A Goldman Sachs managing director (she says she works in “global outreach”) gave advice to Harvard MBA students recently. Her advice is both fun and helpful for anyone.
Some of the highlights:
- Network like a guy
- If you’re 100% sure that you want to stay in financial services for the rest of your life, you don’t need to go to business school (in a later Q&A panel)
- Find one of your unique traits and turn it up a notch (hers is that she’s Italian)
Mandelli’s best advice is on how to make yourself memorable. Here, she explains how to hug your clients and not have it be weird:
Find what is unique in your style and turn up the volume a couple of notches. Mine is that I’m Italian. I speak with an accent. At first I was embarrassed, but then a coach at Goldman told me that Americans have a longer attention span when they listen to someone speaking with a foreign accent. So I figured, great! And instead of hiding it, I turned it into an asset. And actually, I’m able to get away with a lot because of it. I’m expected to be very passionate. I hug my clients sometimes, but that’s fine because I’m Italian. I talk with my hands. Figure yours out and leverage it.
And now, the “three Ms of advice” (aimed at women) from Goldman’s Monica Mandelli, courtesy of Harvard’s MBA podcast program:
1. “Map the forest”
When you start a new job, it’s like you’re in front of a forest. You’re standing in front of a forest and your job is to cross the forest. But you don’t have a map, you don’t have a flashlight. You’ll notice that guys naturally, immediately, start networking with other guys… So some of them are told that there’s a shortcut through the forest… Women, generally, are not doing that kind of bonding early on. Because of that, they’re facing the forest without a map, without a flashlight, and not knowing that a shortcut exists. So you need to realise very early on that career is not just about doing an excellent job. You cannot rely solely on going to your cube, sitting down, doing a perfect job, and then going home. Figure out who’s in power. Get to know those people. Figure out who has the informal power and get to know them too. Make sure they respect you. You want to be staffed on the most interesting projects, you want to know which teams support and welcome junior people. Knowing the important people will help.
2. “maximise what is in your control.”
We don’t realise that many things are in our control. Those that are in our control, we need to master.
Things you can control: the topic. Master your task. Your team needs to think all times that you either know more than them or that you are so smart and so thoughtful that you’re going to be able to steer the boat in the right direction. You need to inspire trust and be respected.
Your presence: How you present yourself. People that work with you will be watching you at all times. They will get clues from what you say, what you don’t say, from the way you dress, from how you respond to pressure, etc. So always be cool, collected, calm under pressure, and set the tone for the team every day. Think about your people and make sure that you provide leadership and inspiration.
Make sure you’re memorable. Find what is unique in your style and turn up the volume a couple of notches. Mine is that I’m Italian. I speak with an accent. At first I was embarrassed, but then a coach at Goldman told me that Americans have a longer attention span when they listen to someone speaking with a foreign accent. So I figured, great! And instead of hiding it, I turned it into an asset. And actually, I’m able to get away with a lot because of it. I’m expected to be very passionate. I hug my clients sometimes, but that’s fine because I’m Italian. I talk with my hands. Figure yours out and leverage it.
Find a connection with everybody. You need to be liked. Make it personal, show empathy and show compassion. Share details about your personal life and ask people about theirs to find something
3. “Methodically re-assess.”
Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself those serious questions. Am I happy in my job? Can I juggle my career and my job? Am I still excited when I go to work in the morning? Am I still moving upwards? Am I still in line for the next promotion or am I being passed up? If the answer is yes to all of those questions, then you’re ready to double down and do it for another year. The difference between someone who is very successful and someone who’s just going to be successful in a demanding career, is that extra mile, that extra half hour, that extra effort.