medtronicCarla Ann Harris appeared as a guest speaker at Medtronic Inc. on February 4th, underscoring the importance of perception and authentic presentation.

The Memphis Daily News has the full article.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Perception is the co-pilot to reality,” Harris told the audience.

Harris said she learned this firsthand when she was still relatively new to Wall Street, relying strictly on her brains and worth ethic to advance her career. She was shocked, she said, when a senior manager told her one day he wasn’t sure she was “tough enough for this business.”

His perception of her didn’t mesh with her perception of herself. But it got her to thinking, maybe others shared that perception. And what could be worse, she asked, than for a woman on Wall Street to be viewed as not tough enough?

So she gave herself a 90-day plan, dedicating herself to “walk tough, eat tough, drink tough.”

What she discovered, she said, is that it is indeed possible to train your colleagues and supervisors and clients to think of you in a different way. But first, you need to know what descriptions you want them using when you’re out of the room, because it’s when you’re out of the room that others are deciding on what you will be paid, if you’re worthy of promotion, if you’re ready for more challenging assignments, if you’re the one to give the contract.

For example, someone in marketing would want the bosses saying that he is “creative.” Someone in finance would want the decision-makers to describe her as “analytical.” And someone in sales would want to be known as “relationship-oriented.”

All that said, the last thing you should do is try to be someone you’re not, Harris said, adding, “Nobody can be you the way you can be you. It is your distinct competitive advantage.”