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In an industry that is full of drama queens and one shot wonders, people have responded to Shelly Lazarus. She’s got the accolades and longevity to prove it. Now, the Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, she has been a leader at the storied advertising agency for decades; starting as an account executive when most women were still relegated to the secretarial pool, and advancing through the ranks in a series of promotions that landed her the top spot: Chief Executive Officer.

Keep reading to view a video of Shelly talking about her passion for her work.

As Chairman and CEO, Lazarus spearheaded a series of campaigns that catapulted the game of brand building. Dove, IBM, Johnson and Johnson, Kraft, Kodak—a wide variety of companies owe at least part of their reputations and sales to the acumen of Shelly Lazarus and her team at Ogilvy. She has been named Advertising Woman of the year, received a Distinguished Leadership Award from Columbia Business School, and was ranked in Fortune’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” for ten years running. Though Lazarus stepped down from her position as CEO in 2008, she is still the Chairman and an active member of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide—not to mention the face people now attach to the company name.

On this question of leading a self-directed or autonomous life, Lazarus argues, “The question for you is not, ‘Can you have it all?’” she told the graduates. “The question for you is, ‘What do you really want? How can you have a life where you enjoy everything in it?’

“Can you have a life where you enjoy almost everything in it? Absolutely! I know so. But first, you must jettison the things that just don’t matter, the things that don’t engage you, the things that don’t have meaning to you. And then take every ounce of energy you have and dive into what you love.”

She goes on to say, “There is a great truth that I have learned on my journey: you will always be able to fit into your life all the things you love. It’s the tedious and the frustrating that are hard to fit in. And you shouldn’t even try.”

So, watch and listen to this marvelous woman describe how her success was built on doing what she loves.


Video courtesy ManagemenTV

Cheers from Sonoma,
Donald Van de Mark

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About the author

Donald Van de Mark
Donald Van de Mark is the author of The Good Among the Great: 19 Traits of the Most Admirable, Creative and Joyous People.



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One Response to “Respect Yourself and Dive into What You Love: a Message from the Autonomous Shelly Lazarus”

  1. Kelly Page says:

    Thank you for always great insightful posts. Read your book and have given it to 4 friends now. Thank you.