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Who has influenced your career? Part 3: Work and School

We asked business leaders, "Who has influenced your career?" and we received a wide range of terrific answers. Here is Part 3 dedicated to the bosses, colleagues, teachers and professors who have made..


Madison Tong, Digital Marketing Assistant, My Supplement Store


The person who has made an influence in my career is my former professor, Dr. Carly Drake. She has influenced me and showed me so many ways to be successful in the marketing industry. In her classes, we learned how to run our own campaign and how to promote it. She let her class take charge of the campaign and really showed us how to promote a campaign using social media and other platforms as well. In my current job, a lot of my work is promoting multiple campaigns using social media platforms. Being in her class has taught me how to promote things on social media and I have been putting it to use in my current job. She stood out from any other professor because she has a unique style of teaching which allows her students to put what we are learning in action which is beneficial because you can really understand the concepts that she is teaching. Dr. Carly Drake really cares for her students and wants them to succeed in life and she really helped me do that. Her unique ways of teaching has helped me understand certain concepts and has allowed me to put it to use at my current job.



Melissa Kelly, General Manager, Virtual Team Building


My high school guidance counselor helped me become a CEO! ❤️: One of my biggest influences was my high school guidance counsellor. She was a smart and friendly lady that took the time to really understand students. Instead of just putting me through a career quiz or similar, we had deep conversations about what I wanted and how I might get it. She was the first person to identify entrepreneurship as a potential path for me. Even though I worked in corporate jobs after graduation, that seed of you can do it on your own! as an alternative path always stuck with me, and helped me eventually launch my current business in the online team building industry.



Jeff Moriarty, Digital Marketing Ninja, JMoriarty Marketing


The person that absolutely influenced by success from my first boss coming out of college. I knew nothing about the industry outside of what I learned in college. He took a chance on hiring me with no industry experience. He was tough on me, made me work long hours, put me in awkward situations, but always had my back. I learned quickly because of that. Fast forward 15 years later and I have a marketing company with my own just-out-of-college employees. I love teaching now, and my goal is to make each as successful as I have become. He is someone I will never forget.



Devon Fata, CEO & Founder, Pixoul


The person who did more than anyone else to inspire me to do more was my boss at my first web design job. He was incredibly demanding of his team, and kept an iron grip on all of the meaningful design decisions. Everything had to be done his way, no matter what the employees or even his clients had to say about it. After a couple years of being berated for trying to do my job better, I quit to launch my own business, and I've never been happier. He showed me that I had what it takes to do this job up to my standards, and even to lead others; I couldn't possibly do a worse job than he did, and he was still successful.



Jeff Bogensberger, CEO and Founder, The Laughing Otter


When I look over my career that started flipping burgers at age 14, I realize that my success has been positively affected by both good people, such as the work ethic imbued by my parents and those that were not to be emulated. Although having a problematic boss is not enjoyable at the time, one can learn a lot about what not to do when one is in a position of leadership. No singular person or group of people can be credited with influencing my success. I have learned from so many along the way.



Nick Chernets, CEO, Data for SEO


I always admired one of my fellow colleagues who started his own business almost 10 years ago. He prepared so thoroughly for this process and made as few mistakes as possible. More importantly, he achieved a great work and life balance which is very rare for startup owners. He was always there for his family yet his business successes kept coming. I loved how he always had understanding for his employees and managed to build very strong relationships with every single person. He has been my biggest supporter over the years and I was actually hoping I could follow his steps and build a company based on similar values.



Lynda Le, Owner, Polish Perfect


There are many factors and people who influenced my success in life and business. Influence is one thing, and inspiration is another. I have been employed in a beauty salon and a nail salon station. My employees there have influenced me in pursuing a business in the nail and beauty industry. They were never selfish in giving advice about the industry and business itself. The life that surrounds me and my family inspired me to keep pursuing, little did I know that business and beauty and nails have become my passion. There will always come a time that you think you’ll lose it all. But as long as there is a passion burning inside and people around you that keep inspiring you, quitting will never be an option. You will only choose to move forward and chase success.



