Danielle McCoy

Danielle McCoy
Vice President, Deputy General Counsel & Fair Lending Officer

Education: Juris Doctor, New York University; Bachelor of Arts, economics, University of Virginia
Company Name: Fannie Mae
Industry: Financial Services
Company CEO: Hugh R. Frater
Company Headquarters Location: Washington, DC
Number of Employees: 7,500
Words you live by: To whom much is given, much will be required –Luke 12:48
Who is your personal hero? My parents, Ray and Deloris McCoy
What book are you reading? Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
What was your first job: Customer service at a credit card company
Favorite charity: Equal Justice Initiative
Interests: Dancing, live music, football and mentoring

Run Your Own Race

Two years out of law school I was offered the opportunity to have a one-on-one meeting with a senior in-house counsel of a Fortune 50 company. After a 20-minute conversation about his career progression, he asked me what I found most challenging about my career so far. In response, I discussed my insecurity with networking, my inability to “work a room,” and my concerns that this could limit my future legal career. After looking at me intently for a moment, he then offered me one of the best pieces of career advice I have received to date: “Do what makes sense for you; run your own race.”

Now, in the networking context, he meant that it was completely fine if I went to a networking function and connected with only two or three people on a deeper level, as was my style, and that it wasn’t necessary to pressure myself into quickly exchanging business cards with everyone in room. In the broader context, however, it gave me permission to stop focusing on and comparing myself to someone else’s blueprint for success.

It’s easy to compare yourself to others when measuring progress in your career. In some ways it can be helpful, as it provides insight on skills to acquire and different paths to achieve certain goals. On the other hand, by attempting to emulate the identical path or approach of someone else, I could have missed out on amazing opportunities tailored just for me.

Everyone has unique qualities, experiences, and ways to add value that others do not possess. Identifying, appreciating, and leveraging these unique qualities fuels confidence, reveals superpowers, and leads to success. As I have gained experience in my career, I have found that most highly successful people stand out because of their distinctive qualities and their knowledge of when and how to use these qualities.

Given the prevalence of social media and social networking, it is easy to compare yourself, and your accomplishments, to others. I mentor several professionals in the early stages of their careers, and this is a common trend that I see. I remind them that when they see their classmates or others announce promotions or exciting jobs on LinkedIn, they should celebrate them and learn from their experiences. I also urge them not to judge themselves negatively if they are not at the same place. Instead, they should acquire skills, determine how they uniquely add value, and, most important, continue to run their own race.