If you want to be successful, play the hand you’re dealt.
That was one tip shared by Karole Lloyd, the vice chair and southeast regional managing partner at EY, at her recent Terry Leadership Speaker Series talk.
“Too many people worry about the jack of diamonds they don’t have in their hand rather than the 10 of hearts that they do have,” she said. “In every situation I faced, I took the things that I had – the cards in my hands – and I didn’t worry about the things I couldn’t change. That’s been hugely successful for me.”
Lloyd has spent 37 years with EY. She started with the firm straight out of college and rose through the ranks. Since assuming her current role in 2009, she augmented EY’s business with full-scale advisory and transaction consulting services, and the region she leads has doubled its annual revenue to more than $1.3 billion.
Lloyd graduated college in three years and was determined to approach her job with the same drive and initiative. Her single-minded focus, which was so helpful in school, became a liability in the workplace, she said.
“When I first started, I was so competitive that all I was trying to do was to make me successful. What I hadn’t valued was there was a whole group of us,” she said. “[My mentor] encouraged me to stop and focus on what I could do to make my whole team successful. That it wasn’t only about my success, that I needed to be part of a team and people needed to trust me. I’ll tell you, people really didn’t like to work with me that much because it was all about me.”
Reframing her definition of success led her to discover the power of relationships, which she said have been essential to her growth.
“I didn’t understand the value of networking,” she told the audience. “You don’t know that the people that you’re sitting in this class with are the people who you may be depending on for a career in the future. So don’t underestimate how soon you need to start building relationships. Your ability to network and nurture those relationships and take time for them really matters.”
She also encouraged students to take responsibility for making connections and learn to be thoughtful about the offers they accept and decline.
“Say ‘yes’ often. Say ‘yes’ to opportunity, but say ‘no’ strategically,” she said. “I truly believe that I’ve learned more by saying no – strategically – than I have saying yes. So be sure to consider that. Volunteer for projects, but don’t just do it to help out. Volunteer to do something you’re really passionate about.”