Every successful entrepreneur has one special “something” that has made a unique, lasting contribution to their achievements, be it a former mentor, a previous role they held or an event that impacted their life. Our lived experiences help define who we are as individuals and hone our perspectives throughout life. As we advance as professionals, these experiences take shape as new traits, resources and accomplishments that help drive our ongoing maturity and achievement.
Whether it’s in their personal or professional lives, Young Entrepreneur Council members have been influenced by many milestone moments and memories. Below, nine of them describe the most important things they’ve gained as they’ve advanced in their careers and how these additions benefit them in the roles they play now.
I probably wouldn’t have recognized it at the time, but when I was starting my career right out of college, I thought I could basically do anything. I had always done well in school without much effort, so I figured the same would apply in the workforce. Plus, if there were things I didn’t know how to do, I figured I could learn them really quickly. Now, I’ve seen the value of having real experience. People who have spent decades honing their craft are incredible. Whether it’s leading a complex sales organization or managing a Michelin-starred restaurant, expertise is a beautiful thing to behold. I wish 22-year-old Andrew would have realized that he really didn’t know much of anything and would have focused on learning from the true masters of their crafts. – Andrew Powell, Learn to Win
2. Logical Decision-Making Ability
Experience has taught me to develop a certain level of patience that, to my detriment, was nonexistent earlier in my career. Patience is almost counterintuitive in the startup world, but I’ve learned with time to focus on creating smaller wins along the path to larger goals. This lesson has been combined with learning not to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes along. My work ethic has not decreased in any way, but I’ve learned the value of developing foundational knowledge before tackling a new challenge. I’m a naturally proactive person, so this has created a strong balance when it comes to making strategic decisions and evaluating new business opportunities. I’ve found that my decision making has improved by being based more on logic and evidence as opposed to emotion. – Charles Bogoian, Kenai Sports
3. An Understanding Of The Difference Between ‘Kind’ and ‘Nice’
I am not a nice person, but I aspire to be a kind one every day. “Nice” people never rock the boat, are worried about being liked and want to keep everyone happy, whereas “kind” people are most concerned about doing what’s right, are willing to speak up and do not shun the waves they make. No “nice” person has changed people, systems, societies — or the world, for that matter. Therefore, as a leader and entrepreneur, I stay focused on being kind, even though many cultures prefer “nice ladies” and “good girls.” – Beck Bamberger, BAM
I would say the most important thing I have gained as my career has advanced is patience. When I first started, I wanted to achieve everything fast and spent a lot of time stressing about getting things done faster so I could go farther. Being impatient causes you to get ahead of yourself and waste precious energy thinking about whether or not you will win your next pitch, anxiously awaiting a response from a client or wanting to develop and expand faster than you have the capacity for. Instead, that energy is better spent focusing on things you can control — such as improving your product or providing excellent service — and knowing that the rest will follow. Patience combined with persistence and determination is a far more valuable combination than the latter two alone. – Maria Thimothy, OneIMS
The most important thing I’ve gained in my career is wisdom. Wisdom benefits me both personally and professionally because it’s something I use all the time to make decisions. Wisdom involves more than responding to a situation. Those who are emotionally based tend to respond impulsively to any given situation, which tends to promote conflict and drama. Those who are wise hold back until they’ve fully evaluated a situation and can make a just and wise decision. This is an important element for those seeking to rise to a company manager or upper-level position. Company leaders often deal with different personalities, conflicts and assorted problems. While they sometimes must make quick decisions, a good leader never makes emotional, impulsive decisions. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
6. The Determination Not To Settle
Don’t settle. Your mind will have excuses and will demand very little of you. Put another way, your mind does not have experience demanding the success that you’re looking for. Yes, at one point we all lived with our parents, but that doesn’t mean we would tolerate that reality now. You have the power to make things happen today if you just ignore and reprogram the outdated thinking in the back of your mind. That “coding,” that level of success, is all based on the past. You need to be asking yourself, “Will I be happy with how I lived my life, on my deathbed, if I don’t do X, Y or Z now?” You need to consider the future. The future will level you up! I don’t care where I’ve been. I care where I’m going! – Jonathan Sparks, Sparks Law
7. Connections With Other Professionals
The most important thing I’ve gained throughout my career is connections with other professionals. Professional networks help raise our individual profiles, keep ideas fresh, build confidence and advance our careers. It’s a two-way street of giving and taking or referring and being referred. Professional networks should include past clients or customers, referral sources, resources and trusted advisors, each playing a role in one’s career growth. – Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.
As a professional, I’ve been able to gain more confidence in my abilities and skills. Imposter syndrome was a huge issue for me when I first started my business, and I found myself almost giving up multiple times. It’s not unusual for new business owners to harbor doubt and fear about whether or not their company will grow and turn into a success. But believing in yourself, as corny as that sounds, is the key to moving with confidence and getting things done. Even if you have to “fake it till you make it,” you can train yourself to be more confident and achieve better results for your business. The right attitude and mindset make all the difference. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
I became proactive — I learned to focus on the solution instead of taking time trying to learn more about the problem. I use my energy for the things that matter most instead of soaking in circumstances and people who suck all my strength. I found out who I really am and no longer need a reminder of what I can do. In down times, I have learned to work harder and find ways to learn more. I no longer define my value based on others’ thoughts about me — I am now actively living my life away from other people’s shadows. Because of my proactiveness, I am now in control of my own reactions and the future steps I’ll take, and I don’t have the need to consider what others may think afterward. – Daisy Jing, Banish