From the Front Lines

Five Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way

By Joel Turner • October 13, 2014

Joel Turner
Joel Turner, Naylor Events

I started working a part-time job when I was only 12 years old and kept working through my middle school and high school years. I didn’t work because I had to, but I really enjoyed accomplishing things after a day of hard work. It was nice to have some money in my pocket as well!

I barely finished high school and didn’t go to college, but I continued to work hard. Shortly after high school, I started a career in advertising sales and never looked back. Being young, out on my own and uneducated, I made some mistakes … well, lots of mistakes.

  • Most successful people encounter failure during their careers. The key is to learn from mistakes and move on! Don’t dwell on past failures or find others to blame.
  • Surround yourself with good people, seek mentors, don’t burn bridges and don’t give up easily when the going gets tough.


Early in my career, I wasn’t fully dedicated to my profession as a sales person. I missed many key opportunities to grow, learn, network and excel. I switched jobs too often and this led to many financial challenges. I was eager to be successful, but I was impatient.

Fast forward to the present: I love my career in sales and marketing. Even though I’m not done learning or making mistakes, I have enjoyed much success. I’ve had the opportunity to be one of the top sales people at almost every company I’ve sold for, started three successful businesses and had the privilege to work as a sales coach where I trained and motivated sales people to be their best. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Don’t burn bridges.

You never know what value those around you will one day bring. When disagreements arise, refrain from acting rashly. This can rob you of future opportunities.

2. Stick with it.

There is a lot to be said about making sure you are not in a dead-end opportunity and making sure you build up your experiences, but it’s also important to make sure you are not leaving a job prematurely. The grass is not always greener.

3. Mentor and be mentored.

It is vitally important to be mentored. This is how we grow. It’s paramount to seek out key individuals that can help you hone your skills and teach you ways you can be the best at what you do. Mentoring is important also. Sharing not only gives you the ability to pay it forward, but also keeps you sharp!

4. Who you surround yourself with is important.

Author Jeff Olson suggests that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. It is vital to be selective in who you surround yourself with. It can make the difference in your career and in your life in general.

5. Forgive yourself and move on.

Don’t get hung up on past failures. There are too many times in my own life where mistakes I’ve made play over and over in my mind. Learn from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them—and move on!

What lessons have you learned the hard way in your career? I’d like to hear from you!

Joel Turner is an event manager at Global Exchange Events, a Naylor Association Solutions company.