In 2004, a surfing accident left Josh Basile with a severe spinal cord injury and permanent paralysis at age 18. Though his life was forever changed, Basile continued to chase his dreams and graduated magna cum laude from law school.
Basile, now a lawyer, philanthropist, disability rights advocate, and community relations manager for web accessibility company accessiBe, has worked tirelessly to promote web accessibility and be a leader in the disability community. From fighting for the catastrophically injured in court, to inventing an inclusive sport called Slingshot Golf, to founding a nonprofit for others with spinal cord injuries, Basile has seen immense success throughout his career.
CNBC Make It spoke with Josh Basile to discuss three tips for others with disabilities trying to achieve career success:
"Get a mentor"
"Find somebody that is doing something well and learn from their experiences," says Basile.
Gaining insight from others who share similar circumstances can be useful for those unsure of their future potential after a traumatic injury. "Follow in someone's tracks because so much in the working world is figuring out what not to do," he told CNBC Make It. "Analyze what mistakes to avoid and let that guide you in the right direction."
Basile credits mentorship for providing him with motivation early on in his paralysis journey.
"My mentors taught me that life goes on in beautiful ways and that I could still wheel after my goals and dreams with purpose. They showed me what was possible and gave me the confidence to fight and advocate for a better future."
Mentorship has been proven to be beneficial in the workplace, according to a 2020 study from Guider, a career development company. According to the study, 87% of mentees feel like their mentoring relationships gave them a sense of empowerment and boosted their self-confidence. People with mentors are also promoted 5 times more than those without them.
"Believe in yourself"
According to Basile, your personal and professional success will largely be influenced by recognizing the worth of your contributions.
"Too often persons with disabilities are thought of as charity. And that is so far from the truth." Basile says. "There's such great value in your unique voice, skills, and talents. Businesses need you."
Being able to articulate your strengths and fully contribute at work takes confidence. Believing in yourself not only helps you rise to the occasion but also shows others what you're capable of despite having a disability. Basile is proud to share that his self-confidence has not only given him career success, but he's also expecting a baby boy in March.
"Step outside your comfort zone"
There's a popular saying that goes "life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Being adventurous as someone with a disability can be extremely nerve-wracking, especially when there's still so much room for improvement in accessibility and inclusivity. However, Basile reassures that there are so many opportunities open to you if you just have the willingness to try.
"I have proactively stepped out of my comfort zone by partnering with accessiBe to help raise awareness, both online and through the media, about the importance of web accessibility, and what it truly means for people with disabilities and businesses of all sizes," he says. "I'm a big believer in living with adventurous wheels. The outside world can be very scary, but you're going to end up finding out that there is so much life to be lived."
Basile also says that putting yourself out there is also beneficial to the disability community as a whole.
"Once you're out there, not only are you improving your quality of life, but you're also starting to change the narrative of the world around you. You start teaching people around you about the value and importance of having workers with disabilities at all levels of business, not just at the entry-level. You're helping create a better world."