We asked her a few questions and this is the advice she shared:
Iridescent: How can one prepare to be a great leader?
Mary Lou Jepsen: Just focus on doing great work in areas that you both a) think are important and b) that you feel passionate about. The leadership comes from that.
Iridescent: What is your favorite mode of learning and growing?
Mary Lou Jepsen: I learn best by doing.
Iridescent: What are some of your favorite strategies for handling multiple projects at the same time?
Mary Lou Jepsen: It’s easiest to work on lots of projects when you have a bigger team working for you like I do now (I’m the CEO of a startup), but this also means opening yourself up to lots and lots of interrupts, near constant context switching, and a good memory for all the details of each project. It’s somewhat unpredictable to know in advance, but key to take advantage of whenever there are lulls and use the blocks of times that open it: I grab a these as opportunities to either to catch up in depth on a program or to explore a facet in depth on my own. These periods often lead to new strategies, directions or inventions for my company.
Earlier in my life I got the blocks of time by sleeping every other day: That way every other night (when it was quiet) I could focus in depth on a project with a block of time, and during the days I would need to get the minutia done, demos, visitors, class work, committees.
Thanks for chatting with us, Mary!