When you look up “value” (val·ue, ˈvalyo͞o/, noun), one interesting component of the word’s definition is: “a person’s standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” This definition drove my blog topic for MedtechVISION 2013, which will imminently highlight many women leaders and experts explaining their views of value in health care.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of serving as the keynote speaker for Georgia Tech’s 2013 banquet honoring academic achievements of their most talented women students in engineering. For a student to be honored in this group is notable, as Georgia Tech (GT) is the number-one producer of women and minority engineers in the US. This event was also personally meaningful for me, as I am a “GT-cubed” (I received 3 degrees from there), and I remain very involved with the Institute’s mission through advisory board participation. When I asked the organizers of the event what topic they wished me to address, they simply responded, “just talk about your career and how you have made decisions along the way.” I reminded them that my career is still a work in progress (!) but promised to deliver a message that was actionable for the students in the audience.

After pondering this Georgia Tech keynote topic for some time, it occurred to me that the best thing I could do for these young women would be to deliver some words of wisdom from my own colleagues and mentors whose opinions I deeply VALUE. So I simply sent out an email-call-for-wisdom, and from there grew what became known as The List: Words of Wisdom in 5 Words or Less. (And yes, I held the participants to 5 words or less, despite pushback from some. Let’s just say I quickly learned who would and would not follow directions, LOL.) The list came from a group of engineers, executives, scientists, venture capitalists, attorneys, and businesswomen—all at the top of their game with much wisdom to tell, despite my limiting them to 5 words. I have since been asked multiple times to post/publish the list, and rumor has it that it exists in the social media-sphere someplace. So without further ado, here is the The List: Words of Wisdom in 5 Words or Less:

• Find a yoda.
• Assume noble intent.
• Never know unless you try.
• Don’t be afraid to ask.
• Be confident, show results.
• Speed bumps aren’t stop signs.
• Be tenacious.
• Understand the opposite view.
• Sit at the table.
• Actions speak louder than words.
• Know your stuff.

I think we can all agree The List is a great representation of value in the context of how we make decisions in our career: “a person’s standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.”

– Deb Kilpatrick