As part of the Johnson & Johnson-sponsored Know Your Value tour, a nationwide effort focused on empowering all of us to express our worth in business and in life hosted by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, our colleague Janis Smith-Gomez will take the stage in Chicago today to talk about how she came to know her value and what it means in her life. She shared some thoughts with us about how an unexpected family crisis changed her outlook, her priorities and the way she manages her energy.
JNJBlog: Tell us a little bit about your career and where you are today.
Janis: I started my career at Johnson & Johnson 9 years ago and I’ve had the opportunity to hold multiple positions within the company – first focusing on nutritionals and skincare in our Consumer business, and now leading the U.S. marketing team at Ethicon. Today, I’m fortunate to see the amazing work of doctors firsthand and see how, with the help of our products, they are able to improve and save patients’ lives.
JNJBlog: You had the chance to participate in “corporate athlete” training with our Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute (HPI) in 2010. What changed for you as a result of that experience?
Janis: I went through the HPI program in 2010 as part of a leadership team training. The training helped me better understand myself and taught me some different ways to manage my energy. The program focuses on a holistic, science-based approach that helps people become physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and completely aligned with achieving their personal mission. I had some great takeaways, particularly the idea that I needed to get energy from many places – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – to be at my best, and that it takes discipline to keep my energy balanced.
JNJBlog: When did the principles of the training really hit home for you?
Janis: When Anna, my 14-year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer 3 years ago, it forced me to reset my priorities and embrace a healthier lifestyle. I realized that my work had really been my first priority and I believed my family would simply adjust and be flexible to the needs of my work. When I heard the devastating news, my focus instantly shifted to my family and my mission became keeping my daughter alive and healthy. It was crystal clear to me that I needed to be more family-oriented; I was, first and foremost, Anna’s mom, Todd’s wife, twin sister to Ann, and then a Johnson & Johnson associate.
When I reflect on who I was before Anna’s diagnosis, I realized that I was a “human doing” rather than a “human being.” My work was still very important to me and I loved it, but I needed to direct my mental energy, inner strength and spiritual focus to getting myself and my family through this time.
Many of my friends and family have asked where my strength and resolve came from. Every parent will do whatever is necessary to keep their child healthy, but I believe that the tools I gained from my HPI training helped me do this in a really powerful way. I had more resilience to recover from mistakes and more perspective to learn from stress than I had before I learned about energy management.
JNJBlog: How is Anna doing today? What has changed for you and your family?
Janis: Anna is in remission! And as a family, we are all more focused on health and fitness. I’ve shared what I learned about energy management with my family and we all try to follow the principles. Before her illness, Anna was an athlete, playing soccer, basketball and softball, and she’s a big sports fan, so she could really relate to the HPI program, which was originally designed to train professional athletes.
Overall, my family and I are very much focused only on being, celebrating and living in the moment; not tomorrow or next week or next year, but today and now.
JNJBlog: What advice would you give to other moms, women and leaders about knowing your value and balancing priorities?
Janis: When Anna was going through treatment, my twin sister and I talked a lot about the flight attendant principle: “Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.” That was a big learning for me and something I encourage others to focus on now. As a leader – whether you’re leading a team or a family — you have to be healthy, strong and energized in order to help others. I also tell people that I’ve learned to be flexible and remain open to change. We may not know what’s coming at us tomorrow, but keeping your priorities straight, your energy balanced and your mission in focus is the best way I know to manage whatever life sends my way.
Johnson & Johnson is a proud sponsor of the Know Your Value program and the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute is at the center of it, building on the belief that health & wellness is a foundational part of being your best self.
Janis Smith-Gomez is Vice President, Marketing, for Ethicon’s U.S. region. She has been part of the Johnson & Johnson team for 9 years, working in roles across McNeil Nutritionals, our eNovation Venture, and our Consumer skincare brands. Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, she spent more than 20 years in marketing and brand management positions on leading consumer brands. She is a proud graduate of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute training program, as well as a mom, wife and twin sister.