My job involves interacting with dozens of business visionaries on a regular basis. I’m constantly meeting with vendors, potential partners, customers and new employees. I take something positive away from every exchange. It’s usually a tidbit on how I could run my department more efficiently, manage talent more smoothly or tackle a business challenge from a fresh perspective.
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Here are the eight best pieces of advice I’ve received in the past six months. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.
1. No one manages your career but you.
This sentence — when spoken by Melissa Proctor, chief marketing officer at the Atlanta Hawks — gave me pause. How often do we look for someone else to notice us in our jobs or wait for a specific role to open? “Everyone should go into his or her career with an entrepreneurial mindset,” she said. “Then, watch amazing things happen.”
2. Go slowly.
There is often an expectation to hustle, especially in the world of high-growth companies. But this comment, said to me by Brendan Schwartz, cofounder of video hosting company Wistia, really hit home. His point: sometimes it takes time to get something right, and it’s OK to embrace a slower pace.
3. Make sure you have emotional support.
Ryan Petersen, founder of freight forwarder Flexport, told me this after a long conversation about how he started his business. He said that being a founder is hard and that there will be times when you’ll question why you quit your corporate job. “Find people who will support you when things get bad and give you practical advice,” he said. I appreciated his candor.
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4. Don’t do it for the money.
This sounds cliché, but I’ve found it to be true in my career, and colleagues have said the same. This advice came from a conversation I had with Lorena Garcia of the online training company Bloguettes. “I try to remember that if you do what you like every single day,” she said, “the money will come.”
5. Be patient. Great things take time to happen.
As someone who likes to see results yesterday, this was a hard one for me to accept. This advice, given to me by Eric Siu, CEO of Single Grain, a marketing agency in Los Angeles, I found especially applicable when faced with challenges. “Be patient, and be resilient,” he told me. “Most people give up at the first sign of adversity. Don’t be most people.”
6. Spend more time recruiting.
When Flexport’s Petersen started his business, he spent a lot of time “heads down” on product. “I think if I could go back and give myself advice, I’d say to spend more time on recruiting,” he said. “Other people are better than certain things than me; I’m always better off spending my time trying to find those people.”
7. Be grateful.
This one wasn’t advice as much as one of Siu’s productivity hacks. The single biggest thing that helps him stay effective? “Writing for five minutes in a journal every morning,” he said. “I write down three things I’m grateful for and it helps shape my day. It makes me feel invincible. A lot of people think meditation and gratefulness is ‘rah rah,’ but it actually helps.”
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8. Don’t listen to advice.
I laughed out loud at this one, but then thought about it for a moment. These words came from Daehee Park, cofounder of Tuft & Needle, a fast-growing company in the mail-order mattress space. “Our first advisor told us this,” Park said. “He said to listen to everyone but to ultimately make our own decision because every situation is different, and no one has the absolute truth.”