I read in the Seattle Times this morning that Sally Jewell, President and CEO of REI, has been nominated as Secretary of the Interior by President Obama. I couldn’t be more excited for Sally, and, I’m not surprised she has been tapped for this high level position.
I met Sally many years ago when I worked at Washington Mutual. She headed up the commercial bank at the time. My first job at WaMu was to sponsor fundraising events for local non-profits. Most of those events were breakfasts and lunches and as part of our sponsorship, we usually got a table at the event, which I was responsible for filling with WaMu employees. While I would always invite the executives to attend, the only one who ever came was Sally Jewell. Usually the rest of the table was filled with non-management staff who were excited to attend these events.
Sally made quite an impression on me when I met her. She was warm, humble and very gracious. She made a point to talk to everyone at the table and showed a sincere interest in each person. She didn’t care if you were a janitor or an upper manager, she made you feel like you were the most important person in her life.
When Sally left WaMu she served on the board of directors for REI, eventually becoming Chief Operating Officer and then Chief Executive Officer.
Before I started my business I wanted to book the REI meeting room for an event and I wasn’t having any luck reaching the meeting room organizer. So, I decided to call Sally. I dialed the number expecting to speak to her executive assistant. Instead Sally answered her phone. And the moment she did I realized how silly it was I had called her about something so trivial. But, she greeted me warmly and gave me the number for the person who could help me.
A couple years later, I was in REI looking for bike shorts and wasn’t having much success. I happened to see Sally doing some shopping as well. I said hello and she was her usual friendly self. Despite being off duty, as it was in the evening, Sally asked if I needed help. When I explained I was having a hard time finding shorts that fit, she stopped what she was doing and spent time looking for some that would work for me. I couldn’t believe it. The CEO of the company assisting me was pretty phenomenal, but the fact she was off work doing her own shopping made it even more impressive.
But, that’s Sally. She is one impressive woman. And look at her now. She is being tapped to be the Secretary of the Interior by the President of the United States.
I often talk about the impact of graciousness and kindness on one’s career and Sally exemplifies that lesson. She never looks down on anyone and truly cares about everyone she meets. That is why she is being called to serve our country in such an important role.
Nice gals do finish first!
Do you know a nice gal or guy who is doing great things? Let’s celebrate those people who embody graciousness and kindness. They are the true heros!