Mike: Welcome to the Leaders in Life Sciences podcast powered by Enterey Life Science Consulting. In this podcast, you'll hear from leaders in the life sciences industry, how they grew into their current roles, the lessons they've learned along the way, and advice for those aspiring to follow in their footsteps.
I am the host. My name is Mike Ferletic, and I'm the CEO of Enterey Life Sciences Consulting. At Enterey, we help leaders orchestrate the positive change they want to see in their organizations. Are you ready to be recognized for your leadership success? Take a listen.
Welcome, everyone. We've got a great show for you today. I cannot wait to get started. First though, I want to introduce my co-host, Courtney Boudreau. Hi, Courtney.
Courtney: Hi, Mike. How are you?
Mike: Good, good. How are you? I just realized I didn't even introduce myself, so maybe I should introduce myself. My name is Mike Ferletic. I'm the CEO of Enterey Life Sciences Consulting. I'm excited to be hosting here. Good to hear from you, Courtney. We haven't talked in like a week, I think. I'm wondering what you've been up to.
Courtney: I think last time I was telling you about my cat-astrophe about the devil cat, where I had to return. Update on that, I have another feline friend who I know you just saw on camera here. His name is also Bo, Bocephus.
He's super cute. He's hanging out on the table with me right now eating some treats, so all is well. We went for a walk to Starbucks this morning. I put him over a cat backpack. I've got a pumpkin spice latte. I'm slowly but surely becoming that crazy cat lady, but I'm okay with that. I've accepted it.
Mike: It's that time of year, pumpkin spice latte time.
Courtney: I know. Fall is in the air. It's so gloomy where I am, but it's okay. I like it. What about you?
Mike: What I've been up to is I've been trying to get lots, and lots, and lots of photos digitized from the old days. We had a ton. I went through Legacy Box. They should be a sponsor on this show, I think. If you send in your old photos to Legacy Box, they'll turn them into digital photos, videos, or whatnot.
What I've been doing has a little dual purpose. I've always wanted to get these things digitized. My wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary next month. I conveniently said, hey, why don't we get our wedding video digitized?
I'm trying to put together a little something with that. I had to find a way to do it without revealing too much about what I was trying to do. My wife was all on board with digitizing, because really, we've never watched the video because we don't have a VHS player anymore.
Courtney: I do know what a VHS player is.
Mike: Okay, I just want to make sure.
Courtney: Yes. I was just going to follow it up with that. Yeah, I do know. When my brother and I were little—I think we were under 10—VHS was still around. Then, the DVD came and it was like, ooh. I remember my brother would ruin the videos, because he would pull the film out, and then we'd have to wind it up slowly.
Mike: That's a common habit as well, and that's the thing I worry about. That tape is going to be bad pretty soon, so I want to get it digitized.
Courtney: Have your kids ever seen it?
Mike: I highly doubt it. I don't think I've played it in maybe ever, to be honest.
Courtney: That's such a lovely gift.
Mike: I know. We'll see how that goes. I am worried about all the photos. One thing nice about having all those photos is that you actually have them, but now all of our photos are on our phones. We lose our phones, we lose all our memories forever. I don't know. Do you capture all those photos in some way?
Courtney: I have my phone mainly. But one really cool gift I got my mom for Christmas, which we waited until Mother's Day to put up, was mixed tiles. Our house was redone about 10 years ago—I should say their house, family's house. They hadn't put any of the photos back up or redecorated it again with like the personal family type photos on the walls and such.
Her ask was getting photos back on the walls for Christmas. I actually was able to go through all of the photos I had on my phone. I downloaded some from Facebook, some from her page, and just the nice photos of us that we hadn't captured in print over the years. I ordered I think it was like 18 of these mixed tiles with their blocks and you can just stick them on the wall.
Now our entryway, we have all these really pretty photos. There are some of the two of us, a lot of family photos, all of our achievements over the years, so both college graduations. It's really nice, though. That’s the limitation of print photos, but I think they're still really cool.
Mike: That is really cool. I like that idea. I think I'll have to put that into practice as well. Get some of those pictures and just get them off of our phones I think is probably the first step, right?
Mike: Awesome. I'm glad to hear you're doing well. Glad to be back here in the virtual studio of our podcast. Looking forward to talking to our guest. Our guest today is Harriet Johnson. She is a manager here at Enterey, been with us roughly one year, right Harriet?
Harriet: I have, thanks. Thanks for having me.
Mike: I've had the distinct pleasure of working with Harriet pretty closely over the last year. She's been doing great work with the client that she's been serving. Harriet is a veteran of the US Navy. As you'll learn, she earned her Navy RTC scholarship to afford school outside of her home state of Georgia. She went to Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. I think they are the Jumbos, right, Harriet?
Harriet: That is correct. Go Jumbos.
Mike: How would I know that? After Tufts, she did move on to active duty in the Navy for 12 years as a helicopter pilot and staff officer, and then served an additional 5 years as a reserve officer. She's been in pharma now for over seven years, and seen a breadth of operations mostly in manufacturing at large- and medium-sized companies.
