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Words of wisdom: Maine business leaders reflect on 'best advice' they've received


There are always ups and downs in a person’s career path. And whether it’s graduating from college or starting a new job, along the way, others are sharing their tips on how they succeeded.

Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro, we’re kicking off 2023 with some words of wisdom from Maine business owners, contractors, and movers.

Mainebiz asked executives, “What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?”

Nate Moody, Pension Advisor, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Lebel & Harriman Retirement and one of the 2022 Mainebiz 40 Under 40 winners, shared a quote he heard from Mike Lebel, co-founder of Lebel & Harriman: “Surround yourself with people smarter than you, and get out of their way.”

“It’s such a simple statement yet so true,” Moody said. “Especially at the beginning of your career, I think people often feel like they have to take control to be recognized by their leadership, but to be able to function as part of a team, to trust your teammates and being willing to learn from them will stand you in good stead throughout your career.”

Abdikhadar Shire, Mainebiz 2022 40 Under 40 winner and founder of AK Health and Social Services, said, “To be successful, you must always remember the primary reason you started the nonprofit.”

“This advice came at a time when I feared the nonprofit was going anywhere,” Shire said. “We hadn’t received any contracts or funding, and I was getting discouraged.

“So I went to speak to a community leader who is also the imam of the Lewiston mosque and told him how worried I was… He asked me, ‘Why did you create the association when you could get any job you wanted?with your two degrees?I said I wanted to help people, and his response was to focus more on that, to help people [who have] nothing, and the rest will come later.”

Andrew Butcher, chairman of the Maine Connectivity Authority, said one of his post-graduate mentors introduced the concept of “affirmative inquiry.”

“For me, it was a way to both learn, challenge my assumptions, and foster strong relationships,” Butcher said.

“We often enter new relationships feeling compelled to dominate with what we know…as opposed to what we might learn, or even how we might relate. This further helped inform the additional guidance offered by then-state representative and now Pittsburgh mayor Ed Gainey when he told me it was possible “to be smart and not wise”.

“Even smart ideas can fail if they fail to consider common sense, conventional wisdom, and relevance to those most affected. Balancing smart good ideas with an awareness of people and their needs/priorities has been a critical orientation that I have tried to maintain ever since.”

“Persistence, persistence, persistence,” said Fred Forsley, founder and CEO of Portland-based Shipyard Brewing Co. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.” Forsley said he received this advice in his twenties from the real estate broker he was working with at the time.

MaineWorks CEO and Founder Margo Walsh, a 2014 Mainebiz Women to Watch, said, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, talk to people who do, especially when it comes to finances. .

The best advice I remember receiving is this: “The path to a successful career is not a straight road; you will make mistakes and fall along the way – the key is to pick yourself up, to learn from your mistakes and keep persevering,” said Randy Albert, Mainebiz 40 Under 40 winner, vice president of finance, operations and analytics at Northern Light Health.

The one thing that always sticks with Brad Moll, the co-owner of the first Brickyard Hollow, is “always treat people the way you expect to be treated”.

Andrew Marden, one of the main owners of Marden’s Surplus & Salvage thrift store in Maine, echoed that sentiment, saying two things come to mind about treating everyone with respect.

“Everyone matters, no matter what they do, whether we’re sweeping the floor or running an organization. In the long run, it doesn’t work without everyone’s contribution,” Marden said. “Also, keep a tight focus and do what you’re doing the best you can.

“Trying to wear too many hats or spread thin is a recipe for a lot of mediocre things and nothing great.”

Lucie Hannigan, senior vice president of Machias Savings Bank, perhaps said it best when she said, “It’s you. And be the best you! Not only do you have to be the right candidate for the job and the employer, but the position and the employer must be good for you. Remember this is not a rehearsal, so be happy with what you are doing!”



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