aWelcome to the Forty Over 40 blog. We frequently spotlight one of our honorees and their thoughts on reinvention, mentorship and momentum…plus a peek into what makes them tick.

This Q & A is with Deborah Dugan, Chief Executive Officer at (RED). Deborah is innovating her field of work by working with iconic brands and organizations to develop branded products and services, which when purchased trigger a corporate donation. Contributions invested primarily in HIV/AIDS programs in Africa, focusing on countries with high prevalence of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

1. What challenge/ achievement are you most proud of?

This article published about (RED)

Nelson Mandela Change Maker Award

2. What was the last business book you read?

“F*CK FEELINGS” by Michael and Sarah Bennett. It  is perhaps is a counter message to too much emphasis on well being and entitlement. While offering practical advice for managing all life’s impossible problems, it basically says “stop staring at your navel and get on with things!”.

3. What cause do you most want to advance?

Ending HIV/AIDS. It has affected 72 million people. Staggering. Lets get it off the planet.

4. What song can’t you get out of your head?

Hamilton’s “The Room Where is Happened” – it may be about George Washington, it may be about what you don’t know, and it is definitely about life…

5. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Whatever the boss wants, do that first.

6. What is your “keep me going” quote?

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead

7. What is your secret indulgence?

Classic music.

8. How did you get your first job? How did you jump to your second job?

One summer in college, I made garbage truck axles at a factory in Mobile, Alabama. I was a welder.  When I returned to school with no eyebrows or arm hair, working as a hostess in a restaurant was a welcome piece of cake.

9. What was a pivotal moment of reinvention for you?

I went from a very precise, protective, hopefully accurate corporate lawyer on Wall Street to an Executive at a record company (EMI Records). I learned to be a risk taker, live with “gray” and throw a lot at the wall to see what sticks.

10. Who has been a valuable mentor or sponsor?

Early on one of my bosses, Steve Murphy, the former CEO of Christies, said that I was more creative than I knew. His bringing that to my attention, and believing in me, led me on a different path. Sometimes others see things in us that we don’t see in ourselves. Listen for it.

11. What is your biggest goal right now?

Rid the planet of HIV/AIDS. It can be done- the question is will we do it? The small team I lead at (RED) does its part. We need to get more companies to join in the fight. We can only do this through innovation.

Check out Deborah Dugan’s full 40 Over 40 profile here!

Whitney Johnson
Whitney is the author of the acclaimed Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream. She has been named on numerous Smart Thinkers and People to Follow lists by major media such as Inc. Magazine, Business Insider and Huffington Post and is quoted in Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fast Company, Forbes and more.
Whitney Johnson

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