Traditionally, throughout one’s life, we observe and learn about our parents’ jobs and work ethics through conversations at the dinner table, car rides, commercial breaks and other family moments. I have been fortunate enough to gain firsthand experience about my parents’ roles as the Co-Founders of Huntington Learning Center since joining the company six years ago. Seeing their advice and lessons learned come to life, have deeply impacted my working style. Below is some of the great advice they continue to instill in me.

Think Short-Term, Mid-Term And Long-Term.

When you’re a kid, it can be hard to imagine what your life will look like a week from now, let alone 5 or 10 years down the line. At a young age, my parents taught me to look beyond today, tomorrow or next week, and to establish goals for myself not only in the short-term (like finishing my homework so I could go outside and play), but also in the mid-term (like getting an A on a final exam that’s several months away) and the long term (like where I wanted to go to college a few years later). This method of thinking has very much translated into how I approach my work. I focus on what I’m doing in the day and week ahead, but my schedule and goals are very much planned out months in advance, with ultimate business goals and benchmarks decided up to a year and five years in advance. Having a strong long-term view and mid-term view can better inform how you spend the time that you have each day, and help you set practical, actionable daily steps to help you get there.

You Have Two Ears And One Mouth.

My parents used to always tell me, “You’re given two ears and one mouth for a reason – listening is much more important than talking.” When you listen, you show others that you’re engaged in what they’re saying, that you care about the things they care about, and you often walk away with a better understanding of the landscape than you had before. A big part of my job is traveling to various franchise locations across the country and listening to what our franchisees have to say about how their businesses are performing, what’s working for them and what areas could use improvement, and learning about suggestions they have for the business that I can take back to the corporate office and potentially implement company-wide.

Take Advice From Others Who Know More Than You Do.

As the next generation of the Huntington leadership team, I’m always eager to jump in with both feet and make an impact (what can I say, I’m a millennial!). Some of the areas that I believe the newer generation of leaders can bring to the table (especially at a legacy company) are a fresh viewpoint, insights into a growing market, and tech culture savvy that can help inform a company’s future investments and initiatives. That said, there is only so much that can only be learned through years of experience and living through a variety of business scenarios. For those areas where I might be lacking due to age and years of experience, I lean on my parents. My mother, for example, has worked with so many individuals across our corporation and our franchise family in the 42 years since she and my father launched the company, and she has a very keen sense for reading people and understanding what’s really going on in a situation. When we debrief after a business meeting or a status update presentation, I’m always eager to hear my mom’s point of view. Her insights are so spot-on and she always catches things that someone with less experience may not notice.

Communicate Clearly and Concisely.

A lot of parents like to use the phrase, “Because I said so,” when communicating with their kids about why they should or shouldn’t do something (I know I heard it more than a handful of times when I was growing up!). While that’s as good a reason as any for a child to obey, my parents have taught me that as a leader in a business setting, that technique doesn’t always pan out. Communicating clearly about the company’s goals, including the why behind each goal, as well as expectations for each department and employee, is necessary in order to get people on board and excited about the company’s future and their part in that. Employees want and need to know what their metrics of success are, and how they’re doing along the way. Working with my parents has taught me that being clear about those points and communicating succinctly and often is an important part of being a business leader.


  • Anne Huntington Sharma

    President and Board Member, Huntington Learning Center

    Anne Huntington Sharma is the President and a Board Member of Huntington Learning Center, the nation's leading tutoring and test prep provider. Anne oversees business strategy and growth initiatives, including partnerships, marketing, digital and technological transformation, and franchise development.  Anne is involved in the arts as a collector, producer, philanthropist, curator, and founder of AMH Industries, a creative agency for contemporary art and culture. She is an associate producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary, 'The Price of Everything’ and an associate producer on the documentary ‘The Art of Making It’. To date, Anne has curated more than 30 exhibits across the country and raised over $30 million for various philanthropic causes. Additionally, Anne is active with arts, education, and business organizations. She is a board member for the Learning Disabilities Association of America, Art Advisory Board member for NYC’s Coalition for the Homeless, member of the Women’s Franchise Committee for the International Franchise Association, member of the International Director’s Council at the Guggenheim Museum, and a founding member of the Future Leadership Council at the Whitney Museum. For her service, Anne has been recognized by SmartCEO, Apollo Magazine, and Moves Magazine. She has also been honored as a Woman of Wonder by Franchise Dictionary Magazine, named to the NJBIZ Education Top 50 list, as well as the NJBIZ 40 under 40. Most recently, Anne was named one of NJBIZ’s Best 50 Women in Business and was awarded the Silver distinction for the American Business Awards, Maverick category. Anne received her BA from Colgate University.