Today is American Business Women’s Day, which honors and reflects “on the contributions and accomplishments of the millions of women in the workforce and the millions of women business owners in the U.S.” The first day of recognition was celebrated in 1982 by the American Business Women’s Association, which works to provide professional and personal growth opportunities “through leadership, education, networking support, and national recognition.”
In 2015, 57 percent of women participated in the labor force and the number of women entrepreneurs has steadily risen over the years. To mark the day, we asked 70 female executives from various industries what advice they would give to their teenage selves. See what they had to say below:
Female Business Executives: What Advice Would You Give to Your Teenage Self?
1. Rashmi Melgiri, COO and Co-Founder of CoverWallet – @rmelgiri
Don’t be afraid of tackling a problem you see in the world. Others don’t have to see your point right away, but believe me, with enough hard work, they will.
2. Meredith Wood, Head of Content and Editor-in-Chief of Fundera
Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. Even if you think you know what you want, that can and probably will change. Get as much hands-on experience as possible ‘working’ so you can identify what gets you excited and what type of environment you flourish in. Ask questions, learn as much as you can… Get close to people who are willing to teach you. Great mentors and experience will get you where you need to go. Don’t stress thinking you’ve got to get it all figured out now.
3. Rachel Charlupski, Founder of The Babysitting Company –@babysittingco
- Always go with your gut
- Try to finish everything you can during the day because you never know what will come up the next day
- You have to love what you do.
4. Zondra S. Wilson, President and CEO of Blu Skin Care, LLC
I would tell my teen-aged self to stick to my vision. I wouldn’t have listened to people telling me that my supernatural ideas were too big and that I would never reach my goals. I’ve learned that I would rather dream big and only accomplish half of it than to dream small and accomplish all of it.
- Recognize that you will work for 40 years, and there is no job or industry that you can enter today that will not be a Tech role or industry during your work life. Get skilled and enthusiastic about embracing the highest tech solutions and tools in your space.
- Even more true today than ever that your network is critical to your success. Get on LinkedIn now and don’t be afraid to connect with people more senior than yourself as long as you’re acquainted and/or colleagues. As you get more experience, take every opportunity to connect with people who are more junior and in functional areas different from yours. You’ll be hiring before you know it and you’ll be glad to have those connections.
- Take notes and do your research. I work almost exclusively with Millennials, and I love and admire them for their integrity, fearlessness and accomplishments in changing our world for the better. But two things they do that drive the older generations they’ll be working with for the next 25 years crazy are that they don’t write things down and they don’t do enough digging for information before coming to a conclusion. These are simple practices to change and would speed their success within any organization. True story: My daughter was headed to her first real job interview with no pen and paper. I made her buy both at a stationery store on the way to the meeting. It’s just a sign of respect, IMO.
6. Diana Roberts, Owner and Realtor at Pier-to-Pier Brokers
I started working in real estate when I was really young – practically a teenager! I was wearing glasses to meeting to make me look older, and yes, I think it’s always a bit more challenging for a woman to convince a man at any age that I am right and that my strategy is as good or better than theirs. I am naturally more gentle and emotional, so I would tell my teenage self that I don’t need to be aggressive LIKE a man, I can be just as influential as a woman. I believe in this business you ALWAYS win when you are making others feel that they are human and that you hear them and that you will try your best to collaborate with them. Not bully them. I don’t feel the need to be pushy like I did when I was younger. I am a strong and gentle woman all at the same time. And I have the clients and sales to back it up!
As long as you’re innovative and you’re able to create new ideas and figure out ways to solve problems you can be successful. You don’t have to be an industry expert to become and industry leader- this took me a long time to learn…there were a lot of moments of self-doubt throughout my journey but once I overcame my fear of not feeling knowledgeable enough and believed in my abilities to build a team that WAS knowledgeable, it all came together!
The founders of Uber and Airbnb had no experience in transport/logistics nor hospitality, yet quickly disrupted the taxi and hotel industries almost overnight by simply providing a better service at a better price.
8. Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO of Cheekd – @loricheeknyc
I’ve got a pretty inspiring entrepreneurial journey to share! When most people would have quit years ago, I only hustled harder to succeed! I found my calling from a light bulb moment in time over 8 years ago and I never looked back. My strongest advice for others considering taking the leap is if you truly believe in your idea, give up excuses and doubt, surround yourself by a trusted and talented team, bulldoze forward and DON’T. LOOK. BACK.
Be kind and take interest in everyone around you as you never know how they may impact your future. You never know, that old classmate or random person you met while shopping could later be someone that gets you a job or lands you a big contract. Advice piece number two: remember that life is all about seasons; so when you’re feeling like it’s impossible, remember, this is just a moment in time and you truly never know what’s around the corner so enjoy every moment for what it is and appreciate them all.
10. Kate Dobie, Founder of Pens Plus Pals
I’m not too far removed in years from that restless small town teenager, but as a female business leader in my early 30’s I’ve still learned some significant lessons, the most important of which is, “The best careers are the most meandering.”
I’ve spent two and a half years studying Mandarin in mainland China and five years working for Major League Baseball in Australia. I’ve now moved to NYC and have founded my own business, Pens Plus
Pals, a modern matching service for pen pals.
These pivots were all vital in preparing me for the work of a founder. As the first female General Manager of an Australian baseball franchise in national history, I was able to learn first-hand the similarities between running a professional baseball franchise in an inhospitable sports market and starting my own business.
I would tell my younger self to avoid spending too much time-traveling – mapping out a hypothetical career – and instead be receptive to and excited for the opportunities that reveal themselves when you have the confidence to back yourself and say yes.
11. Nellie Akalp, CEO of CorpNet.com – @CorpNetNellie
I would remind my teenage self that it’s not about doing something just for the sake of doing it and going through the motions. It’s all about putting in the hard work and effort to do it to win it! That goes for so many things in life; but especially as an entrepreneur. There will be obstacles that will get in your way and if you’re not totally invested, you will give up. Show up daily, be consistent and find what you’re passionate about and go for it. Don’t look back!
Some of the best advice I’ve received as an entrepreneur is something I wish I’d known as a teenager. Fall in love with the problem you are solving. Building a startup is a marathon of hurdles, opportunities, pivots and distractions – not dissimilar from launching a career. When you fall in love with the problem you are solving as a startup or as a young professional, it’s vastly easier to navigate towards happy and successful outcomes.
And, in a few years, you’re gonna read about a company called a concept called search and a little startup called Google. Invest.
13. Jennifer Green-Moneta, Senior Vice President at Burns360 – @JenMBAPR
My self-advice would be to stay up with all the latest advancements and technologies happening in your industry, and bring them to the company. There are two reasons for this: first, as an early-adopter of new and burgeoning technologies, it keeps your company on the cutting-edge of the industry and more in demand from your customers who want the latest and greatest. It also keeps you from always playing catch-up with your competitors. From the personal side, it positions you as an employee who not only seeks personal growth opportunities, but has the company’s best interests at heart. This makes you invaluable!
- Be patient: You can’t do it all it once. Take a piece of wisdom with you from every experience. Build with that.
- Be curious: You don’t know everything and you’re not supposed to. Curiosity will lead you to many places. You will learn, expand and grow while gaining a positive reputation for your inquisitive nature.
- Seek out mentors and then pay it forward: Take the coffee meetings with the up and comers, especially young women. Actively contribute to the community of women in tech. It’s a sincere and incredibly valuable community.
- Don’t wear heels meant for the runway to trade shows. Invest in some fashionable, yet sensible shoes. Sensible doesn’t have to mean hideous.
15. Alyssa Marie Langelier, Career Services Manager at Coding Dojo
You are your own toughest critic. You’ll likely underestimate your potential far more than anyone else will. Zero in on your goal and tell yourself you CAN do it. The only person standing in the way of your success is you.
16. Daisy Jing, CEO and Founder of Banish
Know what you stand for. There will be a lot of stress and uncertainties that you will encounter along the way. You might have some crossroads too. What will be the basis in making these tough decisions? It’s about knowing what you stand for. You gotta know yourself. Know who you really are, what it is that you believe in and stick to what you really want. If you don’t know what you want, go and isolate yourself in the woods and spend time introspecting and figure it out. Once you know your values, you have to make sure everything you do, everyone and everything you surround yourself with has to be aligned with the same values as yours.
