While it’s been said that it’s lonely at the top, we don’t believe it has to be.

Angela Lister
(Source: LinkedIn)

At Student Works, the vast network of operators, coaches, district managers, and alumni available to rookies can be a key factor that drives their success. However, when Angela Lister began her tenure as an operator, she wanted nothing to do with it. 

In a recent conversation with Chris Thomson on our Leaders of Tomorrow Podcast, Angela detailed how her once oversized ego hindered her attempts to build a scalable business. Here are two key lessons she learned during her journey from running a 90k business to hitting 225k the following year: 

Making her Own Success

Unlike many rookie operators, Angela had previous painting experience. This led her to falsely believe that she was above her colleagues. 

“I thought I was better than everybody. I would look at our little staff page where we could see all the other operators and how they were doing and [I’d think] ‘these people have never painted before, I can’t wait until they start to do their jobs, they’re going to fail’ and I was just so negative. I don’t even know why, but I got so in my head and I didn’t reach out to anyone in the network because of my ego. I was so alone,” she reflected.

After two years of moderate success, it was a fated weekly call with fellow operators that inspired her to kick it into high gear. One afternoon, a colleague advised her to spend the day knocking on doors to market her business. This was, at the time, her least favourite part of the job and she chose not to do it. Instead, she opted to drive around town and put up mailbox signs.

“I was listening to the weekly call between mailboxes. I thought I was doing amazing and then it was John Morgan or Austin Trudeau that said ‘you don’t deserve success at any point in your life, you are a blank slate and at any point you have to work to earn what you will bring,’” she recalled. 

Those were the exact words she needed to hear at that moment.

“[From then on,] I told myself every single day that if I didn’t feel like doing marketing, I’d look at myself in the mirror and say ‘Do you actually think you deserve to book a job if you don’t go and knock on doors right now’, you’re a first year, this is your first time out, no one is going to call you.” she told Chris. 

Gratitude Journaling

After hearing Chris speak on the merits of gratitude during training, Angela bought a journal for the sole purpose of cultivating more of it in her life.

“Instead of just thinking of what I was grateful for, at the end of each day I’d think of the things I was the least excited for and I would find small pieces of them that I was grateful for. That made a huge difference. For example, I used to really hate marketing, going door to door and knocking on doors. I just told myself it’s something that I had to do and then once I started doing that earlier in the years, I focused on the fact that I was very grateful that I could knock on someone’s door in January and they could literally hand me a deposit for painting months later. I never marketed any more in any other year. I didn’t have a marketing team, it was just me. That to me, was huge,” she explained.

We’d like to take this moment to express how grateful we are for all that Angela has gone on to contribute to the supportive ecosystem that is the Student Works community!

Are you a student looking to further your development as a leader and enter the exciting world of entrepreneurship? Check out more stories from Student Works participants and alumni on our Leaders of Tomorrow Podcast!