Business advice from our business leaders - Tauranga Chamber of Commerce

Business advice from our business leaders

Earlier this month, our team read an article that discussed the worst business advice that women had received in their career and why they should ignore it.

Despite the click-bait headline, it was an interesting read and it got us thinking: What was some of the best (or worst) business advice our local leaders had received and how did it change their career?

Fortunately, the members we interviewed had all received insightful advice – no doozies to overcome – and in return have shared their best advice for budding business owners or early career starters.

Thanks to the Chamber Members that took part in our Q&A – here’s what they had to say.

Sara Broadhurst - Trustpower
Sara Broadhurst – General Manager for People and Culture, Trustpower

What was one piece of advice you received in your career that has stuck with you?

If you’re pointing the finger at someone else, there’s three pointing back at you – it’s an oldie, but a goodie.

Did you follow this advice? If so, what was the outcome?

It’s a really useful reminder that if I am feeling frustrated with what someone else has done, I really have to ask myself how I have contributed to this situation and what is motivating their behaviour. This is particularly true if it’s someone in your team, because as a leader you should be creating an environment in which your people can be high performing. So if someone’s struggling, it’s a helpful prompt to think about what I have or haven’t done that is impacting on their ability to succeed.

Now, as a successful business person, what’s some advice you’d impart to someone in an early stage of their career / business?

There’s no such thing as being ‘successful’ – you have to turn up each day looking to prove yourself.  Because you do. How you perform and show up every day is how you build a reputation.

Actively seeking out something new to learn today – about yourself, others, the industry or the world – is key for being ready for tomorrow. Stay hungry!

Classic Group - Nathan
Nathan Watkins – Regional Manager, Classic Group

What was one piece of advice you received in your career that has stuck with you?

Back yourself but be humble… a.k.a don’t be a dick.

Did you follow this advice? If so, what was the outcome?

From my experience, backing yourself and having aspirations to be better leads to personal and professional growth. I have learnt that leading with confidence can drive high productivity within a team, but if I strive to be down-to-earth and humble at the same time, working relationships thrive because people feel trusted and empowered.

Now, as a successful business person, what’s some advice you’d impart to someone in an early stage of their career / business?

Well, I’m not sure about the ‘successful business person’ part, but my advice when it comes to growing your career or business would be to clear on your aspirations and then back yourself to go out and achieve them.

Sometimes you have to trust your gut when making decisions and take the leap. Oh, and another good one, embrace feedback – especially the negative stuff. It can be the gold that will take your performance to the next level!

And again, don’t be a dick.

Leon Fourie - Toi Ohomai
Dr Leon Fourie – Chief Executive, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

What was one piece of advice you received in your career that has stuck with you?

Put your people first – always.

Did you follow this advice? If so, what was the outcome?

Yes. The building blocks for my career has been an ongoing aspiration to be an authentic values-based leader.

Putting people first –

  • is a conscious commitment to lead with values at the core of the business and connect them to organizational practices, which in turn creates a culture that optimizes mindsets, performance, conduct and behaviour
  • demands of a you to be an emotionally intelligent leader, which means to develop the ability to remain in control of your own emotions ensuring that negative emotions do not influence decision-making, but also have a greater understanding and care of the emotions of others
  • requires of you to not only develop an ability to share a vision and purpose with staff, but more so, effective communication has the power to motivate and inspire staff to do incredible things. Effective communication, is a two-way street, and an authentic leader has ability to truly listen to understand, and not listen to respond.
  • necessitates of you to be an unwaivering force of inspiration that sets a good example for other to follow. The ability to stay calm under pressure, remain positive, be solution focussed, and drive motivation levels up irrespective of the challenge ahead. It is the ability to empower your team and staff to always give it their best crack, to be comfortable to learn from failure, to teach your team how to manage you, and for your actions to be a source of inspiration.

Now, as a successful business person, what’s some advice you’d impart to someone in an early stage of their career / business?

