1. Judy led by example. Judy was a living legend. By the time I started at the company she had already been there for 30 years, served on the board of directors, and founded their women in leadership group. She had a reputation for being tough, difficult even. And the first time we met in the bathroom she told me I looked like I was in between classes at college. I was silly enough to take it as a compliment at the time.
But when we started working together it was magic. Judy knew how to bring out the best in people because she led by example. I learned more from watching her sell one client than I had in my five previous years with the company.
2. Judy taught me that appearance counts. And not just physical appearance, but the way you market yourself to the world. Every e-mail, every menial task, every tedious meeting was an opportunity to demonstrate my value and kick some corporate ass.
3. Judy showed me the importance of being passionate. Judy never did anything half ass. If she was professionally or personally invested in something she was ALL over it. Her enthusiasm was contagious and that's probably why she made such an amazing leader. Judy taught me that when you are passionate you invoke passion in others.
4. Judy helped me find my voice. I didn't even know what voice was back then, but when I sent her my first draft of a newsletter for our team she sent it back and said, "Boring! Where is your signature Lisa style?" Judy had picked up on my voice from more casual communications and she taught me how to channel it and use it in everything that I write. Priceless.
5. Judy was the life of the party. I'll never forget being at some horrible corporate function and feeling someone sneak up behind me and whisper in my ear, "Your breasts look fantastic!" It was Judy, of course. One of her most memorable antics was taking clients to a Madonna concert wearing a hot pink satin bra on top of her conservative button down. Judy was always the life of the party and as a result people gravitated to her.
I always thought Judy was grooming me for a career in corporate America. I naturally assumed that she wanted me to follow in her distinguished footsteps. But looking back at everything I learned from her over the years, I think she was secretly teaching me how to be a writer.