Here's What I know

Two successful Naples women share their advice to the next generation of go-getters

Article by Sue G. Collins

Photography by Jennifer Brinkman & Provided

Originally published in Naples City Lifestyle

Dear next gen,

Though your past has been scarred by fears and anxiety, your future has yet to unfold. Despite the articles referring to you as a “lost” generation, you have the intelligence, compassion, and strength to make this world better than you found it.

Through my own daughter’s friends and acquaintances, I have seen the impacts of eating disorders, learning disabilities, gender identity, domestic violence, anxiety, and suicide.

The stress that your generation is feeling is very real. Equally as real is the courage and compassion that we’ve seen in young adults taking a stand for what they believe in while offering support to their friends.

Every generation has been shaped by a combination of tragedies and triumphs. You can’t change what has happened through the course of the pandemic. What you can change is how you respond. Will you stay stuck, complaining about the traditions you lost out on? Or, will look for a new journey?

Cyndee Woolley

Cyndee Woolley, APR, is President of C2 Communications, LLC, author, publisher, civic leader and a single mom with 17 years of experience in public relations, branding, community outreach, social media and marketing.  Her volunteer efforts earned her the 2013 Leadership Development Volunteer of the Year award from the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.

Dear next gen,

This letter spans 43 years of successes, mistakes, laughter, terrific co-workers and friends, and amazing memories. There are a few nuggets of advice I would have liked to have known in advance…

Focus on learning leadership, and communication skills. They are perhaps even more important than the nuts and bolts of the actual trade or profession you choose.

Dress appropriately.  If you wear the right outfit, you will feel like the person you are pretending to be.

Listen! I mean really “I hear what you are saying” listening. It’s hard. Especially if you like to talk a lot, as I do, but it is one of the most important people skills you should have.

Technology is great, and I can pretty much guarantee that you will be more skilled than I am, however, face-to-face and voice-to-voice connections result in the most successful and trustworthy relationships you will build in your professional life.

When you are using technology, always check your correspondence recipients. Trust me on this.  I could provide stories.

Be kind and patient. That is easy advice, but often the hardest to follow.

Mentors are so important, and they may not necessarily be someone older than you. I recently met someone who is your age as you read this letter.  We had lunch together, and I came away having learned a bit about focus, and saying “no” when appropriate. That said, I am fortunate to have many friends and colleagues, both men and women, from whom I have learned so very much. Seek out those relationships. They are invaluable.

Discover the value of volunteering and civic engagement early on. I did not really start to get involved in the community and non-profit world until around the age of 40. You have likely heard the phrase “Pay it forward”…do it! I promise you will enhance every aspect of your life.

I hope you find this helpful as you experience what I know will be a wonderful career, whatever you decide to do. Best wishes for a bright future!

Brenda O'Connor

Brenda is Membership Director for Naples Yacht Club and served The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce for 12 years, primarily as Senior Vice President.

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