Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman Talks Confidence, Leadership, and Taekwondo

February 7, 2018, 8:22 PM UTC

Adena Friedman started at Nasdaq as an intern right out of business school and 20 years later she became CEO. When she got the top job a year ago, she became the first woman to head a major global stock exchange. Nasdaq, based in New York, is the second-largest exchange in the world by market capitalization, behind only the New York Stock Exchange.

Speaking to Fortune, she says, “I started very early in my career saying ‘yes’ to a lot of things. I just never let anything stand in my way to taking the next opportunity, to saying ‘yes’ to the next assignment, and making sure they saw me as a go-to person.”

Her success also comes from the lessons she learned in the taekwondo studio. Friedman, who earned a black belt, says this Korean martial art also played a role in building her leadership skills.

“I really believe that taekwondo teaches you self reliance. If you are looking about how to get better, it’s only on you to improve,” Friedman explains. “And I think that self reliance is an important skill for anyone navigating the corporate world.”

Watch the video above for more of our conversation with Friedman.

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