Sangeetha Kowsik, , IhsanIshan Design


Here's a story. I am the only person in the world doing this: A Hindu, Indian American woman creating Islamic/Arabic Art/Calligraphy, why? Horrified by the animosity and negative perceptions that plague South Asian Hindu and Muslim communities, I launched IhsanIshan Design to go along with my Arabic Calligraphy art exhibition titled “Allah Swami” (Allah God in Arabic, the language of Islam, Swami God (an informal endearing name) in Sanskrit, the language of Hinduism) up at NYU, an interfaith art exhibit to celebrate Islam and Hinduism and its shared traditions, educate, and bring about peace and understanding. Imam Khalid Latif the Executive Director / Founder of the Islamic Center at NYU has inspired me, a devout Hindu to continue Hindu Chaplaincy as well as launch IhsanIshan Design. IhsanIshan Design is a brand that works for religious, cultural, and ethnic unity by connecting across global cultures through art and design, told through the art of traditional Arabic Calligraphy (with a modern twist). It’s mission is to engage all people/communities interested in knowing about the diversity of this world with products that include textiles, accessories, + custom design & commissions, all which have a strong, meaningful, and powerful message/concept behind it to educate, start conversations, fight negative stereotypes, end racism by showcasing unique, positive/interconnected/uplifting stories, highlighting shared traditions, to build a more understanding, harmonious, compassionate, just world and global change in thinking.



Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio


At a previous job, I had a manager who shaped everything about who I am today. He was the hardest-working person on my team, but he never drew attention to himself or complained that the rest of us weren't pulling our weight. He was an incredible mentor who really wanted to make each of us the best version of ourselves. One thing he told me that stuck with me was that if I came to work excited and ready to make a difference, I would surprise myself with everything I accomplished. He told me that being inspired and inspiring others around me was as valuable a skill as any technical ability. He was right. I often remember the lessons he taught me when I try to figure out how to be a good leader these days.



John Stevenson, Marketing Specialist, My GRE Exam Preparation


My present manager has been the most influential individual in my career. He taught me how to be a better person and professional. For starters, he taught me how vital it is to consider my skills and flaws and to work on them in order to develop into someone who can effect change. Then, rather than telling me what I did wrong or right, he provided feedback on projects, allowing me to figure out what I needed to better on my own. Finally, he recognized when I was capable of performing higher-level jobs without micromanagement, all while maintaining an exceptional level of support.



Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer, TRG Datacenters


My current employer has been the biggest influence on my success to date. One way the company has done this is by availing quarterly training programs to all employees. Thanks to these training programs, I have realized a significant expansion of my skillset, which not only improves my earning potential, but also opens up a host of promotion opportunities within the company.



Max Benz, Founder and CEO,


According to the Huffington Post, mentors help shape a person's career and guide them through the best steps to take to reach their goals. With this in mind, mentorship is the most beneficial tool for students who are trying to find their way into the world of business. Mentors provide valuable insight on how to maneuver through a competitive landscape. They also offer advice on how to progress in one's career and bring out one's best potential. My mentor helped me by providing perspective, guidance, and motivation. He is someone I can always rely on for anything that I need because he genuinely cares about my success.



Stefan Ateljevic, Founder, PlayToday


The person who helped me become what I am today professionally was my former coworker. At the time we worked together, my former coworker was younger than me and already had more experience. She was a self-starter. She moved from a small city and worked her way up, taking every opportunity she could to learn new things. When we worked together, she was the one who had more tasks to complete and she was literally swamped with assignments. But I never saw her breaking a sweat about it. And while other coworkers (myself included) who had way fewer jobs to do panicked on how we would manage to do everything, she always seemed relaxed about it. She made time to hang out with others, mingle, laugh and joke. And she managed to do everything. She somehow always seemed to have so much fun working and mingling. I think she really pushed me into realizing that there’s no reason to be constantly anxious at work about whether or not you’re going to finish everything you have for that day. You will. But you need to sprinkle your workday with fun and nice things if you want to succeed. Too much stress means burning out, and wasting eight good hours of your day nobody will ever be able to return to you. *Optimism and a positive approach to work can help you get where you want to be much faster*.



