8 Quotes from Diverse Millionaires to Help You Think About Success

This post is in response to a CNBC article that features 9 quotes from 9 self-made millionaires and billionaires who are predominately white males; I use the word predominately because I hate making assumptions about diversity and people’s backgrounds. So I will let others be the judge. After reading the comments on the previous posts, I wanted to create a similar post using diverse millionaires. However, this post will stay away from using the word self-made. This is because, at the end of the day, no one is going to get to that level of success without the assistance of others. My very successful and humble Granddad taught me that from a young age.
Prepare yourself to be inspired today by these 8 quotes from highly successful millionaires from all walks of life.

Tim Cook

Although on the surface, Tim Cook may be seemingly another white male, he is openly a member of the LGBTQ community running one of the most profitable companies in the world. In an essay published in Bloomberg, Cook stated, “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Sara Blakely

Known for being the youngest woman in the world to make $1 billion “on her own”, Sara Blakely is the founder of the shapewear brand that has changed countless woman’s looks, Spanx. Her advice on finding success, “It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.”

Sundar Pichai

As an Indian-born American, Sundar Pichai has become well-known for his struggle and rise to the top of one of the world’s most well-known companies. Although known for his many successes at Google including the toolbar and Google Chrome, it is his failures that he is most proud of. His advice, “Wear your failure as a badge of honour.”

Dawn Staley

As one of the highest paid women’s basketball college coaches in the history of the women’s game, Dawn Staley has not disappointed South Carolina fans. Staley’s team brought home the school’s first National Championship in the sport in 2017, a title which was held by the UConn Huskies for 4 consecutive years. Her mission is to remind all her players and fans, “A lot of people notice when you succeed, but they don’t see what it takes to get there.”

Katia Beauchamp

As one of the co-founders of Birchbox, Katia Beauchamp is known for starting a subscription box revolution and for being one of the most influential people in the beauty world today. Raised in El Paso, Texas (yes the El Paso Texas from Glory Road) by a Greek father and Mexican mother, she is known for cold-emailing some of the most famous CEOs in the world including Steve Jobs to which she received a response the same day. Her advice, “Whatever it is that you think you want to do – whatever it is that you think stands between you and that – stop making excuses. You can do anything.”

Daymond John

Raised by a single mother after the age of 10 years old, Daymond John is best known for his role as an investor on the popular NBC show, Shark Tank. But that is not John’s only job, no, actually far from it. As a best-selling author, business owner, speaker, investor, and philanthropist, his life is far from dull. But success didn’t come without hardships. One of his many keys to success is, “Learn from as many mistakes and what not to do while your business or product is small. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow your brand. Make sure that you and the market can sustain any bumps that may occur down the road.” 

Kim Pegula

Not only is Kim Pegula, shaking up the business world, she is also shaking up the professional sports world as well. As co-owner of both the Buffalo Bills and the Buffalo Sabres (with her husband, Terry Pegula), she is helping revitalize the once forgotten city. As President and CEO of Pegula Sports & Entertainment, she is passionate about the “One Buffalo” message but will never forget her roots. Pegula was born in Korea and abandoned by her family, left to be raised in an orphanage until the age of 5 when she was adopted by a family in Fairport, NY. “Everything you do in life gets you to where you are now,” she said to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I would definitely say my beginnings and my in-betweens and everything else are how I am.”

Marlee Matlin

As American actress, Marlee Matlin proves everyday looks can be deceiving but being different doesn’t stop you from achieving your dreams. At just 18 months old, Matlin had lost all her hearing in her right ear and was 80% deaf in her left. But being deaf did not stop her. In fact, she has received several major award nominations for her work in TV and Film including a Golden Globe for Best Actress and an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Children of the Lesser God. On being different, “Everyone of us is different in some way, but for those of us who are more different, we have to put more effort into convincing the less different that we can do the same thing they can, just differently.”

Diversity in Our Workforce

Diversity is a key part of what makes our country and our world great. When we fail to learn from the successes and failures of people who look differently from us, we often fail to change. For the purposes of this article, I wanted to highlight a sample of people from very different backgrounds, diversity groups, and professions who have found success through various channels. This is not by any means saying these are the only successful people, not at all but a sample and example of how there are so many amazing people who have become successful millionaires.

