Working hard is vitally important to building your success, but it’s only part of the recipe. I worked hard my whole life. I was the early staff member, the last one to leave at night, and said yes to every weekend and all extended hours. But in every job I had, I never progressed. I was constantly overlooked and over time I would become resentful.

As a junior high school dropout I had little confidence and I never put myself in a position to move ahead. I was always the least educated person on the team and I was terrified I would lose my job. I worked as hard as I could, determined to show that I didn’t mind the dirty work. I cleaned the most, took the garbage out, counted inventory, etc.

But for this reason, I wasn’t proving to be the best employee, I was the proving to be the best cog.

My work ethic is one of my proudest attributes. But without the courage and confidence to take risks, I spent years staying safe and missing out on raises, experience, and growth. I kept myself small and under appreciated.

Here’s what I learned: Take responsibility for your growth. Foster your work ethic and always be willing to take out the trash, but make sure you are pushing outside of your comfort zone. Any employer would be happier to have an enthusiastic team player focused on growth and progress, opposed to one quietly wiping base boards hoping to not be seen.

And if you think about it, which one of the above is easier to replace?


Do you have to learn to be assertive, stand up for yourself and say no? Absolutely. But you have to “courage up” to be successful. Being vulnerable, transparent, honest, admitting to mistakes, having difficult discussions– these are all acts of vulnerability and courage, not toughness.

There’s a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive, know which side you stand on.

Don’t under estimate the power of vulnerability. It wasn’t until I let customers see behind the scenes and shared my journey that my business (and life) truly flourished. It’s not about showing off or exposing something for shock value. It’s small moments of connection that allow people in, make people feel seen and heard. Influence the world with unity, not force.


This is absolutely not true. I come from a family that goes to great lengths to socially isolate (my parents chose to live on an isolated lighthouse when we were kids). I had no “connections” when I started. But I had the willingness to make them (after several years of going at it alone, which is NOT admirable, and an additional myth for another time)

Find the people that cheer you on, find the people who want to support and help you, find the mentors that have done it before you. Create a community and commit to giving back more than you give. I promise your life will open up.

Want to be the best of the best? Do all that AND take the trash on your way out.