If given the chance to whisper some words of wisdom to your 21-year-old self, what would you say? Would you focus on career, finances, travel, family? Words of encouragement or admonishment? We asked some of our recent interviewees and their responses were diverse. (Chances are, our younger selves wouldn't listen anyway.)
Maria Wilton, Former Country Head - Franklin Templeton
I was concerned about the impact that having children would have on my career. I couldn’t envisage stepping back from work to stay at home to be a Mum. I was having too much fun. Fortunately, I did have two beautiful children and I didn’t have to make a choice. I worked part time, full time, part time and then full time and was a better employee because I was a Mum, and a better Mum because I went to work. I was fortunate to work for companies (in particular County and BT) that supported me. My advice is that I ought not to have worried about it: “Just Do It”!
"Save, Invest, Diversify….always be prepared to back yourself."
Matthew Fogarty, CEO - Fitzpatricks
Allison Hill, Director of Investments, Global Multi-Asset - QIC
I’ve got nieces that age and we’ve been having a few of these conversations lately and the biggest thing that I say is to take every opportunity that’s offered to you. Sometimes, you can have a preconceived idea about what you want to do or where you want to be, but I’ve found that when you take opportunities that are offered to you, you learn a lot. They can help you in unexpected ways down the track. Being adaptable and open to opportunities has definitely helped me through my career.
"To continue to believe in yourself and to persevere with your good ideas... and short the market in September 1987."
Darren Stevens, Head of Super - Mercer
Cathy Burke, Author, Speaker, Mentor and Leadership Developer
When I was 21 I was a bit lost. I was a very prickly person. I’d developed a shell as a response to childhood events, and I wasn’t very trusting. I thought emotions were a sign of weakness. My advice to 21 year old Cathy would be to have more self compassion. To know that I was worthy of love and kindness, and how I develop that is to be kind and loving to myself first. (I did learn this eventually you’ll be glad to know, and its now one of the things I teach leaders!)
"Travel and work overseas."
Andrew Polson, CEO - Frontier
Jim Murphy, CEO - DST Australia
A quote from author William H. Johnsen, which is a favourite of mine and one which I feel is relevant for young people (including my three adult children): “if it is to be, it is up to me”. Whatever you choose to do or be, the path you choose and your success is wholly dependent on you.
"Sue – don’t worry so much!"
Sue Dahn, Partner - Pitcher Partners
Michelle Blicavs, CEO - Association of Consulting Surveyors, Director, Speaker and Unique Leader
"Travel the world before you settle down! (I married at 19). I would say, don’t be afraid to apply for any position that interests you. You might not have all the criteria they’re looking for, but you might be the right person at the right time for the position. Rejection is a part of the learning, don’t take it personally! Find that inner-confidence in your abilities and skills and go for it! And don’t do it alone. Our slogan for Unique Leaders is "On the Journey Together". Too often I’ve found women struggle alone and don’t talk about the opportunity or challenge before them, they just feel like they have to muddle through on their own. That’s not the case – there’s someone out there who’ll be happy to be your sounding board – just give me a call!"
Charlie Jamieson, CIO - Jamieson Coote Bonds
Cristina Cifuentes, Former Commissioner - ACCC
Life probably won’t turn out the way you expect it to. So, be flexible in your thinking and actions. Take opportunities even if they don’t fit your immediate plans. Don’t let linearity in life, or your career, be your constraining factor. And above all, don’t worry about making mistakes - we all make them – just don’t keep making the same ones.
"Try to do a better job for friends and family, try to get the hang of personal relationships and maybe work just a little less."
John Streur, CEO - Calvert Research & Management
Paul Xiradis, Co-founder and executive chair - Ausbil
I am of the belief that it’s important to remain focused and by this, I mean it is vital to always have an end goal in mind, the ‘objective’ you want to work toward and achieve. Start by asking yourself ‘what do I want to achieve’ and put a flexible plan in place. Finally, always ensure you are surrounded by good people and be ready to adapt to change.