7 Tips for Success: If I Knew Then What I Know Now
As I prepare to watch my youngest child walk across the stage to get his high school diploma in a few weeks, it seems only fitting to reflect on my career and take stock of what I’ve accomplished since I reached that same milestone.
When I graduated from high school, I honesty had no clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I was going to college…according to my parents. That happened. And it provided new adventures, great friends, new skill sets and several career opportunities. Fortunately, over the years, my love for people, persuasion and the need for constant change paved the way for a career I love: marketing.
My colleagues recently asked me to come up with a list of things l would tell my younger self today, given all I’ve learned throughout my career. They also asked me to think about what I would tell younger women who are in the early chapters of their careers.
- Never stop learning. Force yourself to learn new things, keep up with technology and expand your brain. As someone who went back to school mid-career to get an MBA, I can attest to the value of this concept. School was so much different the second time around, as technology had changed so much. There were many times when I was ready to throw in the towel, but I persevered and ended up with that degree. Whether it’s reading, meeting new people or furthering your education, give yourself the tools you need to advance and never let yourself get stale.
- Know when to walk away. Companies care about what you do for them and what you can help them achieve — that’s fair. It’s important to assess the relationship you have with your employer regularly and ensure you also are getting your needs met. Frankly, there are times you just need to move on, especially if you aren’t growing within your role. And, it’s not just about the work. Bad relationships aren’t worth sticking around for either.
- Layoffs suck. They sure do. The first time it happens to you, it’s devastating. I still remember the shock I had that day. But over the years it gets easier, and you learn to turn your anger and frustration into ambition, motivation and opportunity. Every layoff I went through uncovered a better position for me — one that I might not have explored had I been actively employed.
- They’re not going to hand it to you. Ask. Ask for the project, the promotion, the raise or the invitation to the meeting. Once you get it, work as hard as you can to prove to them that trusting you was the right decision and you were worth the investment.
- Surround yourself with amazing people. The kind who keep you grounded (and sane). I have been fortunate to work with some awesome colleagues and to be a part of several high-functioning teams over the years. When teams are working at their full potential, nothing seems to stop them. Granted, there have also been situations when team dynamics weren’t ideal and needed to improve, but it’s during those times when you need to dig in and become part of the solution instead of the problem. Life is too short for toxicity.
- Travel the world. I am fortunate to work for a global company, one that gives me the opportunity to travel the world and explore new cultures, traditions and ways of thinking. Running global marketing campaigns also requires us to test our messages in different regions to ensure they resonate with the intended audience. There have been a few times when the intended message got “lost in translation” and we had to quickly come up with a back-up plan.
- Scare yourself. I force myself to get outside of my comfort zone and do something that scares me every year, whether that consists of presenting to a sea of strangers, attending a dinner party alone or ziplining through the cenotes of Mexico backwards. It’s always terrifying at the start, but once it’s over — I’ve grown.
I think it’s fitting to say that I’m thankful for the mentors I had early on, who convinced me not to settle for less than what I wanted. And, to prove I deserved it. I’m also fortunate to be able to look to many women more experienced than myself for advice, and a shoulder to lean on. Fundamentally, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
So, to all you folks walking across that graduation stage and entering a new phase of your lives this year, cheers to your success. I look forward to working with you — and sharing a few thoughts on how you can steer your life and career in any direction you dream.