Some examples of what she was involved in was she was a shop floor supervisor for a labeling line and also a supply chain planner for a product launch into various X US markets. She lives with a continuous improvement mindset and service orientation. She also lives with four kids and a husband.
She has launched two corporate-wide technology platforms to support internal training initiatives. She enjoys consulting, because home for her is where I can help the people who do the work be more successful. Most recently, she has helped multiple clients internally unify to formalize policies and procedures.
In her spare time, Harriet enjoys crafting and having adventures with friends. I am really looking forward to learning more about Harriet and hearing more about her experience with different leaders and her own leadership journey. Without further delay, let's say hello to one of Tufts University's Jumbo’s finest alumni, Harriet Johnson. Welcome, Harriet.
Harriet: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Mike: Thank you. It's great to have you. We always like to start the podcast just by asking our guests a little bit about you, and how did you get to this point in your career?
Harriet: I left the military and locked into this fantastic program at Merck called the Manufacturing Leadership Development Program. That gave me a nice breadth of understanding of what the pharmaceutical industry is all about. I started in the sterile liquids pilot plant and did a rotation there. I got my green belt while I was at it because I had done all of the training when I was in the military, but didn't understand the value of the piece of paper.
This was my first opportunity to actually like, all right, let's get it documented, because as we all know, in pharma, if it's not documented, it didn't happen. I got my green belt there, and then I went on and did a packaging rotation, and then I also did a supply chain planter rotation. Then I joined their continuous improvement shop at Merck, and that was really exciting.
During that time, my husband got a job in the San Francisco Bay area. We were living in Pennsylvania at the time. He found his dream job here in the Bay Area. Merck was amazingly gracious and let me work remote, and that was great.
I'm also an extreme extrovert. At the time, it just wasn't working for me after a little bit of time. I found a local job and a similar continuous improvement role, and then the pandemic hit. As we mentioned before, my husband, we were college sweethearts. He followed me on the military journey, and gave up and took his career backseat on multiple occasions in service of our nation.
When the pandemic hit and something had to give, and our four beautiful babies are now at home with us all the time, including the youngest who was three at the time, it was a little bit more than we could work and handle. I gave way to the pandemic, and he has continued on to do great things. Then once all of that has mellowed, obviously, the pandemic isn’t over, but at least we've all figured out how to work it.
I was able to join Enterey at that point and very excited to help support all of our clients continue to do their good work and continue to achieve their corporate objectives in a wide variety of ways. It's good stuff.
Courtney: That's amazing. I know with your military career, you mentioned that you've lived all over the world. Would you be willing to share with us all the places you've lived and how that adventure was?
Harriet: Absolutely. Even before the military, I hit a classic cross-cultural American background. I think one of the interesting parts about my story is it's a classic example of you can't judge a book by its cover. My mom is from Venezuela, and my dad is from Kansas. I was born in Venezuela, but grew up in the United States. I've spent a significant amount of time visiting family down there.
When I was in the military service, I lived three years in Japan. I lived 18 months in Naples, Italy. I spent five years in San Diego, I guess a total of seven once you count some training periods there. I grew up in Atlanta. I've been in SoCal. I've lived in NorCal for the last five years now.
My dad's from Kansas. I went to school in Boston. I’ve been all over the place. It's a lot of fun. During that time in Europe, I was working on a staff that was working on a multinational exercise.
I had the chance to go down to Tunisia. I had the chance to spend some time in Malta. I had the chance to go to the southern part of Italy. There was a lot of traveling around that happened. Forgive me, I forget the question. Where did the question come in?
Mike: That was exactly it, right?
Mike: Where have you been? Where in the world is Harriet Johnson?
Courtney: I have to ask also, as somebody who went to college in Northern California but has lived my entire life in Southern California, which one do you go for?
Harriet: I am NorCal all the way. No offense to our SoCal friends. But growing up on the East Coast, I love my seasons. Northern California has a full three seasons, and I can opt into snow when I want to. And that's just the best of all possible situations.
Snow is three hours away in Tahoe. It's great. I can have it for my three days a year that I want it. I can just live in the spring, in the summer, which is where you get all the accessories and the fun things. That's my jam.
Courtney: I got to say I agree. Southern California is where the family is, but Northern California always has that place in my heart as well, so I fully agree.
Harriet: And it's gorgeous down there. It's definitely beaches. The beaches and sunshine are great in Southern California. Absolutely beautiful. Love it. But choice to live, I want all three seasons.
Mike: Very good. I'm actually fond of the fourth season. I actually like snow. But I think I would probably eventually decide, I don't think I need all the snow. I can move on to just the three days a year that you're talking about.
Harriet: I'd have to blame Boston for that one, to be honest with you, because winters in Boston are bitter cold as our winters in Japan. Boston definitely prepared me for the bitter cold winters in Japan. Just after you spend a couple of times in the multiple negative digits, but I didn't grow up in them. I'm happy to hop into the snow.
Mike: Speaking of Japan, I know that you were a helicopter pilot. If I understand correctly, you were the first female helicopter pilot of a Seahawk helicopter. Is that right?