I am fortunate to work for an organization that strives to continue the conversation around Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and hope that more companies continue to value this as a key priority so that one day, we reach the point that diversity is a non-issue, we are all just people. That is a future I hope that someday we can reach in the professional world and the general community as well (ironic as currently, I had to write an article searching for diversity).

Who else would you add to this list and what are your favorite quotes from them?

4 Holiday Tips for the Early Career Professional

It is no secret to anyone who knows me, I like to be organized and I like everything to go as planned. But we all know that never happens. Which is why around the holidays, I try to get as much done ahead of time as possible. That way if something comes up at work, with my freelance clients or with my team (I am coaching again at Nichols) I am not forced to rush through something.
Happy Holidays

But getting organized at the holidays is no easy feat and takes planning and discipline. It can be hard to manage everything, especially if this is your first holiday season in a new place, with a new job or it is your first time on your own.

I have been there and figured out what works for me so that when my vacation from work starts (December 23rd) I can sit down with some cookies and a holiday cocktail with my family and not be scrambling. In the last couple of weeks, I have had many of my friends and co-workers ask how I get everything done so early. So I thought I would share my secrets to staying sane with so much going on around the holidays.

Don’t Procrastinate

I think this year I bought my first gift in the spring. I don’t like just buying gifts for the sake of buying them. Which is why throughout the year as I see things that I know someone would like I buy them.

Almost all of my Christmas shopping was done by the middle of November; I would say approximately 90%. (I will also say that all the birthday presents for my family through the month of March have also been purchased and wrapped, not to brag). But when you are in the spending mood it makes things easy.

One of the things I don’t like about the holidays is all the wrapping that must be done. I come from a big family which means there are at least 50 gifts under my tree right now. So my secret is to not procrastinate the wrapping. The second I get something, I wrap it. I use a lot of the pre-wrapped boxes (the ones with the designs on the covers; as well as, a lot of bags. This makes it easier.

But you may be asking yourself how do I remember what is what? That is my tip #2.

Keep a List (and Check It Twice)

Every year, I have an entire excel file stored on my computer that outlines who is getting what. Sadly, my computer decided to delete this file in mid-December this year. Thankfully all of my shopping was done at that point and everything already had labels on it. If that had happened any earlier, my system probably would not have worked out so well. My recommendation to myself next year is to keep a backup of this list whether it is on my external hard drive, a USB drive, or a physical paper list. So that I am not stressing if this happens again.

Because I had this list, I knew exactly who I had already bought for and who I still needed to buy for. I don’t get as elaborate as I know some do with prices and things like that because frankly the amount I spend on people doesn’t really have to equal out in my mind because the gifts I buy for people are ones I know they will like and are so specific to them that price doesn’t matter (outside of breaking my bank account of course).

The only time price does matter at this point in my life is for office parties or the Girl’s Annual White Elephant where we set limits. I am sure this may change when I eventually start a family.

Amazon Prime

This year, I bought several misc. gifts from Amazon to have on hand as I was thinking about specific gifts for people. These were gifts that I knew two or more people in my family would like so if I found something for one of them then this gift would go to the other.

At the holidays, I always get my money’s worth for my prime membership because I order so much. And even better was this year, Discover offered 5% cashback on all purchases made on Amazon July-December. So it was like everything was at least on sale a bit. Or all my Christmas purchases were getting me closer to my cruise!

For the first time this year, I used Prime Day and Amazon Deals. They were great to see what was coming up on sale and buy it before the deal opened up to the masses thanks to my Prime Membership.

I highly encourage anyone to get Amazon Prime due to the free 2-day shipping benefits. Not only is it great for the shopper who buys ahead of time but also for the procrastinator who needs a last minute gift for a birthday or holiday! Plus, with all the added benefits of Prime Video and Music, it is like getting Netflix for free. Personally, I find their movie selection way better on Amazon Prime but Netflix still takes the cake when it comes to shows. At just $99 a year that is less than you pay for your Netflix subscription over the course of the year, so why not?

Decorate When You Have Timedecorating for the holidays

I am someone who grew up in a decorated house at the holidays and I just remember the look on everyone’s faces when they walked in. It is hard to not smile when you see the stockings over the fireplace or the Christmas tree in the corner of the room.

