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Rising Stars: Meet Gail Rudolph

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gail Rudolph.

Hi Gail, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
As a young woman in the workforce, I started out clueless. Early in my career, I took a position at a community foundation. I was the only full-time employee. My boss was part-time and more often than not, I did the majority of the work while he took the majority of the credit.

After achieving the foundation’s three-year goals in about a year, I asked for a raise, which my boss denied, citing the irrelevant fact that I received child support as a single mom of two children. Finally, after the Board approved a pay raise for him and nothing for me, I resigned and moved on. I left feeling unappreciated, overlooked, and powerless. But I did learn that I had been unknowingly giving my power away.

The trouble was, even in subsequent roles, I still didn’t have a grasp of how to claim my power and use it effectively. Ultimately after years of struggling, I realized that the proper use of power can be learned, and once I mastered it myself, I set out to help others do the same. I wrote my upcoming book, Power Up, Power Down: How to Reclaim Control and Make Every Situation a Win/Win to pay it forward.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Being the youngest of four children with my oldest brother being 18 years my senior, I have struggled with power dynamics my whole life. Power dynamics are always at play in every situation, even when we are very young.

As a child, throwing tantrums got me noticed but that power play wasn’t serving me well. The problem was, I didn’t understand how to use power effectively.

I spent most of my life frustrated. I knew I had more to offer but was unsure how to get my voice heard. Although I had a successful career in the C-suite, I felt invisible most of the time. Feeling undervalued and overlooked impacted my self-esteem, which meant I couldn’t bring my best to the table.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I spent most of my career in healthcare fundraising although I have also worked at community foundations and in higher education. Most people would wonder how I could “ask people for money” but for me, it was about getting to know the person and connecting them to something meaningful to them.

There is always a story behind a significant donation and I loved getting to that story, then helping them be a conduit to connect their passion with a need. Many times I was told by people who had just handed over millions of dollars, “thank you for helping me experience the joy of truly helping others.”

I think the approach of never losing sight of the people you are working with for the sake of a job helped me be a successful fundraiser. I am excited that so many programs have been developed and so many people have been helped by the funds I raised. But, most of all, I am proud of the smiles and healing I was able to bring so many people.

Now I want to bring that same type of joy to people by helping them grow professionally and personally. It is my hope and intention that through my journey, others can reach full empowerment in their lives.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Always remember that whether we are in a face-to-face meeting, on a video call, or at a conference with 5,000 people, one thing remains consistent: Power is at play in every situation.

Think about a time when someone famous or extremely important walked into the room. Remember how the energy changed just by their presence? Suddenly, the air and the audience were super-charged and tingling with excitement. That person didn’t need to come in having the upper hand, being loud, or making a grand entrance. Many times, these individuals are quiet and reserved. Yet, everyone felt the shift. That’s Personal Power.

But power isn’t just reserved for celebrities or famous people. We have all been somewhere and felt the energy shift when a particular person enters a room. They aren’t well-known, and sometimes you don’t even know who they are, but you feel that uniquely powerful energy as soon as they walk in.

Once I understood this unseen and mysterious force that exists between each of us is power, or, more accurately, Power-Full, I started using tools to harness this power. This has changed all of my interactions with people.

I am also less stressed because I know I only have the ability to change myself. When I quit putting energy into trying to change others, my life got much easier.

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Image Credits
Mike Lloyd Photography

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