Harriet: Yeah. My squadron was HSL-51. It was one of the last squadrons to have female pilots integrated into it. I wasn't the first female pilot in the squadron, but it was what's called the composite squadron. Most of the helicopters were doing the mission of the SH-60 Bravo Sikorsky Seahawk, which I was doing. And then there was also a detachment that was specifically assigned to support the admiral that is stationed out there. He had a VIP detachment.
There were some women pilots on the VIP detachment. I was the first one on the tactical side. I was maybe female pilot number four in the squadron, but the first one on the tactical side. It was interesting and a lot of fun.
Mike: I was going to ask you, did that fact alone present any interesting challenges for you in terms of finding your way in the tactical squadron?
Harriet: I think so. I think I did a lot of growing in that space. Because going into it, I was very, very little house on the prairie, very goody two shoes. As we all know, that's not really the world that the military lives in, much less when you have anybody who's been in a major engineering field or has been a major scientific field when you walk into that male-dominated environment.
The sweet innocence that I presented at the time was maybe not the most conducive. I definitely grew a lot and learned a lot in that environment. I think it's definitely benefited me as I've come along and developed in my career.
Mike: As you've mentioned, I can tell you're very shy and not very outgoing. Was it challenging to find your leadership voice in that environment?
Harriet: I think there are a lot of incredible people. I think there is incredible service to be had no matter where your experience comes from. There are definitely challenges with being less than 10% of the population. We're 55 pilots. By the time I left, there were maybe five total women pilots. There were always only ever four or five in total.
The first female department head has gone on to do incredible things. A really amazing lady named Amy Bauernschmidt has just been named the first female helicopter pilot to be head of an aircraft carrier. Her career is sailing and doing fantastic things because she's an incredible lady who survived the Naval Academy and many others.
She has thrived in that largely male environment that I definitely had to adjust somewhat to. I think, yes, finding my leadership voice was a little bit difficult because I did present more typically feminine, more typically docile, more typically in Latin American backgrounds there is that, you listen to what the men say and you just do a thing. I had a real blind faith in leadership that there were times when it is fantastic to be a follower, and there were times when it can sometimes be hard to be a leader.
I had an aircrewman after flying with me tell me that women shouldn't be pilots. It's like, all right, it sucks to be you. That's not my problem, but that didn't happen. And then there will also be a host of great and amazing people.
I think there's a lot to be said for everyone's journey, and going and diving into the deep end, and diving into a world that you don't know. In Japan, they drive on the other side of the road. They don't have our characters, unlike places in Europe, where, hey, maybe you don't speak French, but at least you can see the letters that you grew up with on all of the signage everywhere. That's not true in Japan.
To boot at the time, we were deploying a good 50% of the time. There was just this constant flux of being in for two weeks, being out for two weeks and adjusting to the microcosm of the 25 guys that you deploy with, and then coming back home to being with the full squadron of 400 or so people.
My ability to be a leader in that environment really directly reflected other people's respective women at the time, because I don't think I super found my voice per se. When it came to official formal roles and titles, there’s a lot more that went on in the background that I had to grow into at that point in time.
Hard work will serve you anywhere you go. As long as you're working hard and doing good things, there's a lot of good to be had there. I think I found it a little bit more difficult to understand.
I should say I learned the hard way about career development from a ‘if you want to continue to grow and progress,’ you need to find the jobs that are operationally visible, because there are always tons of work to be done. There's always lots of good to be had.
In that case at that time, I filled a lot of that need to get done tasks that didn't necessarily hit the most important, most urgent category of life. That didn't serve me, but you got to learn the lesson somehow.
Mike: Yeah, I think that's a great history. But I think as I take away what you said, it's very much a learning experience.
Harriet: Absolutely, and so much good to be had. Like I said, just a lot of really great people. It's gotten me here to this day, so I have to be thankful for it. It's good stuff.
Courtney: I used to work in EMS, which is paramilitary. Definitely not military level, but I worked with a lot of people who have the same attitudes of it's a male-dominated field. There were days where I would just go home feeling so defeated and so upset. How did you keep your head up throughout those experiences?
Harriet: I am gifted or skilled with an incredible amount of resilience. I had a ship's captain once compare me to those blowup clowns that you might have when you're a kid that are weighted sand at the bottom. You just get knocked over and you just pop back up, hahaha. I have a little bit of that element of, all right, cool, what can we do today?
I was born a soccer mom and team rah-rah person long before I ever had children. I was the girlfriend that sat in the stands while my hockey-playing eventually-to-be husband was at practice in college. They brought me on to the team, I sing the national anthem, I brought him oranges, and all the dumb team mom stuff. I'm 18–22 at the time. I think that element of what's your light, what's your jam, is what you need to find and value that even if the world doesn't value that. I think that's really incredible.
We talked about leadership journeys. One of the questions that you guys gave me was, who do you admire? I think it ties into this story, because there's this one woman, Tammy Riley, who made it to the rank of captain before she retired. She's a little bit audacious, gregarious, outgoing, but she really does an amazing job of embracing who she is, getting the job done, and leading others to do good things.
