Last year, as I was getting ready to leave for work with my mom on Bring In Your Parents Day, I remember vividly my mother looking me up and down and saying, “you’re going to wear that?” She suggested I choose a more professional and put together outfit. She was right. And I changed what I was wearing.
It struck me at that moment that my mother has been giving me subtle advice that has served me incredibly well throughout my career. The best piece of advice she gave to me at an early age (other than always dress appropriately because you never know who you’ll run into) is to never burn bridges. This has served me so well. The reality is you’ll never see eye to eye with everyone you encounter in your career, but how you handle disagreements is critical. A good reminder is that person who is driving me crazy could one day be my boss, client, partner or customer. You should treat every relationship with respect, and while it’s OK to disagree with someone, do it gracefully. In today’s highly connected world, I believe this advice is more important than ever.
I’m certainly not the only one who has benefited from advice from my parents. I asked some of my colleagues about the best piece of career advice they received from their parents, and this is what they had to say:
Take the professor, not the class.
In college, Head of LinkedIn for Good Meg Garlinghouse’s dad would always tell her to choose the greatest professor rather than the most compelling class. After all, it is the teacher, not the subject, that teaches us how to think and be an inquisitive and engaging member of society. Meg has extended this advice to her career – and has looked for great leaders and managers rather than perfect jobs. And it is these individuals who have challenged her to stretch and be more productive and successful.
Be authentic and honest with yourself.
Authenticity keeps you grounded. Know where your center is, keep to it and build on that core with more knowledge. Mariama Eghan’s mom shared this advice with her when she was deciding whether to change majors in college. Mariama started out majoring in accounting because she was ok with numbers, the career path seemed secure and somewhat lucrative, but she didn’t enjoy it and her performance suffered as a result. She’s now working in our Talent Acquisition organization and could not be happier. Her mom’s advice has stuck with her every step of her career, even in daily interactions. Every time a new opportunity presents itself, she stops to ask whether it will keep her engaged and excited so she can put her best foot forward.
You can do whatever you want.
Engineering leader Michael Olivier’s parents supported five children in pursuing their passions, regardless of how crazy they might have sounded e.g., “I’m going to be a street performer”. Their careers have ranged from Michael’s as a software engineering leader to a social worker, a nationally recognized tennis coach, a restaurant owner, and a professional new vaudeville entertainer.
Make as many decisions as necessary to get your life just right.
With this wisdom from her parents, Sales Leader Alyssa Merwin was free from thinking that decisions were final, and that she was only allowed to make good choices in life.
She used to be concerned that she wouldn’t always make the right decisions in life (pick the right job, break up or stay together with my boyfriend, etc.), but her parents always reminded her that we are allowed to make as many choices as necessary to get our lives just right. This simple advice has helped her throughout her life to pursue the things that interested but also scared her, whether that was living abroad, taking a sabbatical, getting married, or deciding to join a new company. Even when her decisions haven’t always been “right,” she remembers her parents’ advice and is free to make new decisions, to choose a different path if that’s what’s needed, and to keep making decisions until she gets her life just right.
Don’t be afraid of the word “No.” Just ask.
MaryAnne Viegelmann, our Global Employee Experience Manager, was always taught by her mom to not be afraid of rejection, the word no, or putting herself out there to ask a question or try something new. This belief has allowed MaryAnne to stay confident in any situation, to take rejection as an opportunity rather than a setback. It has led her to explore various opportunities and ultimately helped her grow in passions both professionally and personally.
You can excel at anything you want to – it just requires practice and determination.
My colleague Darain Faraz on the communications team saw his father live this advice every day. Tenacity and hard graft were at the core of Darain’s father’s work ethic, and when he didn’t know what he wanted to do after college, his dad reassured him that being determined and focused is ultimately what will will see you through.
One of the main reasons people get fired: a lousy attitude.
For as long as Social Media Manager Liana Pistell could remember, this had been her father’s mantra. He learned this by asking “why did so-and-so get fired?” throughout his career. Liana now understands that a bad attitude is rarely the trigger for firing someone, but it’s often the underlying reason for poor performance (one exception: not having the right skills to perform the job). Being successful at your job is as much about being a proactive problem solver and being a pleasure to work with as it is about being good at your daily responsibilities.
There is a solution to every problem.
When Nonprofit Relationship Manager Ariana Younai’s dad was 16, he left his family in Iran for a new life in the U.S. One of his first jobs was as a Math Teacher at Queens College in NY, where he began to build his roots in this country. He always believed that with the right mindset, resources, and conviction, there is a way to solve every problem, both inside and outside of the classroom. This belief has formed the way Ariana sees the world and approaches challenges; it’s what’s given her the ability to see answers in the midst of complexity and the confidence to press on even in the most seemingly-difficult situations.
Be kind to everyone you meet, you never know who needs a little kindness in their life.
The best advice Kyle Poll’s parents ever gave him wasn’t actually something they told him, it was the advice that they SHOWED him by the way they lived. Kyle’s parents are nice to everyone, and they make friends wherever they go. They smile at people, talk to them, ask them about themselves, and treat everyone they meet with love and respect. They have taught him that the worth of each and every person he meets is immeasurable. This has enabled him to experience the joy that comes through serving and befriending those he comes in contact with.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received from your parents? Share their advice on LinkedIn or Twitter with the hashtag #BIYP.
Photo Credits: M Portraits