I Wish I Had Known Then...

December 11th, 2012
Christine Aguilera

Experience is the best teacher, but we're not always the best students when we're young. We asked established business leaders in the Valley to tell us things they wish they'd known when they were beginning their careers. This month, Christine Aguilera, SkyMall's CEO, offers two pieces of advice you can start using today.

Here are two things I wish I would have known:

First, I’ve never learned anything with my mouth open! It’s human nature for enthusiastic young people who are new to the workplace to try and persuade others about their ideas. Some think if they talk enough, others will listen and accept their ideas. However, it’s best to spend more time listening than talking. Strong listening skills can help you garner other perspectives on an issue and gain a deeper understanding of key considerations. They can also help you build a relationship with your colleagues who will likely appreciate that you took the time to solicit their opinions and feedback.  When you are ready to make a pitch for a new idea, propose a solution to a complicated problem or simply speak intelligently about the company you work for, good listening skills will give you the foundation to be better prepared and help you more effectively articulate your thoughts. 

Secondly, treat everyone you deal with respectfully and professionally. If your goal is to be a leader, make sure you motivate others to follow by earning their respect. Everyone you interact with can ultimately influence your career! While many people fixate on what their supervisor thinks of their performance (as they should!), keep in mind that others may also influence over your long-term success. These influencers include other employees, as well as suppliers, customers, or clients or competitors of your organization. While you shouldn’t seek to “please” everyone all of the time, make sure that all of your interactions with others are respectful and professional and leave a positive impression. If your goal is to be a leader and move up the corporate ladder, never underestimate the power of others you’ve interacted with to help you along the way. 

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