17. Jess Chua, Certified Career Coach at Inner Life Goals
Be willing to save up and invest in yourself when you’re ready, in terms of delegating to experts the areas that are out of your expertise.
18. Roberta Perry, Founder of ScrubzBody Natural Skin Care
Fail often and fail big, then you will know what not to do on your road to success. Take a few business courses, because whatever you wind up doing later in life, it can only help. Share your knowledge and others will share with you. Those are the single biggest things I would have said to myself. I never would have my business without have first failed miserably at another start up.
It gave me the tools to grow. It gave me the what not to do’s and what to do’s. It was the best life/business lesson I could have learned. I also wish I had taken some business courses, instead of just art, graphics and general education. I started on a wing, a dime and a prayer and learned as I went. It was challenging at best, frustrating and discouraging at worst, but I am still here. As for sharing knowledge, this is a big one. I love helping others as they grow and learn their own business because there is no way I would be where I am today without others doing that for me. It’s the business version of paying it forward and it works, every time.
I wasn’t a teenager too long ago, but I can tell you in 5 years a lot has changed. As a teen, I tried to stay ahead of the 90s trends from Myspace to Post Secret to Pokémon. I kept up, noticed them and even participated at times but what I didn’t do was take a second to understand why they caught on. As a PR professional my job is to understand the why and ask myself, how can I make this go viral. What I would tell my teenage self is to always be asking the why behind insanely shared opinions, controversial business decisions and take-off trends so that today I would be even more in tune with what actually catches fire.
20. Erin Morris, Founder and Lead Graphic Designer at Evergreen Design Studio
My advice to my teenage self would be to follow your passion and don’t doubt or judge yourself! Do what makes you happy and remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. If you feel crazy for going against the norm and pursuing your dream, remember that everyone else doing something awesome that they love feels that way, too. The key to success is to put the work in, get the idea out there, assess, refine, and keep moving forward.
While I’m not sure I would do anything differently, I have really learned to take my time on big decisions. I would tell my teenage self not to act too quickly and think things through. It sounds cliché, but I believe you learn from the biggest errors and I have learned a lot about the importance of thoughtful consideration and time in the decision making process.
22. Deanna Latson, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at ARIIX
Too many women entering today’s workforce are limiting themselves due to somebody else’s definition of the type of person or gender that should be in a specific role. If I could give my teenage self some advice, I would tell myself to not try to “be like a man” to be successful. In fact, I would also advise myself not to feel pressured to be like my female peers either, and simply embrace my emotions, instincts, intensity and intuition. A woman’s unique perspective is so critical and necessary in today’s business world, and I wish I could have grasped that as early as possible.
23. Lisa Bertania, President of ExpoMarketing
As a teenager what you want to be can be quite different from your actual career. Try out new things, take internships in fields you might be interested in working in someday, and if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world.
24. Heather Vickery, Owner and Success Coach at Vickery & Co. – @vickeryandco
You are a powerhouse. Because you are strong, confident and brave others may try to knock you down or keep you quiet. Do not let them. Believe in your power and go forward with courage and confidence. All of the things you most desire will be yours. I promise.
25. Tanja Diamond, Founder and CEO of Your Personal Evolution and Learning Tantra
Protect your confidence and understand that courage and flexibility are the two most important skills to develop for sustainable personal and professional growth and success. Massive action in the face of uncertainty will get you moving and everything happens while in motion, not while standing still.
26. Natasha S Ford, Chief Executive Officer of Natasha Chef Incorporated
Advice to my younger self is to ensure you remain true to your passion and only follow your footsteps, no one else’s. Present the best version of yourself to the world while you craft out your own career path and you will see that everything will work out to your benefit.
27. Ambar Januel, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Creative Agency Januel+Johnson
The most important things to remember are to be authentic, driven, thoughtful yet persistent, and constantly motivated. It’s very easy to get caught in the shuffle and stress of life, but the ability to rise above and to continue pushing for your dreams will allow you to actually reach them.