Eden Cheng, Co-Founder, PeopleFinderFree


My business partner has undoubtedly had the most profound impact on my life and also on how I approach my work. When I first started my business, she was the first person that took a chance on my ideas, and even when she didn’t have a lot of technical experience in the software industry, she believed that I had a firm grasp on the vision I wanted to build. She not only invested in my business but also spent a lot of time and effort helping me find potential investors and being the business-centric person she is, I can undoubtedly say that almost every stakeholder or partner we have now would not be with us today if it wasn’t for her unique people skills and business acumen. It is for this reason that I consider her to be a visionary in the sense that she always manages to take a problem that is put in front of us, break it down and guide us on how to look at the long-term implications. She also has this uncanny ability to stay calm, assess any situation, and manage it with the hand she’s dealt with. And having worked with her for some time now, I really do hope a few of her qualities have also rubbed off on me.



Shiv Gupta, CEO, Incrementors SEO


If I had to choose someone that affected my career a lot, it would be my first client, Robe Noguria who supports me to create my digital marketing agency to assist people at a larger level and be a leader to my team. There when I established “Incrementors”. I focus on creating brand content that is engaging, conversational, and adds meaning to people’s lives. I am a multicultural marketing communications manager with a passion for developing connections between brands and clients through the combination of technology and knowledge. Because of the information she provided, I successfully grew into a management team leader. Although I am extremely driven and passionate, the abilities she taught me had a large impact on my career. At Incrementors, my goal is to grasp the connected customer knowledge growth across the company. And yes, I would tell this was the Aha Moment for me while Incrementors happened



Charlotte McBride, Owner, Charlotte McBride Design


The person who made a big difference in my success was my boss/mentor during my internship that I had in college, Kelsey West. I landed an internship at the College of Business on my campus at Idaho State University with her and it was very lucky that I did. I ended up working with her for about two and a half years and she taught me everything I know. She believed in my potential as a designer and that never wavered even when my own confidence did. It eventually reached a point where I ended up taking over for her during my last summer when she went on maternity leave and working with her allowed me to stretch myself in new ways and elevate my skills to put me where I am now. Her trust and support really allowed me to develop my skills in a way that has served me so well now after graduating. While she is certainly not my only mentor, she was the first one who really took a chance on a college student that didn't know anything about graphic design, PR, or anything and really helped shape me into the professional I am today.



Douglas Liantonio, Director Of Growth Marketing, Gavy


I am lucky enough to have the Director Of Growth Marketing, Bryttney Blanken as a direct influence. She has taken the time to do 1 on 1's with our team and takes time to explain each strategy. It has helped me implement SEO tactics by understanding how it affects our company. She has also taught me about content strategy because she knows both of them go hand in hand with SEO.



Dave Kohl, First In Real Estate Marketing, First In Real Estate Marketing


I did some part-time work for a guy (now deceased) in the 90's who taught me how and why to track and save both data and conversations relating to a business project or sales effort. He showed me how to over document things to the point where I would be able to make a strong and convincing case in a sale or business situation. Doing that very thing helped me get a full-time project I did for 16 years, while growing my income using many of his procedures on a daily basis. Being able to respond with a list of reasons when the other person has one reason is a powerful thing to be able to do.



