WICT Event: Gina Barreca Executive Workshop

–By Debra Prentice, Market Development Director

08.22.18 Gina Barreca spoke at the WICT 2nd Annual Executive Workshop at the Cable Center in Denver, CO. Barreca gives insights on success and being a visible, dynamic, and responsible leader with a panel of Persistent Women.

WICT (Women in Cable Technology) hosted a half day Executive Workshop, featuring Gina Barreca. Gina is a weekly columnist for The Hartford CourantProfessor of English and Feminist Theory at the University of Connecticut, and author/coauthor of 6 books.

read Gina’s full bio at her website: https://ginabarreca.com/about-gina/ 



“You owe those people a debt who had the biggest impression on who you are.”




The risks of being a visible, responsible, and dynamic leader:

  • Some people will not like you.
  • Going out (into your roles) wanting to be liked is a guarantee you will not be liked. You do not need people to like you: you need people to accept you. You have other people in your personal life to like you.
  • Liking you is a by-product of you doing what you do well.
  • Happiness is a side-affect of doing other things well, but it (happiness) is not the goal itself.
  • Things can always get easier, you can’t get harder…. You can’t start soft, and then pick up later. (Gina explains: when you go out for your goal, hit it hard in the beginning because you can always ease up a little later. It is unwise to start soft, feeling that you will ramp up later).
  • Being visible means that you are going to be judged.
  • If you judge others harshly, others will harshly judge you.
  • If you are more generous to other people, even as you are evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, be generous to yourself and be generous to others in your judgement.


The benefits of being a visible, responsible, and dynamic leader:

Gina states, “Success has been a tough idea to negotiate. Success, like love, changes over time. It deepens and grows calm. You’re not competing against somebody else’s idea of victory but internalizing the satisfactions of your achievements. This is why those who are genuinely successful in whatever they do understand that their generosity is their real reward. Success is not something you hold onto: It’s something you pass along.”

Gina further explains that in success, we begin with vulnerability. It is something we need to fully accept and not apologize for. Modesty, historically was virtue for women. Women will accept success as part of a team, but will typically shortchange her role in that success.

Gina states, “we personalize every piece of criticism we hear… If you give a woman a compliment, you’re going to get into an argument. That woman will disagree (with the compliment)… because she is not comfortable with it. (When receiving a compliment), make sure you say thank you very much. Just say thank you.”

Know the difference between a rival and an enemy:

“You rival is not your enemy. Rival comes from the Latin word river.: your rival is literally someone who is drinking from the same river and you are competing for the same resources (your rival is not your enemy). A good rival can make you better, can challenge you, and can help you strategize better”.

The greatest success is to “abandon perfectionism” and “to understand that success is fluid”.





Panel of Persistent Women, Gina Barreca Moderates.


Gina moderated a question, answer, and insightful discussion with a panel of persistent women and the audience.



Cynthia Carpenter

Vice President Human Resources at Charter Communications

Gina, “Who has made you most nervous at work and why?”

Cynthia, “People who operate out of fear – because people are making decisions due to trying to protect something. I usually take steps back to understand what is making that person fearful. I have confidence in myself – if that person is not successful, I will not be… I will try to help them instead of avoid them.”






President and CEO at The Cable Center

Gina, “Who has made you most nervous at work and why?”

Jana, “Things that we carry around in our heads (makes me the most nervous). When I first started, I was the only one (woman) in the room. I was nervous because I felt I was representing all the women in the building. I then had the courage to say this to the VP of finance. He said no, not at all. You are you and you do not represent all the others.”

Gina, “How much do you feel you are not just representing you, but people like you?”

Jana, Learning to say no is important, and not to get pushed into martyrdom.”

Gina, “In beginning of our careers, it is good to say yes to most things to figure out what you like. Is your internal voice a critic or a champion?”

Jana, “I am a critic. One critic on one shoulder and one angel on other shoulder. Usually the critic says something first… but as I age, my critic says maybe I could have done better, but how can I improve? Then my angel says… you’re alright, no one is coming to fire you. As I do this, it has made me less judgmental of other people.”

