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PFI Advisors’ Analyst, Anna Maria Garcia, suggests Millennials seek a mentor that leads with values in the beginning development of their career.

“Millennials and their entry into the workforce” has been a hot topic as of late.  Plenty of articles have been written about what millennials should do, how they’re different, how you should approach them, how you should teach them, how they should teach you to teach them… the list goes on.  As part of the millennial generation, I’m always interested in what non-millennial generations have to say and how they think about my age demographic.  Many opinions I agree with, and many I don’t — but specifically, I agree that we tend to look for a mentor in our lives and seek guidance and feedback from someone we trust and respect that values the same principles.  We are ultimately going to be leaders in the workforce, and the opportunity to absorb knowledge is one that I will always look to take advantage of.

I happen to be incredibly fortunate to have two mentors that I interact with daily and have access to pick their brain.  I work for PFI Advisors, an operations and technology consulting firm in the financial services industry.   We help billion-dollar+ wirehouse advisors (i.e. Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Wells Fargo, etc.) achieve entrepreneurship by helping them start their own RIA (in layman’s terms, a standalone financial advisory firm that is free to run their business as they choose, provided that they do so in their clients’ best interest).  We do other consulting work with existing RIAs, like helping them prepare for or execute an M&A transaction from an operations perspective, or conducting an operational diagnostic of their core technology infrastructure.  I enjoy what I do and love the detail-oriented aspect of my work, but it’s easy to lose sight of your core values in an industry that is focused on money.

Getting back to my mentors: Matt and Larissa (Reese) Sonnen founded PFI Advisors a little over a year ago, and I’ve been working under their guidance in helping build a foundation that will support our future successes.  Matt has a big reputation in this industry, having started and sold a $6 billion RIA a few years ago, and Larissa was an advisor herself and an entrepreneur before it was the “cool thing to do.”  Every day, I am greeted with a smile and a “Good Morning.”  We go through our list of tasks to tackle for the day, and proceed.  I’m able to listen in on many of Matt’s business development calls and soak up every word.  He takes the time to answer my questions afterwards, and includes me on future interactions so I can learn and gain further exposure.  In turn, they come to me with #SocialMedia questions, and ask why “The Twitter” works the way it does.  Both Matt and Larissa keep a light-hearted environment, and are constantly quoting movie lines and throwing around rock band trivia.  This may seem normal and yawn-worthy, but considering the typical Type-A run financial industry company, it’s easy to be drenched in high-paced, micromanaged stress.  Matt and Larissa remain focused on their cultural vision: they want to be the “nice, honest team” in the industry.  People can be brash, crude and will often tell you what you want to hear to get your name scribbled across the dotted line.  Even if it means we lose someone’s business, we will provide our honest opinion of what we think is best for them – because that is who we are, per Matt and Larissa’s vision.

As I’m constantly seeking their feedback, an aspect of my mentors I appreciate is when they turn the table and ask my opinion.  They genuinely want to hear what I have to say and value my thoughts. I feel important, and I think that’s something every millennial wants to experience.  Taking it a step further, what’s eye-opening is they provide constructive feedback to potential competitors in the market.  As Matt and Larissa are experts in our field, they’re often asked how they bill a certain project, or how they create various reports, or what vendor they use to provide a specific service.  They happily share their extensive rolodex and knowledge to the best of their ability.  They will sit through questions if someone is looking to replicate something we already do, and will honestly do their best to help them out, because it’s the nice thing to do.

Perhaps what’s most appreciated is the attitude Matt and Larissa have every day.  They could easily be bogged down with the stress of starting and running a business, but they are also parents.  One of their children, beautiful little Layla, has special health needs (you can read Matt’s article – we won’t get into it here), and you would think it could massively affect their moods, especially trying to manage six constantly changing calendars, including one for just nurses (you can read Larissa’s article – we won’t get into it here).  Instead, their outlook is to appreciate the little things, and celebrate every success regardless of how big or small it may be.  Work as hard as you can during the time you are able to, and if a problem arises you face it head-on and deal with it.  They have taught me – more through their actions than their words – that you don’t have to sacrifice a positive, can-do attitude in order to have a strong work ethic.  You can, in fact, work into the wee hours of the morning with a fussy child and show up with a smile and wish someone a good morning – I see it happen every day.

Millennials are constantly being told who they are and what they look for.  I won’t speak for all millennials, but I think it’s safe to say many of us are tired of it.  I’ve learned that in order to show others who you are and what you’re looking for, you have to communicate exactly that.  If you look up to someone at work, bounce ideas off them.  Ask their opinion.  Observe how they respond in different situations.  I’ve discovered that finding someone with similar ideals to your own creates an easy mentorship relationship, and you will naturally start to look up to them.

Kind; honest; appreciative; positive attitude with a strong work ethic punch…  These are the values that Matt and Larissa choose to instill in PFI Advisors, as they’re qualities I witness daily and strive to conduct myself with.  Millennials seek guidance and mentorship as we navigate our careers and our lives.  Having two people that I can look up to and respect while knowing they will be honest and critical with feedback is invaluable.  #ThankYou, Matt and Reese.  Good luck fellow millennials in defining your story and sourcing your mentor that inspires you with values.