Angus Chang, Owner of Digital Marketing & Director, Agency Hextto, iupilon


Although many people have made a difference in my success, my parents, friends, and elder brother are all responsible upto some extent. However, I would say that my first manager, who was my mentor during my first job, has inspired me to do more. In short, my first manager has had the most impact on my career decisions. He was an amazing leader with great knowledge and work ethic. I was fascinated with the way he used to run a team of 13 members. During every difficult situation, he would tell me that I could do the thing; nothing is impossible. He encouraged me to start my own business and gave some great suggestions that are still helpful in my career. Now I am a director of a multi-million ecommerce business and owner of a digital marketing agency. I believe that my first manager has a significant role in my successful professional life.



Aviad Faruz, Founder, Faruzo-an E-commerce


A decade ago, starting a small e-commerce business was nowhere on my radar. When I graduated, I decided to look for a career in online marketing. I eventually found a good job that I loved and where I met one of my mentors and bosses. He taught me a great deal. We collaborated on an online marketing strategy and built a beautiful new website... Sadly, the company started to struggle during the financial crisis of 2008, just days before the site was set to go public. It quickly became obvious that maintaining, upgrading, and supporting it would not be a major priority and, ultimately, the whole project was dropped. But the experience was priceless, and my passion for all things related to web marketing and selling was cemented. I searched everywhere for other opportunities. I felt I'd go insane if I wasted another working day doing nothing with my tech knowledge. But I didn't want to just go into any job. I wanted a job where I could use these skills once again. But I couldn't get that dream job. And all I can do right now is say thanks to my mentor, since he ultimately drove me into establishing my own little business. One day he asked me where I saw myself in 10 years to which I replied that I wanted to start my own business. He then asked me that if I had already decided to start my own business in 10 years, why bother getting a job where I saw no future. This gave me the confidence to take the leap and to stop allowing my worries to hold me back. And so, I jumped. I submitted my resignation, and several days later, I was sitting on my bed in front of my laptop, thinking about what I had thrown myself into, but I knew deep down that it would all work out somehow.. It was a rocky start. I had to find out a lot about running a business. I used up all of my savings and let go of a back-backing vacation to Europe (and cut down on expenses, postponed marriage, borrowed money etc.). But eventually, everything began to fall into place. I acquired my first customers. I teamed up with a fantastic design team that I had previously worked with. And above all, I managed to create an e-commerce website that I was proud of. And then behold, here I was, sitting at home, doing work that I loved, and collaborating with entrepreneurs and small businesses from all sorts of backgrounds. It only requires a little effort. A gentle nudge from my former boss. My family and my friends provided some (OK, a lot) of support as well. My advice to all young people is to do what you love and always stay humble and appreciate those around you.



Kitty Yeung , Speaker and Mentor, Kitty Yeung Downer


My success is a combination of various elements. I had a few amazing teachers in college who saw me as who I was, not just another student in the class. They were willing to work with me when asked and believed in me which made me believe in myself. I had a wonderful mentor at work many years ago. Even though there was a 7-hour difference between us geographically, it didn't stop us from working together. Again, he saw me as who I was, not just another mentee he was paid to work with. We connected very much on a personal level enabling me to further enhance my personal growth. He challenged me professionally and personally no matter what subjects we covered leading me to become a much better me, friend, colleague and leader. I went from a head person being an executive climbing the corporate ladder to a heart person doing energy healing, channelling and calling on spirits. From reading business books and financial journals then to spiritual books on soul connections and inner self, my journey of success has been one full of variety and amazing elements. When I took the leap of faith in leaving my established life behind in Asia to Los Angeles without a visa, a job or anything other than a knowing that I needed and wanted to be there, that further cemented the success within myself. From being a senior executive to a yoga instructor, then a mother to a published author and international speaker and mentor, the biggest influencer in my life is my heart and my mind. My heart gives me clarity and passion and my mind gives me the grit and steadfastness to pursue the journey ahead no matter how many unknowns there are. As I open myself up to the unknowns accompanied by unforeseeable possibilities and opportunities, I meet people along the way, be them the ones on earth as we know them or spirits out there that some don't believe in their existence, receive advice from others and from within Self and learn to listen to the constant dialogue between my mind and my heart. , All has helped propel me onwards and forwards and inspire me to continue my journey to be WHO I am and can be and pursue WHAT I want to achieve in life. Success is generally defined by the norm. True success in life needs to be defined by ourselves for ourselves. It takes more than one person if not one element to achieve that success. And the most important person or influencer to our success is ultimately Self as much as the help we get from others.



