No Shortcuts - Advice for My 20 Year Old Self

I was on a panel this week for a class at University of Cincinnati.  It was a career discussion where we provided career advice.  We covered a bunch of topics and many I wished I heard when I was an undergrad.  It could have made my career in my 20's more focused on enjoyable.  ha.  

You live and learn though.  Below were the biggest pieces of advice. 

Be Open:  When you're 20 years old you are young and don't have as many serious attachments (significant other, children, mortgage, etc).  You have more freedom to explore ideas and take more risks.  I had 3 jobs in the insurance industry in my 20's as I tried to find a good fit for myself in the industry.  I couldn't find it and decided to go to business school in my late 20's.  It felt like I kept on moving from job to job, but that was the time to do it. 

Careful Following Others:  It's really easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and feel like you're missing something.  When I was at Wharton everyone was headed to investment banking in NYC.  It paid well, was well respected and it felt like you were a dumbass for not pursuing it.  Even though I was horrible in finance, didn't really like the culture and couldn't imagine working 90+ hours a week I shifted totally away from my passion in marketing and went for financial services.  I was the lemming following all the other lemmings off the cliff.  My heart was in marketing.  My skillset was in marketing.  I didn't take one marketing class outside of the required 101.  Thankfully I was able to find my way back to marketing.....7 years later!

Find What You Are Amazing at....and Like:  Lean into your strengths.  Find what really gets you excited.  If you really love what you do you will work harder, be more curious and have way more positive energy for it.  All of that improves your likelihood of success.  When you attain that success you will likely enjoy what you are doing even more.  It's a  flywheel.  I like the concept of Ikigai.  It's an old Japanese concept that says that you should find the intersection of 4 things:  What you love.  What you are good at.  What pays you.  What the world needs.  If you hit that sweet spot you will succeed.  

I have a lot more pieces of advice, but those were the top 3.  We are living in a rapidly changing time, so I see a ton of opportunity for young people.  You have to play your cards right though.  Don't get content and not push for greatness.