Stop and figure out what makes you happy. That should help guide you in the right direction. Make sure you’re thinking about what your long-term plan is and factor that into your definition of success.

As a part of my interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yolande Piazza, VP, Financial Services, Google Cloud.

Yolande is a distinguished leader with more than three decades of experience in technology and financial services. Before joining Google Cloud, Yolande spent 32 years at Citigroup. Now at Google Cloud, Yolande leads the company’s Financial Services Sales and Customer Engineering teams where she defines and creates new financial services cloud solutions for the market and helps Google Cloud’s leading customers accelerate their digital transformation journeys to the cloud. An advocate for women in technology, Yolande founded “Future Women in IT,” a program that aims to inspire middle and high school female students to pursue careers in technology and has reached more than 50,000+ participants across the United States since its inception.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

I used to believe that success was tied to my career or title. Over time, I’ve evolved my definition of success to be determined by whether I feel happy, have consistent work-life balance, and love what I’m doing.

Success for me is something very personal, so I blend my definition of success with being successful in business but also loving what I’m doing and being happy.

How has your definition of success changed?

Success for me today is much more focused around personal satisfaction. I find that my definition of success comes from asking myself questions like if I did the best that I could and if I feel like I made a difference.

At this point in my career, my marker for success is whether I feel like I did something that I consider to be “game-changing.”

One really important part of my career has been my work with Future Women in IT. What began as talking to a group of 40 girls about technology quickly grew into a fully defined program that has now reached over 55,000 girls. It made me realize how passionately I feel about mentoring and building up the next generation of tech leaders.

At an alumni event, I had one of the girls tap me on the shoulder to tell me that I changed her life through opening up new possibilities and opportunities. Knowing we built a program that was having this kind of impact on the future of women in technology made me stop and think about the ability we have as leaders to give back and change the way we interact with the next generation of our leaders.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

The pandemic forced leaders to think about their workforce and business differently. I see many leaders trying to go back to the way things were, but the pandemic created a massive opportunity to evaluate how we do things and adjust. I think keeping that in mind will be instrumental in achieving success as a society going forward.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

The pandemic enabled people to deeply self-explore and self-reflect like never before. In this reflection, many people realized they can have better work-life balance earlier in their lives and combine work with personal experiences to achieve deeper feelings of satisfaction.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”

First and foremost, stop and figure out what makes you happy. That should help guide you in the right direction. Make sure you’re thinking about what your long-term plan is and factor that into your definition of success.

Often times I see people who have slugged in their career for success, making a series of personal sacrifices for professional growth, which makes me question whether or not that’s truly success. I encourage people to ask themselves if they love what they’re doing and if they have passion for what they’re doing.

And, I always say — the best time to start thinking about what success means for you is today, and the second best time is tomorrow. It’s okay to continually redefine success given your definition will likely change over time.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

I believe we’d begin to uncover what’s truly important to us and prioritize letting success come from all areas of our lives, not just work.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

I’ve learned more from when I’ve received tough feedback than I ever have just from winning. And because of that, I believe it’s so important to embrace and overcome feedback and learn from failings.

I’d advise that anyone looking to overcome obstacles reflects on times that they’ve “failed,” and sincerely take their learnings into the next time they’re in a similar situation.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

I get inspiration from many places, especially friends, family members, entrepreneurs, and the women who go through the Women in IT program.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

Elon Musk, because I’m inspired by anyone who has such conviction that they’re willing to lose it all to make it happen. I feel strongly that the way he’s pushing us as a society to think bigger than we ever have has been a long time coming. I’d also love to sit down with Tina Turner. The way she was able to emerge from so much adversity with such grace and pride is a very inspiring story for women.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.