Retchael Aton, Executive Assistant, Vidart & Life


The person who has influenced my success is Vida de Oliver. I work for her as her Executive Assistant although I work from home. I take care of her emails and manage her website - pretty much everything admin is mine. We've been together for more than 2 years and I cannot thank her enough for giving me this opportunity. I am working with a stay-at-home mom with kids, just like me! She has been very patient in sharing her expertise with me and I feel like she entrusts me tasks that she knows I can excel at. I am also responsible for blogs on her website as a contributor and just recently she has trusted me to manage her social media accounts. She believed in me more than I believed in myself and that has made all the difference. I am now more confident in performing the tasks and I am also more comfortable getting more clients. I am now more confident with my skills because of her. She has mentored me and molded me to what and where I am right now. And for that, I will forever be grateful.



Sadie Higgins, Founder & CEO, Gleam


I worked in a coffee shop after my first real job out of college to take some time to foster my passions-- to truly live the starving artist life. I had a regular customer who would come in first thing to get her daily dose of caffeine and we would chat in between customers. One day, she asked me what I was doing working in a coffee shop and I told her that I was a starving artist-- that I was honing my craft (yes, I’m rolling my eyes as I write this). She told me she wanted to give me a job that actually paid some bills so I could be a properly fed artist, at least. And so I took her up on her offer. I became a receptionist at a prestigious school in the Boston area and I didn’t know it at the time, but the people I would meet there would help shape my career and life in a way I am in utter appreciation of. That woman changed my life in a way she’ll never know-- and I don’t even remember her name. Along the way, I have used my platform wherever I am at in my career to be the difference in someone’s life-- to see their potential and give them a shot and to help them see something in themselves they hadn’t noticed before. Before founding Gleam I was the small business owner of an on-site brow bar in Boston called Pluck. The majority of my time was spent working and interacting with women who had a core set of values that I deeply admired. These women wanted to look, feel, and perform at their best as much as possible (which is why they appreciated getting their brows groomed without having to leave the office, thus freeing up their time out of work to spend with their friends and family). Some of these women were high-powered lawyers, marketing execs, and CEOs of some incredible companies...really hot shit. And when they sat in my chair they shared their accomplishments and successes with confidence but they mostly talked about their families, their friends, and their travels. They were real and honest and thought that a work/life balance was bullshit because it is. No man is asked that question and no woman needs to be, either. It made me appreciate the example they were setting-- that they felt whole, even when things were temporarily broken-- and that a support system is vital to success. There isn’t one person who made a difference in my career. There are so many women whose goals and values I appreciated and continue to appreciate along the way. You may not know their names-- they’re not all showing up on Forbes lists (although some did) and that’s okay. They made a positive impact on my life by just being themselves.



Patricia Werner, Owner/Presentation Designer , Patricia Werner Designs


I started my career teaching mathematics. I was looking to make a change, and Andy Monin took a chance on me by hiring me at his start-up company at the time, Vendormate. He gave me the freedom to prove myself and grow in the company. I learned so much in the early years, and was able to work my way up to achieve a Director position that I loved. One of the most valuable lessons I learned came from his core values for the company. They were attitude, intent, effort, and performance. Obviously you need the right attitude, and need to put in the effort needed to achieve your goals, and it is all measured by your overall performance. The one that had the greatest impact on me was intent. This core value was that we should always assume positive intent from others. Instead of getting upset that a coworker/client/friend did something you didn't want to happen, you should assume that they had positive intentions. We usually jump to the negative assumption when things don't go our way which can lead to thinking things are done to be specifically contrary to you. I still have to remind myself to assume positive intent when dealing with everyone professionally as well as personally. I truly believe this has made me a better listener, a better communicator of my own intentions to others when it may not be apparent, and more likely to get a positive outcome for all involved.