Develop some enduring habits early on in your career – the following will set you apart:

  • Never stop learning, always stretch your comfort zone.
  • When all is said and done, follow your gut-o-meter.
  • Do not be afraid to make mistakes. If you don’t fail at some point, you probably have not tried hard enough.
  • Listen to understand, not to respond.
  • Results don’t happen by accident – mostly giving it your all is going to be good enough.
  • Work hard, play hard striking a balance of sorts: always have something planned in the next 3 months to look forward to.
  • Feed your passion – make sure you have a hobby, sport or an interest that gets a smile on your dial.
  • Learn the Art of Saying No.
  • You only get one chance to make a first impression.
  • Owning up to mistakes and responding to failure will always set you apart.
  • Speak your passion, it inspires others.
  • Always give back to community.
  • Make deposits into your team’s emotional bank account – you never know when you have to make withdrawals.
Mary Hill - Cooney Lees Morgan
Mary Hill – Partner, Cooney Lees Morgan

What was one piece of advice you received in your career that has stuck with you?

Not to rush into opportunities. You have a long career (and perhaps several careers) ahead of you.

Did you follow this advice? If so, what was the outcome? 

Yes. I deferred a partnership opportunity until after completing my family. With hindsight this was the right decision for me. It enabled me to spend precious unrecoverable years at home with my two boys, and by the time I was ready for partnership I was able to make the time commitment required to fully deliver on that. 

Now, as a successful business person, what’s some advice you’d impart to someone in an early stage of their career / business?  

Don’t underestimate the power of an effective pause (before speaking and doing). Pausing allows you to think carefully about what you want to say, but also captures the attention of the audience, by building anticipation. I’m still practising this myself. 

The second part of the advice relates to doing. It always impresses me how many things resolve themselves when you sleep on them overnight. I credit this gem to my husband.     

Scott Inglis - NZME
Scott Inglis – Bay of Plenty regional editor, NZME 

What was one piece of advice you received in your career that has stuck with you?

Be the weather: That is, as a leader, to always be positive and have a sunny disposition in the workplace – no matter how you are feeling. Staff (and customers) notice how the boss / owner is feeling and feed off that. A leader’s mood can have a big impact on the team and workplace – and therefore their engagement and productivity.

Did you follow this advice? If so, what was the outcome?

I try to follow this advice as much as possible – each working day. I do notice a difference – if you greet your team with a smile and ask them how they are and be genuinely interested in them and positive, then I have noticed they usually react to that in a positive, similar way.

Now, as a successful business person, what’s some advice you’d impart to someone in an early stage of their career / business?

Soak up as much knowledge as you can – from others in your field and other types of businesses. Sign up for courses, ensure you have a mentor or two that you can rely on, get advice on how you can a very clear business strategy, define what success looks like for you and your business, seek plenty of help and ask for plenty of opinions to you can make the best and most-informed decisions, read plenty of business and leadership books – and remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The way you operate must be sustainable and you need to look after yourself, otherwise you risk burnout.

John Gordon - Sharp Tudhope
John Gordon – Partner, Sharp Tudhope Lawyers

What was one piece of advice you received in your career that has stuck with you?

Each year try to do more complex work than the previous year, so you are increasing your skills and becoming smarter.

Did you follow this advice? If so, what was the outcome?
Yes, I did. The advice worked. It meant I have had an interesting and varied career, so much so that I still love coming to work. 

Now, as a successful business person, what’s some advice you’d impart to someone in an early stage of their career / business?

Follow the advice in 1 above, and also follow Warren Buffett’s advice and try to go to bed smarter than when you woke up.

Head shot of Bridgette Munro
Bridgette Munro – Chairperson, Enspire

What is one piece of advice that you have received in your career that has stuck with you?

I’ve received a lot of really good advice over the course of my career and from a number of different people, but I think ‘treat others how you wish to be treated’ resonates with me the most. To me, treating others well and being respectful means that I am being true to both my personal and business values.

Did you follow this advice? If so, what was the outcome? 

I try to listen and to respect what others have to say, even when I might have a different opinion. I think that sometimes just listening can help to resolve or diffuse an issue or tense situation, so yes, I still look to follow this advice, with clients, those I might be consulting with, those that feel differently about an issue to me, work colleagues, etc. More often than not, following this advice has led me to a positive outcome.

What is some advice that you would impart upon someone in the early stages of their career / business?

I think ‘don’t be afraid to ask questions or present your ideas or solutions’. I don’t think there are any silly questions, and while presenting  your ideas and solutions can be daunting at times, particularly presenting ideas or potential solutions to issues to those more senior to yourself, it can also be really rewarding and help you to grow as a person.

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