28. Karla Jobling, COO/Founder of BeecherMadden – @BeecherMadden
I would tell my teenage self; make sure you speak up. Your biggest mistakes will come when you stay quiet, thinking a chance will be given to you or your hard work will be recognised without you bringing it to someone’s attention. Speaking up will actually make people like you more, not less so go for it. Take every opportunity that comes your way and put the extra effort in to make your own. You are going to carve out a career that you love but it will be from your own work, instincts and leadership, so get started as soon as possible.
29. Jessica Childress, Law Firm Attorney and CEO of Children’s Content Company
I would tell my teenage self that your career is a journey. Plan your career destinations based on your passions and values. Set high goals and work diligently towards achieving them. While you are reaching those goals, enjoy the journey. Learn from each challenge and rejoice in each triumph.
30. Nelie Jacques, Immigration Attorney and Sole Owner of the Law Office of Nelie Jacques, P.A. – @NelieJacques
Trust in the preparations you’ve made thus far, and use them to chase your dreams. That, and, take the time to understand the complexities of your upbringing because your parents were your first teachers.
I would advise other women to stop discounting their natural talents and waiting for the “right opportunity” to come along and start asking for the positions, work schedules and opportunities they deserve.
32. Catherine A. Wood, Executive Life Coach and Founder of Unbounded Potential, LLC.
If I had a chance to give career advice to my teenage self, I would tell her that the most important relationship to cherish, honor, and nourish is the one with her own self. If she treats herself with love and respect, she can move forward with confidence and power towards her goals and accept when others treat her negatively or poorly. Ultimately, they are struggling their own inner battles, and it is not a reflection of who she is or what she is worth. Also, I would tell her to FAIL FASTER because each failure has brought me one step closer to achieving my next success.
33. Holly Rollins, President of 10x digital
- Be less concerned about what others think and more concerned about how you can make a difference in the world
- Read more classics and books on grammar and writing and less romance novels
- Spend more time on your creative talents—they will serve you well in college, your career and your hobbies
- Get a tutor to teach you Latin
- Explore the world, learn about other cultures and learn at least two other languages fluently—Spanish and French
- Buy stock in Apple and Microsoft (:
34. Merrie Spaeth, Founder of Spaeth Communications – @SpaethCom
- Learn when to quit. At the age of 14, I was chosen to star in The World of Henry Orient with Peter Sellers. For several years, I was adamant about acting. However, when I saw how few people made a living at it, and even fewer who enjoyed their work, I decided to pursue another path. I’m so glad I did!
- Work for the best. Here is where I got lucky. I got to be a speech writer for William S. Paley, the legendary founder and chairman of CBS, and was hired to be Director of Media Relations for President Ronald Reagan. Identify the truly unusual people and find a way to work for them or with them.
- To have a friend you have to be a friend. That old saying is so true. I was so busy in my 20s that I didn’t develop and maintain real friendships. Don’t make that mistake. Make time for your friends, celebrate their successes and share their sorrows.
35. Linda Griffin, Owner of Grass Roots Marketing Systems LLC
Be the star of your own life. Try everything that interests you in order to discover what you love and what you’re good at. That will lead you to picking the right college major and the right career.
I would tell myself not to let fear stop me! I would tell myself I can achieve anything my heart desires with passion and energy! If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life!
37. Robin Donovan, President of Bozell Advertising Agency
Some of the best career advice I would give my teenage self is to not rely on others for my own knowledge; even if those teaching you are wonderful and knowledgeable, have the desire to research and learn even more on your own.
In addition to that, I would encourage myself to always volunteer to take on more work, never sit idly or expect people to tell you what to do. Be confident and highlight your ‘value add’ for the company.
38. Tara Goodfellow, Owner at Athena Educational Consultants, Inc
- Stay in psychology. Don’t get freaked out even when your first internship is conducting psychosocial evaluations. Don’t get scared and run to business, figure out how to use your love of people ASAP. You’ll wind up a certified life coach, so things to have a way of working out.
- Be bold but not reckless. Quitting your first job because your boss didn’t deliver what was promised. However, quitting that day with no backup is a bit risky.
- Recognize it’s worth taking some time to understand there are other communication styles. What you say and how you say both are equally of value. Not everyone is as direct as you, and that’s actually a great thing. Your style is great too though.
