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Volume 22 No. 35
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Game Changers: Back to the beginning

We asked honorees: What one thing do you wish you had known at the start of your career?

 

Naz Aletaha: It’s OK to not know what you want to be when you grow up. Follow your passion and know that a career path is not always straight. Embrace the twists and turns.

Megan Hughes Allison: When I was young, getting started in my career, I honestly thought I already knew everything. I had to grow and mature to realize that I am constantly learning and that every new experience or interaction is teaching me something. 

Michelle Andres: Master the art of having difficult conversations; don’t be afraid to have them. Too much energy is wasted avoiding them.

Molly Arbogast: Silence the voice of doubt inside and go for it. You will learn more doing the job than questioning whether you have the skills. Create your own team of people who believe in you. You will know who they are when you need them most.

Christine Burke: In the hardest moments, you will be judged by how you respond to challenges and hard times, and not by the mistakes that created them.

Shelly Cayette: If you don’t have it figured out, pretend that you do (while you are figuring it out) and just make it happen.

Kim Damron: You really can be a working mom, and you can have it all — but it is not going to be perfect.

Kim Davis: I wish I had known how important it is to bring up the next generation of leaders. And that that is an important aspect to what leaders do in terms of building a legacy.

Jill Driban: Not to be intimidated. Our business is one of personal relationships. If you are afraid or intimidated to introduce yourself to someone, whomever they may be, whatever title they may hold, it won’t do you any good.  

Wendy Fallen: Surround yourself with great people and support them in their efforts.

Julie Giese: Be more patient. Everything will work out the way you want it to … but you have to be flexible with your timeline.

Melissa Heiter: I wish I would have known early on that there really is a place for everyone, so it’s OK to keep looking until you find a place where you can thrive.

Krista Hiner: That some men actually would treat me differently from my male counterparts because I’m a woman, whether they realized it or not. I would have been better prepared for it.

Terri Carmichael Jackson: There’s no such thing as “fair.” Oh wait! My mother taught me that at age 6.

Michele Kajiwara: There are plenty of people in this business that have no idea what they’re doing. To some degree everyone is faking it till they truly figure it out. No one starts out with all the answers.

Meredith Kinsman: To be intentional about staying in touch with your former colleagues throughout your entire career.

Thayer Lavielle: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It robs you of the fun of the job.

Melanie LeGrande: Understanding that it isn’t a ladder to success, it’s a (climbing) wall to success. Sometimes you scale to the right, sometimes you scale to the left, but you keep going up. 

Michelle McGoldrick: That executives were once in your shoes. Find the courage to approach them and make a meaningful impression.

Lucinda McRoberts: Your “dream job” grows with you. It is impossible to contemplate all of the opportunities that may exist over the course of a career, so focus more on the present and enjoy the journey.

Jamie Morningstar: You can have it all. You can achieve a work-life balance.

Sianneh Mulbah: When I was younger I wish I knew the power of a network. A person’s network can have significant impact at different times throughout a career.

Pamela Murrin: Importance of having advocates and how to successfully self-promote.

Laura Neal: It’s OK to ask questions. I tell our interns and my younger colleagues this all the time — you’re not supposed to know everything. Ask thoughtful questions that help you get your work done creatively and efficiently. 

Gloria Nevarez: There are authentic ways to let others know about or get recognition for your work without being a self-promoter or prioritizing style over substance. Raises and promotions don’t appear just because you work hard or are good at what you do. One needs to be professionally assertive.

Moira O’Connor: That I would be in this career. I would have saved a lot of money on law school. I say that in jest — I don’t believe I would be in the position I am without that education.

Nicolina O’Rorke: Performance excellence builds a strong foundation, while cultivating your image and gaining exposure can catalyze your career.

Djenaba Parker: That it is OK to bring my “whole self” to work and that will actually add value — i.e., diversity of perspective, experience, etc., that drives innovation and contributes to business strategy.

Ana Shapiro Queenan: Passion can drive you, but people don’t owe it to you to listen to your ideas. Analyze and understand the different perspectives in any situation, and then build a compelling business case that will resonate with your audience.

Caroline Rebello: The importance of female mentorship. No one knows what it is like to sprint a steeplechase in high heels like another woman who has done it before you. I didn’t know what I was missing until I met my first female mentor. 

Tracie Rodburg: The virtue and value of patience.

Carla Rosenberg: To have some proficiency in digital design software — so many times I want to be able to go into marketing materials or presentations and make small tweaks or put an event design or strategy together that communicates my vision in a graphically appealing way.

Tara Gutkowski Schwartz: Every backup plan needs a backup plan. Nothing is ever going to go the way you want it to go, but you can still get the results you’ve set out to achieve.

Carrie Skillman: Network — don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.

Maureen Smith: I wish I knew, and believed, that I could trust the process. Every personal and professional experience has value and success is finding a way to link them all together. I didn’t understand this perspective early in my career.

Amy Sprangers: Don’t just ask yourself, “What do I want to do?” Ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?” The most important thing I have learned is what you do will never define you for long. Who you are always will. — Abby Wambach

Tina Thornton: The ladder you take in your career doesn’t always have to be straight. I heard Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, speak at an event last year. She reminded us that a successful career can be a lattice ladder, where you move from side to side or up and down as you explore new opportunities. 

Alisha Valavanis: Losing is an important part of winning.

Whitney Wagoner: That people don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about me. I spent so much time worrying and losing sleep about how people were perceiving me or my work, and now I know that unless I’m actively having a conversation with someone, they’re not thinking about me at all.