated, not just in the work of the board, but those other people who were on the board. It’s expanding. Just like when I see my people, well, I came into this job, I had a global work experience global. I came to this job. I was like, people didn’t have passports. I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa. We’ve got to change this. All of you, you need to be seeing the world. I’m going to put you in all those people who work directly for me have global development plans.

Doug Smith: 35:30 Yeah. Well, thank you so much for everything you do for our city, for our region here. Really appreciate it and thanks for taking an hour to invest in myself and other leaders.

Audrey Russo: Thank you for caring, it’s important work what you’re doing.

Doug Smith: Thank you.

Doug Smith: 35:38 I’m doing this work is really important. It’s an honor. Thank you so much for listening to our interview with Audrey. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. You could find key takeaways and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes at L3leadership.org/episode218 I want to thank our sponsor, Henn Jewelers. They’re jewelry owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne, my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings through Henne Jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. In fact, they give every engaged couple of book to help them prepare for their marriage and we just love that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler checkout Hennejewelers.com you can also stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at L3 Leadership by signing up for our email list.

Doug Smith: 36:20 When you sign up, you’ll get a free copy of my ebook Making the Most of Mentoring, which is my step by step process for getting in, cultivating relationships with mentors, and I think it’ll add massive value to your life. So make sure you sign up for that on our website. And as always, I like to end with a quote, and I will quote Mark Cole, who is the CEO of all of John Maxwell’s Company companies, and he said this, he said, “Success is what you can do on your own but significance is what you do for others.” I love that, “Success is what you can do on your own, but significance is what you do for others.” Thanks so much for listening and being a part of L3 Leadership, Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next time.