336. Getting Serious at 14
A Friday in February started out like any other day, as Gail’s father dropped her off at her suburban New Jersey school. “I love you. Have a good day.” Hours later there was a chasm in her life’s road–“my life before, my life after.”
Gail Tolstoi-Miller is the award winning CEO of ConsultNetworx, a consulting and staffing firm, and of its two divisions: Careernetworx, an online job searching course; and Speednetworx, a B2B speed networking event company. Gail’s latest book, “Networking Karma” was published in February and was recently awarded best business book by IndieReader. She is featured in media outlets such as Forbes, Inc., and Fox News.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
A crisis in her teenage years led Gail to ask basic questions about life, such as, “Why are things the way they are?” “I started looking into philosophy and questioning life. As I decided where to go to college I knew I needed to go to a school that would allow me to do that.” She chose New York University (NYU) in New York City. “I knew I didn’t belong in a rah-rah campus school. So, I majored in sociology and philosophy, which totally fit what I was looking for. It was a wonderful experience, and a great time for me to try to get some answers.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“A day I’ll never forget was when I was 14 years old. On a Friday morning my dad, as usual, dropped me off at school, said, ‘I love you, see you later.’ Later that day, a friend of her mother’s unexpectedly came to pick her up from school. Gail learned that her father had a heart attack while doing legal work in southern New Jersey. Hours later, he died. “That was probably the most defining moment in my life. As I see it, I had one life before that day and then another life after that: a ‘Gail before, Gail after.’ What I learned from that was that life is short—a cliché, but true. Life is fleeting, you don’t know what the next day brings.
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“When I feel shackled, like I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I start feeling anxiety. I think most people are just the opposite—they don’t live their passion and they’re fine being content, feeling like it’s safer. But for me that gives me anguish. One day, we’re all not going to be here, so I know I’ve got nothing to lose by taking a risk. For me, living with regret is the worst thing. Living the way people think I should live, and not living the way I want to, just drives me crazy.”
Steps to Success from Gail Tolstoi-Miller
1. Find what’s truly important to you and don’t be dissuaded by what other people want for you.
2. No matter what kind of experience you have, whether good or bad, always try to get something great out of it.
3. If you play the victim, and if you can’t see the silver lining, you’re going to have a life of misery. Something positive always comes out of every experience.
On Her Bookshelf
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck
Connecting With Gail Tolstoi-Miller
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