But we all know life gets very hectic (and I don’t even have kids yet). So don’t stress about decorating. Do it little by little or all at once, whatever works for you. Since this is the first year for Brian and myself in our new house, I went out and bought more decorations (I usually wait until the day after Christmas to get them all on clearance but I splurged). We had a lot already from our last place and from me in college but I wanted the house to feel like a home at the holidays.

We have an artificial tree because we aren’t home for the actual week of Christmas like many young professionals and know we would just come home to a dead tree and needles all over the ground.

I started decorating the house the weekend after Thanksgiving and it worked out great. Our tree only had lights on it for about a week as we wanted to make sure we decorated it together. But we weren’t worried. We knew we would be able to do it and eventually it got done.

Don’t Stress this Holiday Season

The holidays are stressful enough with trying to get wrapped up before the books close at work and have everything organized for your family time. Don’t sweat the little things this year. Setting yourself up for success early, before the malls get crazy and deals start selling out can pay off. After all, no one wants to be like those who are trying to get an Amazon Alexa just days before Christmas. All those people will be waiting until January 20th for it to be delivered. Being ahead of the game can save you the time of having to panic about what your backup gift will be.

It may be too late to not procrastinate this year but why not set yourself up for success next holiday season with post-holiday tips.

It is Time for the Millennials to Be Part of the Conversation

It is Time for the Millennials to Be Part of the Conversation

There has never been a better time than now to take matters into our own hands when it comes to our careers. As a millennial, I have been stereotyped into many categories including:

  • Lazy
  • Spoiled
  • Entitled
  • Over-educated

We have also been blamed for many things including the state of affairs today. At the end of the day, some of those things are true about some people. But never forget that any generalization about a generation is just that, a generalization.

The Women Millennials

As an educated millennial woman in a profession that has been dominated for hundreds of years by older, white men, it is time for this group of woman to take ownership. We can no longer afford to have others drive our careers for us nor can we afford to sit on the sidelines. Sitting on the sidelines has never been a game I have been good at; however, for many of my peers, they have been able to play it just as they have been instructed.millennials-on-the-rise

I am aware that my mentality can often scare people off and can sometimes be offensive but I am also not okay with standing by when things do not seem right. This can be anything from a poorly managed project to a policy change that was driven top down. I do not believe I would be doing myself, my family, or whoever I am working for at a given time.

Let’s Be Part of the Conversation

Nation-wide decisions and assumptions about the millennial generation are being written and made; however, most often, millennials are not involved in those conversations. One of the biggest things that has to change, in regards to the way we have always done it is that we have to allow the different generations to talk. Failure to understand each other will continue to drive unrest in the people of the workforce.

I am fortunate to have developed relationships with people who I trust and can go to in order to talk through a tough situation. But not everyone has established such relationships nor are they in a position to work for a company that is willing to listen. As a country, we have to work together to set us all up for success.

As a country, we have to work together to set us all up for success.

It is Time to Start Talking about Millennial Loyalty

buffalo halfFirst off, where did the summer go? It is already Labor Day Weekend and I feel like I was just running the Buffalo Half Marathon over Memorial Day Weekend. It is pretty crazy how time flies.

This summer was filled with amazing memories including Brian and I buying our first house together, a vacation to remember with my family, and weekend trips to visit family and friends. It was everything a summer should be.

And now it is time to look forward and on to what is happening through the end of the year. Can you believe it Christmas is just about 4 months away? I know very scary thought, but I did buy my first Christmas present already. I am not crazy, it’s only one!

As part of my summer reading list, I have been tackling the book: Sticking Points: How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart by Haydn Shaw. We are reading the book as part of iGen, the resource group I help lead within the bank. The book is a very fast read with relevant examples that touch all of the generations in the workforce right now. I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling with multi-generational relationships whether in work, school, or personal life.sticking points

The author is very quick to point out when the chapters are millennial-focused and that is because they are the newest generation in the workforce that everyone is still trying to understand. But Shaw also points out that every generation once was new and was disrupting the way things had always been done. Millennials are no different but other generations tend to forget.

buffalo half marathonOne of the points that is top of mind for me is Loyalty. As any reader of my blog will know, I am very passionate about my generation not being stereotyped. I hate when people assume all millennials are the same. They also make assumptions that we as a whole group want to job hop and will never be loyal to one company. I don’t think this is the case at all. I think our generation would love to stay loyal to one company; however, we have a lot of factors working against us.

