By: Sandi Thorman
1. Be Confident.
It is amazing how much better you perform when you are confident. Confidence, for me, is obtained by a pep talk in the car on the way to work (yes, I talk to myself in the car). It is also obtained by the outfit I am wearing. Recently, I was asked at the last minute to participate on a partner panel for a local university. I was dressed business casual that day, but decided to go back home and put on a suit. Sounds silly, but that suit made me better contribute as a panelist. I was able to hold my own against the 4 other blue suits (male) who were on the panel. Preparation is key too. If I have a meeting I am leading, I try to anticipate the issues and role play the responses (again, talking to myself in the car).
2. Be Present—Both with Work and Family.
This is pretty simple, but focus and engagement are very rewarding for both you and the person on the other end. If a person walks into my office with an issue, I greet them with a smile and give them the attention they need. I sit down at dinner with my family and enjoy the stories of the day. There are always interruptions, like the client with a transaction closing that afternoon, or the associate who is running late because of car trouble, or my 102-year-old grandmother who is calling to say “thank you” for her birthday card. However, these interruptions are the exception rather than the rule. There are days that are harder than others, and when I have those days I try to let it go on the drive home from work. Then when I get home, I have released (at least a little) of the day’s bad energy and my husband only has to help me get down from a hill rather than a mountain.
3. Take Challenging Assignments.
If everything was easy, I would be bored. Short and sweet, but remember not to take too many challenging assignments. Serving on too many boards is a prime example. It is a joy to be invited on a board, but this goes back to being present. Trade and non-profit organizations need your time and creativity, and this can only be stretched so far once you add on work and family.
4. Be in Charge of Your Own Career.
If I have a hard time with something, it means I care. I am ok with putting in the time to advance. I am also ok with tooting my own horn and asking for what I want. I learned early on that although there may be many colleagues and supervisors who support me, it is up to me to drive my career. This goes back to confidence. Pump yourself up and go for it.
5. Build a Support Network to Help You Get There.
Find somebody who will challenge you. This can be a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a group of these. The messages you receive may not make you feel great at that moment, but that advice will make a world of difference. Know that you are not on an island all by yourself. Also, embrace the relationships you make throughout your career. One thing can lead to another.
The next time you are in your car, talk to yourself. Give yourself a boost of confidence, dismiss any bad energy from the day, or plan out that next opportunity. Know that you are not alone. There have been many people in my life who have supported me, inspired me, and empowered me. We can all help each other along the way—let’s plan to meet at the leadership table.
Sandi Thorman is the partner-in-charge of GreerWalker LLP’s Tax Department and the leader of the firm’s Financial Services Practice. Sandi has more than 15 years of tax and business advisory experience with a strong focus on the financial services industry which includes investment advisors, private equity funds, mortgage bankers, investment banking firms, broker dealers, and insurance companies. Sandi assists closely held companies and their owners with tax planning and compliance needs. She has significant expertise in entity selection, entity structure, ownership changes, mergers and acquisitions, succession planning, and estate planning. Prior to joining GreerWalker, LLP, in 2000, Sandi worked at KPMG in Cincinnati, Ohio.