21 Women Making An Impact: Jodi Duncan, President, Flint Group

Written by: Brady Drake
  • United Way Volunteer and Investor
  • 2021 United Way Volunteer Campaign Chair
  • United Way Emerging Leader

What is one lesson you have learned? How did you learn it?

When you make difficult choices, you will be judged. It doesn’t matter who you are
or what you do, there will be people who disagree with your decisions, who will try and tear you apart. You have to be mindful of where criticism is coming from and who you are listening to. I was taught this lesson early on in my career, but it didn’t sink in until decades later. The CEO of the company I worked for quoted Teddy Roosevelt frequently.

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man/woman who points out how the strong man/woman stumbles, or the doer of deeds could have done them better…” Over the years, I understand and appreciate this quote more and have learned what it means in the context of how people treat others.

It is easy to be paralyzed by criticism. It is difficult to not internalize what people might be saying about you. I try to consider what grains of truth may be in the story being told and determine, what, if anything, I can do differently. I also try very hard not to dwell on criticism or make it worse by exaggerating the story in my own mind. In reality, no one is harder on me then, well, me. I can hear ten good things about something I’ve done, and one criticism and I’ll focus on the criticism. I think that is very common. Rather than negative feedback bringing you down, ask yourself how you can do better and then let it go.

What do you think is the biggest issue/ challenge/priority for women in the workplace?

2021 is setting a new standard for women in the workplace. Regardless of your political view, having a female Vice President has shattered a ceiling that I did not expect to see in my lifetime. Having more women leaders in true leadership positions in businesses, on boards of directors, running for office brings new perspective to old ways of thinking. If women can spend more time and energy lifting each other up, believing in one another and supporting each other, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. Additionally, men and women working together creates an unstoppable force. The reality is men and women think differently and behave differently. We need to work on building on our strengths and diminishing our weaknesses. Part of that is self-awareness. For women, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves “how am I contributing to this issue? What ideas and solutions am I bringing to the table? Where can I make a difference?” And most importantly “what are the negativities that I need to let go?”

There is a study that women won’t apply for a position unless they feel they are 100% qualified. Men will apply if they feel they are 60% qualified. We, as women, have been taught to underestimate our abilities and our value. Being confident should not be seen as being arrogant and being assertive should not be seen as too aggressive. We have to stop doing that to each other and ourselves.

What advice do you have for women looking to build their professional careers?

Stop being a victim. If you want something, go after it. If you want to change something, work at changing it. Invest time and hustle into getting what you want. Complaining and feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to help you advance. Same with attacking others. There will always be people who are gunning for you. Rise above it and find your way through it.

Find your people. I am very fortunate to have an amazing network of friends. Many of them I met through business relationships. We talk openly about the challenges we face and we work hard to support each other. One of my favorite quotes is, “You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building each other up instead of tearing each other down.” Be the woman who is building up other women.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.