Teri List-Stoll, SVP & Treasurer, Procter & Gamble

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Laughing All The Way to the Bank

By Carmen Harbour

She makes million-dollar acquisitions for a global corporation.

She also listens to the Eagles and reads paperback romance novels.

Teri List-Stoll, now one of the highest-ranking executives at P&G, started there 18 years ago as the Director of Corporate Accounting.

As she prepares to visit Little PINK Book – as a panelist at our 8th Fall Empowerment Event – we asked List-Stoll about her beliefs on laughter, success and “getting over it” to get ahead.

Little PINK Book: What’s the secret to your success and career longevity?

Teri List-Stoll: There’s a painted, wooden sign in my office that says,  “Laugh, believe, trust yourself and take chances.” Whenever I think about what has allowed me to get to where I am, I come back to those four things.

A sense of humor is hugely important.  It allows you to brace for failure, laugh about it, and move forward. “Believe” by being a perpetual optimist and knowing that things can work out. “Trust yourself” because you can research a lot of things, but your intuition is the best guide. And “take chances,” because you have to take risks to be able to grow, experience failure and greet it, instead of run from it.

LPB: What does success look like?

TLS: It’s being happy. But “being happy” changes over the course of your life as your priorities and your definition of happiness changes. Now, I define success more broadly than I did when I was younger because I started to think about what I was leaving behind that was relevant in both, my professional and personal life.

LPB: About a third of P&G executives are women. But that’s not the norm in corporate America. What obstacles do women still face?

TLS: Women need flexibility in the workplace because of personal choices they may make throughout their career.

By offering options that allow women to feel they’re more in control, companies can promote a culture that sets women up for success. At P&G, we found that offering alternatives in terms of how and where women work, like less than full-time schedules, allowed women to find balance and feel they could accomplish more.

Women need flexibility and confidence to take risks to gain the experience necessary, to be successful at the executive level.

LPB: How do you find balance?
TLS: There’s an Eagles song called “Get Over It.”  It’s one of my mantras: what has happened is over, so I’m not going to stress over it. I look at what I can do today, do the best I can and if it’s not working, I’m going to change it. And, like everyone who works and tries to do more things than time permits, I don’t always feel very balanced. It comes down to attitude.

LPB: How has your work nonprofit with United Way and The P&G Fund influenced your view on corporate responsibility?

TLS: That is really important to me. I’ve been involved with United Way for several years but I’ve also gotten involved with some other organizations where I can also feel a direct connection to the causes and to the impact.

I’m also on the board of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. We collect charitable contributions and distribute them throughout the community.

In Cincinnati, where a company like P&G is so important, if we don’t lead the way in these areas, it’s unlikely they’re going to get enough momentum. So, there is a strong sense of responsibility for our community.

LPB: What book are you currently reading?

TLS: I have several books I read at any given time. At the moment, I’m immersed in Colin Powell’s, It Worked for Me. I’m also reading a book called Just Enough, which is about when you’ve reached your happiness or success point in life. And then there’s a mindless, trashy romance novel that I won’t even tell you what it is.

LPB: Is there a goal you haven’t achieved?

TLS: Throughout your career, you’re always focused on the next advancement. And suddenly, it gets to a point where the path upward is more limited and you have to start thinking about what you really want to do. And it takes a different mindset because you’re so used to being focused on what the next step is.

The honest answer is that I don’t really have my next big goal in life. I like to keep all my options open and make sure I understand everything that’s available and then make a choice. I’m in search of my next step, I suppose. I haven’t defined one, but there will be one.

LPB: What would you like to be remembered for?

TLS: For having a solid reputation and contributing value.  I see value as not only delivering business results, but also having an impact in creating an inclusive culture and making a difference in the careers of women at P&G.

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