I think that if I can encourage this next generation of leaders to do anything, it's to start with own your light, whatever it is. Whatever your special sauce is, just sit in it for a little while and know that your path is going to take you somewhere where that jam is good, is really good jam. Find your light, hang on to that light, and that will get you through the darkness. Also, those moments of difficulty, they're what gives you that resilience and that tenacity later on in life, but you got to see them that way.
Mike is amazing and puts us all through some internal training. One of those is everybody is rolling a rock up a hill, that that story of everybody's rolling up a rock up a hill, but one guy is building a cathedral and one guy is just shoving rocks up a hill. You got to figure out that all right, this dark moment, hey, I'm building a cathedral somewhere. I don't know what it looks like, but I'm going to see it.
Courtney: You said something else that really caught my ear, because I say it a lot too, which is learning things the hard way. For some reason, I always feel like I learned a lot of things the hard way when there might have been an easier way or decision that I made that I probably shouldn't.
Whenever we meet new folks here at Enterey or bring people on board, I always try to make an effort to let them know that these are all the things that I learned the hard way. I'm telling you, because I want you to learn from it and not learn it the hard way as well. Was there ever a decision that you made that you wish you wouldn't have or something along those lines?
Harriet: I make a lot of my decisions in life from the perspective of, when I'm 80, is it going to matter? What am I going to want to have done in this moment when I'm sitting with the grandkids or whoever I'm looking back on my life on my deathbed or whatever the case may be. From a career progression standpoint, I don't think so, a whole lot to be honest with you.
I've definitely been through my fair share of solidly painful moments. No doubt about it. From a professional perspective, I think they have all helped to shape and mold me into a better human being in a facet of my life that matters. The moments that I have that hit regret are random personal decisions.
I come from a singing family. When I was in Japan, I joined a choir. I had joined the Japanese choir, so I was the sole non-Japanese person in this choir. There was a moment to sing, and it turns out that I had to leave.
My tour ended on the day of the concert that we had spent months preparing for, and I wish I had given greater push back to try and stick around for one more day. I just said, all right, I'm going to follow orders. This is the day they gave me.
I did try and push a little bit, but not hard enough. That's a place where I wish I would have been more forthright. But from a career perspective, yeah, there's a lot of could have, would have, should have, but I'm here now. I think it's just a matter of it goes back to, if I could learn early on to value what I bring to the table and be truthful to that, then I think that would be great, but I can't pinpoint that to one decision.
I did a lot of just trying to follow what I was told to do and just, all right, this is the beaten path, but I've never been a cookie cutter. That's never been my thing. I'm learning now 20 years into it that there is no normal. There are a lot of beaten paths, but normal is not really a thing. That would have been really nice to know 10 years ago.
Mike: Very good. Harriet, I know in the military, a lot of people think about leadership as being very brash yelling at people and whatnot. Did you see it that way when you were in the military?
Harriet: Not at all, quite frankly. Quite the opposite. I'm very much of the philosophy that leadership is leadership is leadership, no matter where you go, especially for anybody who has been through the military in a specific leadership role. You either made it to the ranks of leadership abilities or you are an officer of any variety. The tenets and the principles of leadership are fairly universal.
What you see in the movie, the George Pattons, the war scenarios, and this, that, and the other, those exist, for sure. But that's the glorious 10%, not the daily 90%. The daily 90% is so much more the same thing that works here in the real world. How much have you build respect for other people so that they'll give it back to you? How much did you support the individual so that when they came to work, they were able to be a whole human being?
How much did you try and get the roadblocks out of the way so that the people who needed to do the work weren't sitting there moving roadblocks, they were just traveling down the road that you've asked them to travel on? I think that that is largely undercredited.
I worry sometimes when I say, hey, I'm a veteran of people going, oh, so you're probably a barker. It's like, no We have a lot of great phrases in the military. It depends on your service, branch of services to what they are. But one of the ones in the Navy is if you take care of the people, the mission will take care of itself.
I really think that's true. I really think there's a lot to be said for that. It's a lot of what attracted me to Enterey, the whole people, drive results, tagline. It just really sings true to me. Yeah, I think leadership is leadership, no matter where you are.
Mike: Hey, Courtney. A lot of our clients we work with have great ideas on how to improve their business, but they just run into challenges that seem to get in the way of accomplishing their goals. Have you ever seen that?
Courtney: Of course. It happens all the time. I've seen clients struggle with a lack of visibility into all the work that's happening within their organization. I've seen clients that are focused on manual tasks, which takes away from focusing on the actual project work. And I've seen leadership struggle to make decisions due to lack of timely information.
Mike: That's so true. It seems like just knowing the problems to fix is only half the battle. How do you help your clients address those challenges?
Courtney: We of course, first work with our client to design a structured management process that fits their culture and team. In a lot of situations, we bring in tools like Smartsheet to help the entire project team be more efficient. With the help of Smartsheet, we were able to create dashboards, automate routine tasks, and have the information ready in real time to help support leadership's decision making.
Mike: Wow, it sounds like you not only execute on the project, but your work helps everyone get more done with less work.