I would tell my teenage self to:
- not care so much about what others think
- take the time to really get to know who I am
- not to wait so long to start my own business
- take a few business course electives in college, even if I think it’s something I’m not interested in at the time.
Start networking early. A critical component to having success in any business, especially early on, is networking. In my opinion, connecting people and ideas together is invigorating. You gain insight and advice from everyone you meet and there is no telling how those conversations will inspire you and your business. With that said, I would tell my teenage self to do something our parents always hoped we would do, but often didn’t: Listen! When you stop dictating the conversation and start listening, you allow yourself to really *hear* what people are saying. Like a sponge, soak up that knowledge, digest it and then find ways in which you can apply it to how you lead and manage a successful team and company.
Travel. See the world. Meet new people. Try new things. Be an adventurer. Explore. You will get more out of life by collecting experiences than by collecting things.
42. Heather Kovarik, Executive Creative Director at Moncur
Don’t go into accounting. Even though your mom did it, accounting isn’t in your skillset. I’d tell myself to be more courageous, not to be afraid of exploring other career paths. To this day, having 20 seconds of insane courage is still one of my greatest lessons.
43. Kimberly Barnes, Chief Heroics Officer at ContentPark – @_contentpark
I’d tell my teenage self that yes, anything is possible if you believe…pray…dream…visualize. When you encounter naysayers, let their negativity become the downward thrust you need to launch upward. When you experience hard times, remember you’re still growing; this is not the end. And while you’re in college, seek out opportunities to network with professionals and entrepreneurs—you’ll thank me later. Ultimately, your success isn’t built solely on your own abilities but on the relationships you build along the way.
As an executive looking back on the teenage me, I would let her know that walking to the beat of a different drum is okay. I would also remind her that inspiration is not ongoing, and to keep pushing even when you are not that interested in where you are in your life or career. It will pay off later. Being consistent is the key to building your future.
45. Sophie Knowles, Founder & CEO of PDF Pro
Know how to negotiate your salary. Compared to men, women are significantly less likely to negotiate their compensation package or ask for a raise. Set high expectations and take ownership of your accomplishments. Practice negotiations with a friend or colleague, and research salary ranges for your position. You will thank yourself later.
46. Melyni Serpa, Vice President, Client Services at G/O Digital
Build a network. Start now. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage and even require you to be your best self. Consider criticisms, but don’t allow them to define you. Know that you can be strong, powerful and successful and also be kind. Kindness isn’t weakness. So, go be yourself – you will go far.
47. Megan Perrone-Floyd, Director of Marketing at G/O Digital
Don’t try to know it all. Surround yourself with people who can help strengthen your areas of weakness. This way you are constantly learning and growing – always becoming better both personally and professionally.
48. Nanda Davis, Owner of Davis Law Practice
You know you want to be a trial attorney. You will come close to giving up on that dream because you will spend a lot of time listening to people who tell you that legal profession is not for you. They are wrong when they say it will just stress you out and make you unhappy. You can be a lawyer and a mother. They underestimate your strength and your competitive spirit.
You will spend time with jobs, people, projects, that seem to go nowhere. Forgive yourself for that. It’s not wasted time, just chapters in your life. You will one day have a lot more confidence. Confidence has nothing to do with how other people perceive you and everything to do with how you feel about yourself when you enter a room.
Be outgoing. If you approach new people, introduce yourself, talk, and even ask for help, you’ll be surprised by how welcoming most people are. Also you don’t know it yet, but some sad things are going to happen. Just hang on. There will be a lot of happiness on the other side.
49. Lindsey Handley, Ph.D., COO and Co-Founder of ThoughtSTEM, LLC – @lindseydhandley
Make as many decisions for yourself as you can every day. Girls especially can have trouble with this: we’re so used to asking other people to help us make decisions. But by making decisions for ourselves, we internalize the idea that we are in control of our own lives and our own fortunes. If I had realized this when I was younger, I would have been much more motivated to pursue career success earlier in life!
50. Dawn Britt, Founder and CEO of one7 communications
Find something that you love to do and cultivate your passion. Then, all the other pieces in your life will fall into place.
51. Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls
Jobs and job leads can come from anyone anywhere anytime so you should always be on your best behavior & make a great lasting impression. Be nice to everyone & make friends before you need them, you never know who is in or will be in a position to help!
