I spent last Tuesday afternoon as a virtual mentor sharing our Faulhaber Communications story to students from Humber College. The presentation was supposed to be done in-person in a large auditorium, but thankfully we were still able to make things happen from the comfort of everyone’s homes via Zoom. A few members of my own team, Natalie Brennan and Nikola Baraky, joined me to share their stories. I always find it rewarding to reflect on my personal journey as well as the growth of our company, even more so in this time of chaos. I received some amazing questions from students on how I started, why I started and what road bumps I encountered along the way. I started this company 19 years ago in my kitchen (funny how I am back there again) and reflecting on the changes we’ve made since that day, and the challenges we have overcome was a great reminder that challenges aren’t new. Today is a new day of possibilities.
It is now more important than ever to look for new opportunities. Use this time to learn new skills, seek out new mentors and grow your network. I thought I’d share some of my responses to Humber students’ questions on mentorship, networking and overcoming challenges.
Q: “What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting Faulhaber Communications?”
A: “There is no rulebook.”
“I do a lot of mentoring now and I am hearing and seeing a lot of confidence issues. Two amazing books I often recommend are Lean In and How Women Rise, both of which talk about how we limit ourselves. Unfortunately, I think that is more prevalent today than when I started. Entrepreneurship is not for everybody. You have to be gritty, you have to be on, and you have to know all the different facets of business. You don’t need to know how to do everything yourself – as one of my university professors shared with me – you just need to know who to hire. But you really do need to have an eye for all the different aspects, and you have to be ready to get back up in the face of rejection. There is no rulebook, but there are mentors and others who can help you. Seek out those mentors: you need them. Really, the biggest challenge is building self-confidence and your ability to keep moving.”
Q: “What advice do you have for students about using their time, relationships, and opportunities at Humber College to prepare for this kind of career?”
A: “Recognize your hard skill.”
“Take advantage of the tools that are out there. Use LinkedIn to network with your professors and other classmates and others you meet along the way. You have no idea if their future position could be helpful. And use this time to build your online portfolio and try things out. If you’re interested in event planning, volunteer.
The biggest takeaway you should hope to have when graduating: recognizing your hard skills. Do you speak a language? Are you an expert at coding? Can you design a website? Have you taken a photography course? Do you know Adobe? Your diploma is not enough. We look for well-rounded, entrepreneurial-minded individuals who reflect our core values and have value to add.
So that is the question to be asking yourself: ‘What do I bring to the table?'”
Q: “Have you faced any major obstacles or barriers being a female leader in the industry?”
A: “I run my own company.”
“The short answer is I run my own company and most of the employees are female solely due to the nature of the industry. We welcome men into our world; they just don’t come that often. But the key thing here is I’ve carved my own path. Have there been some challenges? Have I had male clients or scenarios where there have been some inappropriate things happening and that I’ve had to put measures in place to protect the staff and make sure everyone’s safe? For sure. But frankly, I don’t think I’ve lost a job to a guy.”
Q: “What is your best advice for someone who is actively looking for a job within the industry, but is somewhat lost in the direction they want to go?”
A: “Who’s not lost?”
“Listen, if there was a perfect time to invest in self-care and self-help resources, it’s now. They’re everywhere. There are a million books that really walk you through answering the questions of “Who am I?” and “What do I want to do?” My first piece of advice is to research and read.
And the second is to try things. Find out what you like. One of our interview questions is, “What are you good at professionally and what are you not good at professionally?” Do you like money and finance? Do you like talking to people? Take note of what brings you joy and look for professional avenues that fit that space.”
Q: “How can we build connections and network with people to grow ourselves?”
A: “Use your existing circle.”
“It’s easy. It’s free. It’s available. Talk to people and don’t be scared of asking for help. Make a list of all the intelligent people who are already a part of your life. (Start with your family!) Find five links beyond that. Who do they know? Who’s their dad?. Who’s their cousin? Connect with them on LinkedIn or the phone: “Hi, I’m a student. Here’s why I’m amazing. I’d love 10 minutes of your time.” People will do it; I’m doing it.”
Q: “What are the skills that you aren’t seeing on resumes that you wish were there?”
A: “Something that sets you apart.”
“I’m not seeing enough multi-languages. I’m not seeing any French. I’m not seeing, “I have taken a professional photography course.” “I’m an expert in LinkedIn marketing.” Anything that’s really going to drive you forward and set you apart are skills that I would love to see on a resume.”
Q: “Did you have anyone tell you your business would be unsuccessful? How did you prove them wrong?”
A: “Yes, of course”
“And how did I prove them wrong? I’m right here right now with my team talking to over 60 individual people on a virtual chat from all over the place. And I think you prove them wrong every day by having thick skin and believing in yourself.”
Please reach out to me on LinkedIn if there is any way I can help you or your business get through this time. And thank you to Humber College for hosting me and to all the students for your amazing questions.