A Conversation About Employability

I had the pleasure of talking to one of my mentors earlier in the year about life and this is the conversation that came out of it.

Tayo Rockson: To those that don’t know you, can you tell us about yourself? Your journey so far in life? So both your personal and business paths. Also, please discuss some of the obstacles you have had to overcome to get to where you are today.

Gregg Nelson: My name is Gregg Nelson and I am currently a sales executive at a social learning company.  I grew up in California, the son of a military dad and stay at home mom.  After high school I attended DePaul University were I earned a degree in Industrial / Organizational Psychology and Communications. 

My journey through life has been positive overall.  Personal obstacles that I have had to overcome do not really consist of all that many.  My parents divorced when I was around 12 years old so there was difficulty in adjusting to the new family dynamic.  I am also an only child which meant I didn’t really have any outlet if I needed one.  I put myself through college working part time sales jobs which I enjoyed, but would have rather enjoyed “the campus life”.  Looking back on it now, I am proud that I was able to accomplish that feat even though it saddled me with enormous debt. 

From a business perspective, I really cannot complain either.  I wish early on I could have had a mentor to help me navigate the business world and provide that wisdom and experience.  In terms of obstacles to overcome in business.  Just being in sales and management there are daily obstacles to overcome!! I Just have to persevere.  Buddha said “ Every morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most”.  I believe that is a positive frame of mind to have both personally and in business.

TR: So you have worked at quite a few places. (Dell, etc) how did you go about determining the best place for you to work?

GN: Over my 16 or so years, I have had the opportunity to work for great organizations and managers.  Before I joined Dell I worked in finance and it was a client of my wife who was attempting to recruit her to join Dell.   She was not interested, but referred them to me and the rest is history.  I really enjoyed my Dell days and the people I worked with and for. 

From Dell on I have been recruited for larger positions with greater responsibilities.  In an effort to grow and learn more, I am currently earning my MBA in Management & Strategy which I hope to complete by Q1 2014.  It is important to understand what you are looking for and what you expect to learn and get out of your employment with a particular organization.  They all have strengths and weaknesses but it is up to the individual.

TR: Why do you think a lot of people aren't happy where they work today?

GN: I think there are those that love what they do and enjoy their work.  Others and probably a lot feel they are stuck.  Could be that expectations were either too high or too low, level of work isn’t challenging enough or too challenging, no upward mobility as perhaps believed, fear of having to start over and perhaps come to the same conclusion etc... For those who are in school perhaps utilize the university career services more to better understand your major and what the “real world” is like for the career you are choosing. 

TR: Can you discuss the importance of people building skills especially in today’s world?

GN: Having developed and strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential for both personal and business life.  Continue to practice them by reading, get involved in networking groups that allow for face to face communication and also LinkedIn.   

TR: What is one piece of advice you can give to young entrepreneurs today?

GN: Find mentors who have experienced the successes and failures of starting a new business or developing an idea into a product or service.  That experience is priceless and can save you money and time.  Lastly, do not think that you know everything.


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