Self-Improvement Month: Bia, Anne and Monica

September 5, 2019

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September is Self-Improvement Month, an observance designed to encourage people to make empowering changes to reach their goals. At FleishmanHillard, we encourage our teams to never settle. This month we’ll highlight employees across our global network who embody our bold approach and strive to grow professionally and personally. Responses will be shared in Q&A-format featuring their unique perspectives.

We’ll kick off our series with Bia Assevero, Anne Beutel and Monica Lefton.

Bia Assevero, account supervisor, supporting our Reputation Management practice in New York

Bia Assevero, New York

Bia Assevero

Q: What do you do when you experience a setback? How do you overcome it?

A: I think when you grow up “in transit” as I did, part of you is hard wired to be future-focused and not overthink the past. Recently though, I’ve also settled into a few mantras that have helped me do a better job of managing setbacks, disappointments or even just the small mistakes you make when you’re learning. One is to “travel light” and by that I mean recognizing that most times, that setback or disappointment is just the reality of a single moment. So while it’s important to process it and identify the things you can learn from it, ultimately, you should avoid carrying the weight of it with you forward into the next moment.

The other mantra [courtesy of my YouTube yoga guru] is “honor where you are today” and to me, that’s all about having compassion for yourself. A lot of the time, negative feelings are relative and result from comparing ourselves to other people or over-investing in how we imagine things will work out. When you focus on where you are in the present moment, you give yourself permission to celebrate all your wins, no matter how small. And on the days where you’re struggling, it’s helpful to be able to acknowledge it without beating yourself up. We all have rough days. I’ve found that being able to say, “this is where I am today and yeah, it’s hard but it’s also okay,” helps to get through it.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: One of the most important assets you have – especially in a company like FleishmanHillard – is the perspective that is unique to you. What do you see and understand that others might miss? What experience have you had that informs the insights you can share? And my recommendation for building this and refining it is to constantly challenge your opinions and assumptions. Seek out counternarratives and different points of view. Be open to new information and new ideas so that even if they don’t fundamentally change your mind, they sharpen your thinking and allow you to showcase the value that you’re bringing to the table. Opportunities to advance arise when people can align your value with the goals they are working toward.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: Listen – a lot and to as many people as possible. It doesn’t mean you have to follow all the advice you’re given or agree with everything you hear but it is a crucial skill for anyone working in communications. It will inform your ability to counsel clients, to build relationships and to identify opportunities for growth. In particular, I would say you should listen to the people who are experts in the fields you want to become an expert in. We have amazing senior counselors across our network and I make it a point to listen to them, even when they’re not talking to me. There’s a lot to be learned from how they engage – with clients, with each other and with junior colleagues – as well as from how they analyze the different issues and trends that are affecting our business and our clients.

Anne Beutel, account supervisor, supporting our Social and Innovation practice in Frankfurt

Q: How do you set short- and long-term career goals?

Anne Beutel

A: For short-term goals, I always follow my interests and match them against industry developments I see to find the sweet spots that give me and the firm a competitive edge. To be honest, in such a fast-paced environment like our industry, I don’t see much value in setting traditional long-term career goals. I have a vision of what I want to do in the future – working on the intersection of creative and strategy, being an enabler for clients and colleagues, consultancy to reduce complexity. And I have an idea of which skills this requires. This is not necessarily connected to a clear career path, but rather to my personal development. I am confident that any organization will benefit from such expertise and look for these skills in their employees – though the exact roles and job descriptions do not exist yet.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: Stay curious! If you have a strong interest in learning a new skill or topic, your intrinsic motivation will drive you. At the beginning of my career, I made a point to obtain experience in the fields I thought would be relevant to the company or the team, but weren’t necessarily relevant for me and my interests. But this only got me to a point where it took a lot of my energy to stay on track. Now, I concentrate on areas I want to excel at personally – and the business cases accrue almost automatically.

Q: What is your proudest career moment so far and how do you aim to build on it?

A: I was chosen as one of “#30u30 – Germany’s most promising PR talents” in 2016. This is a network of like-minded and highly skilled people I still benefit from today. The network has helped me gain visibility, speaking opportunities and inspiration. For example, at an event I met four other women who are also part of this network and we started a Working Out Loud Circle. In this 12-week program, we dedicate 2% of our time to sustainably expanding our networks tailored to an individual goal. Without being part of #30u30, I would have probably never tried Working Out Loud and would have had a much harder time improving my visualization and graphic facilitation skills. For me, this underlines that networking is not just for acquiring business, but to move faster together than I could by myself.

Monica Lefton, assistant account executive, supporting our Healthcare sector in Atlanta

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

Monica Lefton

A: As able, I always try to ask for feedback or suggestions when sharing my work with the team. I try to end every email with something like “Please let me know your thoughts and edits.” I also schedule regular check-in meetings with my manager, team and some office leadership to ask for feedback then, “what am I doing well and what can I do better?” Always take notes on this feedback. When starting a new project, I think back to the last, similar piece of work I did and create a mental check list of edits and improvements to include in this new project to make it better than the last.

Q: What do you do when you experience a setback? How do you overcome it?

A: I try to think about what I could have done differently in the situation, reminding myself I only have control over my own actions and reactions. After an especially hard day, I always tell myself “you only have to live through this day once.” Tomorrow may be hard too, but you’ll never have to live the same day twice.

Q: If you could go back five years, what is something you would tell your younger self?

A: You can’t always prepare yourself for work, but you can prepare yourself to be a good worker. It’s not always what you do that matters, but how you do it.