I have been fortunate in my career to have reached some rather high positions in corporations over the past 30 years. On the way up the corporate ladder, I learned some valuable lessons the hard way. Here are my Top 10:
1. Fill Your Toolbox With The Best Tools
When I was a little girl, my father bought me a red metal toolbox. He filled it with a few of the best tools – a hammer, screwdrivers, and a wrench set. You can imagine a little girl opening a toolbox as a present. I didn’t get it at all.
A tool box?
My father told me that he never wanted me to feel like I couldn’t do anything, especially because I was a girl. He told me he started my toolbox with a few of the best tools and now it was up to me to keep adding to it. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what he meant by it. Every opportunity that came my way, I took the best tools I learned and kept adding to my toolbox.
I continue to add to my toolbox, but the tools I gathered throughout my career helped me get to the place I am today.
Make sure you add to your toolbox as you go through life.
2. There is No "I" in Team
I learned this one with my team at Hasbro. We took the good with the bad. We took the successes as a group and we took failures as a group. We responded as “we” and as a result it fostered the kind of team spirit and support that led to creative thinking, proactive approaches to problems, and always finding a solution.
We use this one at Poliquin every day – I believe it is one of the main reasons for our success.
Each one of us plays an important role in making the team impact greater than the sum of the parts.
3. It Doesn’t Matter How Young You Are, Contribute to Your Retirement
I learned this one right out of college. My father’s rule was that you won’t even miss the money that you put away every month because, after awhile, you’ll learn to live with what you have.
I used to put away a percentage of my pay every week, no matter what job I had. We push the same philosophy at Poliquin and as a result have 100 percent participation in the retirement plan that we offer our employees.
4. Count to 10 Before You Speak
When I worked at Raytheon I was chosen to be on a 40 person team that included 39 men and 1 woman: Me.
We would meet with the Navy in this huge boardroom and you were expected to answer questions and participate in the discussions. To say it was intimidating was to put it mildly. I got advice from my father : “Count to 10 before you speak, cause when you open your mouth you want to sound as intelligent as possible.” I realized after practicing that a few times, what a valuable lesson it was.
Today, it’s one of my parenting skills. Most of the time, reacting too quickly is based on
emotions, but if you wait and count to 10, you’d be surprised how well thought out
your statements can truly be.
5. Read A Great Newspaper Every Day
For me, it’s the Wall Street Journal—it used to get delivered to our house when I was a kid, and that’s how it started for me.
My father is 83-years-old now and to this day he reads the Wall Street Journal from front page to back page and can tell you anything you want to know about what’s happening in the business world today.
6. Only Your Brains Will Keep You in the Boardroom
This means don’t ever stop learning because there is someone right behind you ready to take your place. Don’t rest on your laurels—always strive to learn more, be smarter, and never be afraid to try new things.
7. Draw A Line Down The Middle of a Piece of Paper
This is one of my favorites and it works for me every time. Faced with a decision you aren’t sure about? Get a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle with positives on one side, negatives on the other. By the time you get done filling in the lists, the answer will be right in front of you. It is also an excellent exercise to reinforce things that are important to you. Sometimes we all lose track.
8. You Get More Flies With Honey
My mother, a sociology/psychology major, taught me that sometimes you just need a softer approach. People are more apt to do what you ask them if you phrase it in a nice way, in a nice voice.
9. Don’t Be Judgmental
Again, the sociology/psychology major influence because unless you can walk in the other person’s shoes, don’t judge them.
I’m not sure where I picked this one up from, but you can ask anyone in the Poliquin Office and they will tell you I make up excuses to have a party. Birthdays, big successes, the day we bought the land for our new World Headquarters, and my favorite one, “It’s Friday!”
Celebrate with the people you work with: Bring lunch in, go out to lunch or dinner, give out gift cards.
For our holiday party this year, we rented a huge bus and 40 of us went to a Boston Bruins hockey game. People got to bring whoever they wanted: Their spouses, their brother or sister, their friends.
I’m not sure what part I enjoyed more—the hockey game, or just hanging out with people who I am so fortunate to work with.
And a bonus…
11. If You Concentrate on Your Own Job and Do Your Best, Rewards Will Come
My father taught me not to be concerned with what someone else’s salary was. Just concentrate on what you are responsible for and do a good job…the promotions and salary will come. He was completely right.
*Caroleen Jones is co-owner of Poliquin Performance and has been COO since 2006. In her 30 years of experience, she has held several high ranking positions in corporations such as Raytheon and Hasbro. She has extensive training in Sales Management and Promotional Marketing.