Give Yourself Permission

to lead.

See how
approach

Break through,
be yourself,
do work that matters.

There are a million ways for you to feel stuck in your career. Trust me. I’ve experienced nearly all of them. And I’ve found that most are rooted in conventional wisdom with a mixed message: that we should follow our hearts to do work we love, yet draw hard boundaries between our work selves and our real selves. It leads to a lot of confusing behavior. We blindly follow paths we think we should, while denying ourselves what we really want. We allow others to define success for us. We’re not sure what risks are worth it, so inertia sets in instead. We look past the emotional undercurrents of conflicts at work—missing out on the opportunity to handle them with heart. And when we know we need a change, we’re not always sure where to start.

Our work together starts with something simple but critical: permission. To blur the professional with the personal.  Because leading with yourself is the most important prerequisite to doing work that matters.

Permission is an attitude
backed by action.

Five modes to do work that matters.

We can’t do work that matters when we separate what we do from who we are. It starts with giving ourselves permission to bring them together. That work isn’t always easy, but together, we’ll cycle through five modes to find a path forward.

1. Reflect

Make yourself a priority. It starts with taking stock of who you really are. This courageous first step is about going deep and being vulnerable to pinpoint who you are and what you’re not. Reflecting on the things that make you who you are set the foundation for a kind of success that’s unique to you.

2. Recognize

Explore what you’ve been holding back. To shake off limiting assumptions, norms, and expectations. And to bring into focus the things you care about that may remain unsaid. This opens you up to new ways of thinking and being.

3. Realign

Align yourself with your work. To do work that matters to you, and to work in ways that work for you. With a read on who you are and what’s holding you back, you’ll listen, let go, and move forward. Letting yourself in sometimes means addressing disconnects—connecting new dots to see new possibilities and reset your vision.

4. Reveal

Commit fully to your new vision. With personal and professional blended, you begin to lead from the inside out. When you lead with what’s true to you, your work means more to you and to others.

5. Ripple

Expand your impact. Leading from the inside out, you invite those around you to do the same—re-shaping the world one person at a time.

TOGETHER, WE CAN CHANGE THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS.

I believe there’s more than one way to lead, and the traditional way is just one of them. When we give ourselves permission to be original in our leadership, we find greater purpose in our lives and real meaning in our work—and the world notices.

Only one person can give you permission to lead. You.

How I help

PERMISSION LEADS TO GROWTH,
AND IT BEGINS FROM WITHIN.

about debra

I HELP REVEAL
WHAT'S INSIDE

I’m Debra Bednar-Clark (but please: call me DB). I’m a senior exec with 20+ years of wide-ranging experience from Madison Avenue to Silicon Valley. At Facebook, Microsoft, Accenture, and leading advertising agencies, I’ve covered strategy, technology, marketing, design, and social impact. Along the way, I became known for building exceptionally thriving businesses and high-performing teams alongside some of the greatest leaders of our time.  

My winding path has included many personal cross-roads—teaching me how to make pivots, take risks, and try new things confidently and authentically. That meant embracing what I love and finding opportunity in the contradictions: a cheerleader who’s also a coder; a technology leader who cares about style as much as substance; a business-minded academic.

Today, I coach people like you through turning points in their careers—giving them the clarity, confidence, and tools they need to plot bold moves and next chapters. And my practice is defined by one core belief: that life is so much more interesting and fulfilling when we give ourselves permission to lead with our truest, fullest selves.

 

Learn More About My Career

MY STORY

BLURRING THE LINES

As an undergrad, I had many interests and felt torn about which path to pursue. Do I focus on psychology or business for my major? I felt like I needed to choose between one or the other because that’s how our school systems work and I wanted to find a job. By choosing both I stayed true to my interests and learned how empathy creates better leaders.

MAKING MISTAKES

I've always had a hard time making mistakes. I feel like I’m letting people down, including myself. In my first job out of school at Accenture, I was out of my elements in a software-centric role. I didn’t know the first thing about coding so I struggled at first. Eventually, I learned that growth and comfort cannot coexist, and I began to embrace the self doubt and inevitable mistakes that are part of the learning process.

INVENTING NEW WAYS

After consulting, I transitioned to advertising. My background was now in technology, where I built systems, improved processes and created methodologies. The agency believed that “process destroys creativity." I often felt like an outsider, but stayed true to my strengths and proved how process can enhance creativity and lead to award-winning work.

