Top Takeaways from LeadSC 2015

Posted by: Katie Busbee on Wednesday, October 7, 2015
I had the opportunity to attend LeadSC recently, a young professional’s summit that draws Young Professionals from across South Carolina to partake in an active discussion on ways to grow our local communities and state. Even if you aren’t an YP, chances are you are familiar with the acronym. YP organizations are a growing phenomenon as communities and Corporate America try to engage and develop their millennial employees. The two-day summit was filled with topics ranging from personal growth to ways to grow your community and company. Here’s a few Do’s and Don’t’s that I took away from the conference that are helpful to YPs, and anyone in business. DO: Train people how to treat you. This was a great takeaway from Governor Nikki Haley who opened the summit. Haley told a story of when she was first starting in her accounting career. She, and the other account execs at her firm, were meeting with one of their largest clients, who was running late due to traffic. When he arrived, one of the execs dismissively asked Haley to get their client a cup of coffee. Calm and collected, Haley pressed the intercom button in the middle table, and politely asked her assistant to bring in coffee. Her point was that you have to politely train people how to treat you. At some time in your career you will probably face a situation where someone underestimates you, or devalues you. How you react and carry yourself will send others a signal on how to treat you in a professional relationship. If you carry yourself with respect and confidence – not arrogance – others will treat you with respect, and will have confidence in you. DO: Start, or Continue, Investing Wisely Stephen Hughes, founder of a financial literacy organization called Know Money, provided some great tips and online resources for investing your money wisely. Here’s a few:
  • Open an online savings account. Online savings accounts don’t have the overhead expenses of a brick-and-mortar bank, so they’re able to offer much higher interest rates. You can go from earning .01% interest on your savings account with your bank (so, $0), to 1.10% in online savings account (possibly hundreds). Here’s a list of FDIC Insured online savings accounts to help you make money on your money.
  • You can also use these other great resources like SmartyPig and Digit to save.
  • Know the differences between and 401k and a Roth IRA, and choose the one that’s best for you. Find out more about these retirement savings accounts with online resources, your employer, or you bank.
  • Sign up for a rewards credit card that fits your lifestyle, and then use it as cash. Pay your bills on it along with everyday transactions to rack up on rewards, and pay it all off at the end of the month. Magnifymoney.com compares and contrasts reward CCs.
  • A $2,000 emergency fund is a great start. The average small family spends this amount every year in unexpected emergencies. For those of you that find saving 3-5 months of living expenses burdensome, save your $2,000, and stick it in a readily accessible account.
DON’T: Oversell yourself. As an YP, I’m often told the importance of building a personal brand, and the emphasis you should place on self-image. We, as millennials, tend to place too much emphasis on this, and it can overshadow our other skills. There is a time when your work should speak for itself; you don’t always need to be broadcasting it. If you are constantly trying to sell yourself and talk about every award you’ve won since high school, it comes across like you are overcompensating for skills you don’t have. What you are trying to sell (yourself) actually becomes less believable. When networking, you can avoid this by making sure you are getting to know the other person and allowing them to talk. If you walk away from a conversation not knowing anything about the other person, but they know all your career goals, you may have been overselling. DON’T: Overcommit. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth reiterating. Getting involved with non-profits and boards is a great way to give back to your community. Just be sure to limit yourself to things that you can allocate sufficient time to, and pick groups that you are truly passionate about. Different non-profits ask for different time commitments. If you are unsure about whom to give your time to, start with a non-profit that only asks for a 1 month commitment for new volunteers. This will give you an opportunity to find out if this is an effort you can make a difference in, and if you are able to commit for longer. You can find out volunteer opportunities and organizations here. DO: Listen and take criticism. YP’s have the energy, but Seasoned Professionals (let’s call them, SPs) have the wisdom. As millennials, it’s in our nature to want jump in, get involved, and run with new ideas. But if you’re running in the wrong direction, you’re getting further away from accomplishing something great. One of the most enjoyable parts of the summit was getting to hear from leaders and SPs with decades of experience in their respective fields, whether it was economic development, non-profit work, marketing and branding, etc. There are some things you can only learn from being in the trenches for an extended period of time, through the highs and lows of a company. Receiving feedback and constructive criticism from these SPs can help point you in the right direction to run. To get involved with an Young Professional’s group, check out Pulse Young Professionals with the Chamber. For more information on LeadSC, visit their webpage, or contact the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

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