My first two mentors, my mother and father, taught me to believe that I could be anything I wanted to be. My first job taught me the importance of that belief.

I had been working for a company as a payroll clerk for a little over a year when the corporate office posted a position for an accounts receivable collector. Enthused, I applied. When a helpful senior co-worker found out, he said to me, “You will only set yourself up for disappointment. You only have one year of experience.”

I was deflated. When I arrived home that night and told my parents what had happened, they said, “You can be whatever you want to be.”

Sure enough, I became the accounts receivable collector and was given additional responsibility only six months later.

Over the course of my career, positive leaders have surrounded me, and I observed their accomplishments and failures. One special mentor told me, “No question is a stupid one. Be persistent. Always be yourself. Don’t worry about what others think. If your question helps you learn or understand something you need to get the job done, then go for it.”

Every group has that annoying person, the one that asks a million questions. I am that person.

Many opportunities have presented themselves to me in my career at Volkswagen, and I took each one as it came, participating in several high-potential programs such as Volkswagen Global Junior Executive Program, Restructuring Committees, Leadership Development Program and Cost Transparency Leaders, to name a few.

When mentoring future leaders I use the six points of success to advise them:

  1. Make things happen rather than let things happen to you.
  2. Surround yourself with positive influencers who can be measured not only by their words, but also by their actions.
  3. Share your experiences with others and remain open-minded to their circumstances.
  4. Set high goals for yourself.
  5. Make decisions based on what is right, rather than who is right.
  6. Listen to others’ points of view in the way you want others to listen to yours.

In closing, I believe it is important to help others achieve personal success by encouraging them to believe in themselves and their ideas, learn from setbacks and face their fears. After all, you can be whatever you want to be.