Tips from the Top of the Corporate Ladder

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A 37-year-old self-professed Beatles fan and former cheerleader might not be the first person who comes to mind when you think "top corporate executive." But when it comes to Wendy Cebula, President of Vistaprint, she breaks the mold in a much more powerful way: results. With revenues of $515.8 million for the 2009 fiscal year, Cebula is credited as a key force in the company's continued success. LegalZoom.com recently asked Cebula to share her tips for success. Here's what she said:

LZ: What tips do you have for women trying to navigate to the top and succeed in the business world?

Wendy Cebula:

  1. Delivering results is first and foremost. Consistently meet or exceed your objectives and eventually you should be rewarded for it.
  2. Hire, grow, and retain the best possible people. The more senior you get the more you will be evaluated on the results your team generates as opposed to your individual contribution. You are more scalable with a strong team.
  3. Regularly seek and accept feedback—then act on it. Invest in a coach or mentor.
  4. Don't be afraid to have difficult conversations when you need to.
  5. Never stop learning.

LZ: Does your previous education and work experience factor into your success at Vistaprint?

Wendy Cebula: Definitely—my undergraduate degree is in finance and I spent time in a graduate program for economics, which is a very quantitative field. Vistaprint is a very analytical company that makes decisions based on facts and testing. My ability to effectively analyze business cases or test results and draw conclusions from them to drive business value has been greatly enhanced by the quantitative nature of my educational background and prior experience doing data modeling and analysis.

LZ: How about your personality type? Has that helped you succeed?

Wendy Cebula: I'm definitely a type-A, but also credit my success to my drive and passion to work hard and produce the best work. At an early age my parents instilled the belief in me that you had to work hard to achieve whatever you wanted. This core value also taught me that you did whatever your company asked you to do and that if you did it well you would eventually be rewarded. This has been especially true with Vistaprint where a core company value is to reward those who work hard and perform at a high level.

LZ: What do you attribute your success to?

Wendy Cebula: I continually seek feedback from people I work with at all levels and spend a lot of energy thinking about what I do well and where I could be doing better and try to improve my skills all the time. I was told once that to grow within a company and especially to grow in a high-growth company, you have to grow yourself at a faster pace than the organization and I really believe that.

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