Courtney: I hope so. Smartsheet is a powerful tool, and my clients seem to be really happy with it.
Mike: That's great. Now, if somebody needs help on their project, what should they do?
Courtney: They should check out enterey.com and schedule a call with us to see how we can help.
Mike: Sounds like a great idea.
Courtney: Thank you.
Mike: I think it's great. You now have moved beyond the Navy. You have four kids at home. Do you see leadership that you've developed while you're in the Navy applying to your personal life, with your kids, and even at work here and with your clients?
Harriet: Absolutely. I think people can learn leadership from many, many grounds. There is no single leadership training source by any stretch. I am continually intrigued by how the 11 leadership principles just directly apply to my family life as well. You can look them up on the Internet, but know yourself and seek self-improvement.
I don't know a parent who isn't trying to do it better day by day. I don't know a leader in the real world who is a leader for real, not necessarily a manager, but a leader who isn't doubting themselves and wondering how they can improve themselves.
For my children, specifically, there's train your people as a team, ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished. I don't know a parent that doesn't struggle with having their child do an activity, finding it to be 70%, complete, and then and now you're at a leadership crossroads.
What am I going to do about this? Am I going to do the job myself? Am I going to coach my kid to get emotionally done? Am I going to yell at my child for not completing what they've got going on? Am I going to some combination of all of these things?
I think the thing that really maps the most for me between military leadership, those tenets that I learned as a naval officer, and the trials that I've been through leading these four precious people to where they are in life, ages 4–12, has come to understand that for my children, especially, they have their perspective and their street corner.
Sometimes their horizon and how far out they can see is very different from my own. That's really obvious with children. Your two-year-old, their life is all of five minutes out. If it had been five minutes in the past or five minutes in the future, that's where they are.
That black and white perspective on, everybody has their own perspective, rings really true and maps over really nicely for me to the business world, except not everybody's a two-year-old. Nobody's a two-year-old quite frankly. They're their own adults with their own perspectives and their own whereabouts, but it's really helpful for me to realize they might be standing on the opposite side of the street.
We're on the same street, we're trying to go the same direction, and I'm like, hey, we got to go right. And they're like, no, left. No, we got to go right. No, left. It's just that understanding of taking a step back out of yourself to say, where are they right now? Okay, how do I help? How do I get to them or bring them to me so that we're all speaking the same language?
Having my children is just an extreme example of they're hungry. If I don't feed them first, they won't listen. That's just all there is to it. I think it applies in real conversation as well. If you don't listen to another person first, you're never going to be heard. We just think as adults, we're adults. Let's all be adults here. And it's like, no, we're all people, 2, 82, 42. We're all people.
Mike: That's great. I love what you just said that in order for people to hear you, you have to listen to them first. I think it's a great statement.
Harriet: It's been one of the hardest lessons to learn. Admittedly, I have to relearn it all the time. I think I'm fairly well-versed academically from a leadership perspective, but I'm always really impressed by how leadership is such a journey. It's not, I can learn this lesson today and forget it tomorrow. Again, and just go, all right, it's time to get back up on that horse. All right, I didn't listen today, so I was less effective. How can we listen better tomorrow?
Courtney: I think it's an excellent statement, too. I grew up in Southern California, and going to UC Santa Cruz in Northern California, it was a completely opposite experience. It's in the same state, but it was not the same state.
Harriet: They're very different.
Courtney: Very different. It was a little bit of a culture shock. There were a lot of times I found myself interacting with people or in a class where I didn't necessarily agree with what was being said. But because I don't agree doesn't mean I can't listen and understand their intentions, and why they think the way they do, and what their experiences have been to lead them to that conclusion.
I think my greatest takeaway from my education is that you do not have to agree with somebody, but you do have to make an effort to understand where they're coming from, why they think the way they do, and how you can try to compromise and try to work with their vision and what they experience.
Harriet: Courtney, I'd have to admire you and say you're well ahead of the curve. I guess one of the things that I'm learning now as an adult is that because my truth and your truth don't agree with one another does not make either of them less true. There just really is that opportunity for there to be multiple correct or multiple valid expressions of an opinion, a conversation, or a viewpoint. It's not all or nothing. As human beings, we really describe things really black or white, especially here in the United States.
We do a lot of things that are very black or white. You can see that reflected in the politics of today. We're not going to go there, but you can see that very truthfully. Taking that alternate perspective that you just mentioned now about how, hey, I understand where you have come from, I see where you are, I am not there, and this is okay. This does not make you any less. It does not make me any less. We both just are in our different locations.
Mike: I agree. That's actually an interesting perspective that I think about in terms of the difference between maybe a military experience versus a corporate experience. I'm curious about how maybe you experienced that when you went from the Navy and then into a very corporate environment at Merck. Did you see that difference firsthand when you made the change, or was it very similar?
Harriet: They're very different worlds. I think there are some places where the military does a really nice job of saying, what is black is black, what is white is white, what is red is red. There are some very distinctive lines. I think what the military does very well for the most part is, how is it less important than your results? Did you get the job done? There is some beauty and some pain in that, because you will put in your pound of flesh to give to what needs to happen. I think that's very well recognized, very honorable, and very service-oriented.