The Reality

Long gone are the days of pensions in most businesses. I work for an organization that has seen incredible returns on its stock in the last 30+ years – but we live in a time when the market is uncertain. My generation has seen the market crash, many of us looking back and wishing we had taken advantage. We have seen incredible progress in our country but we have also seen people squander it away. We have seen the worst in people with the attacks of 9/11, Orlando, Paris, and too many others to count. We are living through a political nightmare during this presidential race where our country has become an ongoing joke for the rest of the world.

But worst of all, we live in a world where our colleges post average graduation salaries and how much their students are making at different intervals throughout their career. We are competitive and overeducated. We have also been told that by staying in one place for too long, you are leaving wealth on the table. It is a scary reality to be told if you are loyal to one company your entire career – you will leave 50% of your lifetime wealth on the table. Unfortunately, nothing is being done to fight that statistic. It is hard for most of my generation to turn down a lifetime having 50% more security especially when housing prices are going up, student loan debt is at record highs, and the cost of living is not going down.

Even in a city like Buffalo where compared to a city like NYC the cost of living is “cheap”. It is not as “cheap” as it once was. I am so glad I bought my house when I did because the housing marketing is extremely competitive and expected to increase 30% more by next year.

So loyalty for the millennials is not about wanting to leave a company but often times need. They may say you should never leave a job for money but with a highly competitive generation on the rise, when one finds out what one person with the same background is making, it can get interesting. And with a generation that shares information all the time, salary has become a non-taboo subject which will be interesting to see how this plays out amongst the other generations in the workforce who do not talk about salary openly.

Needless to say, I am excited to see what comes out of our discussion in the next few weeks. And the progress that my organization can make towards having the 4 generations working together to make an even more incredible organization that I am proud to work for.

Why I Started Freelancing

freelancing writerA few months ago, I made a switch in departments to work on a special project within my full-time employer. Many of you know that I hold two degrees, one New Media Marketing, and the other Management Information Systems. My ideal job will always utilize both of these degrees. As I moved into this new role, I very quickly learned it was much more technical than I was used too. I quickly began to sink into using what felt like only my left brain. After talking through with my management team and determining there was very little to get creative with until the project was done, I began to consider other alternatives. Now when I say there was very little to get creative, I don’t mean to say that there is nothing to be creative on this project, but much less than I was used from previous roles as this is a very time sensitive project. This is not the only project or task I am working on for the company but it is my main focus until at least December. That is what led me to consider freelancing on the side.

With that being said, by reading my blog I am sure you have realized that I am the type of person that needs to engage both halves of my brain. Call me the stereotypical millennial because I can become bored easily when doing the same task day-in-and-day-out. Fine, so be it. I love ensuring that at the end of the day when I go to sleep at night, I feel fulfilled. Freelancing fulfills my need to be creative so I don’t have that itch while I am working through data on the project.

But what I have found through freelancing is I love it. I love being able to help a variety of clients and learn about new industries every week. Since I have been really engaged with it for the last three months, I have received multiple ongoing projects. I have now reached the point where I really enjoy the clients that I work with through UpWork (a freelancer and employer connection site).

I love to be able to tell clients that I am freelancing because I love the work not because I need the money. I love being able to use exactly what I did at the agency and also what I trained to do in undergrad. I love being able to research new products and industries. I don’t freelance because I need the money. I freelance because it gives me a true sense of fulfillment with my overall day.

I feel like I am accelerating myself forward in my career as I continue to throw myself in 110% in my Technology Career and learn new skills in that area. But on the side, I am making sure I stay sharp in my digital marketing skills and knowledge of the industry, so that if I am asked to use them again in my career, I don’t have to retrain them. Nor do I ever want to lose that creative piece of my brain.

Reasons Why I Choose Freelancing

  • I don’t need the money
    • The money is a nice benefit of helping clients enhance their digital presence but is not the reason I choose to freelance.
    • I honestly think this makes me the best type of freelancer because I charge honest fees that relate directly to the quality of service that I provide.
    • This also allows me to choose the projects that interest me not just the ones that pay the best.
  • I love my full-time employer
    • I am of the firm belief that a fulfilled staff is the most engaged staff. As the projects concludes at the end of this year, I will re-evaluate my extra workload and determine if my with my next assignment, I can continue freelancing.
    • But every day, I can walk into the office knowing that I am happy and helping someone and doing the best work I can for my employer because I am truly content with my workload. Then at night, I can engage with my clients.

