As the saying goes, “you live and learn.” Everyone makes mistakes along their career journeys; what’s important is learning from those mistakes and correcting course.
Below, four top women in travel and hospitality open up about mistakes they made early in their careers and, more importantly, the wisdom they gained as a result.
Not Knowing the Audience
“I communicate in a direct way that can be very intimidating, and it can be very overpowering. So I learned, perhaps the hard way, that what I needed to do was look at who my audience was going to be and temper that communication. If I’m speaking to customers vs. superiors vs. my employees, I speak to each one in a different way. It really makes me mindful of the old adage that ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.’ That’s the lesson I’ve learned, and I’ve really been conscious of it my entire career.” — Danielle Babilino, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Hard Rock International
Trying to Blend In
“Molding into the status quo. I remember when I was a brand-new flight student and I really wanted to fit in, so I sought the advice of another female pilot a few years ahead of me. She said the best thing I could do was just to blend in and be one of the guys. I unfortunately took that advice, but that wasn’t who I was. I gave up a piece of me in order to gain some social capital and to fit in. I look back and I know that was a big mistake, which is why I write and I public speak about this so we can break that cycle.” — Kimberly Perkins, founder and president, Aviation for Humanity
Not Asking for Help
“If you’re really good at what you do that’s great, but one of the best things that you can do for yourself is ask for help and ask questions. Asking for help isn’t a weakness. I didn’t do that early on. I was very fortunate and had a couple of really great mentors who encouraged me to understand that it wasn’t a weakness; it was a strength. I quickly adapted to that and I think that helped propel me as a professional.” — Joy-Lynn Tyler, vice president of Total Rewards and HIPAA privacy officer, Extended Stay
Picking Too Many Battles
“I have a high sense of duty about what’s right and so, especially early in my career, when I would run across something that I didn’t feel was right, everything became a battle. I found I was, No. 1, wearing myself out and, No. 2, wearing other people out by making everything a fight. One of the lessons I had to learn was to pick my battles. Everything can’t be a war. We have to extend grace; we have to assume positive intent; we have to have a give-and-take with people because everyone’s trying to do the right thing. That honestly helped my shoulders drop a little, helped me lessen the stress level a bit, just recognizing that … I need to choose those most important things to fight for and let the rest be.” — Linda Rutherford, senior vice president and chief communications officer, Southwest Airlines