A beacon of leadership—in an unexpected place

 

Unexpected, that is, only if you buy in to the negative stereotype: “patent troll.”  Clearly it’s human nature to demonize and blame others.  But it is only possible to continue to do this when we are not in relationship with them.  Once you look someone in the eye, really listen to what they care about, and get a sense of their motivations, however, it’s hard to keep them in a stereotype.

Phyllis Turner-Brim, Vice President and Chief IP counsel at Intellectual Ventures, is a shining example of someone who will melt your preconceived notions and make it impossible to proceed with your negative beliefs.

Intellectual Ventures reportedly owns or has a controlling interest in approximately 38,000 patents.  Because it monetizes these patents in ways other than manufacturing products, it is considered by many to be a “patent troll.”  For good people to openly call other people something as nasty and insulting as a troll, they must believe that the target of their insult is either inhuman or less human than they are.

At the Women in IP Law Breakfast at the 2013 AIPLA Spring Meeting, Phyllis Turner-Brim demonstrated herself to be more human, more caring, and more in touch with what matters to people than most.

“In order to be a leader, you need to love people and love interacting with them,” Ms. Turner-Brim reflected, when asked if it is possible to get other people to develop themselves as leaders. “You can’t coach people to genuinely like people.  You can’t coach people to love people and genuinely enjoy cooperation.”

In fact, although she has worked alongside the best, at companies such as Walmart, BP, Procter & Gamble and Intermec, Ms. Turner-Brim admits that the primary source of her leadership skills is her mother, whom she often calls to discuss leadership challenges.

And she maintains an open door for her colleagues to approach her with any concern, as well. “But when you come speak to me,” she adds, “you had better be prepared.  Because chances are I will send you away with some homework to do.”

One of Ms. Turner-Brim’s core values is in genuinely valuing other people and treating them with respect.  “Everyone has something valuable to contribute.  You can learn from everyone.”

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