I believe the key to success in business (and in life) is to be personally courageous in whatever you do. Conquering small challenges can add up to big rewards. Throughout my life and career I have taken on personal challenges that have resulted in personal, as well as professional, satisfaction. One such example is public speaking. When I began work at Freddie Mac, I feared public speaking, but it was a personal goal to become a polished speaker—and I also felt it was essential to being a recognized leader. So I joined a Toastmasters group at work to help me conquer my fear, and I now love to speak in front of large audiences.

When I began my career, I didn’t necessarily set out to be an officer of a Fortune 500 company, but through setting personal goals, not being afraid to take on risks, and constantly challenging myself, my career soared. Today, I lead Freddie Mac’s Relief Refinances Mortgage Initiative, a critical part of President Obama’s new Making Home Affordable plan that will help millions of families across the country keep their homes. I can honestly say I love what I do, because I feel that I am making a real difference in the lives of others.

Having spent more than 20 years at Freddie Mac, and several more honing my business and project management skills, I offer others looking to achieve professional (and personal) success these five key strategies:

  1. Celebrate the small things because they can all add up to big rewards. instead of setting goals like “I want to be a vice president in 2 years,” set goals to achieve critical milestones that can help you get there, such as creating a network of mentors that will provide closer insight into your desired job.
  2. Find yourself as part of the solution—not the problem. oftentimes people complain about their job or a specific task. Be realistic about the situation and look for resolution.
  3. You don’t have to go it alone. Developing meaningful relationships and important networks are key to building a successful career.
  4. Ask for help and accept the advice of others around you. I have grown more successful in my career because of the advice I have sought from my colleagues and staff. They are some of my greatest mentors.
  5. Be confident. While it’s important to rely on others, always believe in yourself and your abilities. Recognize that you can find personal courage and push through any challenge.