No matter where you are in your career, mentorship plays a key role in success — and along with mentorship often comes advice that stands the test of time. We asked a handful of our KM leaders to share tidbits of noteworthy advice they’ve received from mentors over the years that has resonated with them and helped guide them to where they are today. Here is what they had to say.
Cassandra Sanford, CEO
I’ve been fortunate to receive a lot of advice from family, friends, colleagues, and mentors throughout my years. One particular piece of career advice that stands out for me is from my Grandma Ruth, who said that “when an opportunity comes your way…..just say YES.”
When we are sprouting as young professionals and as leaders are natural tendency is to say no.
We immediately start thinking of all the hurdles for success: “I don’t have that experience or those skills yet”, “I’m already busy and don’t have any more time”, or “I’m not financially sound enough to take that risk”, or “I’m not ready to put myself out there, what if I fail?” As I’ve learned over the years, there will never be a great, easy, risk-free, nor convenient time. You have to try new things, take on new roles, new responsibilities, and engage with new & different people to GROW.
When saying YES takes on a life of its own, you’ll have to pair back and decide to focus on what you are most passionate about and what causes & people fill your soul up. But how do you know what that is exactly if you don’t put yourself out there and try a lot of things!?
PS: A good book that highlights/explores this type of mantra is “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport.
Scott Carney, VP of Strategic Accounts
“If you think it, ask it!” During my life as a salesperson of technology services, I’ve constantly found myself in meetings with clients/prospects having conversations about subject matter that is over my head. Technology I’m not familiar with, acronyms I’ve never heard of, business models that don’t make sense to me, etc.
In my early days, I was hesitant to ask questions about items I didn’t understand out of fear of being exposed as ignorant (perhaps accurately!). But asking clarifying questions is part of “seeking to understand” your customer that is a critical sales skill. I’ve found it sparks a more interesting conversation that has made me smarter and shows my customer that I’m listening and trying to understand their situation. So, “if you think it, ask it!”
Meghan Thesing, Director
“Document your best days, your highest points, and your most memorable accomplishments. Use these as a reference for when you experience the inevitable low days, the challenging situations, and difficult outcomes to remind yourself of your capabilities and drive you to continue to reach your best successes!” In one of my first weeks as a Client Engagement Manager at KellyMitchell, my dad suggested writing down my best moments in a journal or somewhere I could reflect back on, knowing that I probably would need to at some point. A month into my second year, I had the worst week of my career.
Everything that could possibly go wrong, did, and even things that I didn’t know could go wrong, did. I questioned myself, I questioned if this was the role for me, and I doubted every decision I had made. The thought of giving up crept into existence. Instead of giving in to it, I pulled out the journal where I had logged my biggest achievements and my most accomplished days to remind myself that one bad day, one bad week, and even one bad month didn’t define me. Instead, it encouraged me to re-focus my attention on being better than I was the day before. It’s a habit I still practice today.
Delena VerHey, Controller
“Whatever you decide to do, be good at it”. I don’t even remember where I heard this when I was young, but it completely resonated with me. I’m fortunate that I get to apply the skills I learned in college (and beyond) every single day, and I love it. I know many people end up in careers they never studied, to begin with. Success doesn’t come from a degree. It comes from putting yourself out there, honing your craft, and continuously working to “be good” at whatever it is you decide to do.
Blaise Bussell, Executive Vice President
Some of the best career advice I received was straight out of college from one of my first uber-successful managers. He said, “Blaise… work harder than most for three years, and live better than most for 30 years. Bring your best effort every day so you get ahead of your peers and get the attention of successful people around you. When successful people see your effort, then they are more likely to invest in you. This gives you access to top-performing people, and in turn, raises your game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok once and a while to have a bad day, but just know that on that day the clock stopped on your three years.”
Two decades later, I share this advice with all our new hires at KellyMitchell. When you are early on in your career or new role, you have a clean slate to determine the perception of those around you and subsequently what group you interact with daily. Seize that opportunity to be among the top performers, they will be the ones that teach you, challenge you, and inspire you to do great things!!!
Gina Chisholm, VP of Marketing and Technology
“Feedback is Love.” Early on in my career, an e-mail was shared internally with a good, quick read. It was a one-page, anecdotal story about a young athlete on a high school team on receiving feedback. The message is simple but impactful – if your mentor, coach, etc. is taking the time to give you feedback – it is coming from a place of love. When they stop giving feedback… that is when you worry.
The story of feedback is love is one that I’ve had pinned to the wall of my desk for nearly a decade – the message just as relevant today as it was then. Feedback is always around us – listen with gratitude. Perspective is everything. Feedback is love❤️.
Ryan Earles, Director, Dallas
The best career advice I ever got was, “Bring your effort and energy every day to work hard and progress your career, but you have to remain even-keeled with the emotional highs and lows that come with being in business.” Work and life is a grind, and we have to bring our conviction to growing professionally every single day.
With that, there’s an emotional roller-coaster that comes with our daily challenges, and successes. Keeping the right perspective, and healthy balance between how we let our losses affect us, and how we celebrate or wins is critical to long term success.
Jamie Orf, Managing Director, St. Louis
So the advice I always give to new people starting their career is to trust their leader’s guidance. A leader will only ask you to do things that they believe will make you successful because your success is their success.
I also tell people to run their day like they own the company, meaning that they need to make the most of their time and operate as if every choice they make will ultimately lead to whether or not the business thrives or has to close its doors.
Kim Paxton, VP of Delivery
“People will not always remember what you said, but they will always remember the way you made them feel.” This is such an important reminder for anyone, in any professional or personal setting, to remember that the impression you make on someone else goes well beyond the words you carefully, or carelessly, choose.
The impression you leave on someone is about how you make them feel, and understanding this about human nature helps grow your communication skills, and ultimately your career path, by being service-oriented in how you engage with others.
Ryan Haggart, Managing Director, Seattle
Perhaps the best career advice I received had a lot of different phrasing but they all came down to one thing – “Listen more than you talk”. Sometimes it’s “Two ears one mouth.”, “He/she who talks first loses.” etc. As I have progressed in my career, listening, and understanding has always been my primary focus.
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