In the business world, there are a lot more people that care about how you do it. There's a lot more opportunity to do so many things. There really are. The world is your oyster. What do you want to make it? How do you want to do it? Almost every single state is not will state.
In the military, like, no, you were obligated contractually to service until your service date is up. If you were me, I would have taken an aviation contract. At the point at which I was four years when I graduated, guaranteed, going to do four years, pay back for my college scholarship, no problem.
But a year-and-a-half later, as soon as I got pinned to Naval aviator, it was 10 years from the day of winging. I wasn't going anywhere for a very long time. There are different worlds that teach different good, bad, and both of the situations. They're just different worlds.
Mike: That's great. I do have one Navy question for you and that is, if you're willing to share, what was your callsign?
Harriet: My callsign was hairball, because it is a play on Harriet. It didn't necessarily get used a whole lot. There were definitely a couple others that were less choice that got into the mix beforehand. I think the callsign was a little bit of a play on the situation. I'm pretty goody two-shoes, pretty green.
Again, young woman in a largely male environment. You have three tiers of people in their careers in a squadron. You have the commanding officer and the executive officer who are your senior ranking individuals. You have 10 or 12 department heads, and then you have the majority 30–40 or so pilots who are ages 25–27. Most of them, give or take. There are some exceptions to that. You're in year one, year two, or year three of that tour as a pilot.
I was the one woman in that bottom tier of folks or one of three or four women in that bottom tier of folks. Hairball was a little bit of a play on kid's sister, why are you here, a play on the name, and kosher, because like I said, there was a couple that didn't quite survive because they were not politically correct. So it goes.
Mike: Cool. It made sense to me as soon as you mentioned it. I'm the Harriet and hairball. Hey, it's good.
Courtney: You mentioned, Harriet, earlier that you like crafting. What kinds of crafts do you like doing? I want to know because I'm super crafty, too.
Harriet: Nice. I love crafting. I have been doing things with my hands since I was 10 or younger, whatever the case may be. It depends on the year. Right now, I've been making masks during the pandemic. Prior to this, I've made hair bows, little girls' hair bows. I've got four daughters, so that was a very popular craft with my children. Where I had daughters and I could do their hair, now they don't let me touch their heads, which is fine.
It's come full circle, though. My 12-year-old now likes the hairbows. She puts them in her own hair. It's been fun. I've gotten the chance to make a couple for her. I've also done paper crafts, so making cards. I never really got into the scrapbooking thing.
That's just maybe a little bit too much of a project. I seem to like any small craft that can hit the one- to two-hour roam. It's my sweet spot. I can do things that take up to 5–7 hours. I've done a little bit of crochet, knitting, and things. When I was really young, like high school, I actually made paper dolls. They look like that corn husk material, but it was scrunched up paper and a wide variety. I would make these 8–12-inch dolls that would decorate your house, because it was the 90s. That stuff was kitsch. It was good at the time.
Mike: I don't know if any of your girls are in dance, but if you find some friends that are in dance, they need a lot of hair bows.
Harriet: You're right. That could be a good niche market for me. I love it.
Courtney: My mom was the best cheerleading role maker when I was in high school. Then in college, she still wanted to continue her cheer mom role, so she made the whole team a bunch of bows. It was really fun. Yeah, there's always a spot for more bows.
Mike: Harriet, I want you to be honest. Do you wish you could still fly a helicopter in everyday life, like going to a grocery store or taking the kids to school, letting them rappel out to drop into the playground or something?
Harriet: It would be awesome. Being a helicopter pilot is just really, really fantastic and a lot of fun. My personality wasn't built for the political side of where things were, but the actual flying element of it is a joy and a thrill. It definitely pushes some really fine buttons for me, personally. I think it's funny when I'm taking a couple surveys with, how are you compared to your spouse and certain things?
I would argue that my husband is the safer driver, but I am the more tactically proficient driver. The other day, I pulled out of my drive, and my children were like, oh, I forgot this basic item of whatever variety. I was like, all right, cool. I flipped my hand over the backseat, turned it in reverse, and pulled it 25 miles an hour back into my driveway in reverse, perfectly centered on the drive. My children were like, whoa, mom. I was like, ooh, I probably shouldn't have done that in front of you, but I'm capable.
Mike: Very good. We should have got that one on video.
Harriet: Don't do that at home, kids.
Mike: Very cool. I'm curious, looking back and talking to some of our listeners who are maybe looking for some nuggets, what are some of the ideas? What are some of the ideas that for someone who's growing in their career, how would you say to them, do this or don't do this in order to build their leadership capabilities and their path?
Harriet: I think wherever you have an interest, you need to continue trying to learn. Whatever it is that feeds you in that variety, keep doing that. I would say lead where you stand. Don't wait to be handed a leadership opportunity. You're standing in the middle of one somehow.
Whether that is an opportunity to, I said I sing, so I sing in the choir at church. Recently, the person who normally leads the choir hasn't come back. Hey, there's a void there. If I'm willing to do the planning, the sending out of the notes to everybody, and the things that come with that leadership role, then it's there and available to me. I think that's true for everyone, no matter where you stand in life.
