J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Make Rain While the Sun Shines: Sara Dansie Jones? Points on Leveraging the Power of Networks in Your Career

The following article is a summary of Sara Dansie Jones’ presentation “Make Rain While the Sun Shines: Leveraging the Power of Networks in Your Career,” a breakout session at the April 2016 Women in Law Regional Conference in Orem, Utah. This presentation distilled the most important wisdom Ms. Dansie Jones has amassed along her career path from patent attorney to CEO (with several other interesting stops along the way!).   

From Korean orphanage to law school, first woman to make partner in her firm while having children, to current President of INFINIDI, Dansie Jones’ life (and career path) has been quite remarkable. When she first started out as an attorney she realized that she was responsible for building her network. Over time, she conceptualized networking activities and conversations into “building an opportunity.” As you invent yourself, she argues, consider Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos’ wisdom: “I don't think that you can invent on behalf of customers unless you're willing to think long-term, because a lot of invention doesn't work. If you're going to invent, it means you're going to experiment, and if you're going to experiment, you're going to fail, and if you're going to fail, you have to think long term.”

Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Over the course of her job path, Ms. Dansie Jones has realized that what at first looked to be stumbling blocks were in fact stepping stones. (She also acknowledged the universal truth that nothing will go as planned!) Her first employment change—from law partner to a non-legal capacity in the tech industry—was the hardest, but then she acknowledged that the fear wave becomes less and less. Keeping the Bezos’ mantra in mind, each time she made an employment change, Ms. Dansie Jones used the following criteria:
  1. Is the work interesting?
  2. Will I enjoy who I work with?
  3. Will I be treated as an equal?
Work with people who value what you do and don’t discount yourself. Have the confidence to look them straight in the eye and believe your value—if you don’t already possess that confidence, then this next self-assessment is particularly for you.

Define Your Value. People need to want to know you. First believe in yourself and then present your interesting story in a way that separates you from the noise. Other people want to learn
  • Why are you interesting for me to know?
  • How can you help me achieve success?
  • What interesting connection can you make for me?
  • Do I see you as a value creator?
  • Can I feel your passion?
Also ask yourself, “Do I have interesting projects that other people could be curious about?” This will help conversations continue with important people.

If you are still having trouble creating your interesting career story, consider Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book David and Goliath. Gladwell identified several interesting facts David knew about Goliath and illustrated how David turned his knowledge of Goliath being partially blind, cumbersome, and slow into advantages as he planned the confrontation. Activity: List disadvantages you feel in your career. Then think outside the box to realize how they can be advantages.

Creating Your Ideal Job. This is the time when you need to disrupt your thinking—you are not your job! Dansie Jones had attendees think about intersections:
  • What intellectually fascinates you?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Where do you love spending your time?
  • What problems do you want to solve?
  • If you were queen, what would you do?
Jones founded Women Tech Council (WTC) as a patent attorney when she felt unsupported, even isolated, and wanted to do something meaningful and beneficial in the community. WTC  provides mentoring, visibility, networking for women who work for technology companies or in technology roles throughout the marketplace. WTC was Dansie Jones’ project that fascinated her and solved a problem she was experiencing.

As you talk with other people, try to understand what their biggest challenges are; if you can be helpful, then you have value to them. As you look for new relationships, consider where decision-makers are spending their time. If you like doing those same things, spend your time there too. (This is an important time to be genuine—if you don’t like to golf, then find a different place to spend time with the people you are hoping to create relationships with.) As you consider the potential activities decide for yourself how narrow or broad you want to be in your activities. Bottom-line advice: talk to lots of people! Ask yourself, a mentor, and others you come in contact with, “who’s doing interesting things that I should talk to?”

So, as Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook has asked herself and countless others, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
By: Danielle Dallas, Media Committee

Posted: May 27, 2016