20 Business Lessons Learned in 20 Years

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The Evolution of Remote Work and Virtual Interviews in Executive Search

Benjamin Farber has learned many lessons during his 20 years at Bristol Associates — more than we could fit in this blog. After working in every department of the firm and eventually becoming President and Owner of the company, Ben has become one of the top consultants in executive recruiting.

To commemorate the 20-year milestone, we asked Ben to share 20 key business and life lessons he gained in the past two decades. Grab a snack and sit back as we get the inside scoop on running a business, leading a team, and navigating life.


The 5 Rs to Keep in Mind

1. Redefine what success means to you: “Being abstract and free only gets you so far in your life’s journey. Narrowing your focus to have even just one achievable goal allows me to stop and ask myself: ‘Why?’ Why do I want to complete the goal? Why is this going to benefit my family, my team, or myself?”

2. Routine: “Routine helps balance and create priorities. Stopping and reflecting on your life also contributes to a strong routine. We become so used to our bad habits being part of our everyday lives that they can hinder progress in our day-to-day tasks. With parenting being in the mix for me now, having a weekday routine that frees up the weekend is a must.”

3. Recharge: “Prior to becoming a parent and before the pandemic happened, going to shows or movies were ways I would recharge. Now, just playing with my son helps me relax. Burnout often comes from fatigue from not doing things that we enjoyed when younger. Having the right personal mindset equates to a better professional mindset, and taking time to recenter myself helps with that.”

4. Recognize others for their efforts: “Positivity expressed towards others will eventually come back to you. Taking care of yourself allows you to uplift those around you. It helps boost your career growth and leadership growth. Positive energy will get you far.”

5. Reflect with gratitude: “You are not ready for the next step if you are not appreciative of where you are now and where you have come from. It is important to be grateful for and at peace with how far you have come in life. By doing so, you can reflect and grow in your personal or professional life. It is easy to get lost in negative thoughts, but finding ways to clear that fog, like exercising, getting fresh air, or having self-care time, allows for greater improvement of oneself.”


Lessons from Experiences

6. A lesson learned during your first year as President of the company: “With owning a business comes the upmost pressure to perform. Your team is depending on you to offer an environment in which they can thrive. In my first year as President, I really took the words of tennis champion Billie Jean King to heart, ‘Pressure is a privilege. It only comes to those who earn it.’”

7. A lesson learned as a business owner: “I learned to question every item in vendor contracts. Even if you think a clause will never apply to you, ask about it, scrap it, don’t agree to it. The pandemic was a strong reminder that literally anything is possible.”

8. A lesson learned while leading a team: “Not everyone on your team will learn, process information, and work in the exact same way. Leave room in your guidance for freedom of interpretation and execution. This lets the team grow in a collaborative environment rather than a restrictive one.”

9. A lesson learned when experiencing a low at work: “There are lessons to be learned from lows, not just highs. Look closely at the lows as those lessons will lay out a path towards success.”

10. A lesson learned when experiencing a high at work: “There is no such thing as ‘making it.’ People often say to others ‘you’ve made it’ or think to themselves, ‘I’ve made it!’ Promotions are merely a representation of continued growth. To have ‘made it’ falsely implies that your progress is complete. There is always a new skill to cultivate or an area to grow in. This is what makes helping others progress in their careers so exciting.”

11. A lesson learned from the pandemic: “I learned to be grateful for my health as well as the more ordinary activities we missed out on — going to the gym, eating inside a restaurant, or taking a trip via plane.”

12. A lesson learned while working remotely: “The time and energy saved from not having to commute should be put towards connecting with others, virtually and in person, in order to maintain thriving relationships.”


Lessons From Past Bristol Owners

13. A lesson learned from Jim Bright Jr., Second-Generation Co-Owner: “Jim always used to say that 90% of success is showing up, and he was right. Being present even when times are tough leads to consistency. And consistency leads to success.”

14. A lesson learned from Lucy Farber, Second-Generation Co-Owner: “Lucy taught me the importance of resilience. It does not matter how many attempts have been made to accomplish a task. Improvement will show if you continue to practice. The sheer repetitive nature of honing your craft is also a key to success.”

15. A lesson learned from Sandie Bright, First-Generation Owner: “Sandie taught me to be thankful. She is the epitome of grace and gratitude. I rarely ever saw her flustered. She eases every situation with a smile. And her license plate is ‘LuckyMe.’”


Work and Life Lessons

16. A lesson learned from a client: “A previously placed candidate that turned into a client once kindly reminded me that it is our job as the vendor to check in with them regarding our services, not the other way around. This lesson was learned when I had asked them (in good spirit) why they had not thought of our firm to fill one of their property’s executive openings, after having placed them as the HR Director.”

17. A lesson learned from a candidate: “A candidate we recently placed demonstrated the significance of humility. Our client had initially told us to inform him that he was light on experience and no longer under consideration. A couple of weeks later they asked us to see if he still might be interested in pursuing the opportunity. Instead of getting upset, he graciously continued his pursuit of the role and ultimately was offered the position. In his words, ‘it’s just business, it isn’t personal.’”

18. A lesson learned in relation to work-life balance: “I’ve finally (and recently) come to the realization that we have this phrase in the wrong order. It should be life-work balance. Personally, being out of balance for so long is why this epiphany dawned on me.”

19. A lesson learned as a working parent: “Like work-life balance, I would also reverse the order of this phrase ‘working parent.’ Rather, it is a parent who works. Family comes first; they give me purpose.”

20. A lesson learned this year: “I learned to always improve on my ability to let things go quickly, so that I can be invigorated with new, positive energy.”


Final thoughts after working at Bristol for 20 years: “Helping others obtain a better life through their career is very gratifying. It is our job as executive recruiters to understand a client’s needs and candidate’s goals from the beginning. A better company, title, location, and/or more money translates to better supporting their family, an improved lifestyle, or more opportunities. Receiving appreciation from our clients and placed candidates is my favorite icing on the cake.”


Congratulations on hitting 20 years at Bristol, Ben! All your hard work, sacrifice, and contributions over the years have continued to pave the way for a hopeful Bristol future. Cheers!

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 55 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facility and Concession; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Healthcare; Hotel and Resort; Nonprofit; Restaurant and Foodservice; and Travel, Tourism, and Attraction industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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