Lessons Learned

Recently, I was invited by Yale University to speak to their graduate and undergraduate student leaders about what it takes to be successful in one’s life and profession. What moved me to agree to the presentation was when Stephen Blum, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Yale said, ‘I don’t want the regurgitation of Yale alumnae resumes. I want people who will talk about the lessons they have learned over their careers. I want people who will share their wisdom.’ Brilliant. So with that vision and inspiration, my keynote presentation at the Yale Careers, Life and Leadership Workshop shared the following lessons.

Lovely’s 20 Leadership Lessons 

1. Be clear on your values.

2. Work where you want, to not where you have to.

3. Curate mentorship.

4. Stand up for yourself.

5. Use every tool to get what you want.

6. Stand for principles even if you know you will lose.

7. Turn every “never ever” into a positive.

8. Just because something is successful doesn’t mean it is meant to succeed; life happens – value yourself over your work.

9. Figure out your non-negotiable.

10. Find ways to let people on your team do their best work.

11. Being a leader isn’t about recognition (external affirmation) but about how you move in the world (living your values).

12. Love what you do and whom you do it for and with.

13. Try different things and take risks.

14. Take sabbaticals - plan them into your life and work.

15. Negotiate at key career junctures.

16. Surround yourself with diverse perspectives.

17. Watch for trends and always learn.

18. Don’t confuse success with self-worth.

19. Make time for your life.

20. Use your experience and education for your own good and the good of others.

photo credit:    David Zheng

photo credit: David Zheng

Be grounded in your values

Find guides

Take care of yourself and others

Dream big – and always live your best life!


While these lessons were for those at the beginning of their careers, they can apply to everyone. Indeed, it was a wonderful exercise for me to reflect on my own career so far and think about what I had learned and what might be valuable.

We need to spend more time thinking about what we have learned in our work too. That is what I love about the work I do. I think that data, at its best, is used to improve rather than just to prove that something worked or didn’t. I love partnering with organizations to do just that. It is inspiring to witness a growing number of organizations thinking about how they can support strategic learning and transparency so that lessons can be learned and shared for everyone’s benefit.

- Lovely Dhillon, CEO Jodevi