This latest episode features one of the smartest women in retail. Mercedes Abramo is the President and CEO of Cartier North America, and I had the opportunity to sit down with her at Cartier’s Hudson Yards boutique in New York City this past April. Growing up in a retail household (her dad was a senior executive at Lord & Taylor), Mercedes had her sights set on becoming a lawyer. She majored in political science, worked at a law firm, couldn’t stand it, got a job in a hotel—and found her calling. After graduating from business school in Paris, where she focused on luxury brand management, it was a natural leap to high-end retail. In this podcast, Mercedes shares plenty of career advice (“you really have to be flexible”) and business-building insights. Here are five of our favorite takeaways: I asked Mercedes what she learned as she rose through the hotel and luxury goods industries. Her answer is terrific and very wise: “Learning how to listen, learning how to hear what is being said, and picking up on both the verbal and the nonverbal cues is important. Because the first thing you're really doing is building a relationship with that person in front of you. It's not about what can I sell them right now; it's about how do I build a connection.” Leading a luxury brand company is about giving customers experiences as well as products. In her previous life as a hotel executive, Mercedes learned how to create extraordinary experiences: “There is so much similarity to retail. With a hotel or a spa or a vacation, you don't leave with a product—you don't leave with anything physical. You only leave with the memories that you created when you were there.” Mercedes gives great advice on changing a career path: “People struggle with wanting to find the perfect decision. There is no perfect decision. It’s about taking that leap and deciding what's a challenge that you want to embrace right now.” Get comfortable being uncomfortable, Mercedes says. “Embracing the unknown is where you grow and where you learn. There are going to be things around the corner every day that are going to challenge you, and the more that you exercise that muscle and you push through it, the more prepared you're going to be the next time.” How to become an authentic leader: “You can't copy yourself after somebody else, so I think you really need to learn the good parts of each person that you want to emulate and then figure out how to evolve your own style. You can learn more by visiting: www.sap.com/acalltolead. And you can subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher. We welcome your feedback on the pod! Tweet me @JenniferBMorgan and use the hashtag #acalltolead or e-mail us at email@example.com. Where to Listen: Subscribe and listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher. --- Jennifer Morgan is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and President of SAP’s Cloud Business Group.