What advice would I give my younger self? When thinking about the advice to give my daughters, I reflect on my career and the lessons learned.
This past week has been important in my household. My oldest daughter started her first “real” job after graduating this summer, and my youngest daughter had her first college tours as a high school junior. These are big moments in their lives, and as a mom, I am trying to navigate this time delicately. I desperately want to give advice, but I know that my opinion is not always wanted, and if I push too much, it will certainly be ignored. So, I tread lightly, trying to bring my girls to their own conclusions and praying that all my years of parental guidance will be remembered during these important times.
5 Lessons Learned
As I think about the advice to give to my daughters, I think back to the beginning of my career and realize how naïve I was. I think about all that I did not know and how many mistakes I made. I was a young woman in a man’s world trying to be stronger, smarter, and wiser than I really was. What do I wish I had known back then? What advice would I give my younger self?
Find Your Allies. Everyone needs friends at work and peers to encourage and develop them. I wish I had learned this earlier. As a young professional, I felt that I had to do everything on my own, and I didn’t find others to share my burdens. I kept my professional life and social life very segregated. As I grew, I realized that I needed allies along the way. I found friends through networking groups, industry associations, and women’s organizations, and even created peer groups with people in my industry with the same job. It is wonderful to have people I can talk to and reach out to when I need advice.
Show Up and Earn Your Stripes. Work is called “work” for a reason. It is important to show up, work hard, and demonstrate your value every day. Along your career path, you will have many tasks that are not fun and may even be dreadful. It would be nice if this were not true, but it is the case with every job, no matter the title. The advice I would give my younger self would be to dig in and just get it done. Mark the unpleasant tasks off your to-do list early each day so you can move on to the jobs you prefer. And if you see no value in what you are doing, ask others why it needs to be done. Once you understand the why, you may find the work more enjoyable.
Speak Up. As a young woman starting her career, it is easy to be quiet and blend into the background. This will not move you ahead. Over the years, I have learned that not only do I need to be at the table, but I also need to speak at the table. I once was told that if you don’t speak at a meeting, no one will remember you are there. Since hearing that, I make sure everyone remembers me by contributing and adding value to the discussion.
Ask for Help. I used to think asking for help was a sign of weakness. I was determined and obstinate to do everything myself, even if it killed me. And quite frankly, at times, it almost did. I now see the value of raising my hand and asking for help. It is not a weakness but a sign of strength to recognize my limitations and work with my co-workers as a team. Plus, if you do it all, you can never take a vacation, which is definitely not wise!
Be Authentic. As a woman in a male-dominated field, I often pretended to be someone I was not. I felt the need to wear a suit of armor under my business suit. The armor provided me with confidence, tenacity, and drive. Sometimes, it felt like the real me, but often, the armor hid my more feminine qualities of nurturing, kindness, and even laughter. As I have aged, the armor has become heavier, and now I am officially trying to shed it and lighten my load. If I could go back to my younger self, I would have never put on that armor to begin with. I would be authentically me smart, strong, kind – all on my own with no props.
Maybe by the time I retire, I will have figured out how to “be” in business. I doubt it, though; the human journey is all about continuing to learn. My experiences throughout my career have shaped me into who I am. Even if I had been able to advise my younger self, I probably wouldn’t have listened to it! My daughters may not either, but I pray that some of the lessons I have learned along the way may help them as they navigate their futures. Regardless of whether they take my advice or not, I will be here for them, and I will be their biggest cheerleader.
About Propel HR President Lee Yarborough
“My father, Braxton Cutchin, and I founded the company in 1996. After being in the PEO and HR world for 25 years, I have experienced firsthand the value we can provide to both the clients and the employees. It is truly a win for all parties. I’m proud to have helped establish Propel HR as an industry forerunner in the Southeast. There is nothing I love more than receiving phone calls from clients who seek my advice as a trusted advisor. This is a business where I feel that I can help others, and that is important to my own value.” -- Lee Yarborough, President, Propel HR
Active in many professional and community organizations, Lee recently served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), the trade organization for the PEO industry. As NAPEO Chair, Lee focused on diversity and initiatives to deepen member relations.
During her leadership, she created Women in NAPEO (WIN), an inspiring networking group designed to engage, empower, and encourage women working in the PEO industry. WIN embodies Lee's commitment to empowering others to reach their full potential and has become a dynamic platform where women can connect and support one another. Recently, she honored with the prestigious NAPEO Michaeline A. Doyle Award. Each year, the award recognizes an exemplary member for their leadership and outstanding contributions to the PEO industry.
On the local level, Lee also served as the Chair of NAPEO’s Carolinas Leadership Council for more than a decade. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the eleventh class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
An advocate for public education, Lee has served on the executive board as Chair of Public Education Partners and is the founder and director of Read Up Greenville, a young adult and middle grades book festival in downtown Greenville, SC.
When she breaks from board meetings, client visits, and networking, most likely, you will find Lee reading, camping, or spending time with her family. She also enjoys volunteering at her church, staying involved with her children's schools.
🎧You can learn more about Lee's experience starting Propel with her father, her work on Women in NAPEO & NextGen, and the importance of having the “freedom to fail.” Listen HERE on Spotify or search People Pat Meets where you get your podcasts.About Propel HR. Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for more than 25 years. Propel partners with small to midsized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs. Visit our new website at www.propelhr.com.