RSS Lessons from the Past

For purposes of this article, I thought I’d take a bit of a retrospective look at some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout my working career, one or more of which may be beneficial to you.  This is my own personal top-ten list, which contains valuable, life-learning’s that I can now reflect upon as the most influential in molding me into the business-person I am today. To keep it interesting and keep you guessing, I have broken this article into two parts. 

 Please keep in mind that some of these lessons came at a time when I was much younger, less enlightened and worked for organizations that did not have the benefit of current thoughts on business and organizational structure.  

 Number Ten: Listen more and talk less, MUCH less.
I learned this lesson as a teenager, through experiences where I would find myself arguing just to argue and later paying the price for it. 

 Number Nine: Respect authority, but don’t fear it. 
At the first job I ever had, as a retail sales clerk, I was taught how to take orders, but also learned how to seek out advice.  The lesson I learned was that we can’t be afraid to be vulnerable to those who are in a position to help us!

 Number Eight: Don’t call in sick unless you are “dead.” 
Granted, today we really shouldn’t be going to work if we are contagious, however, I learned a valuable lesson when I was terminated, yes fired, for calling in sick at a plywood plant, where I worked when I was going to college.  I had only been on the job for a couple of months, and the company felt that I was unreliable. Today I have my full complement of sick days to use in case of emergency.  Do you wonder why?

 Number Seven: Don’t be late for work, in fact, be early! 
This is a corollary lesson to number eight.   I gained this knowledge, early in my career, by watching those who benefited from arriving to work before they were scheduled, or, for that matter, stayed late.  As a young banker, it was obvious that in order to “get ahead” one had to spend extra time before or after work to improve their skills.  Those who did got recognized for it, and those who didn’t often remained static.  Current wage and hour laws prevent this practice today; however, it’s still an important lesson!

 Number Six: Explore the entire playground. 
As you know, we all have policies and procedures we must abide by that are a part of our job. These are the protective fence built for us by our organization to help us to effectively perform our duties. While it’s okay to come to work and do a good job, those who often get recognized as “the best” are those who look at their position with a sense of wonder and excitement. Just because you have the same responsibilities as someone else doesn’t mean you can’t create more extraordinary outcomes. Years ago, I learned that being an innovative thinker meant good things would happen for me. It’s about creating unique value that can take an organization to a new level.  If indeed you are aware of the protective fence that allows you to do your job adequately, does it mean that you must you always stand in the middle of the playground?  Why not explore the outer reaches a bit and try things that the “other kids,” your coworkers, don’t?  

 That’s all for Part I of this article.  I would love to hear your feedback on any or all of these points to see if you too have learned similar lessons.  As I complete Part II of this article, please feel free to add your own life-lessons.  This is a leadership journey that we all can benefit from!

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2 Responses to “Lessons from the Past”

  1. ViJay Altergott, Employee of Pacific Continental Bank says:

    Thank you so much for your candor and insight. It’s refreshing to know that people in leadership positions such as yourself have had similar life experiences with “lessons learned” as I have. The thoughts you shared are indeed valuable and worth passing on to both young individuals entering the business work force as well as banking veterans such as myself.

    I look forward to reading Part II of your article. One lesson that I would share is:

    1) Always treat everyone you meet (whether work related or in your personal life) with respect and courtesy. Not only becuase this is a venerable quality to possess, but you never know when or if they might be your supervisor someday or who they might know or are related to.

    Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and experience!


  2. Mitch says:

    Thank you for your comment ViJay!

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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