An Early Mentor, and His Bookshelf, Helped Me Succeed

In 2007, when I moved from Brazil to the United States alone, I felt a dire need to catch up. In my mind, everyone here already had the knowledge and tools to succeed, but I didn’t. On a tight budget, I proceeded to scan the bookshelves of the work colleagues I looked up to most. I borrowed as many books as I could read. At the time, I was a payroll administrator with little to no obvious prospects for career advancement.

During my “catching up” journey, I identified my favorite bookcase of all, containing books on management, business, finance, and leadership. Anthony, the owner of the bookcase, a coworker-turned-mentor, not only gave me full access to his books, but also guided and encouraged me. He told me luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, and that despite not feeling motivated by my then role, I should continue putting in the work preparing for when opportunities presented themselves.

Anthony’s advice was the best I ever received, and while I may have been over-prepared to perform my payroll tasks, the books I read taught me key concepts and methodologies I apply to this day. Reading also allowed me an escape from reality and the opportunity to dream about my future career. Those were not easy years, but I credit the difficulties I had to overcome then with forging my current perseverance, resilience, and drive.