If award-winning businesswoman and former Fortune 15 executive of 30-plus years, Kristin Harper, could tell her younger self something about the woman she is today, she probably would have said to have more fun. This prompted the next question: should professionals carve out time in their schedules to have fun now or wait until they reach their milestones? The Heart of a Leader: 52 Emotional Intelligence Insights to Advance Your Career (Rowman & Littlefield, July 8, 2020) author answers without hesitation.
“Have fun every day,” she tells So Booking Cool. “If corona has taught us anything, it’s taught us that life is swift; that this virus does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter what your college degree is, what your socioeconomic status is, what your ethnicity or your race is. Life is swift. So, it’s important to live your best life, as they say, every day. Don’t wait.”
Even prior to helming the teams of legendary global brands like Crest®, Oral-B®, and Hershey’s KISSES, Harper had the spirit of a leader as a youth. A third-generation entrepreneur of her family, she was an only child with parents who encouraged her to embrace her talents. She started public speaking and joining various organizations at her church. When she wanted to afford Christmas presents, she started a baked goods business; after making a $100 profit, she didn’t look back. When her piano teacher got pregnant, she took over the lessons during her entire high school career, instructing about fifteen students a week. She was student council and student president for three years. Post high school, she became the first female Student Government President in nearly a decade at Florida A&M University (FAMU).
“I do enjoy leadership, but it’s not for everyone,” Harper shares. “It takes a special person who’s willing to stretch themselves and be uncomfortable and take on that mantle of leadership. It carries a heavy crown, I would say.”
Today, she is the founder and CEO of Driven to Succeed, LLC, a development firm that supports businesses and people with brand strategy consulting, market research, keynote speaking on leadership and emotional intelligence, and career coaching for Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, and budding leaders.
Like her company’s mission to help others thrive professionally, with The Heart of a Leader, Harper hopes to impart wisdom to those who aspire to leadership and to advance their careers overall. The likes of Library Journal and Publishers Weekly have called the book a guide for emotional intelligence and climbing the corporate ladder.
Harper has been recognized by the YWCA Women with the Excellence award; she also received the Top 50 Global Marketer award and was named a Columbus CEO Magazine “Future 50” leader, both of which are honors for this year. Additionally, she is a proud member of her alma mater’s Board of Trustees.
As someone who co-created a scholarship for FAMU’s business students, we asked Harper why it is important for leaders to give back. “It’s important for leaders to give back because we weren’t always who we are now. We weren’t always where we are now. And people gave to us, people invested in us, mentored us, sponsored us…I think it’s also cultural. To whom much is given, much is required…at the end of the day, when you leave an organization, when you pass away from this life, what will last is your legacy. And if you haven’t given to others, it will be a shame for your legacy and your life to die when you pass away.”
Watch the interview to learn more about Harper including her thoughts on millennials when it comes to careers; the books that were pivotal in her career trajectory; her perspective on why books are important; which of the many hats she wears is her favorite role and why; the uncomfortable moments that can come with being a leader and more! For more information, visit Harper’s official website.