Yesterday was “Take your grade 9 to work” day and I was privileged to have hosted eleven students and their real estate agent parents, along with special guest speakers.

We started the morning with an informal networking session. I asked the students to introduce themselves and share a little about what they hoped to do when they graduated highschool. There were aspiring lawyers, doctors, dentists, wildlife biologists, teachers who wanted to specialize in working with autistic kids, and even a pro baseball player. Not surprising to me, there were no aspiring real estate agents in the room. Having grown up in a family business of real estate, I can appreciate what it’s like from a child’s perspective, and at that age I felt the same way, yet here I am! (Never say never)

When asked why, most shared that they witnessed how hard their parents work, the long hours they put in, and the endless phone calls and emails. All were in agreement that real estate was a career that consumed life and family time. What they didn’t realize, until the end of the session, was that real estate was no different than any other career, if they wanted to be their own boss; which coincidentally most of the kids did, there would inevitably be sacrifices and long days to reach the success they dreamed of.

We had a great line up of guest speakers, including a lawyer, a real estate coach, a mortgage specialist, a manager, and myself. There were a lot of great questions and dialogues, as well as tons of advice genuinely offered by the speakers.

The students walked away with great information, and the parents were more than pleased. As I reflected on what was shared, I realized how fitting the advice was for anybody starting a career. Here are the top five:

1. Find your passion: When you can make a living doing what you love, it’s not work. Find what it is that you love doing, then search for or create a career from it. Most of the successful people I know have created a niche for themselves in industries where their positions previously didn’t exist.

2. Keep an open mind: Especially true for those who aren’t sure what they want to do or how they want their business to unfold. Keeping an open mind allows you to try new things, stay open to change and tap into your creative resource for designing a plan to success.

3. Find a mentor: Probably one of the most important things one can do when seeking out or starting a new career. A mentor will help guide you, teach you and encourage you. By tapping into their wealth of knowledge and experience, you will find yourself better prepared to navigate your own path to success.

4. Ask questions: Regardless of whether you are at the planning stages of your career or moving full speed ahead, asking tons of questions is critical. We all have blind spots, and sometimes we don’t know what we are supposed to know, until someone else brings it up. By asking questions you open up the flood gates for more knowledge and information; invariably leading to more questions and even more answers.

5. Time management: More than setting a schedule, learning how to time block activities ensures you are kept on task and doing what you are supposed to do. This is especially critical for independent contractors. When you don’t have a boss to keep you accountable, you need to create structure and strategies to ensure you stay productive. Learning time management skills will allow you to better prepare for your days, weeks and months ahead, thus keeping you on track to achieving your goals.

We ended the session with a pizza lunch and round table wrap-up. The kids were genuinely thankful to have been a part of the day, and each admitted to walking away with more than what they anticipated. I was impressed with the ambition that these grade 9 students had, and am thankful to have been a part of this initiative