Have you ever met someone and knew immediately that they were on the cusp of success? You know, the ones with the work ethic you admire, the charm that leaves a lasting impression, and the unmatched ability to connect the dots in their balanced professional lives? Just as there are those defining characteristics of a fine wine, there are distinguishable characteristics of successful young professionals (YPs). Do you have them?
Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Gain
Successful YPs in most professions know that it took sacrifice to get to where they are today… and if they said otherwise, they would be lying. For many YPs, this meant countless disappointed phone calls with significant others while stuck at the office late, lunches at the desk, and enduring the typical gopher work that accompanies your various shades of green at the start. For an entrepreneur wanting to launch a successful company, if you don’t dedicate your entire life to your business venture, it will likely fail. Bottom line.
Peter Evans, Co-owner of Icon Digital, launched his company shortly upon graduating from university. While his frat brother peers spent the summers partying, his social schedule took a back seat. He tells us that, if he did happen to hit the town on a Friday or Saturday, he would be up, showered and at the office before 9am, just like any other day – hangover or not. Now, he enjoys the multiple vacations his success allows, along with Fridays off in the summer.
Our own Julian Brass recalls watching his bank account go into red in the early days of Notable.ca, a shock to his system after receiving a comfortable regular pay cheque for years. The end goal is the most important thing to keep in mind, no matter the sacrifices it takes to get there. Remember: Brad Pitt’s job once consisted of dancing in a chicken suit to draw in customers at an El Pollo Loco when he first arrived in Hollywood.
Pursuit of Passion
Successful young professionals constantly tell us the same thing without fail: it must not feel like work. Though it is admittedly not always easy, it’s key is to find something that you are passionate about.
Angela Aiello turned her passion and love for wine into a successful full-time career as a prominent figure in the wine industry, in everything from event planning to writing and TV and radio hosting. Basically, she spearheads wine knowledge for the YP set. This began with a blog about wine, which started as a hobby. Her company, iYellowWineClub, now has over 6500 members and hosts events, classes and tours for Toronto’s in-the-know YP set.
Gilt.com Co-founder Alexandra Wilkis Wilson recently told us that you know you’re well-suited for your job if you wake up happy to do it. Wilkis Wilson says that life is too short, so you should love what you do if you can and hopefully success will come. She herself left a job in finance to pursue her passion and love for fashion – even though it involved a major risk and beginnings in a tiny, dingy office on West 19th street. In just years, Gilt.com has become a game-changer in online retail and is currently valued at more than $1 billion.
It was an unbridled passion for wine that led Courtney Henderson on her career path towards becoming the Fine Wine Ambassador & Sommelier for E&J Gallo Winery, as well as possessing the coveted position of sommelier for the Fairmont Royal York and Art Gallery of Ontario. Once her passion was firmly in place, Courtney developed an approach to wine and wine education around inclusivity. “Wine has the opportunity to connect people, but it can often be intimidating and elitist,” she says. She talks and writes in an approachable manner to allow wine to be the catalyst for many great, shared experiences.
People like to work with people they like, plain and simple. For that reason, meaningful networking and relationship building are key characteristics of successful YPs. Natasha Koifmann has built a career any woman would both admire and envy, based, among other talents, on strong relationships and connections. As one of the most influential lifestyle public relations professionals in the city, she is one of the Toronto “it” PR girls of TIFF and this year was no exception. Back in spring at a Young Women of Influence event, she said that a good networker is able to connect all the dots, share relationships and use combined networks to propel forward. She advises to share connections, clients, and positive people with good goals. What goes around comes around. She also said that there is value in everyone you meet, so don’t be so quick to dismiss people you feel don’t serve an immediate purpose. For example, Koifmann once worked in the Mendocino store… now she does their PR.
During TIFF this year, actress Kim Poirier told us that networking (really fun networking in the form of red carpet events in her case) is all part of the job in the entertainment industry. She tells us that there is strategy involved at an industry party and that you learn to “work the room” and schmooze over time. As Poirier tells us, much of the business is based on relationships and you need to cultivate those and get out there. There is a fine line between forced and genuine, she reminds us.
Of course, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and to be equally as talented in all three areas may not be possible. If you have a knack for one of them, we suggest you use it to your advantage. If not, perhaps it’s time to challenge yourself; you never know what you’ll discover.