From books to blog posts to podcasts, there’s no shortage of career advice available out there for agency professionals. Sometimes, though, one stellar piece of wisdom they received rang especially true, helping to shape the trajectory of their career.
Whether you’re seeking insights on how to succeed in your work at an agency, specifically, or general career advice, it helps to listen to other leaders who have been in your shoes before. Below, 11 members of Forbes Agency Council share the best professional advice they’ve ever heard, and explain how it impacted their work.
1. Stay Positive And Solution-Oriented Through Adversity
Agencies can accidentally breed a culture of negativity. While complaints about clients, projects and teammates are often valid, staying positive and solution-oriented is what drives change, leadership, success and a much more enjoyable experience. I realized the validity of this advice was when I started asking myself how we can make things better. – Steve Peretz, Appnovation
2. Ask The Right Questions To Know If You Should Keep Going
Every six months, I ask myself two questions: Am I enjoying what I do? And can I support myself and my family in the way I want to? If I get two “yes” answers, I keep going. If I get one “yes” and one “no,” I have to pause and think about what to do next. And if both answers are “no,” I need to make a change. This has been my North Star for my whole career and has helped me get to where I am today. – Larry Fisher, Rise Interactive
3. Be The Best Listener In The Room
When I was just out of college, I had a mentor who would constantly remind me, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” You don’t need to be the smartest or loudest person in the room to be successful; you need to be the best listener. I truly believe that life and leadership are about listening. To be great at both, you have to learn how to be an engaged listener. – Noah Dye, LEWIS
4. Let Others Teach You Things You Think You Know
A senior leader once told me that, when someone is explaining something and asks if you know about it, always say “no,” even if you already understand 99% of it. Everyone has their own way of teaching, so they will explain something that you have never heard before, and it will give you different perspectives and a clearer understanding of that topic. – Mandeep Singh, SEO Discovery Pvt Ltd.
5. Think About Today As Much As You Think About The Future
My husband recently reminded me that I need to think about today as much as I think about five years from now, and that really resonated with me. As a business owner, I feel as if I’m always thinking ahead, sometimes at the detriment of what’s happening right now. That reminder always pops into my head when I go down a planning rabbit hole. – Christine Wetzler, Pietryla PR
6. Problems Don’t Matter As Much As How You Approach Them
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is that there will always be problems that arise, and it’s not the actual problem that matters, but how you approach it. Find appropriate solutions and act in accordance with those solutions so that you can move forward effectively. Don’t let setbacks hold you back. Continue to push forward to achieve success. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC
7. Slow Down And Don’t Try To Do Everything
The advice that I embraced recently is to slow down. Only about 20% of initiatives produce the desired results in my experience, leaving the remaining 80% a waste of valuable effort. By moving slowly and not trying to do everything, we can really focus on how our strategy will achieve our goals. Since I embraced this principle, our team has been able to produce higher-quality content and generate better results. – Alana Sandel, Marketing For Wellness
8. Work Harder And Smarter
The saying goes, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” However, I have come up with my own version of it: “Work harder and smarter.” Only the ambitiousness of your goal can determine how hard you will need to work to get the desired result. In any case, your hardest efforts won’t mean a thing if you aren’t being smart about reaching your goal. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
9. ‘It’s Not What You Do; It’s Why You Do It’
This quote from Simon Sinek resonates at such a high frequency that it applies to all facets of business. By simply asking, “Why does this matter?” when it comes to products, content and even processes, I can quickly determine the value of that business activity. If I can’t provide the “why,” then the approach should change or be eliminated. – Bernard May, National Positions
10. Only Do What You Love
Focus on your passion. When I started my agency 12 years ago, I wanted to be a jack-of-all-trades and really offer a “whole” value in terms of a campaign for a client. The result? Working on services that I hated to deliver, unmotivated staff and confused clients. We switched it up to focus mainly on social media with a few extras, and we have never been more successful. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency
11. Nothing Worth Doing Comes Easily
My dad always said, “They call it ‘work’ because it’s work.” While there’s a lot to be said for finding an industry and a job that you’re passionate about, there is profound wisdom in his words. Nothing worth doing ever comes easily. It’s important to work hard at what you love doing so that you can become the best at your craft. At the end of the day, long hours and hard work is what made my agency possible. – April Margulies, Trust Relations