There are a lot of misconceptions out there that say, millennials have to find a part-time job on top of their full-time job because they need the money or they bore easily. I didn’t seek another job because I need the money (though the extra funds are a nice benefit). I love my job and my career choice, I just want to make sure that I am not limiting myself and my brain to what I am learning at the office. Instead, I am turning the time I would spend watching TV or reading Cosmo, into a fulfilling experience. Are there some millennials that do have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet yes. I am grateful that I am not one of those.freelancing

If you are looking for a freelance writer for either your business’s blog or social media and enjoy my writing style, feel free to leave me a comment or connect with me on social media! I would love to talk with you about your business!

Until the Day Comes when a Confident Woman is the Norm

Are you a confident woman? I read an article the other day about women in the workplace lack confidence to be a leader.  To me, that is a very interesting concept because I consider myself a confident woman and I struggle with why others don’t seem themselves that way!sheryl-sandberg-time-magazine-cover

I am sure there are men that struggle with confidence in the workforce too but because there are so many more male leaders out there that these confidence concerns are over shadowed.  I long for the day when I am just concerned a leader in the workforce rather than a female leader.  When meeting me they will just see a confident, smart employee not a confident, smart female employee.

I am all for diversity in the workforce but when will a diverse workforce just become the normal?  Sadly, I don’t see that happening for several more years, if that.  I hope that before I retire regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. that we can all just be one workforce.

Companies are Evolving

As more and more companies hire Chief Diversity Officer and adopt football’s Rooney rule there is more of a focus on diversity than ever.  But why not just be picked as a candidate for being confident and smart and qualified?  Nowhere on my resume does it say she; however, my name automatically puts me into that category.  My experiences do not imply that I am a woman; although stereotypes and statistics may state that because I have a New Media Marketing and Mass Communications background that I am a female.  But why does it matter?

I am fortunate and I am lucky because I have a confident personality.  I am comfortable with who I am and am proud to be a woman in the Financial Services Industry and working in Technology.  But as a confident woman, I long for the day that I am just a strong, confident person working in banking and technology.

strong leadership

Change is Upon Me

take chances In life you are always going to have change, there are always going to be things evolving for better or for worse.  To me, it is all about how you adapt to the changes that can define you.

Over the last three weeks, my job has been changing as we have gone through some organizational structure changes.  This happens frequently so I should have expected it; however, it happened so quickly that it was a high stress environment for about two weeks, all leading up to heading off to Seattle for #BISeattle16.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the changes that were happening and I felt so out of control despite the fact that I had the privilege of really choosing where my next “assignment” was.  Most people do not have that luxury so I felt grateful that I did.  Unfortunately with everything that was going on, it felt that every life choice I had made up until that point was in question.  Did I make the right decision joining M&T, did they believe in me, did they support me, should I stay in Buffalo, should I continue to rent or buy a house in this city?  Well….all of these questions did not help my sleep and I ended up losing so much sleep that I ended up with a major head cold.

Well last Thursday I started my role and you know what, I am going to make the best of it.  I am excited about the opportunity to learn a brand new area of the bank.  You can’t be a good manager or become an Executive without having diverse experiences, without having had to deal with adversity, and being able to relate to your employees as they go through changes.

be who you areWhatever role I am ever thrown into, it is not in my nature to quit or give up.  I will always throw myself fully into it and do my best to learn as much as I can about it. Definitely stay tuned for how I am rolling with the punches, my new team, my new boss, and my career learning.  Anyone who has followed me throughout my career knows that I am all about the learning opportunities in any situation.

