by Sonya Sigler
“Who are you?” asked Bill Campbell, Intuit’s CEO at the time I was sitting in his office discussing
business schools. I fumbled around for an answer, meandering all over the place, feeling not at
all sure I had answered his question.
Next he asked, “Who is Sonya Sigler?” Yeah, this question just confirmed that I really hadn’t
answered his first question. More fumbling around. Damn.
Finally, he said in an exasperated voice, “No, tell me what your top skills are.” More inarticulate
answers. More fumbling.
Little did I know that he was giving me every opportunity to boldly state my elevator pitch, to
share with him who I am at my essence, and what my top skills are. What a lost opportunity.
Bill was definitely not the person with whom you want to have this type of fumbling around
discussion. Nor was the admissions officer at Haas Business School I found myself in front of
months later having a similar kind of meandering discussion.
Answering the questions ‘Who are you?’ ‘What do you do?’ ‘Why should I hire//promote/admit
you above all these other candidates?’ and many others like these requires us to know our
value and to be able to articulate it with ownership.
Yet, how many of us can do this clearly, with conviction?
It took me awhile to figure this out.
I knew I was a hard worker, a good negotiator, a good teacher, someone who cared about
doing a good job, and was a quick learner.
A lot of people are all these things too. What really set me apart? What was different about
me? What was unique about me? That took a bit longer to put together.
When I really sat down and reflected on what I do best, one of the skills that rose to the top
was organizing. My mom will tell anyone who will listen that I was voted best organized in
kindergarten. Who cares? No one, if that is your only data point. But if you have multiple data
points or examples of this kind of skill coming out, pay attention. Explore it further.
One of my top skills is organizing chaos. I am not afraid to take on those big, hairy, crazy
projects no one else will touch. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. I’m not afraid to tear things
down and rebuild them into something more efficient and productive and usable.
Not only will I take the time to work through what is being organized and why, but I thrive on it.
This type of work energizes me and I could talk about it til the cows come home.
If I had been able to articulate the skill of organizing chaos to Bill or to the admissions officer,
we would have had a much different conversation. I would have been steered to operations
and COO work much earlier in my career. I would have been able to say, I’m really an
operations person with a law degree rather than a lawyer who made the leap to the business-
Knowing your value takes work.
About Sonya L Sigler
Executive Leadership Coach | Business Strategy Consultant| Legal & Operations Executive | Speaker & Writer | Organizer of Chaos | Philanthropist
Sonya is in the confidence building business and loves to help women break through the glass ceiling! She works with highly motivated professional women (and enlightened, progressive men) who feel stuck, uncertain, or frustrated in their career. She empowers them to find a job they love that is balanced and aligned with their work-life vision. It took her many years to learn to do this and now she helps others design and live their balanced life.