BRINGING MY OWN STYLE

When I moved to Seattle for a new role, everyone said if you want to fit in and be taken seriously in this culture “you better get some Birkenstocks and a Patagonia hoodie.” I’m more of a heels and cashmere cardigan kind of leader. By expressing my personal style while delivering results, I earned the respect of my colleagues and learned to embrace originality.

WORKING MY WAY

I wanted to grow my career at Microsoft while living in New York. But when I asked about career development opportunities, I was told “All Roads lead to Redmond." It seemed odd to me that one of the world’s most advanced companies would have such a limited way to look at business growth and leadership. So I created a business case for keeping employees in the communities they loved.

SPEAKING MY MIND

When I pursued my Masters in Educational Policy and Management, I was the only business major at Harvard's School of Education. My unique perspective on how to solve educational challenges was contested by my peers. I learned how alienating it can feel when you see things differently, but shared my dissenting point of view despite my nerves. In the process, I became a better business leader because I learned how to align different perspectives.

LETTING GO

After building much of my career—and identity—as a female leader in tech, change meant a loss of certainty and control. Facebook was the culmination of everything I had worked for in my life, but something was missing. I wasn't fulfilled. It was either stay in what many would consider a dream job, or pursue a more fulfilling yet uncertain path. I let go of who I thought I had to be and ended up choosing work that matters.
services

In my speaking engagements, I explore how every individual can create opportunities for themselves while creating value for their organization. My talks blend field-leading research, client case studies, and my direct experience working alongside iconic leaders at some of the world’s most influential organizations.

My background building high-performing businesses and teams enables me to provide a unique hybrid service for my clients: business consulting services alongside career and leadership coaching services.  I work with business and HR leaders to create custom programs and processes that empower people at scale throughout the organization. Together, we’ll uplevel leadership skills, deepen employee engagement, and elevate a unique culture through an infrastructure that honors the individual as much as the collective.

I design workshops to coach groups of rising or established leaders shared obstacles. We focus on the unique perspectives of each participant to help everyone learn that there’s more than one way to address a challenge—and many ways to be an effective leader. These interactive sessions enable participants to test and learn concepts with their peers, with my coaching as support throughout their journey.

A series of gatherings at my home in the Hamptons for women who want to make space to connect on tough topics without self-consciousness—giving ourselves permission to reflect on where we are, recognize where we can grow, realign to a new way of thinking, reveal new paths ahead, and ripple that out into the world. Each salon contains six seats, and runs for six sessions, held on alternating Friday mornings. Each session contains a different set of lessons, exercises, conversations and/or guest speakers.

…or, as my clients have described it to me, career therapy. Each coaching engagement takes place over six sessions and is hyper-tailored to your goals. We’ll focus on anything from advancing your leadership skills to planning how to snag your next promotion to plotting your next move.

Bringing your full self to work means bringing your signature style forward. We’ll work together to pinpoint it then curate a bespoke lookbook—that connects your style with your office culture. There’s literally no one else like you, so each styling experience is tailored specifically to your goals, taste, silhouette, profession, budget, location, and lifestyle.

 

Debra helped me clarify my vision
and build a roadmap to success!
Julie Obradovic, Division Chair of the Creative Arts
Debra helped me align my life purpose &
business vision so they became one.
Louise Varre, Founder & CEO, Eldvarm
Debra helped our leadership team become
a team of leaders.
Michelle Pittman, Chief Strategy Officer, JConnelly
Debra enabled my business to
experience unprecedented growth.
Lucy Kriz, Chief Industry Officer, Condé Nast
Debra is the best in the business at
giving people a path to growth.
Andy Lipset, CEO, SpokenLayer
Debra provides a window into your distinctiveness
for greater impact.
Ryan Bowling, Co-Founder & COO, Thrill Communications
Our sessions felt like cozy
in-depth fireside chats.
Anni Tankhiwale, Head of Agency, Southeast Asia, Facebook
Debra challenged me to expand
beyond my comfort zone
Regan Solmo, Director of Individual Giving, Student Leadership Network
I was at a crossroads & Debra helped
take my career to the next level.
Katherine Buck, VP, Continuous Improvement, LPL Financial
contact

SAY HELLO!

If you have a question, want to share a suggestion or would like to explore working together, please contact me using the form below.