Former CEO Shares The One Piece Of Career Advice She Received That Can Actually Help Anyone Succeed At Any Job

It might not be what you think.

woman at work Karolina Grabowska / Pexels 

Denise Conroy is an executive coach who’s had a 30-year career working in high-level, executive roles. In her TikTok bio, she refers to herself as a “Queenmaker,” and her presence on the platform holds true to that statement, as she often posts content to guide other women on how to make the most of their careers.

The former CEO shared the best piece of career advice she received that can help anyone succeed at any job.

In a video, Conroy shared that “the best piece of advice, hands-down, that I ever got from another executive, was from a woman who was the president of the Style network, back in the day... Her name was Salaam Coleman Smith, and she was this brilliant CEO.”


Conroy remembered attending an event where Coleman Smith was asked about the best piece of advice she’d ever received. She offered guidance that her own mentor had given her: that “being good at your job only gets you so far in your career.”



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Being good at what you do is only one part of being successful. There are emotional elements to success, as well.

“That whole next phase, when you start to rise through the executive ranks, is about how good you are at putting people at ease,” Conroy relayed. “At the time, I was not very good at putting people at ease. I wasn’t very warm. I wasn’t willing to show my emotions or be vulnerable."

former ceo shares piece of advice to help anyone succeed at their jobPhoto: Edmond Dantes / Pexels 


She worked with a coach to “soften the edges a bit,” so she could come across as a more empathetic, warmer person, which she credits, at least partially, for her success.

Conroy shared a definition of charisma that she heard on a podcast that she credited to Vanessa Van Edwards. "Charisma is warmth and competence put together," she recalled.

Conroy explained why that definition resonated so deeply with her, because it reminded her of the advice she’d heard from Coleman Smith all those years before. 

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“If you can come across as warm, and be competent as hell, you can be one pretty dynamic package,” she concluded. 


In Van Edwards’ own explanation, “highly charismatic people have to have the perfect blend of two traits. To be highly charismatic, to be compelling, to be captivating, you must have a perfect blend of warmth and competence."



She continued, saying that “very, very smart people make the mistake of showing up as all competent. They try to blow you away with their numbers, and their facts, and their stats, and their data, but they’re seen as cold, they’re seen as intimidating.”

former ceo shares piece of advice to help anyone succeed at their jobPhoto: Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels 


“On the other side, you have people who are highly warm. They have competence, but there’s not a balance. They show up as highly likable, highly friendly, but they’re interrupted… All people problems stem from an imbalance between your warmth and competence,” Van Edwards stated. 

She went on to say that she believes that charisma is the only way to get others to take you seriously, and value your competence.

Being accepted for warmth and competence in a workplace environment might not be easy, especially for those of us who don’t traditionally wield power. But both warmth and competence are rooted in being an authentic version of yourself, which is something we should all aim to be. 


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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers workplace culture, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.