It is true you should never burn a bridge, that really is great advice and I can tell you dozens of stories over the years where that has served me well. You just never know when your paths will cross again with old colleagues, former bosses, etc. Kill them with kindness and don’t ever burn that bridge, trust me it pays off!
52. Larissa Pickens, Owner and Creative Director of Float.Design
As a teenager, I remember a sense of dread and panic when anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would love to go back and tell myself that the specific job matters less than doing it with passionate and commitment. Nowadays, I own Float.Design, a digital design studio and work with a wide range of clients — everything from dentists to cosmetics companies to sporting goods start-ups. However talking to each of them, they are so excited and interested in their work, it is truly infectious. Don’t get paralyzed with fear thinking there’s one ”right” career path — many jobs of the future don’t even exist yet!
Think of your career as a work of art. It is always in progress, always being shaped and constantly evolving, like yourself. Be flexible enough to allow that transformation, seek opportunities that foster growth and never stop learning.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many hours you work if you can’t get results that help make your business or your client money. Growing up in direct response marketing has taught me how to measure tangible results and directly connect them to the bottom line for my clients selling consumer products. Hard work ethic is something I stand by as a former collegiate athlete. My best advice to my teenage self would be to become an intern early in college. Join the PRSSA at your university and start networking with business leaders in your community. These professional communications skills will be essential to helping you be a better fit for a firm. Also do work on a project that doesn’t involve a class in college. Real world experience with all of the typical unknown variables will make your training more realistic. The most important lesson I’ve learned in my career to date is not to be a yes man and speak up. Clients are paying you for your professional opinion as a marketing and PR professional so you don’t have to agree with everything. In fact, you are oftentimes respected more for bringing up a point in contrary and supporting it with strong rationale.
55. Shobhna Upadhyaya, Senior Manager/Head of Product Business Operations, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn
Don’t worry and continue doing what you are doing: Uncertainty causes stress and short-term setbacks can seem to have a larger impact on the future than they actually would. I’ll just tell my teenage self that the future is fine. That one sub-par exam, grade or interview didn’t really matter.
Have more confidence in yourself and trust your gut. Stop looking around at all the students in your media classes in college, thinking about how you’re ever going to make it as a journalist because you will. And you will move onto even bigger and better things. Pay more attention in high school and work harder on your writing because it will make your life easier when you start your career.
57. Beth-Ann Eason, President of Innovid – @baeason
Don’t watch other people’s paths and measure your success against theirs. You may see people who once reported to you end up in higher positions. Don’t resent them– be proud you hired them in the first place. Recognize that you have chosen a path for a reason.
58. Gisela Hausmann, Owner of Educ-Easy Books – @Naked_Determina
Learn how to write effective emails with personal appeal. It is an indispensable tool to getting a part-time job,summer job, an internship, scholarships and much more; sadly, high schools and most colleges don’t teach it. Today, most people don’t even pick up the phone anymore, but 68 percent of people check their work emails before 8 a.m., 50 percent check their email while still in bed, and 69 percent do not go to sleep without checking their email. With the constant improvement of technology the trend is going to continue. For most important business contacts, including future employers, sending a text message will not be good enough.
59. Alexandra I. Levin, MBA, SPHR, Co-Founder of The Back Forty
Take the time to explore the world, different business and career paths, and find what you love to do – it is better to take the time and find what you are passionate about, then to find yourself in jobs you don’t like. Learn about cultural anthropology, psychology, and philosophy, as it will be a great foundation for anything you choose to do. Find and nurture great mentors and teachers, who will support you to grow and expand yourself and your worldview. And above all, listen to your gut, as it will guide you into a life and work that is perfect just for you.
60. Deborah Gregory, Co-Founder of Gregory Law Group, PLLC
Focus on your dreams, not your gender. My mom always said, ‘Anything boys can do, girls can do better.’ But when I was growing up, I didn’t see the world in terms of ‘boys’ activities’ and ‘girls’ activities. I just saw what I wanted to do, and I did it. Belief isn’t just a fundamental part of who we are, it’s a fundamental ingredient in what we’re able to accomplish. You really can do anything – as long as you believe you can.
