Letter to 18 Year Old Me

Dear Me,

18 Years Old Z Ferenczy

18 Years Old Zsuzsanna Ferenczy

Hey, look at you !! … sitting there so serious wearing the regular black/grey/blue  “not to stick out too much” type of outfits, no makeup, no lipstick … taking notes, preparing, reviewing, rehearsing, home working, re-preparing,  cross checking, double checking …

The good student, the outstanding direct report.

A new performance evaluation is in your hand with the same strengths highlighted as last year and the year before: Accountability, Execution Rigor and Commitment.  Doesn’t seem right somehow. It sits uneasily.

Your Manager calls it Execution Rigor, deep inside you should call it No Risk Taking.

There is a difference between taking Initiative (with capital “I”) versus being always the first one to step up and do the work,  to help others. The “no surprise, always meeting expectations girl” becomes the “too serious, no fun” peer. So on the “Who’s Who” team quiz, none of your colleagues matches your anonymous profile of “Inca Trail hiker, Alaska traveler, outdoor adventure sports enthusiast,  bla-bla“-  with YOU.

What were you expecting? Why are you so surprised?

Spending too much time focused on “vertical” relationships– up to the boss and boss’s boss, makes you the rising star of the company.  In my letter to 18 Year Old Me I say, your peers congratulate you, you are getting the best assignments. It is Thursday evening, they all went out for Happy Hour drink and you are still in the office working. You keep convincing yourself that Work Comes First …it sounds pretty fake looking back now.

Investing time in learning from your peers, listening to their perspective and feedback, building alliances is in the true sense an INVESTMENT.  Even when it happens at a team dinner, a drink at the hotel bar after a long day of meetings.

These are all important building blocks for your professional fulfilment.Tweet this

And stop always talking about work when meeting colleagues. Remember the “too serious, no fun” feedback above … Exactly!!

Dear Me, in 5 years time you will be likely sitting in a job interview being completely puzzled by the question “give me an example when you felt so excited about a task/subject that you almost jumped on the table”

If you realize that all of the exciting things to jump on the table for are outside work then it is time to rethink instead of settling for it. Hmm, I see that you are nodding … what was the last time you said “No” to someone, or expressed disagreement.

Taking charge of your own priorities, goals, objectives and values is a key step toward the “jump on the table” environment.

Have fun (stop frowning)


Have a chance to win an Introductory Professional Image Consultation!  Submit  a letter  to your 18 year old self, with a photo at age 18.  Contact nicola.jesse@3plusinternational.com



3Plus, Communication, Conversations about leadership, Mentoring
Zsuzsanna Ferenczy
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Zsuzsanna is a true „International Citizen” who lived and worked in 6 different countries, 3 different continents. She has had a professional journey through Manufacturing, Supply Chain Mgmt. to Finance/Accounting then Service Delivery Mgmt. and recently Sales & Commercial Operations Mgmt while leading cross functional, international teams.
Currently she is GM Commercial Operations for Pentax Medical in Hamburg. Previously 15+ years with General Electric in different European HQ leadership roles. She is an alumni of the prestigious GE Corporate Audit Staff , GE Manufacturing Leadership Programs also a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt. Her continuous quest is to balance her Engineering acumen (Masters Degree in High Voltage Electrical Engineering) with her “creative” side (Literature Award, Drawing) and effectively embed in her day to day work.
Currently lives in Brussels, Belgium with husband and 8 years old son but mostly on the road swinging between Hamburg, Brussels and other European cities. A self-proclaimed guide of worldwide airports and train stations.

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