Interview with Mary Griffin | Associate Advisor at IA Business Advisors

Mary Griffin

Mary is an editor and content provider for a management consulting firm, IA Business Advisors, working with CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers, and employees worldwide. She is Co-Author with her father, Brian Smith, of the new book, Individual Influence: Find the “I” in Team, which shares how to become our best self with everyone we influence. Let’s learn more about her background, her journey so far, and her advice for our growing community.

Excerpts from our exclusive interview with Mary:

Please tell us about your background and your journey.   

I’ve been a bit of a nomad my whole life, currently living in my fifth state in the United States. When I went to college, it was the third state in which I’d lived. While attending, I received my bachelor’s in English literature and minored in psychology.

After graduating, I moved to Washington, D.C. and tried out a potential career as a makeup artist and esthetician, getting certified at Aveda. After working in that space for some time, I decided it wasn’t the right path for me and pivoted to working full-time with my dad at IA Business Advisors as an editor and ghost writer for blogs, social media, and websites.

What led you to your work with IA Business Advisors?   

I started working for IA in 2014 before graduating from college but only as a part-time employee performing various editing and content development tasks to support our team. Even though my time as an esthetician, I continued working for IA.

It wasn’t until 2018 that I became a full-time team member to pursue leadership development and culture consulting. I have always enjoyed working with people, especially in one-on-one settings. Some of my favourite courses in college were my psychology courses, and even in English literature, we learned a lot about the world, different cultures, and how to value and accept the diverse ideas of others.

It’s a role I partly fell into because I am privileged to have a father who built the organization from the ground up.

What does your company specialize in?   

We specialize in people, process, and technology. We always put people first because without the people (all shareholders who drive a business—shareholders, employees, clients/customers, vendors) there is no organization to remain viable.

Through our proprietary BizVision process, we help our clients understand every aspect of their organization, including process and technology. When organizations lack process, they lack a foundation that ensures the people and technology work well together to drive the organization towards its goals.

We specialize in helping small and medium-sized businesses succeed in tumultuous environments, whether that be through succession planning, fractional C-suite services, mergers, start-up planning, leadership development, culture consulting… I could go on about our breadth of services.

Our BizVision process allows us to identify the gaps in our client’s organizations so we can assist them with any of their needs through our own team and partners around the world. 

What drives you in your profession?   

Servant leadership, giving myself back and doing my best to remain a positive influence so that others can feel empowered and inspired in their roles is what it’s all about. When work takes up at least one-third of your life, having a good leader in your life is imperative. So many people treat others like they are just objects.

I am certainly not perfect and have my days of negativity, but I work hard to learn from those moments, to grow from them, and to use them as lessons to help others understand that it’s not about being perfect. What drives me in life are love, peace, compassion, and empathy.

If I’m pointing my internal compass towards those, even in my dark days, I know I am doing okay.

What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?   

I used to be a hardcore perfectionist, taking even the smallest issues in my work very personally. The biggest strategy I’ve employed over the last year is checking how I talk to myself and reminding myself that I am human and to be human is to make mistakes.

People underestimate the power of their minds and overlook how they talk to themselves, but the language you use with yourself shapes your entire reality. I used to tell myself that I was stupid, not worth anything — and far worse. That language didn’t just shape how I saw myself, but it shaped how I saw other people too.

I was rigid and unforgiving of mistakes. I changed my thought patterns to more positive language — saying things like, “I’m only human, it’s okay to make mistakes” and “This is a perfect opportunity to grow.” I also started doing what is known as the mirror exercise, where you look in the mirror and tell yourself what you need to hear, even if it’s hard.

I tell myself, “I love you.” Showing love and compassion for myself allows me to show love and compassion for others.

Individual Influence: Find the “I” in Team
Individual Influence: Find the “I” in Team

Please share with us your biggest success story so far in your career.   

My greatest success has been working with my team. Watching them grow and develop themselves in their unique influence has been the privilege of a lifetime. The success I feel in being part of this growth isn’t in that they are changing for me, but they are changing for themselves so that they can put forth their most positive influence.

I recognize that I have played a role in their ability to change, but I have not forced them. People will not change unless they want to, but that is what makes it so beautiful.

Each person needs to decide for themselves to grow their positive influence. And just as I have helped them, they have helped me.   

Given the rapid pace at which the world is changing, what are the leadership traits that are necessary for success?   

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the number one asset that leaders need to learn in order to lead successful companies where people want to stay. EI encompasses both self and others.

Those who are emotionally intelligent are able to accurately identify and manage their own emotions as well as identify and respond to the emotions others are feeling. This doesn’t mean solving the issues that create the emotions others are feeling, but it does mean being sensitive, aware, and compassionate of the human condition (which includes experiencing emotions).

This idea that people need to behave robotically in the workplace is toxic and it’s hurting people more than it’s helping them. Research shows that repressing emotions makes them bigger and more deeply rooted. Emotions that are left unchecked can cause immense cultural issues, so it’s best to become emotionally intelligent if you want to build a company that will last.

What advice would you give students and young professionals who want to have a successful career? 

Your only purpose in life is to find yourself, know yourself, and love yourself. Don’t let anyone make you feel that you are inferior to them, or that you are not worthy of love and compassion. Strive every day to be kind to our world and yourself and the karma you will receive will come to you in spades.

Your words are magic, so check how you speak to yourself and others. You are the only one who shapes your reality. You define what success means to you. For some, it’s money and what money can buy. But for others, it’s something entirely different.

For me, success (or what I like to call prosperity) is feeling connected to the soul of the world, and I feel this connection when I follow my intuition. Work to define what you want your life to look like. Meditate, look in your heart, and ask your higher power to guide you. Only you know what is best for you.


Please don’t forget to read – Interview with Mihir Mehta | Mentor | Advisor | Entrepreneur | Investment Banker at Ashika Group of Companies

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