Chapter 3Kathy MazzarellaChairman, President, and CEO, Graybar

Align yourself with people of extraordinary character and competence.

—John Mattone

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO align yourself with people of extraordinary character and competence? Who are those people? Are they your mentors? Your bosses? The people who work with you or for you? As a leader, you might read my quote above and immediately think of your team and your peers; however, becoming a leader can happen at any time. It only starts once you commit to it. This builds your foundation, and it happens throughout your life, maybe even early in your life as it did for Kathy Mazzarella.

Born in Pasadena, Kathy Mazzarella was like many other girls growing up in Southern California in the 1960s. Good grades but not great, good looking but yet blending in, shy and soft-spoken. By her own account, Kathy was your average Southern California girl. Following the notorious Watts riots, Kathy's family migrated to the relative peace and calm of Orange County when Orange County was still dotted with actual orange groves, trees swaying in the salty, Pacific Ocean breeze. Kathy saw the change from fast-paced Los Angeles County to sleepy Orange County as an opportunity for change, a place to start anew.

Her father's strong belief in the power of education to transform one's life inspired him to work extra jobs to earn the money to send Kathy and her siblings to the local parochial school. It was there, at that new private school in Orange ...

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