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Mellody Hobson: The 1 Thing You Must Do to Succeed

Recently, the Alliance of Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs (ABLE) held its second ABLE Insights quarterly business forum at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Multimedia personality Monique Caradine moderated the dynamic panel that featured Monica L. Walker, Equity for Holland CEO and chief investment officer; Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Company; and Mellody Hobson, “Good Morning America” and BlackAmericaWeb financial contributor and president of Ariel Investments.

Hobson divulged her secret to success:
“One of the things that you see when sitting in front of people, is their energy. It surrounds them and it is very clear. I interviewed a young man yesterday who really wants to work. And there was no energy there.

“Even with the best of intentions, I was thinking, where do I send him? Who could I work with to help me find the diamond that I’m sure is in the rough?

“And this brings me to a point of view that I feel very strongly about. I was 25 years old, and I was in this women’s leadership meeting with a woman who was the president of Motorola Canada, she came to speak to us.

“I raised my hand and asked her, ‘What is the one piece of advice that you would give a person for success? One thing?’

“And she said, ‘Smile a lot.’

“She said, ‘You look like you’re shooting arrows from your eyes,’ because I had this look on my face that said, ‘smile a lot?!’

“And she said, ‘This is what I learned, people like happy people. They like to work with people that they like, people who are positive, interesting and funny.’ And she said smiling sends that signal.

“And it’s really that simple. So, someone looking for a job, I know it is hard and you get discouraged, but you can’t walk in their with your face on fire.

“I smile a lot when I’m on television, even when [delivering bad news] ‘the layoffs are at seven percent …’ it takes away a lot of the anxiety.

“Ariel would say, every single person that we encounter is a potential customer, from the doorman to cab drivers, to CEOs. So every single person that you talk to, you are representing Ariel. You are to represent like it matters.

“So, when you’re looking for a job, this is an important moment, and it’s being wasted on your demeanor. Not because you don’t want the job, not because you’re not smart, but actually there is a better, more positive way even with the enormous struggle of interviews.

“And I know this is good, fundamental advice.”