Business world lessons My top 10 “lessons learned”

Wendy Vonderhaar

CEO

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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I had the opportunity to speak at the Business Courier Biz Women Event last Friday. I was asked to share my story and “lessons learned” from being in the business world and leading a business over the last 25 years. Here are my top 10 “lessons learned:”

  1. Nothing is permanent.

    Stuck in analysis paralysis? Sometimes it is easier to make a big decision, big career move, etc., if you realize it doesn’t have to last forever. If something is not working, you can change it. If it turns out you don’t like a new job, you can start looking for a new one. You only grow if you take risks and try new things. It’s easier to have the courage to take risks once you realize that you’re not married to it forever.

  2. Be a YES person.

    This isn’t about telling people what they want to hear or over-committing yourself, rather it’s a state-of-mind, an attitude that you are going to find a way to make things happen, to get the job the done. Before you say no, ask yourself what CAN be done?

  3. Seek and embrace feedback.

    Don’t fear the performance review - use it as an opportunity to grow professionally. Seek out feedback from as many sources as you can – internal or external clients, managers, peers, etc. This is how you grow and improve.

  4. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

    Your career will span over many years. Sometimes in our pursuit to climb the “corporate ladder” or achieve the next goal, we forget that we have a lot of years ahead of us. Be choiceful in the commitments you make to ensure you not only succeed, but also have a life along the way.

  5. Learn to live and succeed “in the woods.”

    I used to say, “next month we will be out of the woods” repeatedly until my husband finally asked me “has it ever occurred to you to learn to live in the woods?” He was right. The reality is that you are never out of the woods – once you solve one challenge, there are five more waiting for you. Enjoy the ride!

  6. Don’t take those that are supporting you for granted.

    It’s easy to do. I had a big reminder about 8 years ago when an Office Manager embezzled a lot of money from the business. While devastating, it made me realize how great my employees, clients, vendors and family are as they all helped me and Intrinzic weather the storm. It goes both ways. Constantly be thinking, ‘Who needs your support?’

  7. Take time to focus on the positive.

    As leaders we often focus on what needs to be improved. This has a tendency to overtake our thought process and can turn into negativity. Celebrate the wins and take time to focus on all the things going right. If you look closely, there is usually more good than bad.

  8. Leadership is not about having all the answers.

    Early on in my career, I thought this was the case. The reality is it’s exhausting, unrealistic and often alienates your team. Your job as a leader is creating a vision and an environment where people can grow and do their best work. THEY can come up with the answers.

  9. Never stop learning.

    Intrinzic’s recent merger with Copperfox Marketing has been a great reminder of how energizing learning can be. I now have 14 new coworkers who are experts in PR, social media, content creation and video production to name a few. I am lucky to be learning so much from these talented people. Stretch your mind and learn something new.

  10. Be Human.

    It’s very powerful. People want to connect with other people, not superhumans. Often we focus on being perfect and let’s face it – perfection is boring. It’s ok to be vulnerable and share something personal, even your weaknesses. It makes you credible, believable and relatable.

What are some lessons you’ve learned during your time in business – newbie or veteran? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @IntrinzicSays.