Where You Are Is Not Who You Are 

When you think about the life of a CEO, you may envision a person who has been privileged for most of their life. But “Where You Are Is Not Who You Are” depicts Ursula Burns’ life, and it is just the opposite. 

Becoming the CEO of Xerox in 2009, after being with the company for nearly 30 years, Ursula Burns graciously tells us that hard work, belief in yourself, and support by good people are the magic sauce. She began her career as an engineer and zig-zagged through the company, gaining experience from different key executives and mentors. For example, she learned leadership skills from former CEO Paul Allaire while serving as his executive assistant. Because of her skill set and experience, she was partially responsible for saving Xerox from bankruptcy in 2002. 

But Ursula Burns had a very different upbringing than most business executives. She experienced poverty growing up in New York. She was raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet for Ursula and her two siblings. The children attended Catholic school, where they were abused if their behavior seemed disrespectful. The apartment building they lived in was infested with roaches, the stairwell smelled like urine, the furnace would often break during the winter, and it was a generally unsafe area. Her mother worked extremely hard to keep food on the table and ensure that all of her kids got a quality education.

It was from this experience that her mother taught her the important lesson that “Where You Are Is Not Who You Are.” 

The memoir of the former CEO of Xerox also explains how race and gender inequality have impacted her life. She often has felt that her race preceded her gender, which preceded her qualifications when she encountered people in the business world. She felt that she had to overcompensate by being over-prepared for meetings in order to prove her competence. It was tough, but she left an impact on those she worked with. Through her story, I really got a sense of how intelligent and strong Ursula is. 

She has inspired me to do better in all aspects of my life, including believing in myself. 

This is one of the most insightful memoirs I have read. Leave a comment below if you have read the book, and thank you for reading the blog today. I hope it added some value to your life!

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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