As a young operator, or as a junior person just coming in, Courtney is sitting here doing this podcast with you. This is an opportunity for her to learn from your expertise and lean into where you go. I don't know a company that doesn't have internal initiatives that needs somebody to drive them.
That's a prime opportunity for our junior folks to really show themselves, show what they've got, potentially learn in a safe space where you can make those hiccups and mistakes, because there'll be somebody there to turn to.
I would also just put out there that you're not alone. You might be solely responsible, but you're not alone. So leverage your networks, the people that sit next to you, somebody that you admire, or somebody that is one rank up from you, whatever that happens to be. One or two ranks up from you as a prime space.
Especially if you're struggling with your direct manager, direct boss, and they happen to be two or three ranks above you, somebody has an in-between to just be like, hey, I want to serve my boss well. We're not communicating right now. This is what I'm trying to say. Can you help me flesh out what I'm trying to say before I go talk to my boss?
Everybody loves to do that for other people. I don't know anybody who doesn't want to help mentor, coach, or otherwise. You just got to ask. Don't worry about looking silly. Don't worry about falling flat on your face. That's the opportunity that you have.
My kids when they were in the first grade were like, mom, failures, your first first attempt in learning. I was like, oh, that's a smart kid. That's fantastic, because it really is successes that last time that you picked yourself up from when you fell down. I'd say lead from where you stand.
There is an opportunity in front of you. Just keep learning. Just keep having these conversations—going to TED talks, going to whatever your favorite podcast is. There's a boatload of leadership podcasts and leadership opportunities. Whatever the avenue is that works for your life—books, podcasts, talking to people, a cup of coffee with an old folks home, candy stripping in a hospital, or going to those locations where our eldest communities are going. The greatest generation right now is we're losing them.
We think the pandemic is hard. They lived through World War I, in Korea, in World War II. I think about my grandfather who went from lights to not quite the Internet, but pretty close. Horse drawn carriage to F1 racing. The generations that came before us have lived a hot minute. It's not documented on social media, thank goodness, but they've been there somewhere. Your chances to grow are all around you depending on what works for your life.
Mike: I love it. I want to add one thing, because I totally agree with what you said, particularly about the learning aspect. I will tell you as well or I will suggest that I have learned so much from Courtney about how to do a podcast. Courtney hopefully can garner some insights from me, but I'm totally learning a lot from her as well. There's a 360 degree view of where we can learn, so I wholeheartedly agree with what you're saying.
Harriet: That's awesome.
Courtney: Thank you, Mike, first off. I really enjoy hosting this podcast with you. It's exciting that there's this opportunity in the first place. Harriet, you said something that really piqued my interest about recruiting help, asking others and bringing others, and when you do need the help and in terms of leadership. It reminds me, have you guys seen Dr. Death or heard of Dr. Death? It's a show that's on I think it's Peacock, NBC, and then there's a podcast, I'm wondering as well.
Essentially, it was about this physician who was a psychopath, sociopath. He had this mindset of, oh, if I mess up, it's okay, I'll try again. I'll just have this ‘fake it till I make it,’ ‘in it to win it’ mindset of I'll keep trying and I'll get better, but it was at the expense of patients' minds.
It's an example of the opposite. But part of what they cite in that case is the Hippocratic Oath, where if you can't do it, then you will recruit a colleague who can. They hammered that [...], if you can't do it, recruit a colleague, get in a conflict, get that second opinion. Get other people in to help.
I find myself doing that quite frequently working with clients. For instance, I spoke with you yesterday. I was like, hey, what do you think here? It's so nice to be in this environment and to have people that you can recruit in to help. Leadership is all around, I guess.
Mike: It's awesome. Harriet, you and I talked one day. We had lots of interesting parallels in our history and whatnot. What I found out today is that you sing at church. I don't sing at church, but my wife does. She used to sing in the choir. She used to cantor at mass. It's an interesting connection there, too.
I guess it would have been more of a parallel if your husband actually sang, because then our respective spouses would be the singers. But nonetheless, we have a singing vibe going on, so it's very cool.
Let's see. I think we got to start wrapping it up here. What do you think, Courtney?
Courtney: Yeah, I think it's game time.
Mike: Game time. All right.
Harriet: Thank you both for the opportunity to be here. I just think, Mike, I'm really impressed by how you continue to serve the internal community and try to bring what we have internally to Enterey. To support others, I think that's really amazing and fantastic, and that you're letting the youngest among us join us, and do that collaborative environment of learning from all avenues. I think that's just so impressive. Thank you both for inviting me on board and having the chance to speak to you today. It's been great.
Mike: Awesome. We really appreciate you coming, spending your time with us, and sharing your background. I think it's really great to get to know everybody, you in this case in much more detail, and the history behind how you got here today. I'm excited.
Courtney: Of course. As somebody who works with you, Harriet, and looks up to you, I can testify to all of our listeners right now that everything Harriet said here today is not just all talk. It's very true. She very much lives out everything she said. She really does set an example, tries to remove obstacles for people, and really does lead the way for all of us consultants here at Enterey. Thank you, Harriet.