Jana continues, “Focus on loving yourself in the moment. Always remember – you are it. Then being kind to yourself can be a light to others. The critic is the first voice I hear – frame this – “is this how I would talk to my best friend or someone I love?”

Gina, “Treat ourselves as well as we treat others.”


Senior Vice President – Xfinity Mobile Care and Operations at Comcast Cable

Gina, “Who has made you most nervous at work and why?”

Kathy, “I don’t get nervous to often – but there are people that concern me. I get concerned about things we talked about earlier…. I’m concerned that we don’t give people feedback, even if they need it.” Kathy elaborates on an example where a colleague felt that she had to work three times harder to achieve the same results as a man. Kathy gave her feedback and advised that she was a perfectionist, and did not let others do some of the work, and she was not as effective as she could have been by doing most of the work herself.

“Don’t assume a certain reason why you don’t get promoted or successful… listen to others’ feedback, as it could be (caused by) something else. The worse thing you can do is not provide feedback. I don’t get nervous because I don’t take things personally, especially in business”, Kathy states.

Kathy, “As a leader, you have to care for people. An employee passed away, and myself another person were the only ones that attended the funeral. The other person stated that they felt it was odd that someone from senior leadership went to the funeral. After receiving that feedback, we make sure there is always someone from senior leadership representing at funerals to show the families how valued that person was to our business.”

Gina, “(What about) the critic or champion in your head?”

Kathy, “There are plenty of people who judge me or criticize me, I don’t need to do that to myself. When I hear criticism from others, I evaluate it to see if it’s something to learn from. There’s learnings and teachable moments – and then there is a lot of it that doesn’t matter. I don’t need to criticize myself, because others will do that for me”.


Tracy Baumgartner

Executive Director of Sustainability at Comcast

Gina, “Who has made you most nervous at work and why?”

Tracy, “I have one person I worked with for years. I always felt judged, or second guessed myself. I took a radical action: I printed out a picture of George Castanza (character from Seinfeld). Every time I prepared to speak to this person, I did the opposite of what my inclination was when approaching that person, because I always did it the wrong way. Everything I did before didn’t get me to where I wanted to go.”

Tracy elaborates, “This was a turning point for me as a leader. When I started doing things different – and seeing things a different way… I couldn’t change that person, but I felt more in control.”


Gina on “Abandon perfectionism and embrace your expertise”:

“Nobody is good at everything. Life slaps down different challenges; on some days merely getting out of bed and taking a shower are authentic victories. On other days, you can clean the house, make food for a sick neighbor, finish a project and feel like you’ve accomplished almost nothing because you know you could have done more. On both days, you should give yourself a break, as long as you re-calibrate and keep going. We underestimate the significance how to handle failure by encouraging people – to avoid it, ignore it or dismiss it. Better to accept it, grapple with it and appreciate what it teaches. You don’t stop falling, ever. You just become more adept at making use of it.”

Gina says, “If something is going to poison time… it is regret. Pure regret is a waste. You can give yourself a break as long as you retool and keep going. Failure – it is better to accept it, grapple with it, and deal with it.”


Conclusion – Parting thoughts:


“Part of what you forfeit when you assume the position of leader is your right to display weakness or expect sympathy. No matter how exhausted, frustrated or anxious you might feel, you can’t show it. Why? Because nobody feels safe trusting a weak leader. Remember too, that you can’t expect anybody to feel sorry for the boss.”

“Work hard to embody enthusiasm, authority, and confidence because your teams look to you for inspiration and feedback.”

“The idea of being a delicate flower does not work.”

“The definition of power: Power is the ability not to have to please.”

“The stories you tell should not be to please others, but to shore up yourself… and for God’s sake make that story funny.”


for more information about Gina Barreca or her works, visit: https://ginabarreca.com/about-gina/

for more information about WICT, visit: https://wictrm.org/