Advice

20+ Career Tips From Successful Philadelphians to Help You Kick Off 2019

Sage words on networking, planning, taking risks and never giving up. Here’s to a wiser you in 2019.


Career advice from successful Philadelphians.

Yes, we’ve made it to 2019, but that doesn’t mean we have to throw all of 2018 away. Last year, we interviewed more than 50 successful Philadelphians in our weekly I Love My Job column, and each professional had something powerful to say about navigating work and careers. To kick off the new year, we’re looking back at that advice to give us the career push we need. Check out the list below for sage words on networking, planning, taking risks and never giving up. Here’s to a wiser you in 2019.

On Having Faith

When I started my career I wish I knew that… everything works out the way it should. That everything works out for the best. You only know the road you take. You don’t know the road not taken because you didn’t take it. You just have to have confidence that everything works out for the best. Michael Barkann, NBC Sports Philadelphia Sportscaster 

On Taking Risks

The best piece of career advice I can give is… don’t be afraid to take risks. If something doesn’t go right, learn from it but don’t wallow in failure. Don’t spend a lot of time feeling sorry for yourself. When we fail, we should fail forward and fail forward fast. Maitreyi Roy, Bartram’s Garden executive director

The career advice I give to young people is… don’t be afraid to raise your hand and take on things that are outside what you think you were hired to do. If you’re interested, volunteer to do that thing. It exposes you to new people and gets you more visibility. Ebony Lee, Comcast Cable senior vice president of strategic development 

On the Importance of Practice

The one piece of career advice I always like to give is…Find out what you’re good at, then perfect it. If you can do what you’ve been blessed to do and couple that with what somebody else has been blessed to do, then you can come up with something fantastic and exciting. Kenny Gamble, Philadelphia International Records legend; founder and real estate developer at Universal Companies

For those of you looking to break into photography, I suggest… going out and shooting as much as possible. Also, get out of your comfort zone. You’ll never know what you can achieve if you don’t try. Samantha Madera, Mayor’s photographer

On Listening and Reading

The best career advice I’ve ever been given… is to listen. Listening is vitally important for success. And to read as much as you can about everything you can. I think knowing a little about a lot of things helps round out a person. You’ll be surprised how much that knowledge helps you and pops up in your day-to-day activities and in your job. Reading things in and around your industry and outside of your industry can make you a better person in business. You can relate to people better. Kevin Mozzucola, Philadelphia Auto Show executive director

On Planning

An important lesson that’s stuck with me throughout life is… if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. My dad would always say that to me, and I took that to heart. The older I get, the more I realize that plans can change. You can do whatever you want but you just have to set a clear path to get there. Tina Wells, Buzz Marketing Group CEO 

On Networking

Networking is… about blocking and tackling. It’s not any different now than it was 100 years ago. You still have to go to events and meet people, but it’s about remembering names. And you should try to remember one unique thing about the person you met because you’ll need to follow up with that person. We all love when someone remembers something about us. It cuts through the clutter.Kevin Mozzucola, Philadelphia Auto Show executive director

The best career advice I’ve ever been given is… about the power of networking. It sounds generic but building and maintaining relationships is so important. Natanya DiBona, Philly Diner en Blanc organizer

On Leadership

A lesson I’ve learned about leadership over the past 10 years is… it’s all about empowerment and enablement. Hire people smarter than you. Arm them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. And treat people with respect. I believe in a servant-leadership model as opposed to command and control. Matt Kull, Revzilla CEO

On Public Speaking

I honed my speaking skills by… reading a Dr. Seuss book called “Oh Say Can You Say?” to my kids before bed. It’s a book of tongue twisters that I’d read faster and faster each time, and I’d pronounce every syllable. My kids got sick of it. I’d recommend this to every young broadcaster. Michael Barkann, NBC Sports Philadelphia Sportscaster 

On Morning Routines

My morning routine involves… reading something that’s very inspirational, like Marianne Williamson or a book by Oprah called The Wisdom of Sundays. I also do a morning practice inspired by Kevion Stirdivant. It focuses on setting intentions, and reaffirming them every morning. And finally, I consider what my three goals are for the day. Tina Wells, Buzz Marketing Group CEO 

On Success and Failure

The best piece of career advice I’ve ever been given is… in times of success, look out the window to your people’s hard work and dedication. In times of failure, look in the mirror for how you could have done a better job. Asher Raphael, Power Home Remodeling co-CEO

A piece of career advice I like to share is… if you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried. What matters is succeeding, and every woman can. She just has to be surrounded by supportive people in her life. And she has to believe in herself and believe in the possibility that she can be successful and just persist. Gloria Allred, civil rights attorney

