Each month, we profile BWF members of the community in our "Member Spotlight" series. This month, meet Nancy Johnsen. Get to know her a bit better!
Senior Attorney & Business Partner
BWF Board Member, Treasurer
Your favorite BWF program to date? What were your memorable takeaways?
Shaping Your Personal and Professional Brand with Debra Kennedy of Strategic Directions Coaching was my favorite BWF program to date. It's personally powerful to know and project who you are and what you want - it eliminates a lot of self-doubt. Identifying your authentic qualities, traits, and preferences (not what they "should" be) and finding ways to bring those forward in your career as well as your personal and professional interactions will make you more successful and satisfied with less stress - primarily because you will attract the people and opportunities that resonate with you and avoid those that don't. You can't be all things, to all people and still shine your brightest light.
What is your #1 WFH tool?
My internet connection. Without question. I have found that there is no need to be moving from location to location all day, playing beat the clock and traffic. I can meet, create, and research all from the table I moved into my living room. I am not sure that I have found a flattering camera angle yet, but it gives me back so much time that I use to volunteer at the local food pantry, work with my local chamber of commerce, discover the many (many!) projects that need attention around the house, and read. As an extroverted introvert and a hands on volunteer - this is win/win.
Something you are most proud of in your career?
This is a question that I used to struggle with because you're supposed to have a well rehearsed, smooth answer to demonstrate self-confidence, achievement, intelligence, and leadership while being humble and projecting an ability to still be the perfect team member. Exhausting to even think about! There is so little that any of us truly accomplish on our own - we are all assisted (or hindered) by social structures, hierarchy, connections, expectations, experiences, and the work of others - that it feels uncomfortable to take the kind of credit that 'pride' requires. No one cuts costs, reorganizes a division, rolls out a company wide policy, rescues whales, effects change, etc. on their own. So when I tried to give people the expected answer - it felt inauthentic to me and probably to them. (see that circle back to my favorite BWF program?) Also what and who we are proud of changes over time with greater experience, information, and perspective.
At the moment, the activity that I find most satisfying and impactful is volunteering with my local chamber of commerce to assist small businesses in my community. I have been very fortunate to have had a broad and varied series of career adventures (so far) that allow me to see issues from many angles and work as a bridge between stakeholders. The best thing anyone has said to me in 2020 is that I made the firehose of information and complex government guidance during shutdown and reopening understandable and relevant to their business. And the most fun I have had all year (so far) was figuring out how the reopening guidance applied in practical, tailored ways to individual businesses and their employees. Designing the connection between policy/legal requirements and operations is my current jam. (ok - maybe a bit of pride is lurking in there somewhere.)
A "go to" for inspiration/motivation? Jam song, best read lately, guilty pleasure, binge watch? (pick one)
I just realized that because I have not driven much since February - I have no idea what the "song of the summer" is this year! Do you? My pandemic indulgence has been reading (a lot): American Gospel : God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation by Jon Meacham (for the fundamentals); Engineers of Victory :The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War by Paul Kennedy (success is not just a result vision and leadership, it's created by the implementation, operations, and ingenuity of the "doers"), and the daily blog and weekly American political history vlog of Heather Cox Richardson (she offers a fascinating and cogent historical tour of how our politics arrived in this moment and how this moment may shape our nation's future).
For inspiration, Julia Child (one of my career adventures was training as a pastry chef and I own over 300 cookbooks) will not steer you wrong: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” (follow and fully explore your passion, be curious); “A party without cake is just a meeting.” (live a little, work will still be there); and “Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?” (you will make mistakes, but you choose how to move on from them). I recommend the book "As Always, Julia : The Letters of Julia Child & Avis DeVoto" by food historian, Joan Reardon, which illuminates another time of great social change - the years immediately after WWII. In letters sent to each other over decades, we witness the friendship between these two women evolve as they create, and try to find a publisher for, the foundational cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and then, that done, figuring out where life goes from there. Despite many setbacks, criticisms, uncertainty, uncooperative team members, being dropped by publishers, moving around the world, distractions, delays, and relying solely on international mail to communicate with each other - Julia and Avis never stopped working steadfastly towards their vision. Through discussions of friends, families, marriages, politics, uncertainty about and hopes for the future, travel, relocations, careers, disappointments, recipe testing, the personal impact of the McCarthy hearings, deaths, and aging - we see that life's ups and downs, our fears and hopes, our personal and professional growth, and our relationships to each other and our society (even in moments of great change) are much the same in any age.
One final bit of wisdom from Ms. Child: “I think every woman should have a blowtorch” (equally handy for doors locked against you and making creme brulee).
Amen, Julia. Amen.
Connect with Nancy on LinkedIn!
ABOUT BOSTON WOMEN IN FINANCE
Boston Women in Finance is a professional women's group dedicated to bringing together a diverse community of accomplished women with financial backgrounds, experience, and industry interests, to network, collaborate, and inspire.
Our membership is a powerful community of women leaders, innovators, and influencers who meet monthly to delve into a wide range of topics including economic and financial trends, technological advancements, evolving leadership roles, professional development, and much more.
At Boston Women in Finance meetings and social events, you will always meet someone new and learn something too!