TOP 1%er INTERVIEW SERIES
The goal of the “Top 1%er” interview series is to break down the qualities of people who excel and to show that you can be successful and achieve personal greatness from any starting point in your life. The interview series will look at people from all different careers and industries. Some names will be familiar and others may not. The purpose is to understand and borrow from the “best practices” of winners to develop a roadmap to your TOP 1%. We will share a new story every two weeks.
This week’s guest is Glenn Yago, Ph.D. Glenn is the executive director of financial research at the Milken Institute and a leading authority on financial innovations, capital markets, emerging markets, and environmental finance. His research and projects have contributed to policy innovations fostering the democratization of capital to underserved markets and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and worldwide. He has co-authored five books.
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Glenn has a very thoughtful approach and is amazingly humble given all that he has accomplished and contributed to the world. We spoke earlier this month about Living in Your Top 1% and the qualities that help people excel.
ALISSA FINERMAN: 1. What’s the most important strength you possess that helps you to be successful in your role?
GLENN YAGO: I think my core strengths are my ability to keep a sense of humor in difficult times, be tenacious, and never take myself too seriously. I always feel that I can do better and that I’m a work in progress.
2. Tell me about some of the daily thoughts that inspire you to keep going?
GY: I say gratitude every morning. It’s a saying that was inspired by my grandfather and helps to ground me for the day and remind me how fortunate I am.
3. How do you prepare for a new or important project in your life?
GY: I start reading and learning everything I can and then find out who the experts are in that area and talk to them. I make an effort to leave any preconceived notions behind of how I think the problem can be solved and go into something with an open mind.
4. What small steps did you take to get started?
GY: When I was a young researcher, I sent in my work to the top newspapers. All the people around me told me my work would never get accepted and that I shouldn’t approach the best papers. My first piece was accepted which gave me tremendous confidence. Since that time, I’ve had other articles rejected but it never stops me from reaching a little higher.
I’ve always taken small steps to make sure I am working with people who inspire me and who share similar values and interests. When I was getting started, I opted to work on projects that had an impact and added meaning to society.
5. How do you record and move forward on your goals?
GY: I always write down my goals in a notebook that I have and make an effort to focus on quality goals that excite me rather than pure quantity. For example, one meaningful goal is to co-author a book each year that focuses on innovations and solutions for social and economic global issues.
6. What keeps you motivated each day?
GY: Changing practices or the way people think about an issue. For example, one important project focuses on making our need/dependence on oil obsolete. That’s exciting!
7. What are some of the toughest challenges you have overcome?
GY: My biggest issue is stepping through fear in a new situation and pushing myself to do things that might intimidate me. I always try to expose myself to new situations and step into the unknown. The process doesn’t necessarily get easier but with each mini-win, I build confidence.
8. What do the top performers do differently to excel?
GY: The key is to stay humble and to avoid categorical thinking. You need to understand the big picture, the broader implications of an idea, and simultaneously be able to identify the key details to make it work. If you can get out of the weeds and ask yourself why am I doing this, you will have the best chance of moving forward. I’ve also found it invaluable to be able to work through problems/issues and to build relationships along the way.
The “top 1%er” interview series is presented by Alissa Finerman, an Executive Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker and author of Living in YOUR Top 1%. She works with managers, C-suite executives and teams to leverage strengths, shift beliefs and achieve meaningful goals. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked with Ross Stores, Petco, BNP Paribas, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Brookfield Property Partners, Neutrogena, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Dress for Success. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook
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