Lisa Ealy, CEO and Certified Leadership & DEI Coach, Dare2Dream


My former HR Leader Diane Shields she is currently the Vice President Global Human Resources at Americhem in Northridge Hills, Ohio Under her leadership I learned how to occupy the HR seat at the table. She led our team to achieve nearly the impossible. We push the envelope on Organizational and talent development, employee relations, talent acquisition support, salary planning and execution, administration and design of HR policies and procedures, employment law, coaching management on employee concerns and succession planning. What I took away from having her as our leader is that you’ve got to occupy the seat and be the expert sitting in your seat. Your seat may be HR, or IT or Supply Chain. Either way it's your responsibility to push, pull, lead and direct your team to deliver results that exceed expectations. Don't get me wrong we had some early days, and late nights and long weeks that went into the weekends, but it was so with it I got to cut my teeth and do great things. In fact I still refer to many of the projects and accomplishments as best practice.



Nikola Webster, Director, Brit on the Move


For context, here is a little of my background: Not one single person in my family on either side has an education. All were working-class, borderline poor. My paternal grandad was a semi-professional boxer who spent every penny gambling or drinking. Leaving my grandmother at home with four hungry mouths to feed. The stage was set early for what would be a repeat. My early life was no picnic. It was plagued with alcohol addictions, physical abuse, divorces, and mental illness. Experiencing this has shaped who I am. I moved from the UK to the USA in 1996 to go to UCF. Shortly thereafter, I took a position with my current employer. I quickly got my first promotion from being a rater to a trainer because of my natural ability to teach and meet people where they are at. However, I was sour and jaded. I was also rough around the edges, to say the least. Some natural from my childhood. Mostly because in corporate America, you are rarely recognized for your talent. Rather it's who you know. And, unless you have a mentor to guide you, it isn't easy to overcome some of your own idiosyncrasies. I would go as far as to say unless someone sees the talent in you, it can be raw, and you don't know how to harvest it. At least I did not know how to in the corporate world. As a result, I got passed over the next rounds of promotion. *Enter Linda Moore:* She moved from New Jersey to Florida to lead our team. It was like a lightning bolt hit. I'd never met a woman dressed as well in a formal pantsuit or as intelligent and articulate. I'd never met a woman as successful, educated, self-assured, and yet still feminine. She's also funny as the day is long! I was enamored but intimidated. My response to this at the young age of 25 was to try to trump her or undermine her, often for no reason at all. This is until she called me out in private and asked me where the animosity came from. I shared with her how I'd been passed up for several positions that I was by far the most qualified for. In turn, she gave me a lifelong gift. She told me candidly that while I was one of the most talented people she'd ever met, I was like a bull in a china shop, and it was a lot to take in. She also shared with me what it felt like to get called out by me in a meeting. No one had ever told me how I came across or where I needed to change. From there, she took time out of her own day to coach me. She would practice with me when I prepared to present. She would help me write my presentations. She would give me brutally honest (good and not-so-great feedback) consistently - the coach was always on the side. Most importantly, she also had my back. At the beginning of projects, people would say, “Who the hell is that?” And Linda would have to reassure them that I was the best and to hold on. In the end, the people would beg me to lead another project. Everyone would hug me after a job well done, and no one would hug Linda. Something we still belly-laugh out loud about today. I would describe Linda as Mickey Goldmill, the coach. And me as Rocky Balboa the student. The diamond in the rough needed someone to see past the rough. She saw the talent and has had a pivotal effect on my career and my personal life. To this day, we are great friends, and she still cheers me on and guides me if I slip. Lastly, she and I proudly marched to The Capitol last year following RGB's death to stand for women's rights!


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