Skip to Content

Here’s Who You Should Rely on When Times Get Tough

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “Who do you turn to in a crisis and why?” is written by Blair Brandt, co-founder and CEO of Next Step Realty.

When I was 14 years old and entering high school, I asked my father for his number one piece of advice. He responded with only one word: “communicate.” I was surprised that it wasn’t “work hard” or “stay focused.” But I came to learn that my dad knew I would ultimately have plenty of disappointments, no matter how hard I worked or narrowly I focused. By suggesting that I learn to communicate, he made it clear to me that I would find success not by always winning, but instead by communicating with others to help overcome obstacles.

Here are some ways that I’ve accomplished this:

Build a personal board of advisors

The most successful people I’ve met all share one thing in common: They surround themselves with well-informed people that they can rely on when times get tough.

You have to think constantly about establishing your brand. Any strong brand can benefit from the guidance of a board of advisors. Over time, I’ve built up a group of successful business leaders from different backgrounds that advise me on important professional decisions. They all share the common thread of achievement in their respective sectors.

Companies pay a fortune to board members, but your board is free. In fact, some of the people on your board may actually invest in you and your ideas, in addition to offering their two cents once in a while.

If your board is made up of heavy hitters, it’s likely that their time to help you will be finite. That’s fine. When you’re faced with a particularly difficult challenge, reach out to them to see what they think. Not everyone will be able to respond, but if you have a wide-ranging enough cast, you’ll inevitably find someone to offer you valuable advice.

Rely on a close friend

My good friend Matt Swift, the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Concordia, is someone who can always expect to hear from me at major decision points. Matt and I are roughly the same age, and since we both graduated college in 2010, have built our two concepts from mere ideas into large and effective organizations.


Matt is a great outlet for a few reasons. First, I don’t feel bad asking him for help, since I expect that he will reciprocate and ask me for help when he’s in a bind. Second, he is also an entrepreneur and understands the intricacies of building your own brand under the age of 30. And third, he is discreet; I know I can trust in his confidence when I’m honest with him. You should look for similar qualities in friends you turn to for advice.

Don’t forget yourself

Find some time during a crisis to clock out of the office, stop worrying about minutiae, and get some physical distance from your work. Coming up with the right strategy—even if doing so means taking a few hours off work—can save you weeks or months of time in the future. When looking to myself for answers, I always turn to three methods: meditation, exercise, and travel. By taking my mind off of an immediate matter, I find inspiration in the world around me.

The most successful people lean on those around them, so that when they encounter adversity, they come back better than before. When you don’t have all the answers within, you’ll be able to find them from those who are close to you.