Many high school students are unsure about their future careers, as traditional high school courses focus on broad subjects like math and English. We've identified this gap and are addressing it through our books, workshops and presentations!
Interview with Lisa Lemke
Legal: Executive Director, Talent Solutions team, Counsel On Call
Question 1: What are the top 3 creative or business qualities you value most? Why?
The top three business qualities I value are leadership, discipline, and emotional intelligence. Of course, baseline intelligence and competency to perform the role are table stakes, but your discipline, leadership skills, and ability to relate to and work well with others will lead to professional advancement and opportunity.
Question 2: Please share a story/situation that inspired you.
Right now, I’m inspired by a group of highly accomplished women with families and jobs who have also rolled up their sleeves and created an Atlanta chapter of the non-profit, Impact 100. Impact 100 is a diverse group of women committed to improving our community by collectively funding transformational grants to make a sustainable difference in the metro Atlanta area. The Atlanta chapter was formed in February 2022, and we have already awarded a $130,000 grant to an amazing non-profit The Study Hall.
he top 3 creative or business qualities you value most? Why?
Question 3: Who are your role models?
I’ve been very fortunate to have several very strong female role models in my life and my career starting with my mother. As they say, she ran a tight ship and had high expectations of us from an early age. Looking back, I realize the consistency of expectation about the little things (making my bed, practicing my violin, cleaning up my room) created discipline. Discipline and self-regulation are so critically important in achieving your goals because there will be times when life will knock you down. Discipline will get you up and back on track.
My role model from law school is a great lady named Rebecca White, who ultimately became the first female Dean of the University of Georgia Law School. I took all of her employment law classes, and she was widely feared as a professor because of her tough, socratic style and unparalleled intelligence. Ultimately, this experience influenced my decision to practice labor and employment law at a major law firm in Atlanta.
Years later when I decided the adversarial process of litigation did not suit my temperament, I decided to investigate using my degree in a more flexible manner. I attended a program about a company providing contract legal opportunities to a group of highly skilled attorneys seeking more work/life balance. I noted the founder of the company, Jane Allen, really resembled Rebecca White. After the program, I approached Jane and shared my excitement about her business concept and my legal background. I asked her about her uncanny resemblance to an employment law professor at UGA law school. Her response was, “that’s my sister.” Jane and I worked together for the next 15 years after I joined her company as one of its first legal recruiters. Jane shared her sister’s intelligence, work ethic, and discipline. I was fortunate to be in the presence of their drive and pursuit of excellence.
Question 4: If you had the chance to go back in time, what would you change about your professional or personal journey?
If I were to start again, I would try to have more confidence in my skills and abilities. I think it is very common for young people, and especially young women, to harbor self-doubt despite all evidence to the contrary. Practice facing your fears. You will find that making mistakes is an inevitable part of growth, and that you will survive them. The maxim that you learn more from your failures than successes is absolutely true, so get over your anxiety and give whatever it is a try! You will build self-confidence and trust in yourself as a result.
Question 5: What are your favorite movies/books
Picking a favorite book is like picking a favorite food. Impossible! Instead, I will share a book that still resonates with me today: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography on Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. As the name suggests, one of the unusual aspects of Lincoln’s presidency is that he assembled a cabinet of rivals who opposed him politically. People today seem afraid and unwilling to listen to and learn from competing points of view. Lincoln’s presidency reflects that we achieve better outcomes when we try to reconcile and create space for healthy debate.
Question 6: Do you have advice for other teens and high schoolers?
First impressions count and be open to new experiences! Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try new things or to interact with people face to face. I wouldn’t have the career I have today without striking up a conversation with someone I was curious in learning more about and teasing out our mutual connections.
Question 7: How can teens make the biggest difference in their communities or industries, particularly in terms of promoting creativity, innovation, and positive change?
Be authentic. Be grateful for your unique skills and abilities and find a way to use them in your career. You are the only you and will be much happier and more energetic if you aren’t rowing against your current trying to be someone or something you are not.