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"I'm not lucky, I work hard," says Jane Huxley
20 November 2018
Jane Huxley, Managing Director of Spotify Australia and New Zealand, doesn’t tolerate people who say she’s lucky.
Starting in technology at Microsoft in 1999, Jane has built a long and successful career traversing technology, telecommunication, media and music. She has held leadership positions at Pandora Internet Radio, SurfStitch, Fairfax Media and Vodaphone.
“It seems the harder I work, the luckier I get,” she says. “But it’s not about luck. It’s about being optimistic about what’s ahead and about what we don’t know. It’s about bravery and taking opportunities when they come – even if we think we’re not ready for them.
“It’s incumbent on women to be honest about what it takes to be successful and have longevity."
From crying in the stairwell to killing it in the corner office
Twenty years ago, Jane was part of the senior leadership team at Microsoft, but she was not at her best.
“Part of me always believed I didn’t deserve my job – that I only got it because I was there, and I had a big mouth,” she says.
“I remember sitting in a senior executive meeting in which it was about to be announced that we would miss revenue targets for the first time in 20 years.
“I was going through how I would explain how we're going to claw our way back when a voice inside my head says ‘This is all your fault. If you had done this, that and the other, none of this would be happening. You’re the reason we missed’.
“I went back to my office, head in hands, shut the door and had a good cry. Then the door flings open and the CEO is standing there. I looked up at him with my panda-streaked eyes and he says ‘Jane, mate, you have a lot of potential, but unless your sort that *points to face*, you’re in the last job you’re going to have. But I’m going to help you’.”
Jane says her CEO set her up with her first female coach.
“My coach was incredible,” says Jane. “We talked about how I was feeling and what I was internalising versus what was actually happening.”
The verdict? “I was taking everything personally,” says Jane.
Heart and head
Working with her coach, Jane began to understand her emotional responses and channel them into constructive motivation.
“We use our heart and our head at work. And there’s a place for both every day.
“Our heart is our authenticity, passion, drive and belief. It’s the reason we get up every day. But our heart is also what holds anger, frustration, sadness and despair. And that causes us to operate emotionally.
“Our head is more objective. It works in KPIs and metrics. It’s process-driven and rational.
“My challenge was to figure out how to move from my heart to my head. And it relies on what's in the middle: my mouth. You must think about what comes out of your mouth. It makes a difference.”
Jane explains that when you start to become emotional about something – when you swallow more or clench your fists – only you know how you're feeling.
“Nobody else in the room knows how you feel, only you,” she says. “What I did was train myself to first feel what was going on then realise it's not personal.”
Jane says before every meeting, she turns to a new page in her notebook and writes "I.N.P".
“It’s not personal,” she says. “Whenever I start to feel those feelings, I chant ‘It’s not personal, it’s not personal’, until I can feel my reactions move from my heart to my head.”
Not easy or quick
Jane says learning to work with her heart and her head was not easy.
“And it wasn’t quick,” she says. “In fact, twenty years on from learning this technique, I still have to practice every day. Even with everything I've accomplished and done, I still have to remind myself that it’s not personal.
Jane is sharing her experiences in the hope that women (and men) realise that we’re all the same – we all have emotions and we all react to them.
“But,” she says. “Being successful means you learn how to harness your emotions and use them to make better decisions.”
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