61. Hannah Davis, Founder and President of BANGS Shoes
Building a business is extremely challenging, so the largest lesson I’ve learned is the importance in having fun. You may even have to schedule fun at some point – but set your work down for a bit, I promise it won’t go anywhere, and let your hair down!
- Define your non-negotiable
- Understand your strengths
- Learn to communicate what makes you great
By starting with defining your non-negotiable you will never find yourself in a soul-depleting job. No job is sustainable if it doesn’t feed your soul in some way. If you don’t understand your strengths how will a potential employer be able to understand them and you will never be properly compensated for your work. Once you have figured out number 1 and number 2 you will need to ensure that those around you also understand and value what you truly have to offer or none of your qualifications and strengths matter at all.
63. Barbara J. Sullivan, President of Sullivan & Associates
When things go wrong, invoke the ‘five-year rule.’ Will this problem really matter in five years? Probably not, so don’t sweat it too much or let it sidetrack you. I spent a LOT of time worrying about stuff early in my career that really didn’t make a difference in the long run. Understand what happened, learn from it, and quickly move forward!”
I would tell my teenage self to work on becoming financially savvy—in addition to excelling in her field. You need both for success as an entrepreneur. Despite having an accountant for a father (and calling him often!) I made some financial missteps as I founded and built my agency. It would have been easier on both of us if I’d taken a course or workshop on the business side of running a PR agency.
Focus on a specific goal and develop your career around it rather than trying to do everything that comes your way. This will help you to yield a solid outcome, whereas spreading yourself across several paths will lead to diluted results. To be the ‘Jack of All Trades’ is great, but it only pays off when you have truly mastered one.
65. Richa Sharma, Operations Manager at BlueCube Network
I’d advise my younger self to be more confident with risks. Growth comes with risks. But at the initial stage of the career, we tend to settle down with security and turn ourselves off from risk factors.
Since you were a little girl, people have asked you what you want to be when you grow up. It’s a silly question. The reality is, you have no way of knowing if you’re going to like a career until you live the reality of it day to do.
Do the best you can to narrow down your options. Try out as many as you can with internships and shadowing. But at the end of the day, know that the world is changing too fast. You will NOT be in the same job or company for your entire career. You can and will try different things. That’s a very good thing!
Trust yourself. You cannot do this wrong. Know that even if you don’t like something, you can try something else and it will be ok.
The career advice I’d give my teenage self is not to stress too much about deciding on a dream job. For some people, they just know their dream job, and that’s great. Others, like teenage me, don’t. That’s okay, too. Not having one specific dream job doesn’t mean that you’ll bounce around not having a career, or that you’ll wind up in unfulfilling jobs, and it doesn’t mean you won’t have a passion for something. I’m most passionate about the job I have now, and teenage me would never have thought, I’d love to work in the credit card processing industry.
Turns out, dream jobs can be anything where you get to use your skills in a way that you like, no matter what industry it is.
My 24-year-old daughter was freaking out a bit about her career path a few weeks ago, and what I said that made sense to her and help her relax was: Our career path doesn’t make sense when we’re going forward in to it, but it makes perfect sense when we look back on it.
I was a high school English teacher, a small business owner, a Director of Educational Outreach in a non profit, a consultant then a CEO of a consulting firm, and now running my own company. Every experience builds on the foundation of the previous one, even if it doesn’t seem logical. Just learn, see what fulfills you and challenges you, and where you’d like to contribute.
I would definitely tell myself to never give up on your hopes, your goals and your dreams. You never know where life may lead you. I am beyond proud of where I am today and I continue to strive for success.
70. Jess Weiner, CEO of Talk To Jess, LLC – @jessweiner
No matter what field you decide to go into, the currency of your career will be relationships. Every business centers around the depth and level of its relationships and how you establish, nurture and maintain them will help you climb to new professional heights. Always be mindful of how you treat people you are in business with – leaving a wake of disappointment behind you will only hinder your growth potential. Never neglect your relationship with yourself either – don’t sacrifice, settle or compromise your integrity or values.
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What piece of advice would you share with your teenage self? Let us know in the comments section below!
Responses have been edited for clarity and length