What does it take to achieve your dream?

Debra Mauro: Ask for advice — No. 12

For Albi Homes senior vice-president Debra Mauro, success literally begins at home–room by room. In the library, shelves groan under hundreds of leadership manuals. She shares a bedroom with the company’s “brilliant” founder, Tom Mauro, her husband and the father of two sons, now employees. Even the dining room has seen some corporate action. That’s where the Albi Homes advisory board meets “to get visionary” about the future of the custom home-building operation. When Mauro says that she isn’t ashamed to seek advice, you can guess that’s an understatement.

“Tom and I recognize that we don’t know everything,” she says. So, instead of hiring high-priced business gurus, the husband-and-wife team decided to tap the expertise of 12 respected friends and colleagues. Albi’s revenues climbed 44 per cent from 1997 to more than $37 million last year, thanks in part to the counsel of this advisory team.

Learn from others
Based on that experience, Mauro urges women to ask for guidance from esteemed peers sooner rather than later. “Surround yourself with people who are wiser than you,” she enthuses. “Just remember that they may not deliver the message you want to hear.”

Mauro speaks from experience. These days, she’s as likely to hear from young women seeking her counsel as she is from her own advisers. She’s convinced that women get the most out of learning when they’re coaching–or being coached.

Although she may be doing more of the talking these days, you can bet that Mauro is still listening. “I have only just begun to validate the mentors in my life,” she says. “They’ve given us advice and we’ve brought it home.”

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