One of the questions that people frequently ask me is what advice I have for a younger person in our industry. This is an interesting question and somewhat humbling. In many ways, I don’t believe I achieved the level of success I aimed for. Perhaps that higher level of success is still yet to come. On the other hand, my career has been very rewarding, and every day I feel blessed.

(Photo: voyata/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

(Photo: voyata/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

In responding to this question, I like to simply share what worked for me. This may not be what works for everyone else. I’ll leave it to others to discuss what has worked for them.

The first thing that has worked for me is I always place a high value on a work ethic. I grew up in a family business, where we all worked to the best of our ability for the sake of the business, our clients and our family.

Of course, when I was younger, I thought I was only working for spending money, to buy baseball cards or whatever. Looking back, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn about showing up, giving my best work and being efficient. Throughout my career, I always strive to be early, prepared and to give my best effort.

This has served me well.

The second thing that has worked for me is that I have always been hungry to learn. Even as a youngster, I could not wait to get home after school and read the daily newspaper. I was never a bookworm and preferred to be outside playing sports. But at the same time, I was fascinated by business, economics, politics and culture. There was so much to learn, and the more I learned about a subject, the more I realized how little I knew about it. This realization simply inspired me to keep learning.

I recognize that not everyone has had the opportunity to receive a formal education after high school. I have been fortunate to have completed a bachelor’s and master’s degrees and I am closing in on finishing a doctoral degree. However, these degrees are worthless unless you apply them in a practical, meaningful way that benefits others. Education is a means to an end, and I believe being hungry to learn has served me well.

The third thing that has worked for me is to be of service to others. I was taught at a young age to put the needs of other people ahead of my own needs. Even as a youngster, I knew that this approach involved some self-sacrifice and came at a cost. But I truly believe that serving others is the right thing to do, and the cost of doing the right thing is just part of the deal.

Because I have taken this approach, I have developed a reputation for being someone who cares about others, is willing to give of my time and is a resource for others. Having a good reputation has served me well throughout my career.

Hard work, lifelong learning, and service to others are three of the hallmarks of my career. And they have served me well.

What about you? What values have been present in your career? Or if you’re early in your career, what values are you focused on? I’d love to hear from you.

If you have questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. My email is

Now go forth.

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About the Author:

Phil Harwood is a Senior Advisor with Tamarisk Business Advisors. Contact him at

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