The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?” is written by Stephanie Newby, CEO of Crimson Hexagon.
My career started in the Australian Outback, where I managed a ranch. One day when I loaded a truck full of cattle and sent it to the market, I found out that their prices had dropped precipitously. Fortunately, the ranch owner had hedged his cattle on the futures market—something I had not heard of before. So I started to track those prices, and eventually moved to Sydney to take a job as a floor trader on the Sydney Futures Exchange. That path led me from commodity futures to financial futures, which brought me to London and eventually Wall Street.
Along the way in my career, I faced many challenges. Here is some of the best advice I received on how to deal with them:
Make firm decisions
It’s great to get lots of advice, but ultimately there will be times when you have to stop deliberating and make a final decision. Remember, you don’t have to follow everyone’s advice. Many people try to tell women they can’t be mothers and have successful careers, but that isn’t true. If you listen to those voices, instead of pursuing your ambition to be successful in business and have children, there will be one less female CEO in the workforce today. Remember that it’s your career—and your life. Be the master of your own decisions.
Learn to delegate
As you advance in your career, keep note of things you are doing that can be delegated. You want to constantly move forward and acquire new knowledge and skills, and take on more responsibility. To do that, you need to find time. Figure out what you’re doing that can be done at least 60% as well by someone else, and hire someone to take over those responsibilities. The other 40% is their opportunity to grow into the position.
At times, you’ll be pulled in many different directions. This is when to start delegating. At Golden Seeds, the investment firm I started, I found myself dealing with investors and entrepreneurs at the same time, and it was too much for me to take care of on my own. The growth of our company depended on my being able to focus on the investors, so I hired a portfolio manager to support the entrepreneurs we invested in, and she became a trusted colleague and eventually partner in the business.
Do the things you don’t want to do
Fundraising is a major part of my job at Crimson Hexagon. In the early days, I was sometimes frustrated by how much time I spent doing it, and thought of it as taking me away from the real job. But as a CEO, it is simply part of the job. You have to manage more than just net income for a year or a quarter; you also have to ensure the business has the right balance of cash, debt, and equity.
Be willing to take risks
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take risks. I strongly reject the notion that women are risk-averse. Rather, I believe they have a strong need to understand the risks of a venture before diving in. That’s why I created a training program for female investors at Golden Seeds. Once the investors understood how to value a company and the implications of getting that wrong, their appetite for risk grew. Weighing risk in your own career doesn’t need to be complex or time-consuming. A simple list of pros and cons will reveal the right path to take 98% of the time.
To be successful, you will face the need to be willing to risk it all—probably more than once. If you are passionate about making your vision a reality, go for it.