Management Corner – April 2019

In recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the Knighted Writer is honored to spotlight key female leaders in the organization. From Human Resources to Information Technology to Operations to Development, Knighted is fortunate to be surrounded by strong, passionate, and driven individuals. Take a moment to learn from each of these team members as they respond to some interesting and fun questions taken from Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferris.

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Yolanda P.

Information Technology Director, Corporate

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Try everything and take on odd projects. You’ll learn what you like and don’t like quicker.

What are the bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

I tried a lot of roles early in my career. Some of my managers tried to get me to specialize and I wanted to try other areas of IT. Listen to your gut. It’s telling you something! I finally realized I wanted to get into management and it led me to Knighted!

In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

Yes. Being in grad school, homework makes it easier to say no. I’ve worked on setting boundaries because doing things you don’t want to do is no fun. You’ll find, for the most part, people understand.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

Happens all the time! I’ve found I’m not great at multitasking so try to focus on one thing at a time, which helps to not feel overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, I’ll take a walk and pick one thing to address.

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Susanna S.

Organizational Development Manager, Corporate

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

Many years ago, I dropped out of a Master’s program with only a few units left to complete. It was a pretty low point in my life and led me to believe that I couldn’t finish anything I started. But looking back, I should never have started that program – I did it because a professor suggested I might be good at it, not because I actually wanted to. I don’t regret dropping out, but I do regret wasting time and money on that program.

Now, I am a couple of months away from graduating from a different M.S. program in a different field. I decided to take the leap because I want to prove to myself that I can do hard things, as long as I truly believe those things are worthwhile. The program is much harder than I expected, and I’ve had some really rough stretches. But I’m learning so much and I’m bringing it to my work every day. I just have to slog it out for a few more months!

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What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I love making things! The nature of my job is very ongoing, so I don’t often get to check things off of a to-do list. Nothing is ever done! That’s what I like about making stuff: it has a very clear endpoint and the result is tangible. Right now, I’ve been making paper flowers using Tiffanie Turner’s iconic book. They take forever, but there’s something very meditative about it. 

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Ambition is a good thing, but make sure you are leaving room to explore and change career pathways. I’ve stumbled into doing something I love, which I know is pretty common for those of us in this industry. If I hadn’t been open to exploring opportunities because I was singularly focused on one career goal, I may not have allowed myself to experiment and find new strengths and interests. So – yes – set goals for yourself. But revisit them often and change them to make sure they reflect what you actually want out of life.

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Candice B.

Human Resources Director, Corporate

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

Spending time figuring out what re-energizes me and holding myself accountable to making time for those things. It truly is a disciplinary practice. Everyone recalibrates differently. For me, it’s making time to exercise and spending time with people that I care about and know me best to help keep me grounded.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?  

Advice: Invest in your communication skills. There is no better toolkit for succeeding in your career, and in life, than knowing how to talk to people and conveying your message clearly.

Invest in your future. Set yourself up for financial success as early as possible. Establish a savings and retirement plan with near-term and long-term goals. Your “senior self” will thank you later!

Invest in your network. Find opportunities to interact with people and build connections. You never know when you might meet someone that helps you realize your dream, and helps you cultivate your full potential. And you never know when you might do the same for someone else.

Ignore: Don’t listen to people that tell you to ignore your passion because it has no real-world application or value. Pursue your passion(s). It may or may not find its way into your career, but if you incorporate it somehow, someway into your life, you will always feel whole.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?

“Everything in life is either an act of love or a call for love.”

I don’t know who originally coined this, but it continues to resonate with me. I’m a true believer that human action is motivated by our hearts. Either by a desire to do good by or for others, or by a call for help because we have been hurt and are hurting. If each of us could interact with the world through this lens, imagine the possibilities.

We are all looking for a sense of community, acceptance, support, and most of all love. Be kind, and forgive.

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Amy B.

People Operations Manager, Corporate

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

I had a big “AHA!” moment in my career with Knighted a couple of years ago. I always felt I was a hard worker and contributed to the organization in a positive way, but I did not spend enough time understanding how my strengths and weaknesses intertwined. I read a book called What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith and it really opened my eyes to what it means to be a leader. There were a lot of skillsets that helped me move up in the organization, but these were also traits that were holding me back from being a better leader and engaging more positively with others. I remember after reading that book, I made some pretty drastic changes. For example, I changed my approach and philosophy to my team meetings, I rearranged my office to create a sense of more openness to those coming to speak with me, I wrote on post-it notes to remind myself what to do more of and less of, and I took the time to apologize to people I may have hurt. Today, I continually try to self-evaluate and self-regulate myself to keep myself on track, not to just be a better leader but a better person as well. 

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

If given the opportunity, take a moment to know the world around you and the people around. Your degree is a great accomplishment and you should be extremely proud of it! But life is more than books and grades, life is made up of the people you interact with and the environments you expose yourself to. Travel, volunteer, put yourself in uncomfortable situations, learn from others, be open to new ideas, embrace change, respect differences, and most important spread love and positivity. Lastly, from experience, after college and grad school, I thought I knew what I wanted to do but things changed.  Be open to explore and venture new career opportunities, you never know what you might stumble across and what opportunities may come your way. I do not regret the roads traveled, people met, and experiences had because it has led me to the person I am today and the career I am in now. There is a big world out there, learn from it, respect it, and give back to it positively!

