CEO of a billion-dollar company shares her top 3 tips for succeeding early in your career

How Janice Bryant Howroyd turned a $900 loan from her mom into a billion-dollar business
How Janice Bryant Howroyd turned a $900 loan from her mom into a billion-dollar business

ACT-1 Group founder Janice Bryant Howroyd is a multimillionaire entrepreneur at the helm of the largest woman-owned workforce management company in the U.S. With $1.1 billion in net sales, her company has made her the first black woman to own a billion-dollar business.

Looking back on her career, she says there are a few key principles she has lived by that she'd advise any young person to follow.

Howroyd refers to these three tips as the "ABCs of life," and says they've been the key to her huge success.

Photo courtesy of Janice Bryant Howroyd

A. Ask the right questions

No one starts out in their career knowing everything. That's why Howroyd says that it's important for young professionals to ask the right questions and listen closely to the answers and advice given to them.

"The questions you don't ask, you may not get the answers to," she says. "And you'll never get the answers if you don't listen."

Research from Harvard Business School's assistant professor and Hellman Faculty Fellow Alison Wood Brooks found that people who ask questions become better managers and land better jobs.

"Compared to those who do not ask many questions, people who do are better liked and learn more information from their conversation partners," she adds.

B. Be where you say you'll be

In order to succeed in your career, Howroyd says it's important to "be where you say you'll be, when you say you'll be and how you say you'll be."

She says that while it's easy to rely on your technology devices to tell you where and when you should be somewhere, it's up to you to be mindful of arriving on time, prepared and in the right frame of mind.

"Only you can determine how you show up, and I think it's really important to put a lot of emphasis on how you are in the moment," she says. "That includes preparation, your attitude and sometimes it's going to include resourcing or funding [from] the simple support of whoever is helping you at home."

Photo courtesy of Janice Bryant Howroyd

C. Communicate

Today, online networks and company Slack channels have become common forms of communication. But Howroyd warns that if you're not careful, these communication tools can do more harm than good to your career.

"All of us see what happens when somebody wants to throw out a tweet or make a comment on social media and they believe that they've expressed themselves to the world," she says. "That is a very flat-sided [form of] communication."

Rather than having your message misconstrued via a social platform or online chat, Howroyd says you should practice "circular, complete communication" in which you always talk to people directly.

"As a matter of fact, for those of you who are still using email, one of the things that I've done in my business is I've said, 'If you talk about somebody in the company on email to me, then copy them on it,'" she says. "Let's keep the communication very clear, very honest and very complete."

It can be tough to know whose advice to take early in your career. But Howroyd says these guidelines "will get you a lot of places in life" and will "make sure you get there in a dynamic way."

"It's certainly what has supported me"

Video by Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo

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