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What Indra Nooyi Teaches Us About Success

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Earlier this month, the business world saw a pioneer of both women and minority business leadership step down from the company she helped transform after over more than a decade at the helm. On October 2, Indra Nooyi stepped down after 24 years with PepsiCo including 12 years as chief executive, reports Ruth Umoh in an article for CNBC. Umoh’s article discusses five traits and habits Nooyi used to help advance her impressive career.

Imagine You’re the President

Nooyi describes how, as a young girl growing up in India, her mother would encourage her and her sister to imagine themselves as prime minster, president or some other important world leader. Nooyi attributes much of her success to the confidence this helped her develop at a young age.

Find a Niche Skill

Having a niche skill is a great way to stand out in an organization and help spur advancement. Nooyi advises working to establish oneself as the sole person who can solve particular problems, based on expertise, experience and insight.

Related: The Connection Between Double-loop Learning and Unconscious Bias

Think Like Your Customer

Too many business leaders fail to take a step back and take their customers’ point of view into consideration when considering major business decisions. A customer focus is key to maintaining and growing revenue and market share.

Surprise with Gratitude

“Taking the time to acknowledge those who support you shows that you value their time and effort and don’t take them for granted,” writes Umoh. “An act of kindness can also make people more likely to help you achieve future goals.”

Be Strong

Nooyi was understandably anxious when taking over as CEO of PepsiCo, and some of her ideas – like the shift towards healthier snacks and beverages – initially received some pushback from investors. But Umoh discusses how she stuck to her guns and persevered with her vision for the company.

Indra Nooyi’s career serves as a great inspiration for women and people of color aspiring to top positions in the corporate world, but her tips and habits for success are broadly applicable as well. These tips combine elements of personal confidence, strategic foresight and relationship building – skills any leader should strive to hone.

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