top of page

Video: Thasunda Brown Duckett, President & CEO, TIAA - "I Rent My Title, I Own My Character"

I recently had the privilege of listening to Thasunda Brown Duckett, President & CEO of TIAA, deliver an inspiring commencement speech. Her words struck a profound chord with me, particularly her distinction between renting a title and owning one's character. As Thasunda shared, "I rent my title, but I own my character," I reflected on my own journey and the lessons that shaped me.

In Silicon Valley, I faced an impenetrable "brick ceiling," a barrier that felt almost insurmountable, especially for women of color. This relentless struggle led to cycles of self-doubt and depression, reflecting the external challenges in corporate America. However, I realized that putting my stock into titles rather than my character also built internal barriers, holding me back from greatness.

Thasunda explained that titles are rented and temporary. They describe us but do not define us. "When you own something, it belongs to you. You can claim it and proclaim it. It’s yours." This realization was a turning point for me. My character—shaped by my experiences, values, and how I treat others—became my true asset.

The FIT for Life methodology (Faith, Intuition, Tenacity) and the C4 Matrix (Communication, Connection, Collaboration, Community) emerged from this understanding. Faith provided the foundation to believe in my vision despite obstacles. Intuition acted as my compass, guiding me through uncertainty. Tenacity was the sail, enabling me to persist even when the waters were rough.

Building a supportive network through the C4 Matrix was instrumental. Effective communication allowed me to articulate my goals and needs clearly. Building genuine connections provided the support and motivation I needed. Collaborating with like-minded individuals amplified my reach and impact. Most importantly, fostering a supportive community created an environment that nurtured and propelled me towards my goals.

Thasunda's words remind us that while job titles are temporary, our character is enduring. "My character is who I am. It drives my purpose, which I firmly and absolutely believe is to inspire and make an impact. It’s my ownable asset."

At FIT for Life, we believe that everyone has the potential to succeed and create meaningful impact. By embracing the FIT and C4 methodologies, we can build strong, supportive networks that foster mental and physical well-being. Remember, you are enough, and you always have been. Your journey, your character, and your community are the keys to your success.

Embrace your journey, trust in your character, and foster your community. Together, we can achieve profound transformation and create a lasting legacy.


bottom of page