Harriet: I'm honored by those words. Thank you.
Mike: Very good. All right. Now we're moving into game time. I think Harriet, you're the star of the show here again.
Harriet: That's right. There's a game. I forgot about that. Let's do it.
Mike: Right up your alley.
Courtney: The game, it's really simple. It's like this or that. We would play that game in our meetings, but it's lightning round. I'm going to give you a minute, Harriet, to ask all of these questions. Hopefully, we could just do our best to answer them.
Courtney: All right. I'm going to set my phone as a timer so I can make it fair, because the stakes are high here. Scale of 1 to 10, how good are you at keeping secrets?
Courtney: Arielle or Jasmine.
Harriet: Arielle all the way.
Courtney: First celebrity crush?
Harriet: Tom Cruise. Not anymore, though.
Courtney: Dawn or dusk?
Courtney: If you could travel back in time, what period would you go to?
Harriet: The Renaissance was the first thing that came to mind.
Courtney: Do you snore?
Harriet: Occasionally, but not normally.
Courtney: Place you most want to travel to?
Courtney: Favorite junk food?
Harriet: Ice cream.
Courtney: Favorite childhood TV show?
Harriet: There are so many good ones. The Gummy Bears.
Courtney: Favorite season?
Harriet: Spring or fall. I'm really torn.
Courtney: Okay, last Halloween costume?
Harriet: I was a witch, but that's just because I default to that as a parent.
Courtney: Time's up.
Harriet: What's the last question? I'm curious.
Courtney: I was going to ask, cake or pie?
Harriet: Oh, cake all the way.
Courtney: Good to know. That was fun. Eight-and-a-half, scale of 1–10 on keeping secrets.
Harriet: It depends on the situation. But yeah, for the most part that I need to keep a secret, I will.
Courtney: I'm a four. I have to admit. I can't lie and I can't keep it.
Mike: That's classic. Very good answers. Those are some good ones.
Harriet: I can sing end to end The Little Mermaid for you, the whole nine yards. Whereas I can only think probably half of Aladdin to you. But I think that has to do with, I was the right age. I was 12 years old or something close to that when The Little Mermaid came out. I was just all about it.
Courtney: That's so awesome.
Mike: Very cool. That's great.
Courtney: All right, Mike. Are you ready?
Mike: Yeah, are you going to do this for me too?
Courtney: Yeah, but they're different questions this time.
Mike: Oh, oh, different questions.
Harriet: Let's do it.
Mike: All right, I'm ready. Let's go.
Courtney: Okay, pressing start. Favorite ice cream flavor?
Mike: Oh, double chocolate malted crunch.
Courtney: Can you say a word in Spanish?
Courtney: Do you believe in fate?
Courtney: What's your favorite number?
Courtney: Who has it easier, men or women?
Mike: Oh, my God. You can't make me answer that question.
Courtney: We can skip that one.
Mike: Men. Definitely, men.
Courtney: Okay. Have you ever worn socks with sandals?
Mike: Oh, God. Yes, probably.
Courtney: Okay, name a primate besides monkeys and apes.
Mike: Goodness. Orangutan. Is that in the monkey and ape category?
Courtney: Yeah, I'll take it. Sourdough or wheat?
Courtney: Name one of the seven dwarves.
Courtney: What's for dinner tonight?
Mike: I know that I'm cooking dinner tonight. I have not yet decided, but something with chicken in it.
Harriet: Cool. There's a chicken thawing in my fridge here to be part of dinner. It's fabulous.
Courtney: Do you cook for your family a lot, Mike?
Mike: I don't. We had a conversation. My wife and I had a conversation this weekend. She went with my son to visit her mom a few weeks ago. It was just me and my daughter, so I was of course in charge of everything while she was gone, my wife was gone.
One night, we made fried chicken and waffles. The next night, I made custom fancy hamburgers. My wife's like, I heard when I was gone, you made chicken and waffles. I said that tonight, I would make dinner.
Courtney: That's nice.
Mike: Usually, when I make dinner, it's not really on the healthy side. It's usually part of the issue.
Courtney: That's okay. It's called balance.
Mike: That's right. Very much so. Well, cool. That was fun. I like that. I want to do that some more.
Harriet: It's super fun. Thank you guys for bringing me on this journey. It's been cool.
Courtney: Of course, we're happy to have you.
Mike: All right. Awesome. We're going to go ahead and wrap it up now. Thank you very much again to our wonderful guest, Harriet Johnson. We look forward to talking to you all in our next episode. Thanks, Courtney.
Courtney: Thank you.
Mike: All right. Take care, Harriet.
Harriet: Thanks, guys. Bye.
Mike: All right, let's wrap this up. If you liked this podcast, please don't forget to subscribe. That really helps us out. Also, leave us a five star rating. That's a big help too. If you'd like, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments as well.
Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time on the Leaders in Life Sciences podcast powered by Enterey Life Sciences Consulting, where people drive results. Take care.