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Wellbeing & Personal Development

The advice leaders would give their younger selves (part 2)

The advice leaders would give their younger selves (part 2)
Published: December 6, 2023
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What's the best piece of advice you'd give yourself?

At the end of each of our leadership podcasts, we ask our guests: 'If you were starting over, what's the best piece of advice you'd give yourself?' 

  • Read on for the answers we heard in podcasts #011 - #020
  • Watch our highlights video below, or 
  • Revisit the advice from podcasts #001 - #010 here


Iwan de Leeuw

"Don’t be afraid to make mistakes"

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Or rather, don’t be afraid to learn, because a mistake is a learning opportunity. Looking back, there were definitely a couple of moments where I made some calls because I was afraid of making a mistake, that in hindsight I should have just gone for. I’m also going to shamelessly steal a line from a Harry Potter movie I watched with my daughter: “do what is right, not what is easy”. It might be a tougher road, but you're not going to make that many mistakes, and you'll learn some valuable life lessons. 

Iwan de Leeuw is Executive Vice President People Operations at Toll Group. Catch up on his podcast on the role of HR in leadership.

David Cooper

"I wouldn't change anything"

We often do an exercise with clients, which is to write a letter to your 18-year-old self.  And every time I write that letter, I find myself saying, “hey 18-year-old self, life's pretty good at the moment. We're pretty content.” I don't know that I want to mess with the space-time continuum that would change me. And so my advice in that letter is always, “just know that we're in a good spot. Things are going to come along, but do the best you can." Because when I think of some of my hardest, most challenging times – if I did them differently, I'd be a different person, I'd be in a different space. And so as hard as certain things may have been, I think that challenge, that struggle, was critical to creating the person that I hope and strive to be today. So, I wouldn't change anything.

David Cooper is a Senior Consultant at Impact. He talked to Dan about what it takes to lead a high-performing team.

Michael Price

"Know the positive impact you can have through business"

I'd say know the positive impact that you can have through business. In my career I've been able to influence change... for example hosting sales conferences in our community rather than doing them at big hotels. We decided, “hold on a minute, let's host these in the Lake District because a) we live in an amazing place and b) let's make sure that money in the Lake District goes to to the Lake District. So know where your money is going, that your investment can both grow a business and have a positive impact on your community, on your workforce... It's more than just growing a business. 

Michael Price is a global commercial director, consultant and mentor. He talked about transforming business sustainably.

Tuuli Tervaskanto

"This too shall pass"

I love that question. I think if I go all the way back to the beginning, there's been so much worrying over nothing in those years and thinking that whatever issues I faced were the end of the world or the end of my career. So the advice I would give myself is actually what my mother used to always tell me when I was younger, and she said, "You know what, this too shall pass." So, whatever it is that's happening, it won't be there forever. It'll go away and things will always get better.

Tuuli Tervaskanto is Country Manager Finland & Baltics at VMware. Listen again as she talks from personal to workplace wellbeing.

Emanuela Trentin

"Always believe"

Always believe; understand what your possibilities are and believe in that. Because if you don’t believe in yourself, others will not. Be kind but determined, and show that you are able to make decisions. Believe in what you are doing and in your capability to make the right choice. Yes you can ask everybody for an opinion, but the decision is yours.

Emanuela Trentin is CEO at Siram Veolia. Join her podcast for leadership lessons from a CEO.

Katherine Wässer

"Appreciate the journey”

Nothing is ever going to be handed to you on a platter. You have to make your own opportunities. And I have had some incredible opportunities in my career and worked for some really fantastic people. And I have also had moments that haven't been so great. But everything that I've been through and everything that I've learned has made me into the person that I am today. So to give myself advice I might say… perhaps 20 years ago you probably should have slowed down, looked after yourself, maybe slept a little bit more. But if I had, I might have missed some of those opportunities that have actually made me the person that I've become. So I’d tell myself to appreciate the journey, because you're so often in a rush to get to the next thing. 

Katherine Wässer is Head of Purpose & Culture Transformation at Jaguar Land Rover. Hear her podcast on making business more human

Beat Calabretti

"Be courageous, stay humble and search for feedback"

Be courageous, stay humble, learn, respect people, and search for feedback. In the younger years, you're really passionate, driven, etc. So listen well to people, to create work and build true partnerships. And stay curious, don't get complacent with your growing expertise. These are the things which I think are critical. 

Beat Calabretti is Global VP Talent at Barry Callebaut Group. He talked to Dan about how to build and inspire teams.

Christoph Williams

"Take a first step even if you don’t know where your end goal is"

Take your first step, even though you might not know where your end goal is. And listen carefully. Don't assume. Probe by questioning to get a better understanding and rely on your instincts as well as your brain. 

Christoph Williams is Head of Talent and Leadership Development, Sony Europe. Join him for the big questions, starting with: Has HR lost its soul?

Kaja Podgórna-Strzelec

"Listen to your gut"

Listen to your gut because, especially when you're young, you're not always sure about the decisions you're going to make. I'm just looking at my career, my work and my life, and the decisions that I made according to my gut have always been really beneficial. I believe that there is something more than only rational thinking. So be in tune with your intuition, this is one of the things that I would definitely advise myself. 

Kaja Podgórna-Strzelec is HR Director at PwC Polska. Making every voice heard was the focus of her podcast. 

David Williams

"Stop worrying"

Stop worrying. You know, because when you're 23, when you start your own business and it starts to grow really quickly, you'll feel a huge responsibility to the people that you're giving the job to and to the clients who are trusting you to do what they believe you can do really well. And it's easy to get into a worried, negative cycle. And I've been in that mode many times in the past and I just need to throw that away and recognise that what we do works. To trust my own intuition, which is usually very positive and usually very forward thinking.

David Williams is CEO and founder of Impact. His podcast was aptly titled learning from experience

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