Best Career Advice? 12 Leaders Share the Tips that Helped Them Succeed (Build Your Queue Season 1)

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Experience may be the best teacher, but I’d rather skip the struggle. Wouldn’t you?

People wiser and more experienced than me have already gone through the same situations and succeeded. They have answers—or at least know which questions to ask to get them. But what I really want to know is what helped them get to where they are today.

I’m grateful our Build Your Queue podcast at Text Request gives me (and everyone) the opportunity to find out. It’s a podcast to help business leaders create more opportunities for their companies to succeed, and we ask the same question at the end of every interview:

"What’s the one piece of advice you were given that completely changed how you approach your work?"

Here are answers from Season 1!

1. Speak up.

Alexis Willis, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce:

"A mentor asked me, “What would you do if you were not afraid?”

She just looked at me until I answered the question, and I said, “I would speak up.”

The power of speaking up does not come without consequence. It takes a lot of courage, but it is impactful. I have never regretted when I’ve spoken up."

Check out the full interview: 4 Steps to Creating Your Own Professional Community

2. Switch up your perspective.

Natalie Martin, Co-founder of Heed Public Relations:

"I had a boss who challenged me to see how I could affect a situation.

Especially in project management, you are working with your team and your clients. You have this thing that needs to get done, and it’s up to you to make sure everyone has what they need to accomplish it. When someone doesn’t have or give you what you need, it’s easy to say, “I can't finish this project, I am stuck.”

Even though there are situations when that is the case, what I’ve realized is that there are often things you can do in those situations to push forward. I will take a stab at something instead of waiting on the other person to do it, and I’ve found people are more likely to tell you ,“Wait, this is what needs to go there,” than to actually give you what you’re asking for.

Take a pause and say, “Is there something different I can try?” This has helped me get projects moving even when feeling stuck."

Check out the full interview: 5 Steps to Successfully Managing Remote Workers

3. Never stop learning.

Philippe LeMaitre, Digital Marketing Manager at Workshop:

"Never, ever stop learning. Never feel like you've reached the pinnacle of knowledge, because you haven't. That idea goes into literally everything in my career and my processes and my work ethic today. I never, ever, ever stop learning."

Check out the full interview: 5 Musts to Effectively Navigating Digital Advertising

4. Create space intentionally.

Josh Davis, Principal at 8 Bend Marketing:

"If you don't create space in your life that is intended for certain things and allow those things to fill that space, then your time and your life is going to be filled with things that are out of your control.

Think about the things in life that are the most important to you and figure out how to create space in your life for those things to come in and fill those spaces."

Check out the full interview: 3 Steps to Tell Your Compelling Company Story

5. Lead by example.

Nick Phillips, Founder of Cash Flow Mapping:

"When I was just starting out, I had some great mentors, and they went out of their way for me to do stuff that was awesome, like check in with me or refer my business. I try to replicate that in some way. It’s helpful. Get involved with other folks who are around you, and offer to help them out, talk about their problems, and work through. That mentoring and getting involved I think is key."

Check out the full interview: 4 Steps to Keep Your Business Profitable (and Avoid Holes)

6. Serve the customer, and the money will follow.

Mike McDowell, Director of Operations at Social Joey:

"I give away [all the advice] for free. When I sit down with a potential client, I'll tell them everything they need to do, and they can either do it through us or not, but they need to do this.

It stems from something my CEO said to me. “A lot of people get into this (startups/business) for the money. They chase the money and the valuation. But if we are going to win and be successful, serve the customer. If you serve the customer, the money will follow.”

And so I tell people everything that needs to happen, so at the end of the day, they cannot say I (we), didn’t serve them well."

Check out the full interview: 5 Essentials to Succeeding on Social Media

7. Say “no” so you can say “yes.”

David Martin, Co-Founder of Heed Public Relations:

"This advice wasn’t something that someone actually told me directly, but our first client was an accounting firm. We did a project with them called “Why they succeed.” Our client isn’t the type who wants to put the spotlight on them.

We needed to find a way to highlight their good work without making them feel awkward. So we went to a few of their customers, and asked how our client helps them succeed.

One of the customers we focused on was a photography company, and their theme for the video was, “We have to know when to say no.” Sometimes you have to say “no” to something good to say “yes” to something better."

Check out the full interview: 3 Steps to Crafting Your PR Gameplan

8. The ask should be the easiest part.

David Rowland, Director of Marketing at SigniX:

"I wasn’t a natural salesperson, so asking for the sale at the end was the hardest part for me. I could say “Do this or that,” but when it came time to ask for the check I got really nervous.

A sales manager told me, “If you are nervous to ask for the sale, you aren’t doing it right. By the time you ask for the sale, it should be the easiest interaction you have with a client. You aren’t building up your value enough, you aren’t educating enough.”

If anyone thinks about a bad sales moment they’ve had (buying a car or a house), it's usually due to a lack of sales process. They’re asking too much too early, or they’re ignoring steps you think are important. That’s when I started focusing on the buyer journey, and if you do the first few stages of the journey right, the ask should be the easiest part."

Check out the full interview: 3 Essential Steps to Eliminating Workflow Bottlenecks

9. Think like your buyer, and be helpful.

Tom Wengler, Partner with HubSpot partner agency OctoUX:

"A guy I used to work for years ago told me, “If you want to be good at sales, you have to get to the point where you can jump into someone's mind. If you do that, you’ll be very successful in sales.”

Think like your buyer, and just be helpful."

Check out the full interview: 3 Steps to Increasing Sales Traction

10. Don't expect consumers to care on their own.

Patricia Diaz, Senior Demand Generation Marketing Manager for Credly:

"The best piece of advice that I was given was from a former boss who said, very candidly, “Nobody cares about your career more than you do.”

That’s it!

Don’t expect people to throw money at you. Don’t expect a raise or promotion just because you are great. If you want or desire something, that is your burden to prove."

Check out the full interview: 4 Steps to Creating a Profitable Demand Generation Strategy

11. Keep your eyes open.

Brian Elrod, Co-founder and CEO of Text Request:

"Have your eyes wide open. Pay attention to everything around you, especially what your competitors are doing. Don’t keep your head down. Keep your eyes open."

Check out the full interview: 4 Steps to Growing Your Franchise by Optimizing Communication

12. Learn from comedy improvisation.

Katie Love, Marketing Manager at Workhound:

"I have five things that I learned from a 2nd City improv intensive.

1) We can create some really amazing concepts if we work together as a team. The entire concept is not on me. “Yes and...”

2) Respect the process. Growth hacking is somewhat of a myth, most things take time to come to fruition. Respect the process, and give the process time to work.

3) Listen to understand, rather than listening to respond. Not only is it polite to listen, it also allows you to truly understand the point they are getting across.

4) Get thicker skin. Not in the sense of not being empathetic or being too tough, but sometimes our ideas don’t land. That’s okay. Learn from that and move forward.

5) Sometimes it doesn’t matter. The great Bill Murry likes to say, “it just doesn’t matter,” which is a great thing to remember when you have anxiety about something. It gives you a chance to focus on what actually matters and move on."

Check out the full interview: 4 Ways to Use Employee Onboarding to Create Company Advocates