Katherine Wu Brady is the Chief People Officer and Chief of Staff at Catchafire, a startup dedicated to changing how our nonprofit sector is supported by virtually connecting social impact organizations with pro bono volunteers.
Katherine recommends keeping these four important skills in your toolkit for personal development:
1) Curiosity: Life is filled with unexpected turns and opportunities—to maximize what you can get from each experience, be curious about what comes your way. If you are grounded in curiosity, you will have a richer life and career experience. You will see beyond your assigned roles and responsibilities and instead realize your career is all about learning and discovery, and fulfilling your passions. In this digital and globalized world, you have more resources than ever at your fingertips, so take advantage of that tremendous opportunity to learn.
2) Clarity: When thinking about your career, make the time to reflect upon what is most important to you at any given moment in time—be brutally honest with yourself. Do you want to work at a company where you will earn a generous salary? Do you want to work for an organization that has a formal mentoring program, so you can connect with others to help develop your skills or perspective? Do you want to enter a particular industry? Think about what is most important to you and prioritize your needs. Don’t apologize for what you want or why you are doing something. Recognize that you might not find everything that you are looking for, but getting number one and two on your list is possible. Focus on your top needs, wants, and values, and celebrate when you find them in the right company and role. Remember, what you are looking for in a job can (and most likely will) change, so be sure to check in with yourself annually to re-evaluate your priorities.
3) Compassion: Most of us are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Give yourself a break! At different times in your life different things come up, and all you can do is the best you can with what you are given. It’s okay for you to have a big cry once in a while, but embrace that resilience muscle and take care of yourself. Take breaks throughout the day and throughout the year, take a call walking around, and appreciate the significance of taking a deep breath. Most importantly, don’t forget to have gratitude and celebrate the good moments.
4) Connection: Connect with people as much as you can in all of the ways that you can. If you are more introverted, don’t over-extend yourself. This objective isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. All you need to do is have conversations. To make the most of these opportunities, first make sure you have clarified what you want to learn so that you can direct the conversation. Then, think about who might be able to be most helpful and accessible. Consider starting with your manager. Take them out to coffee and ask them questions about their experiences. Reach out to alumni from your college to learn how they navigated their career paths. Whoever you choose to connect with, make your interactions meaningful rather than transactional. Doing this will allow you to have a valuable network of people you can trust and rely upon. I also encourage everyone to make the most of the connections you already have. Look at people in your life who inspire you. Understand why they inspire you and determine what skills you could develop to emulate those qualities. Most importantly, remember that building your network of connections is a life-time endeavor, so take your time and invest in each interaction.
Katherine Wu Brady is the Chief People Officer and Chief of Staff at Catchafire, a startup dedicated to changing how our nonprofit sector is supported by virtually connecting social impact organizations with pro bono volunteers. She is deeply passionate about helping individuals and teams reach their full potential and about realizing a more equitable and connected society. Previously, Katherine was the Executive Vice President of Commerce, Registry, and Guest Services at XO Group Inc. She joined XO Group in March 2014 from Vente-Privee USA, where she served as the Chief Executive Officer and helped launch the company in 2011 as Chief Operating Officer overseeing sales operations, human resources, and product development. Brady has held senior-level positions at AOL, NBC Universal, and Hulu. Katherine graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, earning degrees in Finance from The Wharton School and in Systems Engineering from The School of Engineering and Applied Science.
To learn more about Katherine’s work, visit https://www.catchafire.org/.