Five Key Strategies for Success

The 5 Keys to Set Yourself Up for Success: For our first meeting this year, October 12, 2020, we were grateful to welcome our speaker Mr. Thomas Swartout. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, he now owns and operates his own independent financial firm which provides financial planning and wealth management services nationwide. Alongside this, Mr. Swartout is a member of many charitable organizations and is a speaker to the financial services industry. With a wide range of experience, Mr. Swartout was able to provide us all with a handful of tips and skills to ensure that we make the most of the opportunities we are given. His speech included information in regards to utilizing our social connections to the maximum as well as making the most of our own personal abilities, which as he explained, go hand in hand. He addressed the 5 topics of Selecting a Career, Networking, Creating Centers of Influence, Charitable Work, and Capacity. Mr. Swartout clearly highlighted the significance of career selection in the early minutes of his presentation. He noted that it is important to speak to professionals in prospective careers and compared this to his own experience in joining his first job, Northwestern Mutual, straight off of campus. He brought to his audience's attention the significant consequences that the career you select will have on your life: hours worked, salary, and working conditions. In order to make sure that you are dedicating yourself to a career that fits these preferences, he suggests that starting a dialogue with people in these fields. Although he mentioned it is ok to not be 100% sure about your path, he stressed that having some idea will narrow down your choices, thus avoiding wandering in your young professional life, and ultimately make sure that the career path you pick is the right fit and that you are good at. In order to maximize your external resources through networking, Mr. Swartout explained that “It’s not what you know, it is who you know”. Through this he was able to convey the idea that the key to success is a combination of what you do as well and how you are able to build off of other people. He suggested that it is important to be able to distinguish between those who like you and want to see you become successful and those who don’t. To do so, he recommended taking a small black book, and writing down the names and contact information of everyone you meet. This would allow an invaluable resource when in need of advice or connections. He elaborated on the importance of networking through the concept of creating centers of influence. He explained earlier that there are people who want to see you grow into something successful and here, the importance of having people around that will grow successful along with you. These people are most often in the same stages of life as you and these symbiotic relationships will cultivate in the formative years of your career. Additionally, he referred to these people as 3-6 people “you can draw on as resources”, and this should come naturally since not only do you share professional aspirations in these relationships, but also personal interests. The last points Mr. Swartout made were in regards to being charitable and making use of one’s own personal capacity. To do so, use the time you have been given to the maximum, do more than you are expected or assigned to do, and make use of the skills you have been given. In the end, even if no one is watching, this will be more beneficial than anticipated. He gave the example that if someone was to be laid off out of a group of people, all at the same level, those who have gone above and beyond will be safe. Aside from this, he explained that it is important to partake in charity not only for personal gain, but also simply because it is the right thing to do. However, he did advise us that it is important to be willing to receive in order to be in the position to give. This tying back to his previous points about social networking, you can do more charity through the connections you have made. Through these humbling acts of compassion, you are using more of your capacity. Like this, using your capacity to its fullest potential is being able to diversify your interest, in return, widening your skillset. Mr. Swartout concluded his insightful presentation with a book recommendation, “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg which very similarly reiterates the valuable takeaways he gave us. He advised us that finding a balance is crucial, as well as the best gift we have to offer is ourselves. By embracing these two things and understanding them, we are giving ourselves the upper hand in a competitive world. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights with us Mr. Swartout. Aanya Gupta, Reporter