My very first mentors were my parents, who taught me to be positive, confident, and organized. They helped me to become an effective problem-solver and a caring leader. My dad was my trusted confidant and advisor until he lost his battle with cancer. My mother continues to encourage my every success.

As my first and most important mentors, my parents profoundly influenced my life at home and at work. As my career grew, I sought informal mentors who helped me to develop guiding principles for my career. I will always rely on my mentors for advice. Today, what I find most rewarding is the time i spend mentoring others. Every time i sit down with someone who is looking for advice, I first stress the importance of establishing and connecting with a network of people and proactively seeking informal mentors.

My second principle of mentoring is that perception is reality. People do not naturally see their own shortcomings, so there is great value in listening to and seeking feedback from others. One of my keys to self-improvement is to be eminently coachable. When people provide feedback to me, I never discount their thoughts. I stop to consider what they have said and reflect upon how I can improve.

I also strongly believe in the importance of asking for what you want. Take the initiative to figure out what you want. Make it happen. Own your career. Ask for opportunities.

Early in my career, I decided that I wanted to move from my position in finance to pursue a sales position. It was the beginning of my master plan to be well-rounded enough in my experiences to eventually run a business. Today, I have held positions in finance, sales, product management, customer service, and marketing. Each time, I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to move to the next step, but the experience I gained was well worth the work.

This brings me to my last, and best, piece of mentoring advice. Stay out of your comfort zone. Every six months, something about my job or my life changes. Each change brings with it a feeling in the bottom of my stomach that is both frightening and exciting at the same time. When that happens, I embrace the new opportunity. It has been worth it every time