Why Relationships Matter Most, How to Navigate First Days in Corporate America & Embrace Failure with Donna Scarola

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Maura’s favorite quote from this episode: 

“1 year of wasted time is better than 30” -Donna Scarola 

Donna Scarola


To learn more about how she does it and what has made her successful listen to the full interview here!

Like this interview? Want more? Tell us here

There is no user manual or syllabus for the corporate world, BUT lucky for you here are a few nuggets of wisdom from Donna…

As someone who has navigated corporate America and understands what it feels like to feel overwhelmed at strategies to do “the right thing” at “the right time” in the beginning stages of your career. So, here are my recommendations to not only better your brand, but create a sense of direction and ability to influence how people view you as an asset.

  1. Advocate, but do not over-take credit. Under advocating can be one of the worst things for yourself at work especially when first starting at a firm. Simply using the word “we” when you did the project, can lead others to think you didn’t take ownership. Advocate for your work the same way you would for a friend’s work, let others know in a non-bragging manner, but let the work be highlighted and admired. People will never know the amazing things you do, unless they know these things exist.
  1. Create meaningful relationships at work. Maura and I both hate the word networking–cold in nature, it doesn’t resonate with the reality that most people are just trying to connect to like minded people who are on similar paths. Thus, you need to reach out to potential mentors, friends and colleagues that can help you navigate the jungle.. I mean your career.
  • Email people you don’t know inside and outside your company.
  • Ask them for some time to talk about a specific topic you are interested in and that they are known to be good at. For example, email a middle manager to get coffee to discuss engagement strategies if you noticed they talk about engagement often or have written an article on it.
  • Define the intentions of the meeting: date, time (don’t take more than 30 minutes of their time initially) and ask them about the topic before scheduling. Avoid broad terminology such as ‘picking their brain’. This can be daunting to people and even give the received of the email anxiety as to what you will be asking, additionally, people are more likely to feel confident and helpful when they know what it is they are being asked.
  • Buy them coffee, just like a date, the person who asks should be doing the buying.
  • Thank them after within 24 hours with either an email or a handwritten note.
  • Ask them to connect you to 1-3 people they know who might be helpful, especially when brand new at a company. People are usually excited to connect people, so allow them to do so when you are new and vulnerable–again people tend to be nicer to a new person.  


  1. Managing up. I tend to hate this term, but managing up is purely the ability to address your manager in a way that is helpful and supportive, showing your talents and skills along the way.
  • Just like in school: get to know their style of management (teaching for professor is management style for a manager).
  • Get to know them as a person, take the time to get to know everyone, but especially your manager, creating a genuine connection takes you far. However, do not ask very personal questions, but know their hobbies and values, this will allow you to find common ground.
  • Do the best work you can, go above and beyond, stay late and earn their respect. It’s a simple equation, but it works.


  1. Learn the lexicon of the company and soak in the culture.
  • Listen to the words people use at work, it makes a difference. Organizational cultures are no different than geographical based cultures, where language is a contributing factor that strings people together. When you use words that people recognize and align with, they are more likely to listen to you.
  • Observe behaviors. How does your boss speak to people below him or her, people above them etc? This will indicate how the company rewards and punishes behaviors. Ideally, you want to be at an organization that rewards good and kind behaviors. This is the most difficult to influence, but a powerful tool to gauge of the cultural climate of a company….

To learn more about how she does it and what has made her successful listen to the full interview here!

Like this interview? Want more? Tell us here

Links & Free Resources

How to Love & Turn a Part-Time Job into Career Success

Reserve your seat for Free Webinar to Build Your Personal Brand

Schedule your Free Personal Brand Consultation

Glass Doorresearch company culture and read employee reviews.


Top Books to build Your Brand

The First 90 Days: Free book on Audible Book Kindle

Additional Free Career Development Resources

FutureBuilders.usCareer development resources from young professionals

Sitterly Students.comconnect with local families to find flexible part time work while you are in school and gain access to free career development resources.

Contact Us, we are happy to help!

Contact Maura via email or LinkedIn

Contact Donna via email or LinkedIn

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