Best Career Advice Ever: ‘Don’t Coast Through Life’


Lea H., VP of Design and Web Product Management at Adobe, has experienced a variety of twists and turns in her 23 year-technology career. She’s been a consultant, product manager, application developer, marketer and more. But now she’s taking on one of her biggest challenges yet: heading up a brand new consumer group at Adobe that aims to make design and creativity approachable for the mass market.

As you can see from her career path, she’s never been one to shirk a challenge. The best advice she received came from a nun named sister Leonora who advised “don’t coast through life.” Lea shared, “That has been my own personal mantra that gave me an excuse to have a crazy career path. I feel fortunate to have had that advice early on.”

Lea shared this advice and much more during an Adobe & Women brownbag event this month. Some of her other top advice included:

* Honesty. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up. Lea said a big part of her personal brand is authenticity and standing behind what she believes.

* Ask for help. Everyone hits a wall in their career at times. Tap formal and informal mentors for guidance.

* Embrace failure. She said one of the biggest learning lessons in her career was when she launched a product and it didn’t go well.

* Take risks. “If you make decisions based on risk to your career you’ll never make the right decision. It’s not about me or you or the career –it’s about having the guts to move things forward for the business,” she said.

* Surround yourself with different points of view. A key mistake that leaders can make is to have a team that believes exactly what the leader believes. Lea said, “A true leader will put people on their team who won’t agree with you because you’ll always get to a better result.”

* Learn the business. Branch out and get to know areas of the business outside your function. You will benefit from it and so will your team.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Share it on our blog. We’d love to hear from you.

Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Lea,
    GREAT ADVICE. I agree with all of your points. I think the most important ones are the integrity and surrounding yourself with differing points of view. These two have been key in my journeys!

    thank you for sharing!

  2. Loren Hurst

    “Don’t coast through life” is a great mantra. I think the best axiom that I have followed is “by not taking risks, you’re running an ever greater risk”. I am constantly reminded that those you are successful, and by successful I mean fulfilled, either personally or professionally, are those who possess an exploratory side to their character. Uncertainty is not a reason to avoid risk, because there’s no reason why outcomes cannot be positive as well as negative. The key I believe is to act on your conviction and avoid paralysis by analysis. As Honest Abe said, “I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come”. Indeed.

  3. Cody

    I had a colleague tell me that ‘if you don’t feel that you can be the best at it, do something else.” I really like that advice and feel that we should strive to find a place that where we can make the biggest positive difference. At the same time, we might not know what we could be the best at, so we need to be willing to stretch ourselves and try new things.

  4. Angela

    I was fortunate someone told me “do what you are good at AND what you love.” If you are just good at it, you will burn out. If it’s only what you love (but not necessarily what you are good at) that is a hobby. But if you have both, that is the sweet spot!

  5. Gaurav Tyagi

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful advice.
    Agreed to all the points specifically with ” Surround yourself with different point of views ” . very Much Appriciated