The most powerful advice I’d like to share is that within every person resides an inherent ability to succeed mightily, no matter what your roots, background or personal history. Cultivate a belief in yourself with a personal challenge to make the most of your unique talents, whatever they may be.

It’s not necessary to be the brightest, the smartest or the quickest wit, nor the best conversationalist or storyteller. In fact, my background doesn’t carry a corporate pedigree. I grew up in a true blue-collar family where everyone worked hard, vacations were local and budgets were often pretty tight. We valued people for what they contributed, not for their style or great promises.

So what I bring to business pretty much draws from those roots, and here are some personal, well-tested “rules” I can share:

  • LOOK TO THE TEAM FOR ANSWERS. Teams are the basic unit of businesses, not individuals. Not everyone is good at the same things, and every person brings something special to the table. Recognize this fact, contribute what you can and encourage others to do the same.
  • BE A GOOD COACH. That means helping people become better as team players. Be honest equally about good performance and poor. Let people know where they stand so they can move ahead.
  • LEARN TO “CONNECT THE DOTS.” Business solutions are seldom clear. Learn to understand how processes and people relate throughout the organization. Invest the time it takes to truly know how an organization works and how to impact change at the right levels.
  • GROW TO LOVE WHAT YOU DO. Develop a passion for your work and how you go about it. Your belief in your work and enthusiasm in doing it are assets. Company leaders know that and reward that kind of behavior.
  • FIND A COMPANY THAT ENCOURAGES YOU TO GROW PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY. This is really important. You need to match yourself with a business that recognizes the worth of every individual and unique value she or he brings to business. That’s what I’ve personally found at Waste Management.

Finally, I’d like to pass along a quote from the tennis great Arthur Ashe about succeeding: “To be great, start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.” That sums up my advice very well.