LEADERSHIP: Heather Ladage

Leadership: Heather LadageWhen I met Heather Ladage five or six years back, she was circulation and marketing director of the Austin Business Journal, and it was easy to see that she was a rising star. I admired her talent, her energy, and her generous spirit. She’s someone you want to spend time with, and learn from. So I wasn’t surprised last month when Heather was named publisher of ABJ, after the retirement of Lyn Chasteen.

Heather kindly agreed to kick off our Women Advance leadership interview series. (If you want to suggest a successful woman leader to be featured, email me your idea.) Here’s what Heather had to say:

What are your main responsibilities as publisher of the Austin Business Journal?

My role is to lead my staff to success, whether that be in audience development, marketing strategy, advertising revenue, creative design, business integrity, or editorial vision. And there’s a community leadership component, as well.

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Do you have a woman leader role model? What makes her your role model?

My mentor and role model is my first female boss – Debbie Joseph, founder and president of Destination Marketing Hawaii. Debbie influenced the way I do everything, from organizing my to-do list and calendar to how I conduct meetings.  She also showed me that your clients can become your friends and your friends your clients.  It’s okay to blur the line between work and play, plus it makes life a lot more fun!

What do you think are the top 3 habits of a good leader?

  1. Respect for your customers and your employees. I wouldn’t ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do.
  2. Ability to make decisions and execute or implement them.
  3. Open and honest communication!!!

Could you share a story about one of your hardest lessons-learned as a leader?

You cannot take for granted how much you affect someone.  As Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, said at ABJ’s Face2Face event last month, “don’t underestimate your wake.”

What advice would you give to a young woman who aspires to become a business leader?

It takes time and effort.  Join professional organizations, find a mentor, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be open to learning.

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