Joetta Clark Diggs knows about persistence, hard work and thorough preparation. Her father, the late Joe Louis Clark, a high school principal and inspiration for the film “Lean on Me,” instilled in her the mindset of excellence. Today, Clark Diggs is a sought after speaker, helping people find their true value and potential. Her father told her pressure is to be embraced.
Clark Diggs was a middle distance runner who competed in four Olympics (‘88, ‘92, ‘96 and ‘00), not finishing her 28-year competitive career until she was almost 40. “The driving force in sports was that I was still good,” she said. “Mentally and physically, I was still able to do the work at a high level. When I did the 2000 Olympic Games, I knew that was it. I was able to make the transition to business because I was doing that parallel to track and field.”
In addition to her own vibrant career, Clark Diggs is relishing seeing her daughter, sprinter Talitha Diggs, excel. She admires her daughter’s individuality. The only advice she offers with reference to track is being steadfast in her training.
“It’s a blessing to see her follow in my footsteps, but also bridge out and do her own thing,” said Clark Diggs. “Seeing her run at high levels and deal with the family background—her mother and aunt are Olympians—that is a lot. You have the pressure of upholding the past. I tell her to embrace our story. I’m proud that she’s been able to navigate through all of the situations that are her life.” Her message to her daughter is the same she shares to people who hear her speak, attend her annual Women’s Empowerment Summit, or read her book, “Joetta’s ‘P’ Principles for Success: Life Lessons Learned in Track and Field”: there are no shortcuts.When she presents to corporations, law firms and women’s groups, the New Jersey native addresses leadership and team building. She shares her P’s: have a purpose, get prepared, be patient, get perturbed, persevere and pray.
“I use those P’s as a businesswoman and those are the things that I tell people, especially women, that they have to focus on today,” said Clark Diggs. “Then, we do my S’s: have a strategy, know your skillset and have staying power.
“I also do diversity and inclusion work,” she added. “I also develop fitness challenges for corporations when they want to have fun health and wellness events.”