Lisa Gable: A seasoned leader creating a real-world impact

Lisa Gable, a former US Ambassador, best-selling author, a Distinguished Fellow, UN Delegate, and author of a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller, “Turnaround: How to Change Course When Things Are Going South,” is a leader who has led many companies to exponential growth. With her versatile analytical skills and realistic leadership combined with vast experience and a high level of commitment, Lisa has single-handedly led many failing organizations and transformed them into the successful brands of today. Her love for her work is unparalleled and gives her a sense of purpose and fuels her passion to get up and make every day worthwhile. A leader who dares to challenge conventional business practices and sets her own rules, Lisa is a role model for many. 

Let us deep-dive into the fun and fulfilling journey of this dynamic leader and understand how she changed the face of the business world.

Turning the tide

Lisa Gable: “For more than 30 years, I have been called to turn around failing organizations—businesses, teams, non-profits, political campaigns, and government projects—and solve seemingly intractable problems. Over time, I learned the key to course-correcting when things go south is applying the discipline of process engineering—carefully re-evaluating everything your organization does and how it does it—with diplomacy and humanity, taking care of relationships, and forging strong partnerships. As a CEO, former US Ambassador, and advisor to Fortune 500 companies, I have orchestrated the successful turnarounds of private and public organizations in all industries.”

The goal is to help

Lisa Gable: “When I stepped down as the CEO of FARE, a medical research organization, I announced I was entering my third phase of life. For me, Phase 1 was my credentialing phase—college, grad school, and first jobs at top-tier institutions. Phase 2 was my impact phase—taking the credentials and skills I learned to help organizations move to the next level. Phase 3 is deploying the plethora of experiences with which I have been blessed to be enabled through speaking engagements, mentoring, and advisory roles. My goals are to support the next generation of leaders and those who are investing in solutions to solve big problems—impact investment, health equity, climate tech, health, and wellness. The conversations I am having today are around “big hairy audacious goals” with an eye towards implementation, sustainability, and measurement.”

"Be tangible in your actions and finish what you start. Facilitate introductions, identify opportunities and promote the voices of amazing individuals that you meet through your work and other engagements".

Taking a different route

Lisa Gable: “Early on, I often was the odd girl out. Literally. I had to fend for myself many times in rooms full of career admirals and generals, sitting, for example, at the US Army War College, discussing national security with men who’ve seen combat. Imagine being at the Pentagon as a 21-year-old Reagan appointee during the Cold War. The seats were “man-size”. My feet didn’t touch the floor. My nickname became “Tinkerbell,” and I embraced it because my fairy dust was data and determination. My success rode on making what mattered to me matter to others. I learned you need to build relevance for any idea you are promoting, surround yourself with smart people, and use research and data as your secret weapon to open opportunities for revenue, visibility, and partnerships. I linked arms with others as I climbed every career mountain. Also, I never took “no” as the ultimate answer. If there was a barrier to advancing in one direction, I uninhibitedly pursued the unexpected by obtaining power positions in a variety of sectors or as a friend called it taking the scenic route to success. I learned to do my homework before walking into a room–identifying the #1 point I wanted to make. I waited for the lull after a boisterous discussion to ask the question that needed to be asked. I write about the purple elephant in the room and using advanced preparation to bring critical facts into the conversation–as the elephant needs to be addressed before the underlying problem can be solved.”

Learning from the best

Lisa Gable: “At the age of 23, serving in the Reagan White House, I met Barbara Barrett, former Secretary of the Air Force, as she was advancing her career. Barbara opened multiple doors to leadership roles in business, government, and philanthropy. I try to emulate her by mentoring a group of women through various stages of their lives, as I believe the strongest relationships are those that are long-term, not episodic. Today, there are so many wonderful programs like Chief, Women Corporate Directors, and SMU’s Hunt Institute that support women and provide a community for those who see life not as a competition but a collaboration.”

Lisa Gable
Lisa Gable

Being a guiding light

Lisa Gable: “The world is complex. It has a short attention span, and the top headlines aren’t our only challenges. It has never been more critical for us to be tenacious in providing support to those who are committed to positive change and long-term alliances. Be tangible in your actions and finish what you start. Facilitate introductions, identify opportunities and promote the voices of amazing individuals that you meet through your work and other engagements.

Empowerment of women and girls requires teaching young women the rules of the game. My goal continues to be to help them identify the steps to success and then open the door for them to step through—as others did for me. A perfect example is that I replace myself with another woman when I step off a board. I encourage every reader to talk to at least one young woman this month and help her craft a successful career path. Many did that for me, and I appreciate their belief in me—someone who didn’t quite fit the mold but had the determination to do well in the world. We also need to expand our viewpoint on equality to not only include women and diverse populations, but also to engage Baby Boomers as we reignite the economy. It should be an all-hands-on-deck approach which embraces everyone in the community to move us forward.”

Seeing beyond challenges

Lisa Gable: “Challenges I see within groups I advise reflect national trends. Our hopes of rebooting business and philanthropic prosperity post-COVID have stalled. Rising inflation, geopolitical unrest, and war drive economic uncertainty and increase anxiety. At the same time, we see game-changing advances in biopharma, competitive space transportation services, and investment in colonizing Mars. The push and pull of adversity and opportunity prevail. We must move forward despite an ambiguous future. I advise leaders to be thoughtful, agile, and to embrace unicorns, as their less obvious approach may provide the innovative direction needed to adapt to an ever-changing world.”

A legacy that inspires

Lisa Gable: “I want my 24-year-old daughter and mentees to have security, and access to paths of innovation which improve lives. Many of us fought hard to get to where we are today. We enjoyed the opportunities by helping to build a global economy which was strengthened by creating networks of women who collaborate across borders. We need to make sure our legacy continues.”