Work Hard, Play Hard: Get Up and Dance

Supply chain exec Lora Cecere gathers life lessons along her journey to dance en pointe

Lora Cecere
Lora Cecere

Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s new column, Work Hard, Play Hard—the first of which you are about to read here—looks at the after-hours lifestyle of supply chain executives. Whether it’s heli-skiing in the Italian Alps, fly fishing in Alaska, wine-making in Cali or general globe-trotting, we’ll give you the scoop on where to kick it across the planet. If you have any ideas or sources for a good Work Hard, Play Hard story, let us know via email here!

Modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham once said, “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well, just get up and dance.”

Though she will never dance the lead in Swan Lake or perform with the Royal Ballet, Lora Cecere, the founder of Supply Chain Insights, takes this sentiment to heart as she spends two-hours a day, five nights a week en pointe, mastering ballet steps like the glissade and pas de bourree.

Her dance journey started with a discussion about bones. Cecere had broken the calcaneus bone in her foot and had developed osteoporosis. Her doctor gave her two choices: Take medication or become more active. Cecere decided it was time for her to move from the couch and into the dance studio.

Cecere has always loved the quote from Yeats, “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” As she learns ballet the quote has new meaning. “As I practice performances, I find it’s easy to become one with the music,” she says. “I’ve also learned what dancers make look so easy is seriously hard work.”

At the barre, Cecere also learned to fully appreciate supply chain capabilities. There are hundreds of types of pointe shoes with different fabrics, vamps, heels, widths and sizes, but despite the fact that Gynor Minden makes 3,211 types of pointe shoes, her feet, which Cecere describes as fat, short and stubby with a high arch, required a custom fit. “Luckily this specialty company had a custom-fit supply chain that could accommodate my requirements,” she says.

Her takeaway—besides being able to dance en pointe—includes a number of life lessons she gathered on her journey. She explains your balance isn’t as good at 62 as it is at the age of 20. It took her tons of time, plenty of practice, a dose of determination and many small immeasurable improvements to get en pointe. “As a result of this experience, I try to be more patient, and give encouragement more frequently to my team,” she says.

She also discovered that not everyone learns the same way. Cecere found she is an auditory learner. When ballet steps are spoken, she understands more quickly than when they are demonstrated visually. She takes this understanding back to the office where she can aid members of her team in learning their roles in the ways they learn best.

Cecere also overcame a number of health obstacles while at the barre. Her blood pressure is down, her A1C has declined, and she has reversed her osteoporosis.

But above all she learned the value of working hard to hit a lofty goal.  “The goal that you really work for is the one that means the most,” says Cecere. “When I completed my first barre en pointe, I became very emotional. For me it was a great accomplishment. The harder you have to work for something, the more you value the accomplishment.”