Top of Mind: 8 Mistakes Young Professionals Make

Early in my career, I really lacked perspective. I made the mistake of thinking I was a big fish and learned quickly that it’s in proportion to the size of the pond, and there is always a bigger pond. Some people think they are happy where they are, but that is only because they don’t know what lies ahead for them on the other side of fear.

—Rachael Qualls, founder and CEO, Venture360

I took a job for the money, but I wasn’t excited about the work. That experience taught me salary doesn’t make you happy. I think about that experience every time I hire someone to work at ZipRecruiter. Learning what gets people excited is the best way to judge whether or not your environment is a match.

—Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO, ZipRecruiter

A mistake I have made in the past was looking at an opportunity or project and immediately thinking I may not be qualified to take it on. I have found that all of my past work experiences and my personal life contribute to whatever task is at hand. I think that, as an entrepreneur, you find you have more skills than you ever thought you had. I now take on new opportunities with more confidence.

—Brittany Gaskill, co-founder, Stylelink

When you’re growing, trying to save money by limiting the size and quality of your team is a huge mistake. It’s important to hire people who will grow with you. Rather than hiring based on experience today, I have learned to hire based on our needs in 12 to 24 months. This reduces turnover and ensures that we have plenty of team members to support our company objectives.

—Jeff Platt, CEO, Sky Zone

The biggest mistake I’ve made was not being ambitious enough when I was younger and exploring and learning more things in life. However, I’ve learned that it is never too late to go for your dream. Regardless of how old you are, you should always set the bar high and never quit until you achieve it.

—Melanie Cho, co-founder and director of marketing, TrendPo

Early on, I naively extended trust to people who hadn’t earned it. I was left in financial hardship by unscrupulous partners whom I trusted far too easily. These days if you have my trust, you’ve earned it through dependability and loyalty during hard times. True colors tend to come out when we’re not flying so high.

—Christopher Longsworth, founder and CEO, Invesca Development Group

When I started my first corporate job, the biggest mistake I made was trying to fit a traditional role of leadership; I ran projects top down. By straying away from my natural style, I realized I wasn’t leveraging my core strengths: understanding my stakeholders’ needs and fostering a collaborative environment.

—Gloria Hwang, co-founder, Thousand

The way entrepreneurial success stories sometimes are told, it seemed that if you made something that consumers wanted, success would inevitably follow. I was all about the product, and now I've changed: I’m all about the company. Sure, the product needs to be the best, but that alone is worthless. You need to create awareness, and you need to give consumers access. That takes the right people. It’s all about the team.

—Kristy Lewis, co-founder and CEO, Quinn Popcorn

As told to Jennifer Chang

We all make mistakes, but the people who thrive from them are the high achievers. Find out what 10 things successful people never do again.


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