Business Monday

CEOs ponder advice to give their younger selves

Ramon ‘Ray’ Abadin, president of the Florida Bar and a civil trial attorney and shareholder at Sedgwick LLP.
Ramon ‘Ray’ Abadin, president of the Florida Bar and a civil trial attorney and shareholder at Sedgwick LLP.

This week’s question: Miami Herald columnist Ana Veciana-Suarez recently asked herself what advice she would give to her younger self. We’d like you to answer the same question. What advice would you give to your younger self? Why? And would your younger self have been wise enough to take it?

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I’ve learned that life teaches you that you don’t know everything, but I would not change anything about the path that I’ve taken. I have a beautiful family and a career that I enjoy.

Ramon Abadin, president, The Florida Bar, and partner, Sedgewick Law Firm

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I think I would have done a start-up sooner. I’m 37 now, and things are going great, yet I wonder just how far I could have gone if I had started working at a start-up at 21 as opposed to big companies like IBM, Comcast and Apple. I will never know.

Brian Brackeen, CEO, Kairos

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I would tell my younger self to strive for a well-balanced life. While I love the fast-paced world of real estate, one of the biggest things I learned in my career was the importance of taking time for meditation, yoga, mindfulness and fitness activities — not to mention family and friends. There are many aspects to success in life — and the most important ones don’t have dollar signs.

Carol Brooks, president and co-founder, CREC (Continental Real Estate Companies)

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I would advise my younger self to keep on doing what I was doing. I felt I was on the right path. I would have accepted that advice because I always enjoyed doing something that improved the lives of people.

Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, president, St. Thomas University

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Be patient, slow down and listen to your internal clock and rhythm. There’s no reason to race through life. Moments count. Enjoy and cherish each encounter and relationship. I can also tell you with certainty that my younger self would not have taken this advice.

Nabil El Sanadi, CEO/president, Broward Health

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I was fortunate to grow up in a large family with parents who sacrificed a lot to pass along strong values, beginning with the concept that hard work yields valuable rewards. In hindsight, I should have listened to my parents more intently during my teenage and young adult years. Once I left my native Ireland and settled in Miami in my late 20s, I appreciated more the importance of home, family and the advice they had given me.

Robert Hill, general manager, InterContinental Miami

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I would tell my younger self to “Work hard, but play harder.” There is no doubt that it takes hard work to become successful, but work can easily take over your life, and you can’t let it. Too often we ignore the “play” in our lives because we are too busy climbing up the corporate ladder. You need the “play” in your life — your family, friends, hobbies and vacation — to keep you motivated and appreciative of what life has to offer.

Miriam Lopez, president/chief lending officer, Marquis Bank

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I would tell my younger self to try to work at and achieve a more balanced life between family, work, community and self. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have known how to take this advice.

Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade

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I would advise my younger self of how important it is to have work/ life balance, which includes spending time with your loved ones — in my case, my amazing wife and children. And I would tell my younger self to always be mindful and in the moment — with your loved ones, with those you work with, and with those you serve. In today’s fast-paced environment with its preponderance of technology and interruptions, we risk not being in the moment and thus missing the important things in life that are happening all around us.

Mike Parra, CEO, DHL Express U.S.

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I was a jock back in high school so, in addition to playing four sports which had their own positive influence on my life, I would tell my younger self to pick up a guitar or join the drama club or chorus. During my senior year of high school, I, along with the senior members of the football team, performed during the school’s presentation of “Guys and Dolls.” That was my first taste of theater, and I was hooked. I never seriously chased that dream. Though, it’s interesting how a decision to participate in a high school play many years ago has brought me to where I am today. That exposure to the performing arts contributed to my life in a very big way!

M. John Richard, president, CEO, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

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I grew up in East Hialeah, where I spent my days riding my bike, setting up lemonade stands, and making sure that I could sell enough things in those school fund-raising brochures to get myself some cool toy. I wasn’t your typical girl, nor am I now. I remember my fourth-grade teacher at North Hialeah telling me that where “There is a Will There is A Way.” I hope more teachers and parents would tell the younger versions of Ania and others this, not just this super awesome teacher (Thank you Ms. Urra, now Ms. Cynthia Gracia).

Ania Rodriguez, CEO of Key Lime Interactive

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First, I know myself well enough to know that my younger self would not have taken the advice. Having said that, I would have tried really hard to convince her that you should not rush things in life that bring you joy. You need to enjoy every moment and milestone in your life. That includes your family and friends because in a blink, that joy, those special moments, and those opportunities are gone and they can’t be recaptured.

Rachel Sapoznik, CEO & president, Sapoznik Insurance

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I wrote a blog awhile ago on this exact theme, and it’s one of my favorites. I think it’s so important to look back and reflect on what we’ve learned and what we could have done differently. Here’s what I’d tell a younger Ginny: I’d tell her not to take life so seriously, to go with the flow and be lighthearted. I’d tell her to travel as often as she possibly can — that travel will teach her tolerance, patience and grace. I’d tell her to explore different relationships, because each one will bring gifts and lessons. I’d tell her to never accept mediocrity — to only do what she’s passionate about. I’d tell her to look at people with affection and acceptance instead of judgment and criticism. I’d tell her to cook with her whole heart, and to invite friends over to share. And I’d tell her to love with abandon and to live without regrets. Do I think she’d listen? Maybe. Maybe not. But it doesn’t really matter, because she learned the lessons anyway, and she wouldn’t change a thing.

Ginny Simon, founder, CEO, ginnybakes

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