Dear Younger Eli,
This is you but from the future.
A future filled with amazing experiences in the world of CX.
Right now, you’re probably eager, maybe a little nervous, and bursting with energy to make a difference in a new and foreign field.
But before you dive headfirst into the chaos, let me share some wisdom, hard-earned lessons, and reminders that I wish I had known back then.
Trust me, it will save you a few sleepless nights and more anxiety than your therapist is ready to handle.
1. Celebrate Your Wins, Even if You're Not the Loudest in the Room
You've always been the modest type, haven't you? Shying away from boasting or even sharing your accomplishments.
But listen, in the world of CX, showcasing wins doesn't mean you're full of yourself; it's about recognizing the value you bring to the table.
You won’t always be the loudest person in the room, but that shouldn't deter you from proudly highlighting your successes.
When you implement a new strategy that sees a spike in customer satisfaction or resolve an issue that’s been causing churn, don’t just tuck it away in a folder.
Share it with your team, mention it in meetings, and allow your work to serve as a beacon for others to follow. There’s a difference between arrogance and well-deserved pride; find that balance.
2. Listen to Everyone, But Trust Your CX Fundamentals
Okay, so you're going to be told how to do your job by a lot of people—some who have absolutely no clue what CX even entails.
Here's the kicker: Sometimes, these folks will be higher up the ladder. I get it; it's tempting to nod and say, "Sure, let's implement that impossible-to-execute-without-alien-technology strategy you're suggesting," but here's my advice—don't.
Be open to learning from anyone, but never forget the CX fundamentals that got you here in the first place. You've studied this; you've lived it.
When faced with well-meaning but misguided suggestions, lean on your fundamentals and diplomatically steer the ship back in the direction it needs to go.
3. Your CX Magic Isn't Industry-Specific
You’ll wonder if you’re pigeonholing yourself by working in a specific industry.
The truth? Good CX is universal.
Whether it’s the world of luggage, the depths of SaaS, or even–wait for it—beauty, the core principles of making customers feel heard, valued, and cared for remain the same.
So, if an opportunity in another industry comes knocking, don't dismiss it because you think you're not an "expert" in that field. Your expertise is in understanding people and, my friend, people are everywhere.
4. Build Genuine Relationships, Not Just Networks
Networking is the buzzword you're going to hear over and over. It's important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. What truly matters are genuine relationships.
So, go to those industry events, but don’t just collect business cards like Pokémon cards. Engage, share ideas, and listen.
These authentic connections often become your most reliable sounding boards, collaborators, and sometimes, the people who tip you off about your next great opportunity.
I know you hate leaving the house and these events are as exciting to you as a dental cleaning, but you’ll be shocked as to how valuable they are for your future.
5. Laugh at the Absurdities Because There Will Be Many
You'll have moments where you'll wonder if you've unwittingly become a participant in a comedy sketch. You’ll think you are living in a matrix of sorts.
Whether it's bizarre customer requests or policies that make you scratch your head, or you are dealing with an irrational request from a boss, the absurdities are aplenty.
Learn to laugh at them. Having a sense of humor will make the journey much more bearable and fun. After all, we're all in this comedy called "life" together.
6. Data is Your Friend, but Instinct is Your Compass
In the increasingly digital world, you'll find that data is touted as the ultimate truth. And while numbers can be compelling, they don't tell the entire story.
You'll be tempted to rely solely on customer analytics, growth metrics, and other quantitative markers to guide your decisions.
However, these numbers can lack context, sentiment, and the essential "human element" integral to customer experience.
Your instinct—honed from years of hard-earned experience and countless interactions—will be your compass when the data is inconclusive or counterintuitive.
Trusting your gut doesn't mean ignoring data; it means understanding that data is one brushstroke in a larger masterpiece.
Learn to integrate both, and you'll find your way through the labyrinth of corporate challenges with a nuanced approach that neither data nor instinct could provide alone.
7. Your Inner Child Will Surface in Ways That Will Make You Uncomfortable—Listen to It
You might think that by this stage of your career, you'd be fully in control of your emotional responses.
But there will be moments when you're seized by irrational anger or when a simple setback makes you feel inexplicably defeated.
In those moments, you'll find that the roots of your reactions reach deep, back to when you were far more vulnerable and less guarded.
That's your inner child, a younger Eli, surfacing in a cry for help.
Don't dismiss these emotions as immaturity or a lack of professionalism. When your inner child acts out, it's often because there's a deeper issue that you've been unwilling or unable to face.
It could be a fear of failure that dates back to your earliest years or perhaps a sense of loneliness that has more to do with your past than your present. It might even be impostor syndrome saying you are simply not enough.
Slow down. Listen. What is that younger version of yourself trying to tell you?
It may be uncomfortable but also an opportunity to heal, grow, and become a more empathetic leader.
By understanding what this more vulnerable part of you needs, you keep your inner child safe and free to have a constructive conversation with your adult self to respond to challenges with greater emotional intelligence.
8. You'll Never "Arrive," So Enjoy the Journey
Young Eli, you might think there's a magical destination called "success" that you'll eventually reach.
Spoiler alert: there isn't.
The reality is that you'll always be evolving, learning, and facing new challenges. The goals you set today will be replaced by new ambitions as you grow and as the industry changes.
There will be achievements, yes, and they should be celebrated. But understand that they are waypoints, not endpoints.
Each accomplishment sets the stage for the next chapter, with its own challenges, insecurities, and opportunities for growth.
Embrace the continuous striving, stumbling, and succeeding cycle as part of your ever-unfolding narrative.
This relentless pursuit of betterment will keep you engaged, make you resilient, and lend a sense of purpose to all you do.