Gail Dorn is on the show today. She spent her entire career working for Target and served as Company Spokesperson, Target Foundation Director, and marketing and PR Warrior. She started at Target when they were a small Midwestern retailer and held leadership roles as the company grew into a Fortune 100 company. Once retiring, she founded Catholic Schools Center of Excellence.
Bobby: Thanks for joining us today Gail Dorn. How about you just start off with your background, and your time at Target.
Gail Dorn: Sure, I grew up going to Catholic schools my entire life, the youngest of 12 children. I went to the University of St. Thomas as part of the first class that had women graduates.
Then I ended up at a small Midwestern retailer as a temp employee before I was elevated to “intern”. It was a company called Target. We had 60 or 70 stores then. That was 28 years of working with that wonderful company as they grew and grew. Their culture of entrepreneurship and growth was amazing. It was sure fun to be a part of the company as I watched the international strength of its brand grow. I was able to run the PR department and became the company spokesperson. I handled anything and everything to do with the company’s communications.
I’d just like to say that the thread that has kept me together is my faith. I had the great opportunity to run the Target Foundation; we gave away money to schools from all around the U.S. It really opened my eyes to the educational system in America and made me realize the importance of Catholic schools. After retiring from Target due to a sickness my daughter had, I started a nonprofit called the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence. It’s been my dream come true.
Bobby: How did you develop your communication skills? You were in charge of dealing with a lot of people.
Gail Dorn: Yeah. I had a great love of literature and the humanities in college. I think if you are a student of history and literature, then you should be a good communicator. And I’ve always enjoyed writing.
Remember, no matter what kind of resources a firm has, you still use the same communication skills. The only difference between firms is, depending on the resources available, you may have to be more or less frugal while disseminating the information.
Bobby: So what is the biggest difference between working for a large corporation like Target and a nonprofit?
Gail Dorn: I call it the button. I miss the button. Back in the corporate world, especially at a Fortune 100 company, you could push a button on your desk and ten lawyers would show up. You could push a button and schedule a private jet to wherever. At a smaller organization like the nonprofit I founded, you have to be very resourceful. But, you still have to have great leadership and strategy.
Bobby: What made Target so great?
Gail Dorn: We used to have a saying at Target… our chairman would say, “Speed is life.” How quickly you can get to the marketplace and adapt is critical. At Target, we would get a new idea and get it up and running right away. We would just tweak it along the way. We weren’t afraid of failure and quite entrepreneurial. The culture never let you be afraid of failure. We were fast enough and clever enough to compete with large companies like Walmart and Sears.
Bobby: Time for some quick fire questions. They’re not too quick by the way. Random question: If you were given a one-minute timeslot at the Super Bowl, what would you fill it with?
Gail Dorn: Easy. I would fill it with an ad for Catholic schools.
Bobby: What skills does a young professional need out of college?
Gail Dorn: I think it’s the ability to be a critical thinker, than communicate findings to others. Not everyone is good at all forms of communication and that’s fine. You just have to find your niche and how you are able to communicate.
And to develop such skills, you must understand that such skills aren’t really learned in a classroom. You have to be curious and thirsty. Educate yourself. Also, just find smart people and hangout with them. It may sound simple and cliché, but smart people you admire will rub off on you. Find that person you admire with those skills and just spend time with them.
Bobby: Third question. What do you believe has to be sacrificed for success?
Gail Dorn: Well, life is a sacrifice. Growing up in a large family, taught me sacrifice is good with a worthy goal. One thing you cannot sacrifice is your family, your faith. You have to always hang onto your values.
Bobby: Great answer. Last question: What is one life hack that listeners can do this week to become successful?
Gail Dorn: I would say focusing on your spirit. Young people understand the importance of physical exercise but not spiritual exercise. Say a prayer of gratitude every single day. This is just like physical exercise but, instead, for your spirit. It has to be done daily.
Some reminders from this podcast:
1. If you want to increase your cognitive skills, start to hangout with those you want to become. Find three or four people in your sphere who you can reach out to and spend some time with.
2. THIS WEEK: Build quiet time into your schedule to take care of yourself spiritually. Take at least ten minutes per day to say a prayer of gratitude or, if not religious, meditate.