Banking on Me

Over the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about my career a lot.  Where is it headed?  I am at that point now where change is right in front of me.  I am almost two years into my career at M&T Bank, I am now an officer at the bank and I think about the industry I am in and where my future goals are.advisory board
It is easy to say, I am 23, I have my whole life ahead of me – but I realize now that I can’t let others drive my career (not that anyone who knows me would say that I have), but I can’t let others dictate the moves I am making.  The choices I make over the next couple of years can will define how my career is shaped, can I make mistakes of course, everyone is entitled to making mistakes but the choices I make will lead to positive or negatives changes that can and will continue to effect my careers.
I am so fortunate to have the “advisory board” that I do for my career.  Different people I can go to to look at things from a different perspective. Not all from banking, not all in Buffalo and I think that is important, as any young person starting their career and continuing their career – find people you can talk to about different aspects who will give you the no Bull $#!T approach.  Those people who can be straight up with you can give you the most honest and advice and that is probably the most important thing you can ask for.

Mentors-talk-with-youA wise person once said you have to have all different levels of people on your board that you can go to for advice who will talk about you if you ask and then you have a sponsor panel – the people who will talk about you when you are not around.  I think I have established a pretty good panel of sponsors as well.

It is an exciting time for financial services – is this my career forever, do most 23 year old people know what industry they want to be in at the end of their career – I doubt it.  But I know with the combination of FinTechs, bank acquisitions, regulation challenges, and the branch model changing, it is definitely a good time to be in banking.

#BISeattle16 Day 1

As we think about the next generation of banking, we have to think about it in a variety of aspects and Day 1 of the Banking Innovation Conference held in Seattle had a lot of thoughts to add to the conversation.

Several trends appeared to emerge from the day and a few really stuck with me.  The concept of Innovation Theatre evolved from Dan Kimerling, R&D Lead from SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) presentation.  This is particularly relevant as our model of what Innovation is at M&T is evolving.  The model is evolving to avoid doing exactly what Dan was discussing and that is putting on the show for the press regarding Innovation and having someone or a team of people that claim to be the only one’s innovating.  Now that may not have been the case for our team; however, it is the case with several other institutions and in some aspects everyone needs to take a look at what they are doing.  Is it truly innovation or is it all for show? Dan made note, having an open floor plan office is not innovation, which made me laugh because people have asked about our team’s space and what is innovative about what we do in the center. Scarlett Sieber, SVP from BBVA, noted that at BBVA, the management team had realized innovation could be utilized as an empowerment tool and have “vertical leads” in place who specialize in one area that FiDanKimerlingnTechs are focusing on which may be Bitcoin, P2P, Lending, etc. Your employees can be your biggest asset if you use them correctly. This concept is one of my biggest takeaways so far from the conference and I will be talking to the team when I return to the East Coast about how we can go about empowering this type of model and making this specialty for individuals a reality.

To go alone with the concept of R&D there is a challenge with what R&D means to banks?  We aren’t Apple or Google but we can do R&D. To Dan, R&D = Perspective + Processes + People, I liked this analogy and he had another great one when he said just like sports, you have to practice R&D.  Excellence is the goal, not perfection.  I think from a banking perspective we have to remember there are very few things we can do perfectly, we hope from the Feds and audit perspective we can perfect our BSA/AML or KYC practices but in the technology space perfection is hard – excellence can be achieved.

Another topic that was discussed by the CEO and founder of Ripple, Chris Larsen, was thinking about “disruption”.  He felt that disruption in FinTech focuses to much on the Fin and less on the Tech for FinTech teams.  He also commented on the transition of the millennial generation and how we are all moving that way.  This concept was seconded by Jonathan Rosen from PRN. We don’t just have to look at the true Millennial generation but also how the adopted millennial has moved digital, some would call this the difference because digital natives and digital immigrants.  My question is why are banks so focused on the millennial generation vs. looking at it broken down in this granular way – those born digital and those who have learned digital technologies as they have come out?

Chris LarsenStaying on the topic of millennial we have to think about what they like and don’t like, millennials have a distaste for hidden fees though they have a lower bar for trust in giving over information making them high targets for startups.  Matt Oppenheimer, stated that when building a startup in the FinTech space, you have to find a business that is scalable but you can’t scale without a strong network of Trust – millennials can help you.  Scarlett referenced that millennials make great customers when they love your product; however, they are quick to turn on you when they don’t and also jump ship if they like something else better.

Branch of the future has been a hot topic as of late and Jonathan Rosen had several things to say. We have to look at Branch of the Future as more tech, fewer people, and more devices. As we move to the “bank of the future” – Dan had an interesting perspective to say that based on behavior targeting, we should be showing our customers different versions of our online and especially the mobile platforms.  This is contextual banking but how many banks are truly ready for it?

