Advice can come from many different places and the guidance provided can have a tremendous impact on your life, especially if you have an open mind. January is National Mentoring Month, a month-long celebration to help raise awareness about the power of relationships.
We asked our Intuit leadership team to share their favorite advice from a mentor and here’s what they had to say:
Sasan Goodarzi, Chief Executive Officer
“While I’ve never had just one role model, I’ve always tried to surround myself with people that can provide inspiration. Here’s one of the best pieces of career advice I received. The hall of fame NFL quarterback, Steve Young told me that my number one job was to be the best me that I could be. Many people feel pressure to carry on the legacy of the person that preceded them or to work with what was there before. Don’t fall into that trap.
You’re there to provide the leadership, vision and experience that only you can offer. You will only succeed when you’re the most authentic version of yourself, not the best imitation of someone else.”
Ken Lin, Founder and CEO of Credit Karma
“Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to be supported and surrounded by amazing people. While no role model ever gave me this advice directly, it’s something I observe in everyone I admire.
It’s simply to be a kind human being.
Even the simplest, smallest gesture of kindness leaves a lasting impression on a person. So while it’s easy to get busy and forget, each day I try to make at least one person feel recognized and special.”
Marianna Tessel, Chief Technology Officer
“I’ve discovered that I learn from a lot of people versus having a single mentor or even a group of mentors. I observe and learn from people all around me – co-workers, people on my team, my bosses, and other colleagues in the industry.
Every interaction or project is an opportunity to learn and grow. Using this “360 method” I make both positive (things to do) and negative (things not to do) discoveries. Sometimes it’s like someone puts a mirror in front of me and I realize something that I do should be changed. Those unexpected realizations make the biggest impact on me.”
Lara Balazs, Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, and General Manager of Strategic Partner Group
“Early in my career I had a leader coach me to “be bold and take risks.” I’ve taken this advice to heart. My career has gone the fastest in the most meaningful direction when I’ve taken a calculated risk, which has usually required being bold, especially earlier in my career.”
Greg Johnson, Executive Vice President, and General Manager of Consumer Group
“Now that you’re a senior leader you need to know how to use every club in the bag and not just a few. Many golfers can hit a 7-iron or a wedge well, but a pro has to learn how to deftly use every club and address a variety of challenges.”
I’ve always been driven, focused, and “all-business”, but this advice challenged me to grow as a leader beyond my strengths and innate style of leadership. Going outside my comfort zone forced me to add new skills to my leadership bag, such as:
Leaning in to establish personal connections, build trust, and truly understand what team members need to succeed not just as professionals, but as people. It’s amazing what people can achieve when they know you’ve got their back.
Understanding feedback is a gift not just a critique, so lean into giving and receiving. Feedback is given because people want you to grow and succeed. Use it to cultivate new strengths.”
Alex Chriss, Executive Vice President, and General Manager of Small Business and Self-Employed Group
“It’s hard to learn if you already know. In this fast-paced world, I’ve found we celebrate those who move with conviction and purpose – which is awesome – but I’ve also learned it’s just as important to remain violently curious. Be vulnerable to improvement by actively seeking out others’ thoughts and opinions, digesting new information and data, and creating an environment of inclusion where diverse voices are heard, and the best ideas are exposed. Being personally curious and willing to adapt in real-time can build a strong culture of trust and generate the best results.”
Ben Chestnut, Co-Founder and CEO of Mailchimp
“A mentor once told me that most people I interact with are struggling with a voice in their head that is constantly repeating something to them, and that I had the power to silence it. I asked him what that voice said and he told me: “I’m not good enough.” As leaders, we have the responsibility to create opportunities for our employees to prove to themselves that they are indeed “good enough.” And, if they perform well, we also have the power to boost their confidence by telling them, “You’re amazing!”
Humera Shahid, Chief Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer, and Vice President Talent Development
“One piece of advice that has stuck with me in the last few years is the importance of building relationships outside your immediate team or function. I have leveraged these relationships to get a different perspective to a business problem, to tap into expertise that my team does not have, and to have an advocate for my career. These relationships are meaningful in so many ways and mine have lasted well beyond when we worked together in the same company.”
Never stop learning and remember that mentorship looks different for everyone
Whether you’re familiar with mentorship or just starting out, remember that your career will shift and change over time. No matter where you are on your journey, reflect on your personal development aspirations and think about what you want to get out of a mentor.
Looking for a new mentor? Humera Shahid, our Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer and VP of Talent Development suggests thinking about your network and who you admire. You can also explore peer mentors as well leaders both within your organization and beyond.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for guidance and support. Mentorship can be an invaluable resource throughout all stages of your career. As shared by our Intuit leaders, you never know what guidance may change your life.