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Pam A.

Operations Manager, Bicycle Casino

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?

“Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try”.  Personally and professionally, this is something that I want to live by.  Sometimes, people do get really comfortable and not push themselves to do anything beyond their comfort zone or what they know.  This usually impedes their personal and professional growth.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

When I feel overwhelmed or unfocused, I try to do something that will clear my mind and think a little clearer.  Usually, I try to walk around my neighborhood. This can be a 2-3 miles walk while listening to calming music. During this process, I try to think of nothing else but what is happening at that moment. This usually works for me as my mind just tends to refocus or calm down.  Once I put myself together, I usually try to pinpoint why I’m feeling that way. I look at what is making me feel this way and why. Once I narrow it down, I try to think of solutions or actions that I need to take in order for me to not be in the state of being overwhelmed or being unfocused.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

I think the most worthwhile investment is the time that I’m spending with my family now.  I moved back to LA from Northern California after I was given an opportunity to help out when we had our first casino in LA.  I think seeing my parents have more wrinkles, white hair, and more fragile every time I flew down to LA made me realized that I do have a limited time with them.  The same with my nieces and nephew. I want to see them grow up before they move on with their own lives. As much as I loved living in Northern California, my time with my family is something very precious and worthwhile.

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Georlet C.

Operations Manager, Golden West Casino

How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

Failure is always bad and unpleasant. In my case, I can say that failure in my marriage set me up for the success that I am getting now. I am not saying that I am happy and proud of that, but since that moment, I have decided to always be the best person and mom that I can be and always ready and prepared for what life gives me. It made me realized that life is so short to live in pain and regret, instead use it to have a vision of what future do you want for you and your loved ones.

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?

By the start of the year, my daughter wanted to have a BIG fish tank and lots of fishes (which she saw when we went to a doctor’s appointment one time). We went to PETCO and Petsmart and I did not realize how expensive these things are. I really wanted to buy one for her so I went online to check if I can get one for her. Everything is just too expensive as well so I went to Offer-Up and then I found an ad saying “50-gallon fish tank with all of the other stuff (filet, heater, decorations, 2 fishes), just need cleaning” and that’s for $150. I immediately messaged the seller and offered to buy it for $75 (yes, you always offer half the price). The seller asked for $120, and then I said I can pay $90 and then he said $100 last price and I said “Okay!” 🙂 We cleaned it and it looks so brand new and my daughter LOVES it. It refreshes me every time I see it and knowing that it makes her so happy has given me more impact that I have ever imagined. I really thought that was a great deal!

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Connie C.

Operations Manager, Bicycle Casino

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

My best time investment is time spent with loved ones, especially with my parents. Most recently, I was able to spend time with my mother for the final 6 weeks of her life. However difficult it may have been, I couldn’t replace that time with anything. Time is that valuable.

In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped?

If it’s true that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, then you need to surround yourself with good people. On the flipside, this also meant for me, being able to say no to the negative and selfish people in my life. Sounds cold, but in the end, you’re hurting yourself and you’re enabling the others.

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Lady R.

Operations Manager, Parkwest Sonoma

In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped?

It appears to me in the workplace women, in particular, are conditioned to be more agreeable. We’ve heard stories of women in leadership or pursuing leadership who were confident in themselves. Often the words reserved for these kinds of women are “difficult” amongst others. Being agreeable for the sake of being agreeable is something I’ve often done. I don’t have the answers to everything, but there are decisions I am sure of. I am just recently learning to own those decisions and say “no, this idea doesn’t work for me. Let’s explore something else.”

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

This could be for anybody, really, but just know that in order to make any real change in this world you will have to make some people uncomfortable. If one person is unaffected by or even benefits from the current state of affairs, they will be comfortable and naturally will be reluctant to want change. However, injustice still exists for millions of people when it doesn’t have to. You’ll always see that ideas or movements to bring about change that helps people — for example to end violence or create equality —  will be considered radical and they’ll be mocked, criticized, and shot down. I’m sure you’re thinking of examples in your head as you read this. You’ve got to hit them with those ideas until they become the norm. Forget the people pleasing, focus on helping people. It’s those “radicals” who will leave legacies.

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Emma S.

Development Manager, Northern California

What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life? 

The first book is one that I read in college, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. This novel gave me more perspective on the queer movement and its history, but through telling a story that affected me on a personal level and helped with my own journey. Secondly, the Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle introduced me to the genre and taught me that seeing and observing is not the same thing. Not only is it an entertaining set of short stories and novellas, this collection tells of an iconic literary character and “consulting detective” that places an emphasis on logical reasoning.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

One behavior over the last few years that has improved my life is assuming positive intent when working and dealing with other people. It can be so easy to tell myself a story or assume the worst when someone does something that I disagree with. I first heard of this concept from a roommate in college, and he is someone who lives this and is open and constantly curious about what motivates other people. While not great at it, I feel like I have become less quick to make judgments about people and take more time to see things from their perspective with an open mind.

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