Roundtable: What is the best piece of professional or career advice you ever received?
- November 1, 2021: Vol. 8, Number 10

Roundtable: What is the best piece of professional or career advice you ever received?

by participating executives

Tom Burton, CIO and senior managing director, Alex. Brown Realty

Character matters. While successful investing requires accurate underwriting, careful due diligence and thoughtful documentation, almost all business, especially real estate, involves multiple parties. Partners, advisers, colleagues, vendors and others all play an important role in successful outcomes. Developing an appreciation for the character of these participants is as important, if not more important, than the other elements of a venture. Accordingly, the ability to assess an individual’s character is a critical skill that all should strive to develop throughout their careers.

Charles Reiling III, president and CEO, CoastalOne

I suppose it’s fitting, being from Philly, that the best career advice I ever received was from Rocky Balboa: “It ain’t how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” I’ve endured my fair share of “hits” in my career. Early in my career, I took them hard — up all night working and worrying. Ignoring my family. Stressed to the max. And then something remarkable happened — I got through it, again and again, and learned to take the hits with less emotion and more objectivity. I still get hit, but I’ve learned to take the punch, shake it off, move forward, and not let it consume me.

Diana Keary, senior vice president, Griffin Capital

“Always remember nothing lasts forever; think ahead and keep focused on what’s next.” My favorite mentor shared this with me, but it can be easily forgotten in the moment. We all have experiences both positive and negative that feel like they will last forever. We may enjoy a successful career trajectory, rewarding project, or working with a team where everything gels. We may be challenged with a career setback, a tedious project or team that doesn’t get off the ground. None of these scenarios lasts forever. Always have the mindset to think ahead and position yourself for what’s next.


Gary Rzucidlo, banker, J.P. Morgan Private Bank

“Put your own interest aside and focus on your client.” This applies to any industry or role. My main responsibility as a financial adviser is to fulfill the needs of my clients by problem solving. Families often approach me with a premise, and my job is to navigate them toward the best customized approach. If you are too fixated on your own objectives or goals, the client becomes aware they’re a second thought. Staying focused on your client often means understanding what challenge keeps them up at night and figuring out how to help solve it. Recognizing — and admitting — sometimes your service may not be the best solution for their needs will reward you in the end, as you will be seen as a selfless, trusted partner.

Matt Brown, founder and CEO, CAIS

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received applies to both the personal and professional sides of life: “Trust your instincts, and don’t listen to the critics.” Each of us has a unique journey driven by different motivations and aspirations. As an entrepreneur, I had to find my own path in my own way. When I founded CAIS in 2009, everyone told me I was crazy to start a company right after the global financial crisis. And now, over a decade later, we’re a thriving alternative investment platform for wealth management.

Pete Zimmerman, VP of product management and development, Advisor Group

The most useful advice I received was from a boss at Securities America/Advisor Group: “Recognize the point when you need to stop seeking more information and just make a decision.” And closely related, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Outside of textbooks, there often isn’t a “right” decision, only a reasonable course of action given the circumstances. Get what you need, decide, and manage to it (which is actually the hard part). At some point, gathering information is just a dressed-up form of procrastination.

Jason Plucinak, VP of corporate finance, Legion Capital Corp.

The best professional advice I have ever received begins with “success isn’t a matter of obtaining one’s goals.” The goals are just the bait. The ongoing efforts to obtain our goals forces us to evolve, and it is this personal evolution that is the true reward. This realization is applicable every day in our careers and makes those less-than-desirable tasks feel like learning experiences that can be knocked out, one by one, to get where we are going both personally and professionally.


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