Being successful is… becoming what you want to be and not allowing outside influences to let you deviate from your idea of what success is. Michael Banks, AACC president

On Finding Motivation

When I need some motivation I usually… go for a run or do something physical. I unplug for a little when I’m feeling burned out. For general inspiration I like to find great TED talks to get the motors spinning. I also like going to industry conferences or events to get a broader view of our market. If you spend too much time in the office, you start to get tunnel vision within the context of your walls.Matt Kull, Revzilla CEO

When I hit a creative roadblock, I… travel to see something new. Watson Mere, Digital artist

Something that motivates me is…. making others smile and if I could be a role model to someone, for the youth especially. There aren’t enough positive role models out there. It would be the most flattering thing for someone to say they look up to me. And I like to live my life with this Maya Angelou quote in mind: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Sheila Hess, Philadelphia city representative

On Hustle

The most important thing I learned about starting a company is… your success will depend on your hustle. – Todd Carmichael, La Colombe CEO

On Sacrifice

To all the women looking to be the boss, I suggest… you be willing to make sacrifices. You’ve got to be willing to make tough decisions. It comes at a price, and it’s not for everybody. There are real sacrifices and difficult decisions you have to make in terms of balancing the quality of your life. And you just have to be willing to take that on. –Judith M. von SeldeneckDiversified Search founder 

A mantra I live by is… short-term sacrifice for long-term rewards. That drives me everyday. I have to give things up in the interim for the things I really want. Michael Banks, AACC president

On Career Advancement

For women trying to break into this field and rise up, I’d say… never take “no” for an answer. That’s just a rule that I like to live by. I think that if you believe in something and you feel strongly about something, never take “no” for an answer. Stick to your guns. I also think mentoring is very important. If you find someone whom you really admire, someone whom you can really learn from, you shouldn’t think twice about asking that person to mentor you. Dana Valenti, Kimco Realty director of development

My advice to all women is… you need to be resilient in fighting for what you believe in and what you’re trying to accomplish. You can’t stop at “no.” You have to keep pushing. With all of us pushing and pushing, eventually, and you can see it now, starting, you’ll get there. The inertia is natural. You have to have a tough skin and be resilient. Joanne Ryder, Beneficial Bank executive vice president and chief administration officer

On imposter syndrome… I was advised early on, particularly by women in leadership positions, that when you’re in the room you need to behave like you belong there. You may have your own doubts but you need to sit at the table, engage and believe you belong there. Ebony Lee, Comcast Cable senior vice president of strategic development 

On Quitting

Advice I’d give to anyone starting a business in Philly is… don’t quit. You have to change it up all the time. If you give your idea a chance and it’s not taking hold but you want to stay in business, you have to figure out what works for you that customers want. For three months, I lived in the basement of my first store. I would take a shower at my girlfriend’s house. I did that because I could not see myself working for anyone else. There’s no shame in working for someone else. If you can see yourself working for somebody else, and you’re in business, you probably should go work for someone else. Mike Supermodel, Jinxed founder and owner

On Passion

The best career advice I’ve ever been given is… two things: to go with what I feel the most passionate about and to not sell myself short. Basically, ask for what you want. Mike Shaffer, Philly Buffalo Exchange Manager

On Building Relationships

The best career advice I’ve ever received is… take time to develop your own relationships because relationships are really meaningful in this industry. –Dana Valenti, Kimco Realty’s director of development

On Finding Happiness With Work

To those who are unhappy with their current jobs/careers I say… on the one hand, how important is the work that they’re doing? If it’s really important, that’s a factor in staying with it. And how much do they need the things they get for their work, meaning money? If [money] is really important, then I would suggest they stay with it and find happiness in another direction. But if the answers to those questions are that the work that I’m doing are perhaps not that important, and what I get out of it is not what I need, then you should be casting a wider net in life. Dean Malissa, George Washington portrayer

On Switching Careers

To someone looking to switch gears in their career later on in life I say… it comes back to my mantra: be as good as you say you are. Really perfect your skill and your craft. Be honest and trustworthy and someone that’s reliable. Those are a lot of the intangible skills that transcend any particular type of business. Justin Wineburgh, Alkemy X president and CEO

On Not Asking for Permission

The best piece of advice I’ve ever got is… from a woman I worked for early on. She always told me, “Don’t ever ask for permission.” I’ve kept that in the back of my mind. I never ask for permission. Joanne Ryder, Beneficial Bank executive vice president and chief administration officer