SHE LEADS – with Lillian Garcia-Johnson


Curriculum Development Program Manager

What would you tell your younger self?

Be patient. Just like a piece of coal endures tremendous pressure for a long time in order to create a diamond, you must be patient through the process to become the woman you are meant to be. Nothing can rush it. You learn from the pressure, and obstacles just as much as you learn from the achievements. Never lose faith in yourself-  you MUST believe in YOU.

What was your major in college and how did you get to the position you are in today?

Graphic Arts/Business Communications -I started school wanting to design and create (anything) for businesses. While working for T-Mobile, I discovered I had a skill to train others. After several disappointing promotion rejections, I was recruited to Verizon as an General Manager. My 15 year career at Verizon included becoming a Sr. Regional Trainer, Master Trainer, and Sr. Training Development Consultant. Due to the request of a former co-worker who had become a Director of Curriculum Development, I then took another leap of faith and joined Cox Communications in my current position.

What was your inspiration and what helped you become successful? How do you define success?

There were many paths I could have taken, but because I always put family first, it took me longer than most. I was raised by my grandmother who had enough faith in me for the both of us. She taught me how to believe in myself.     Some say success is what you make it. I agree. Life is about being open to the journey of learning from everything around you – which to me means success is about achievements. If I set a list of items to do today and their all completed, I have had a successful day. However, it those things were not completed, it doesn’t necessarily mean I had an unsuccessful day. Do I know why I didn’t complete those items on the list? If so, I have still been successful. The same applies if I have achieved some of the items on the list.   My mother could always find the greatness in any part of what I thought was a failure. From that support, I learned to believe in my own constant ability to feel successful in every achievement, and a sense of greatness in the larger accomplishments. 

How do you balance your work and personal life? Often times one has more importance, and we’re curious to know how you’ve handled the balance.

I’ve learned to be ok with uneven balance – by that I mean I am always very transparent with those around me about what I can, can not, will, and will not do; including the reason why. I have learned to ask for support/help – even if I THINK I may need it – this way I set the expectation with those around me. My family ALWAYS comes first, it’s non-negotiable. If there is conflict, I lay all the cards on the line with everyone rather than try to secretly juggle it on my own.     I have learned that people are much more understanding when you are open and honest with them on what your capabilities are, they are more willing to work within those guidelines. There have been times where I have missed a concert or a basketball game, but my family told me it was ok. 

What is your favorite quote?

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

What’s your favorite part of your job and why?

My favorite part is seeing the finished training course through the designer’s, the learner’s, and client’s eyes. Because we take an idea of how we COULD train our employees better to actually being able to do it. The client sees their ideas come to life, and the learners get excited on how effective the training was after they completed it. It’s very satisfying.

What is your favorite hobby?

I love to watch movies and I love to listen to music

What advice do you want to give the next generation of women leaders?

Learn to listen and trust yourself early. Never lose faith in yourself.

What does leadership mean to you?

To me, leadership means looking at the bigger picture and inspiring others to be able to see what color in the picture they contribute to complete the picture. Leadership is not just making decisions but listening and engaging others to help you collectively ensure your decisions include everyone’s best interest. Leaders work WITH their teams to move forward or go to the next level. Leadership means understanding your own weaknesses and knowing how to accomplish success by working through them with your team – allowing them to shine where you do not. Leadership is realizing that you do not win if everyone on the team doesn’t win with you.

What’s your advice on mentoring?

I think the best mentors listen more than talk. Know the right questions, and know when it’s time to take over the conversation – yet being prepared to hand it back.

What’s your favorite ice cream?

Ben & Jerry’s dairy Free Brownie ANYTHING!

Is there any other information that you think Girl Talk members would benefit from?

Love yourself over any and everyone;   Laugh Loud,   Stand Tall,   Study hard,  Believe in a higher power,  and never… ever… stop dreaming