Career Advice: 3 Women’s Perspectives

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? 

Nancy Schirm: It was very harsh advice.  When I left ABC to go to NBC, the station manager got drunk and pulled me aside. He held out his martini glass and said, “See this martini?”  (Yes)  “See my finger going into it?”  (Yes)  “See me pull it out?” (Yes).  See the hole left when I pulled my finger out?  That’s how much you’ll be missed.”  I’ve never forgotten that no matter what you give a company, they’ll replace you in a hot second.  No one is indispensable to anyone but themselves, so take care of you first. 

Jenna Sandoval: Never burn bridges. The world and industries are small. You never know when you are going to cross paths again with someone. Networking and keeping in touch with connections are key.

Nancy Pham: The best advice I’ve received is from two of my role models. One is from Kendra Scott, “please bring me down,” and the other, “always push” from Fitcode CEO, Rian Buckley. What these women entrepreneurs were trying to tell me was that no matter what happens to you in the business world, you have to fight it and let it motivate you to grow and improve.


What motivates you?  

NS: I want to be the smartest, most talented, most competent person anyone ever met, as well as charming and funny. So, I’m motivated to continuously learn about new things, trends, ideas, culture, industries, inventions, ideas.  I’m fascinated by history and doing comparisons between what is happening now and what happened 20-30-40 decades ago.  Learning motivates me.

JS: On a personal note, being happy and healthy motivates me. On a professional note, an Instagram user being served the most relevant ad and having them convert (ex. buying an item) is pretty remarkable as it shows my work coming full circle.

NP: The answer to that changes. Sometimes it’s wanting to be productive and using my time wisely and others it’s the dream of living the life I want that forces me to do the work that’ll get me to that life.


What’s your strategy for staying balanced with work and life? 

NS: I’ve never done that well at all.  I love working.  It’s much less complicated than dealing with “life” because there are rules folk have to follow. Boundaries are set.  Priorities are clear.  Deadlines are set.  So, I cannot help with this.

JS: At this stage in my life, I don’t think the work-life balance exists – at least within my current profession. It will never be 50/50 for me right now. Work + life BLEND is something I try to focus on. When work is extremely busy, I give it my 210%. But I always try to make sure I get sleep in as well as a short work out in. When work isn’t as crazy, I make sure to really use my personal time wisely (ex. workout over the lunch hour, calling friends in the evening, playing a tennis match in evenings/weekend). My strategy is understanding that there is an ebb and flow and being flexible along the way to make sure you aren’t burning the candle at both ends.

NP: PRIORITIZE!!! You have to know what’s more important to make the best decisions.


What are some traits you would like to see more leaders possess?

NS: Integrity, Honesty, and Directness.  People can’t be “fair”, humans aren’t wired that way.  You’ll always like someone more or prefer the work/effort of one person over another.  

JS: Better listeners. There’s a gap between the day to day executors and exec leadership at most companies. The leaders that understand what it takes to get a job done AND can guide me strategically are the ones that I want to work for.

NP: Respect and an open mind are characteristics I see a lack in very important leaders today. Respect for other people is something that’s always been important but is becoming bigger in the US for good reason. I also think leaders need to have an open mind when it comes to solutions for problems because there is not always only one answer and other options thought up by a team might work out better than what a single person came up with.



Is there anything you would want to say to your younger self, knowing what you know now?

NS: Keep your mouth shut. Listen 100 times more than you talk and never brag. By and large, people are either going to be jealous of you or threatened by you or absorbed in their own issues so much that they don’t really care about you. Never share a secret or anything intensely personal at work or with work colleagues.  Friends and co-workers come and go, but enemies collect so always be nice even when you don’t want to be.  Also, don’t get trapped into thinking the little estuary you live in – whether it be a physical place, or a company, or a group of friends – is  “everything.”  You need to keep your head up and look at things from a macro perspective.  It’s a whole big world out there.
JS: Don’t be afraid to take the leap to try something different and outside of your comfort zone.

NP: Don’t spread yourself out so thin. It’s stressful and you won’t become specialized in anything. You can’t be too well-rounded or you’ll soon have no point. #Punny


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