When I started my career, I worked as a Sales Representative for an international Consumer Packaged Goods company. Shortly after I began, I was placed on a recruiting team, with training soon to follow. For the remainder of my career, recruiting, training and speaking played major to exclusive roles in my work.
My career weaved from consumer packaged goods to claims management to public relations and ended in healthcare. I’ve met people from half way around the world, bumped into a neighbor on an elevator at work, eaten at great restaurants, cooked my own office party meal, cried on the drive home, and laughed myself silly!
When I look back on my career, it was good overall. Of course, it brought about some bumps, bruises and a few cuts, but that’s the nature of it, right? However, there’s one piece of advice I wish I could go back and give my younger self that I didn’t learn until about the last ten years of my career:
Maintain the relationships you build.
Oh, I’m a pretty good relationship builder now, but I didn’t understand what this meant and its importance when I was younger. When I was less “scarred” and defensive, there were people I had come to know whose opinions I valued greatly and with whom I knew I could entrust my real struggles. However, when things changed or one of us moved on, I failed to maintain those relationships.
◾Over the years, there have been countless times I wish I had stayed in touch with Bryan. Even though he was my boss, we clicked in ways I never would’ve imagined clicking with a boss. I respected him in his position, but also felt like he was a friend and had my back. I could talk to him about any subject, even the taboo subjects of religion and politics. I still have the Christmas tree he gave me when I purchased my new home. Thanks for the friendship, Bryan.
◾Steve was one of the most incredible leaders I ever knew! He had this ridiculous ability to be able to effectively grow the business, but was also an incredible people manager. I remember at the end of the year that I worked for him, he won the highest award in the multi-billion dollar, international company we worked for, but didn’t win it for his business results – as phenomenal as they were. He won it for his people management skills. And what did he do when he won? He gave his employees all of the credit! I have wished many times over the years that I could call him to get his advice on how to handle an employee issue. Thanks for the great example, Steve.
◾Melisa and Heidi were my partners in crime….and crime it was! There wasn’t a trio on the planet that could pull an office prank better than the three of us could. It was so nice being able to vent to them in a way that only they would understand, and vice versa. We could read each other’s moods by a half, not whole, glance. When was the last time I spoke to either of them? Who knows? Thanks for the fun and camaraderie, Melisa and Heidi.
Over the years of missing the people who influenced and impacted me throughout my career, I began to learn and change tactics. As a result, I’m thrilled to be able to say that I still keep in touch with Fred, Beth, Rachel, David, Rhonda, Chie, Mike, Tom, Thelma, Mil, Sylvia, Art, Rhonda, Georgia, Joe, Kim, Trish, Kim, Lori, Kristen, Kim, Juanita, and others who I value.
There are still others with whom the bond has slipped further away, but I’m much better than I used to be!