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Paradise Valley #FemmeNouvelle: Heidi Guest

From her longstanding, impressive career to her involved volunteer efforts and her success as a wife and mother of two, Heidi Guest (HG) has truly mastered the juggling act of today’s modern woman. Having worked in the beauty industry for almost the entirety of her career, HG now promotes women’s well-being as the Senior Director of On-Air Media and Leadership Development for Philosophy – you can catch her regularly on the QVC television network representing the brand.

HG chose the beauty industry based on passion, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy, straight shot to the top. After graduating from UC Davis as President of the Tri Delta sorority, HG joined the national organization as a Field Representative and shortly thereafter joined Procter & Gamble as the only woman on her team in a predominantly male dominated culture.

HG became very interested in the idea of women’s leadership and the importance of women helping other women early on in her career: “Our generation was one of the first that received the message that we ‘could have it all’ but there were few women I knew who actually balanced a major professional role with motherhood and community service”. My national work with Tri Delta provided exposure to many powerful women who showed me real life examples of what ‘having it all’ meant.”

Though HG found initial success at Procter & Gamble, she felt a strong urge to shift gears to represent products she really used and believed in. This epiphany led her to picking up the phone and calling the beauty company Estée Lauder headquarters directly. It was after speaking with a regional leader at Clinique, who happened to have a Procter and Gamble background, that she recognized an extraordinary opportunity to enter the beauty industry at the ground level. Her first job was working behind the Clinique counter in a San Francisco department store. HG was promoted consistently based on her ability to meet or exceed job expectations, culminating in her last role with the company as Vice President of North American Education Strategy.

“This was a company that really supported women and women’s growth; I had to work my tail off as I focused on meeting and exceeding performance expectations. I had to give up a lot, but passion does drive success,” she reflected. During her tenure as Vice President, HG was incredibly proud to be part of the team that made Clinique the #1 brand in North America.

HG is also very involved in volunteer work through Tri Delta as well as independently for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, which you can read more about below along with her wide span of accomplishments. From one successful woman to other young women today, here is her advice:

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The Nouvelle Connection (The NC): What is your definition of success?

Heidi Guest (HG): My whole philosophy throughout my career has been ‘one size fits one’. For me, it was finding what gets you up in the morning that makes you want to excel, and then doing it; it’s that simple. On Sunday nights, I never felt apprehension about going to work on Monday, and I’ve never felt that way in my life; so that’s success, when you find something and you feel that way because if you’re going to devote a ton of time to work, work had better be something you love.

I’ve always said I’m a work-a-like-it, not a workaholic. When you like what you do people want to be around you and are attracted to your leadership style and the positive work environment that you create.

Success is making sure it’s right for your family, for you and for your career all at the same time, and to remember that those factors will always be in flux. So, success will always be defined differently at the many junctures of your life. The key is to pay attention to all aspects of your personal and professional life and make sure that your life reflects what is important to you at that time.

The NC: What daily habits or life hacks are paramount to you?

HG: I’m not as ritualized as a lot of people, I tend to be more of a ‘go with the flow’ type of person, so what I found is the most important thing was being completely present. So when I am somewhere, I am there and I am not thinking about anything else but that.

I never multi-task because it really decreases my effectiveness, and I think that has made me more laser-focused.

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The NC: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve learned to overcome professionally?

HG: The thing that was my biggest challenge was that I am not a political person in any way shape or form. And I would say that some people feel pressure to succumb to politics and they spend so much time on that they fail to focus on the vision for a company, how they can achieve extraordinary levels of performance and how they can set others up for success so that they can make even a greater contribution to the organization.

I ignore a lot; not big issues, but ignoring the noise and “stupid stuff” that detracts from individual or organizational success has also been a really important part of my career.

The NC: How do you find balance and prioritize while being a full-time career woman and a full-time mom?

HG: I’m always striving for balance, and I will be the first to tell you that there are times when things are out of balance. So the first thing I do is accept that. The way I look at it is in a typical work week, I am committed to the work I am doing Monday through Friday and then weekends in our home with my family are sacred. If there was ever something that came up during the week that was important for a family member, I would be there, I would just work it out week to week.

If you are dreading things or not happy with something or complaining to people, my mental queue was always to take note and recognize that I want to change that; listen to what you are telling people, your personal narrative, because it is a true reflection on your state of balance or imbalance

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The NC: What advice would you have for young women today just starting out in their careers?

HG: What I would say to a young person today is that you are in charge of yourself, there’s nobody who is going to take care of you. What I would say to do is to identify women and men who are extremely successful however you deem that to be and create your own life’s board of directors. Create people who sit on the board of your life, and have them there for different reasons. Go to them for advice or counsel. You’d be surprised how these relationships positively impact all aspects of your life.

Formal mentorship programs don’t really exist in the robust way they once did , so if you can, also find somebody in the company that you respect and aspire to be at their level; approach them and ask if they or someone on their staff would mentor you. I think a lot of people respect and respond to that. I know that do.

The NC: Tell us more about your volunteer involvement both through Tri Delta and independently.

HG: I work with Tri Delta to contribute as I can. For example, when Mississippi had their Mississippi State Day, I was their key note speaker. At events like that, I’ll speak about Tri Delta’s purpose in today’s environment and how they can follow that purpose in a real life world. I will continue to work with Tri Delta to find ways that we can support women’s leadership and development at every age and stage of life.

I work personally for St. Jude Children’s Hospital as well, and I am their largest online fundraiser in state of Arizona and have been for the past four years in a row. And I also help Tri Delta with their fundraising efforts for St. Jude.

I loved being the Corporate Chairman for the St. Jude Walk for two years, engaging corporate sponsors in supporting this amazing global organization from a local level.

The NC: What would be your advice for young people today?

HG: Sometimes it’s easy to look at people who are successful and assume things have been easy for them. While I always believe in getting across an optimistic message, like most people, I have faced many personal challenges privately. So I like to get across that what you see overall on social media and otherwise isn’t necessarily the whole picture; there are other truths people are dealing with that you do not see. To think someone doesn’t have things they are dealing with simultaneously with their success is just not true. It’s so important that women realize that challenges can be expected as much as success. Life is a balance of both. How you react to the challenges, especially, is where you truly grow and develop. The key is to surround yourself with great people, both in your personal and professional life. Having a circle of kind, compassionate, smart and principled friends and colleagues is a person’s greatest indication of success in life. Being that person to others is the most important and rewarding role you will ever play.

*Editor’s Note*

HG has an extremely impressive track record of community involvement and volunteer efforts. Some of her extracurricular accomplishments include:

- Corporate Chairperson for the Phoenix St. Jude Walk/Run To End Childhood Cancer in 2014 and 2015

  • Named Alumna of The Year in 2015 by St. Jude and Tri Delta based on her efforts
  • Recognized as the top individual online fundraiser for the walk by St. Jude in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017

- HG launched a comprehensive talent identification and mentoring program for the students of St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, New Jersey in 2009 to ensure that 100% of graduates who were accepted to a college or university attended and graduated

- Honored with Tri Delta’s Woman of Achievement Award in 2006