Gap Inc.

October 3, 2019

From the outside, Adrienne Houghton’s lifestyle looks like the kind of fast paced, chaotic, Hollywood whirlwind that could disorient even the most grounded among us. But watching her glide into the room at Gap Inc.’s headquarters, greeting every person with purpose, and transitioning from speaking on stage to taking selfies to chatting in a fluorescent lit conference room - she was simultaneously unflappable and bounding with energy.  

Throughout her visit, Houghton spoke about how her “faith and familia” keep her centered on what’s important so that she can continue to forge new paths. Houghton was the first-ever Latina daytime television host when she joined the cast of The Real, now in its sixth season. And she’s not stopping anytime soon: She’s launched a jewelry line, XIXI, and has a running list of new business ideas.  

“She doesn’t sleep,” joked her best friend turned assistant Lana Hawatmeh, who is always by her side and co-runs the jewelry business. “I don’t sleep because I have this opportunity to do great things,” Houghton replied through a huge smile. With every other breath, whether it was in one-on-one selfie moments, our roundtable with members of Gap Inc.’s Latino networking group ‘HOLA’, or front-and-center on the main stage, Houghton was telling stories chock-full of inspiring lessons she’s learned throughout her life. Here’s just a few:  

1. Stay grounded in family  
Houghton received two phone calls during her visit. The first, from her colleague and close friend from years ago, Raven Symone, of the Disney channel show That’s So Raven, in which Houghton also starred. She played the adorable voicemail for the crowd, filled with inside jokes between Raven and herself, and laughed about their history together. It’s clear Houghton keeps a close circle of friends whom she treats like family. Later, her husband called as he was about to board a plane.  “We pray every time he boards a plane,” she told the room, and then asked if it was okay for her to pray with him; the room went silent for her. Afterward, several folks joked that they need to be better husbands and/or wives. Despite her busy schedule, it was clear that Houghton never neglects her friends or family, and (extra tip!) never strays from the routines and rituals that keep her centered. 

2. Lead with faith not fear  
Houghton made clear she is not afraid to fail. “I want to spend life as a learner: I want to go through life always learning,” she said, while also recommending people becoming comfortable with constructive criticism. “Are they (critics) trying to help you shine or tear you down?”, she asked. “I’m great at receiving constructive criticism: I want to be better!”  

She also spoke openly about her faith, and how it helps her lead with confidence instead of fear. She listens to worship music on her way to work, noting that when she has downtime the melodies still linger. “I find that when our minds go on autopilot it’s good to fill it with good things. It brings me faith instead of fear.” 

“We allow fear to be our worst enemy: The things in our mind about how we are and what we’re capable of is our greatest downfall. Someone can offer you an opportunity and you can think ‘I’m not prepared, can I do this?’ instead of believing in yourself. Confidence and courage  – even if you’re not qualified, can make it happen!,” she said. 

3. Be prepared for opportunity  
Houghton doesn’t rely on faith alone, she addresses her fears by preparing for every scenario, including any opportunities that may come her way. “I have a plan b and c, for everything,” she said. “If my TV show was cancelled tomorrow, we’d have a plan for that.”  

Houghton noted one of her favorite quotes: “Oprah says luck is preparation meeting opportunity!”  

“My mom would always tell me that what’s for me is for me,” Houghton said. “She taught me that there’s always going to be someone more qualified, more educated, more beautiful or younger, but no one is you and you’re going to go in and they are going to say ‘you aren’t great for this role’ or ‘maybe there’s something else for you’ -  and another time, they’re going to say ‘you’re exactly what we’re looking for!’ That lesson allows me to walk into room with confidence knowing that if this is intended for me, it will be for me. It doesn’t mean you show up any way any how  - you show up prepared for the opportunity!” 

4. View your differences as your strengths  
“Lana tells me, ‘stay in your magic,’” said Houghton. “The best advice I’ve ever received was to be authentically myself at all times. In life when you walk in who you are, when you walk in your own unique self, so many doors will open for you, especially the ones that are meant for you. All these things that make you different or set you apart that you may view as your weakness, in reality, can be your greatest strengths.”  


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