How I Learned to Succeed
By Kristy Sisko, Girl Scouts of Greater New York Leadership Advisory Board Member
I was a Girl Scout for over ten years. During that time, I learned a great many things – from how to be an entrepreneur by managing my own cookie sales to effectively working as part of a team and the importance of striving for excellence.
In 2001 I started working for Vault.com as a sales assistant. This was my second job out of college and, after years of schooling, I was ready to take the world by storm. I had lofty goals and ambitions but didn’t quite know the best path to take in order to succeed. Looking back on the eight years I spent at Vault, I can see how I developed into a strong leader by applying many of the lessons I learned during my time as a Girl Scout – eventually becoming Vault’s VP of North American Ad Sales.
My experience as a Girl Scout laid the foundation for these successes and helped me to learn valuable lessons that I applied – and still apply – to my career. These lessons are:
1. Take advantage of every opportunity.
Put in 110%; volunteer for special projects; and always keep an eye out for opportunities to work with other departments, managers, or clients. Very few people graduate from college knowing exactly what career they want to pursue. The best way to discover what interests you and how to best utilize your talents is to keep an open mind and pursue new projects. This is a great way to learn on the job and to refine your career towards a role that is both challenging and engaging.
2. Be a sponge.
Learn. Learn. Learn. From basic tasks like using the copier to more complicated skills such as new computer programs, learn as much as you can. The old adage “knowledge is power” is true in the workplace as well, and the employee who knows a good deal about the company and the day-to-day workings becomes indispensable. Moreover, the acquired skills and experience will come in handy when applying for your next job!
3. Take risks and believe in yourself.
You are your single best asset and can propel your career in ways you might not even think imaginable. The key is to believe in your ability to learn and adapt. You don’t need to be an expert or have all of the answers. Simply pursue opportunities that are interesting to you and believe that you are smart enough and resourceful enough to do an amazing job.
4. Solicit feedback from others.
It is often difficult to receive criticism from others but this feedback is important, particularly in the early stages of your career. It will help you identify your strengths and improve upon any weaknesses.
5. Treat everyone with respect.
Everyone in the company, regardless of position, should be treated with respect. Beyond the obvious reasons, you will also learn that the kindness you impart on others will be returned tenfold. Whether you run into computer troubles right before a looming deadline or have a last-minute project to complete – others are more receptive to your requests for help when you’ve shown them similar respect in the past.
The five lessons I’ve outlined can be applied to any situation – my advantage was learning these lessons at an early age through my experiences with scouting. Without even realizing it, I started down a road toward success early on, and as I have continued to follow that path I have developed into a leader in my industry.