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  • Writer's pictureChristine King

3 Steps to Take When It Feels Like the Odds Are Stacked Against You

The latest 2022 Semiconductor Gender Parity Study by the GSA revealed that women currently comprise only 16% of board positions and 13% of executive roles in public semiconductor companies. When I started in the industry in the early 1970s, however, those numbers were 0%.  Despite those dismal statistics, and the odds appearing to be stacked against me, I succeeded in breaking through the “silicon ceiling” and becoming the first female CEO of a semiconductor company. I’d like to share some of the strategies I used to overcome the odds and continue making progress toward my “North Star.”

3 steps to take when it feels like the odds are stacked against you

3 steps to take when it feels like the odds are stacked against you

While each person has unique hurdles to overcome, here are three steps you can take when the odds feel stacked against you:

1. Don’t waste time thinking about the odds

From the outside, it clearly must have appeared that the odds were stacked against me, but I never wasted any time thinking about that.  Instead, I focused my energy on being the best at whatever I attempted - whether an engineer, a CEO, or a competitive equestrian.  Once I set my mind to accomplishing something, the odds didn’t matter.

I have always believed that anything is possible if I apply myself (well, within the limitations imposed by our bodies and minds - I am never going to be an NBA starter no matter how much I may want to be).  I expect to be world class in anything I attempt and will do the hard work, suffer the failures and setbacks, and continue to persist because for me, the odds don’t matter.  My passion, creativity, and diligence will determine my success or failure.

We need to avoid the trap of over analysis.  I only think of where I want to go, never how hard it might be to get there.

2. Don’t set artificial limits on yourself

You’ve probably heard the goal-setting acronym of SMART.  Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  This is a wise approach to setting goals, and will make the process of designing the path and timeline to achieving a goal easier.

That said, I have always struggled a bit with the Achievable and Time-bound aspects of that acronym because they are the two aspects of goal-setting that are most subjective.  Who knows what we can achieve until we try?  And in terms of timelines, my mantra has always been ASAP.  Timelines are good, but urgency is better.

Artificially limiting your progress can be as much a trap as calculating the odds.

3. Don’t go it alone

One of the best ways to tilt the odds in your favor is to build a team and leverage its power.  Work your network of managers, mentors, company influencers, peers, and your reporting team to build your “odds busting team.”  The keys to success in this area are

  1. Make others excited about what you want to achieve and clearly articulate what you are trying to accomplish

  2. Be cognizant of and articulate the benefits your allies will gain by supporting your goal

  3. Be persistent in pursuing their help (but appropriately so)

One time, I was struggling to find a buyer for a company I was selling.  It was a great company, but not obviously so.  I “stalked” potential buyers at conferences, called buying candidates to spread the word, and set up many meetings to discuss the company’s benefits.  In the end, I was successful in selling the company because I found allies and was smart and persistent in working with them.


Remember, the odds don’t really matter.  What matters is your commitment, willingness to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work, and ability to leverage others to achieve far more than you can on your own.  Let me know how you are beating the odds in the comments below!

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