The Q&A—on How Women Succeed
With SKG’s CEO Beth Goff-McMillan
“It is more about the finesse than it is slamming the driver down the fairway.”
What was your dream job and why?
I knew my dream job would be a mix of the creative and the strategic, but I couldn’t identify it at the time. I loved beautiful things and being creative, but all the games the shows I loved were built around strategy. I was always drawn to Monopoly and Clue and the TV show Dallas. But it wasn’t for the drama. It was the strategy and maneuvering. I knew I had to find something that was creative and involved problem-solving.
Today, you’re the CEO of the second-largest woman-owned business in Central Texas and one of the fastest growing companies in the country. What is something that you do to help the women on your team succeed that you perhaps not every organization does?
One of the things I do is take time for other women. I think a lot of people talk about it and think about it, but I don’t think a lot of people do it. Every single day, I carve out time to listen, to advise, to coach and mentor women inside our company. I want people to know how much I value them, and I want to give them my time to share where I have succeeded and where I have failed and the lessons I have learned. That goes personally and professionally.
What do you think is one of the biggest myths about women and success?
The biggest myth is you can have it all. You can do it all, but you’re not going to be good at all things all the time. The sooner you get real with that notion and your family understands that, the easier it becomes. You can navigate the days that work needs to come first, the days that the family needs to come first, the days that my husband needs to come first, because every day it changes. It can change hour by hour. You just can’t be good at all things all the time, or you will consistently feel like you are failing.
You’ve said that without the support and mentoring you received throughout your career, you might not be where you are today. What are two of the most important things mentors have taught you?
Probably my biggest mentor of my life was a gentleman named Mike Benigno. I remember my first really big promotion. He got me an engraved star that said, “Finesse the shot,” because I was a golfer. He said, “Beth, you know when you get on the tee box, you can blast your driver as far as you can hit it. But when it really counts, you have to take your wedge and finesse the shot onto the green.”
More times than not it is having the composure to finesse the conversation, the negotiation, the development, the training. It is more about the finesse than it is slamming the driver down the fairway.
The other big lesson was that if everybody could do what you do, they would have your job. That one resonates with me almost daily. The moment I want to be frustrated, I have to sit back and realize if they could do the work that I do they would have my job. It has taught me great patience and I think that is why I want to give of my time because I do want people to grow into bigger and better things. But I also have to understand where they are right now in their own evolution and that has been impactful for me on a personal level.
What or who most inspires you about women in the workplace today?
Probably my daughter. I look at her and her friends and frankly anybody that’s younger than me. I would never change my path. I’m here because of the journey, good or bad. It made me who I am. It’s not that I want to avoid strife or conflict for her because I think there is strength in strife and in conflict but not because she’s a woman. So much of what we do around SKG or the organizations that I’m part of is because I want a better environment for her and that’s why I love hiring young women. It is all because I want a better environment for her.