Love it when you can walk away from a panel with memorable nuggets of good advice. We took a handful from Thursday’s “Successful Starts” panel, hosted by Northwestern University’s Alumni Career Services in San Francisco, which featured four uber-talented, highly successful alums, who spoke about their starts, their career path, and who helped them along the way.

Some of my favorite take-aways:

For the person unhappy in her current job:
“Nurse your passion while you toil. Then switch it up.” 
– Shira Levine, Community Director, Zynga
Shira advised the crowd to consider selling opportunities on eBay or Etsy – places where you can start a successful business all while doing something else.

How other people can help you along the way:
“If you want to make the connection, go out there and do it. Don’t be afraid to shake someone’s hand.”
– Jeff Colin, Partner, Baker Street Advisors

“You really can’t underestimate the value of personal communication. It’s so easy to be forgettable electronically.”
– Scott Peterson, Chief Acquisitions Officer, Digital Realty Trust

On following your passion (and getting paid for it):
Stewart Mandel says his dad set him on the path to becoming a sports writer when he told a very young Stewart that sportswriters get paid to go to the game… and eat hot dogs for free. (Good food for thought for anyone looking to follow their passion. Is there any way to get paid to do what you like?)

Seek out mentors:
Paraphrasing here, but Shira (working mom of two) said women in particular need to seek out a person where they can ask questions and get advice “from a place of safety.” And if you can’t find that person, hire a professional coach.

Two of my other favorites from Shira (who was full of great advice): 1) “Manners matter.”  2) “Appreciate change.”

Great tips. Thank you NAA for a great event!