In a panel discussion earlier this month at Women in Retail Leadership Days, three leading retail CEOs discussed some of their favorite tips and tricks on how to be a successful leader and professional today. The session was moderated by Miki Berardelli, Principal, miki b LLC, and the panelists included Cindi Bigelow, president and CEO, Bigelow Tea; Virginia “Gina” C. Drosos, CEO, Signet Jewelers; and Stephanie Pugliese, president, The Americas, Under Armour. Here are some of the top pieces of advice they offered for leading yourself and others during this challenging time for so many. 

1. Maintain Connections to Stay Mentally Healthy

When Berardelli asked the panelists what they’re doing to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, during the pandemic, Drosos shared that for her, it’s all about maintaining connections.

“I feel like I’m on Zoom all the time, for Zoom friend groups, Zoom happy hours, Zoom with the kids, in addition to work,” Drosos said. “It’s been just a great way to stay in touch.”

Drosos also explained that she’s trying to keep in touch with people throughout Signet Jewelers.

“There’s something so personal about talking to people in their home,” noted Drosos. “It just engenders a different kind of conversation. I find myself talking a lot more about peoples’ families and their hobbies and interests, and that has been a real delight.”

2. Celebrate Wins to Motive Team Members

Berardelli asked the panelists what they’re doing to motive team members during this time and build company culture. Pugliese explained that one way she motivates her team is by making sure to celebrate the wins, both professional and personal.

“Oftentimes it’s how they helped other teammates or influenced the world in a new way.”

Pugliese also shared that at Under Armour they embrace unexpected “fun moments,” like virtual happy hours after a long sales meeting.

“It’s trying to create the human connections, along with the permission to be vulnerable […] as well as those fun moments where we can all at least try to create those connections virtually.”

3. Use Humor to Deal With Challenges

The panel ended with the women revealing how they escape ruts and deal with challenges. Bigelow explained that she doesn’t have a magic formula for how she overcomes the challenges she faces, but something that does help her is humor.

“One of the ways I deal with things is I’m very honest,” said Bigelow. “When I get whacked, I’ll just say ‘OK, I didn’t expect that hit […] but OK, I’m ready. Bring it on.'”

Bigelow shared that that little bit of release and humor helps her to let go of challenges. “I share it so people can see that we’re all getting hit, we can all learn to deal with it.”

To watch the entire CEO panel and learn more about Women in Retail Leadership Days, click here to register for the on-demand version of the event.