POC PanelWe couldn’t talk about the conference without talking about the FinTech company founders that opened the show.  Joseph Pratner from dyme.co wants people to think about his company like Fitbit – taking small steps towards changing people’s behavior.  I loved this analogy and feel that a lot of people can understand it and draw a connection to it.  To me as someone who had never heard of dyme.co that statement made me want to look further into them.  So if you are someone who has trouble with saving, wants a savings “coach” or “buddy” dyme.co may be for you and it is your choice of how much reminding they are going to give you.

Biometrics has been a hot area for patents as of late with the bigger banks so I was surprised that the topic really only came up once in the first day. As far as passwords are concerned, the conversation shifted towards biometrics.  Liran Amrany said he sees the evolution of payments on your phone at the point of sale as much of a hassle as pulling out your credit card, the innovation will be when one can utilize their fingerprint and then say, a phone number or zip code. Joseph Pratner stated, the string of passcodes that we deal with now will be the evil joke that we look back on in 5-10 years which is funny to think because, what is the evil joke we look back on from 5-10 years ago in today’s world?  To me the joke is remembering people’s phone numbers because I know there are very few numbers I still remember. Will passwords be like that?

To conclude, Matt Oppenheimer asked the audience how many people in the room felt they worked for a technology company, about 5-10 people raised their hands of a full room (my guess 100-150 people). He then stated in his talk, “Banks that do view themselves as technology companies, will be the banks that thrive and succeed”.  But as one person on Twitter pointed out, you can’t forget about the customer’s needs while you create this technology.

A “Smart” MDP Project

Since the end of September when we kicked off our MDP projects it has been an exciting time.  Though over the summer I had been leading our team of interns and a group of students who were working on the Buffalo Connect project, this opportunity was different because it was working with the program that had given me my start at M&T.  My boss and I were co-sponsoring the project, but I was fortunate that she was letting me take on the responsibility of overall managing the project from the sponsor side.leading-team

I had learned so much from my project sponsors within M&T Securities during the program that I wanted to make sure that I could share my experience including lessons learned, best practices, things I wish I changed, etc.  I also wanted to make sure they felt empowered to make project decisions just like my sponsors had empowered me and my group.  With the MDP project on the sponsor side you have to walk the line of being over involved and not being involved at all (both of which happen, though I wish they didn’t).  What was great about this project was it was a great way to think about the bank overall as a customer and helping the community (one of our core values).

I knew this would be my first real opportunity to test out how I could walk the line of being a mentor, peer and also a “manager”.  Since I am only a year out from the program, it is definitely important to make sure that I don’t come across as a peer when you have to make tough decisions.  But I also wanted them to be able to ask questions regarding my experience and know that things they were experiencing during the project, I had probably felt them too – after all in the grand scheme of things, outside of this project, I was their peer.

Follow the leaderI am excited to see this group present in mid-February, but know we have a long way to go until that point. We have several practice sessions with unbiased audiences to get the team prepared for the “pressure” of the final presentation.  In my opinion, all the practice sessions over the next month will really make the team feel at ease on presentation day and any question they get – they should be prepared for.

What I have learned through both coaching and leading this project from a sponsor side is that I love being a mentor (at least I think that is how I am perceived).  It has affirmed that the role I want to play in life, whether it be formal manager or in-formal mentor to those around me, is just that – providing guidance to help others through life (fitting because my mom is a high school guidance counselor).  I want to inspire others with my passion for everything I do.  At Nichols, it is teaching my players that things won’t always go your way but how you overcome the adversity will ultimately make or break you.  It is also about reminding them that outside the bubble of high school and Buffalo, people don’t necessarily care who your parents are – but your work ethic and the way you lead your life is what matters to people.

At work, it is showing people that passion is so crucial in your career.  If you aren’t passionate about what you do it will feel like work.  When you put your all into everything you do – you will ultimately be happy and things will come to you.  Just like I said in the Interviewing Game – your first job shouldn’t necessarily be for the money you are going to make, it should make you happy and gives you experiences that you will carry with you throughout your career.  Money doesn’t buy happiness, although it does buy houses, clothes, and material things.  Finding something where you realize what you do matters to at least one person, now that is something.