Your entire career is ahead of you as a millennial. A little mentoring, however, doesn't hurt to get that career off the ground. Julie Smolyansky is the perfect go-to for this. The CEO of Lifeway Foods, Smolyansky already has held her role for a solid 15 years--a role she acquired at only 27 years old. She identifies four key pieces of advice you need to internalize as you get started.
1. Channel negative feedback and turn it into positive reinforcement.
Maybe they tell you your ideas are coo-coo. Or maybe they tell you flat out you're "not cut out" for something. Whatever the specifics, naysayers are going to be a reality in your life. The kicker is, the mob mentality you hear isn't necessarily right. You can take what others say and turn it around. You just have to make the choice to do it.
"[When] I became the CEO of Lifeway Foods, [I] became the youngest woman CEO to take over a publicly-traded company. I faced constant skepticism from male counterparts, including a family friend who told me that "a woman wouldn't be able to keep this company afloat." Despite the backlash, I followed my intuition of keeping this family business alive. I channeled the negative feedback and turned it into positive energy, and knew that my passion and visions for Lifeway would lead to success. When you are young, you are brave and fearless. Take advantage of those feelings and don't be afraid of taking on new challenges. Build a journey that takes you to where your passions lie, and don't let people bring you down."
2. You have a voice--now use it!
As a millennial, inexperience might make you hesitant to speak up. You even might think others have "earned" more of a right to say something than you have. But no one else can think like you or have your distinct perspective on the world. In that sense, you shouldn't automatically dismiss what you want to say in favor of anybody else or consider yourself to be inconsequential.
"As a young, educated individual, you hold a lot of power in your voice. Use your voice to elevate what you are passionate about, and carry that into your work. Maybe you are passionate about equality or healthy livening. Take that drive and use your voice as a platform. Throughout my life and my career, I've been super focused on elevating the voice of women and minorities, refugees, immigrants and others who have been marginalized by society. Ignite the passion inside one another--awareness and knowledge is power."
3. Don't cling too closely to the familiar or comfortable.
Sure, you'll have some predictability if you stick to your routine or take the safe route--that can feel amazing. But if you never deviate from your norm, you're not going to grow, either. And if you don't grow, well, good luck moving up the ladder.
"We all hear the saying 'think outside the box,' but most people don't know its true meaning. Get out of the comfortability of what you know and take a risk. That's when you truly think outside the box. Trying new things gives you a more rounded, holistic perspective on the world."
4. Stop freaking yourself out.
The world admittedly seems a lot scarier than it used to be. But much of the time, we create our own anxieties, imaging disasters to be. This is not entirely our fault. We've been fed a steady diet of "be prepared" mantras, after all. Rather than focus on trying to mitigate all possible risks (which is impossible, by the way), concentrate just on the top handful and live in the present. Remember, you can start over even if there's a problem! If you live in constant fear, you're not really living.
"For a number of years, I felt like I was in crisis-mode. If someone had just said, 'It's OK. Things will work out,' it would have made a world of difference. I truly think that everything happens for a reason and ends up being a learning experience. There are so many things that are out of our control. The universe has a knack for working itself out."
As a millennial, you've got your work cut out for you. But hard doesn't translate to impossible. Smolyansky is a perfect example of that. Make a plan, don't take no for an answer and then conquer the world.