Christy Maloney with Coburn’s Supply and Araceli Lee with Gerber Plumbing Fixtures, who are part of the Women in Industry Membership sub-committee had a conversation on what they have learned throughout the years and how they have grown to appreciate their journey and how they got here. After many years combined in this industry, they reflected and thought, “What would I say to my younger self?”

One thing is for sure, aging is inevitable, whether we like it or not we have accepted that we can’t stop time.

In sharing our stories, we realized even though our journeys were different, Araceli working with Manufacturers and Christy being part of a family wholesaler business they learned very similar lessons.

Christy shared that as young as last week, many of the thoughts she reflects on and shares with her kids need to be addressed often. For those of you who know Christy, she gives it to you straight and in bullet points. So here are a few she wanted to share.

  • Work hard not to internalize or dampen your spirit when someone expresses a negative opinion of you. Do not allow the opinion of others to dominate your happiness and self-worth.
  • If you want something, ask for it. All they can do is tell you NO and you will be told NO often.
  • Never forget where you came from. Let the past keep you grounded and humble.
  • Learn to accept the unconditional love you deserve, and to give it tenfold in return.
  • Happiness is not a destination, but a lifelong journey. When in doubt keep blocking and tackling. Don’t worry about getting knocked down. Instead, focus on getting back up as quickly as possible. The route you were taking perhaps was not the best one for you even though you thought differently. Trust in God and let him show you the way.

I loved these and will be printing them as a motivational poster, cause Christy always gives great advice.

I started in this industry as a young single mom thinking it would be just a temporary job. My temporary job was as a customer service associate for a sink manufacturer in Illinois. At the time I didn’t have any plans to stay in this position. I just needed to pay my bills. I never thought this would turn out to be a stepping stone in one of the best industries filled with great opportunities to build a career upon.

As I reflect on my years, the top three pieces of advice I would give to my younger self would be to always keep learning, relationships are a valuable investment and to just be yourself. In this industry, learning is not always just about gaining head knowledge, but it also helps shape your character. My experience in the manufacturing world taught me not just about products, processes, and technologies but also about compassion, empathy and building connections. There was so much more out there than the little world I lived in. Meeting and interacting with colleagues in this industry has aided me in discovering new places, doing new things, and learning new skills.

The path was challenging but we would encourage our younger self to stay the course and fight through each obstacle. Christy shares, “When a door closes, leave it closed. Find the open window to climb out of and continue to move forward.”

You will discover strength and courage you didn’t realize you had. The path forward will include wrong turns and failures at some point. But the important part is to pick yourself up and keep going.

Do not let failure get you down. Look for the learning opportunity in every bad and sad situation. I recall the first time I went on my first sales call and was rejected. Devasted, I wanted to give up and go back to my comfort zone, but I didn’t. Rejection is more often just redirection. These roadblocks helped me redirect my approach and focus more on getting to know my customers rather than knowing our products inside and out. Listening became a more valuable skill set.

The lessons I learned by taking a different approach after being rejected helped set the foundation of my relationship-building skills. That day I learned to help our customers rather than just see them as a sale.

Christy agrees that listening is important, it is hard to do when we are in our 20s and think we know everything. Listen to all advice and criticism that comes your way but know when to ignore it. And always consider the source.

We both are so fortunate to still hold strong relationships in this industry, including some of our best friends. One of our best times of the year is when we attend the ASA Women in Industry Elevate Event because we get to reconnect with so many of our friends and network and make new connections.

The opportunities for personal growth are always there to strive for. That’s what is so great about this industry. It provides life-changing moments to build a promising career and a fulfilling life.