It all started as a six-month internship at the adidas Headquarters in Germany. Fast forward 15 years and I’m now the VP of Concept to Consumer for adidas Global Football.

Young people always ask me how I was able to do it, expecting some hard and fast hacks that will give them a shortcut to the top. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. I don’t have a magic trick that will instantly boost your career, but I do have four main pieces of advice that I learned along the way that will certainly set you up for success.

1. Put your hand up and trust the process

You need to put your hand up and ask for challenges. Don’t expect others to bring you what you want. Unless you ask for it, it’s not going to come. We create our own luck. Once you make the ask, it’s important to be patient and give space to whoever you spoke with to support you in making it happen.

I have the philosophy that things happen for a reason, even if you don’t know what that reason is. Every move I’ve made came when I was ready for it, which is easy to forget because we’re the hamster in the wheel that just wants to go faster and higher. Be assertive and ask for challenges, but be sure to balance that with patience and trust.

Celine del Genes photo smiling
Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and be noticed. A little confidence can go a long way so believe in your ability.

2. Open your mind

I see an open mind in two ways: firstly self-reflection and secondly diversify your world view.

You need to be able to ask for feedback and you need to be able to take it. And gosh, that’s not easy. However, hearing it, digesting it, and taking the time to go through it is such a beneficial process. Feedback is critical for growth!

As far as broadening your world view, travel is the best way to do this. Since travel isn’t always possible, you can always take small steps. Watch the news from all sides, particularly from sources that you disagree with. You don’t necessarily have to change your opinion, but it makes you more aware of different schools of thought. Educate yourself about the issues surrounding you and hopefully you’ll become a better and more aware individual. This is critical for succeeding personally and professionally.

3. The risk is never as high as you perceive

I was told that we have about 80,000 thoughts per day, 75,000 of which are negative. Now I’m not certain that those figures are exactly right, but I can completely relate to this. There’s always a little voice in the back of my head that tells me, “That’s not good enough,” or, “You can do better.” I would say, especially for women, that we tend to highlight what we can’t do as opposed to thinking about all that we can do. This is what I mean when I say the risk is never as high as you perceive.

When it comes to either making a move to a different work location, changing departments or being the new kid on the block, break down the challenge into smaller parts to keep you feeling positive and motivated.

It’s like in business. If you want to achieve net sales of $100 million, that may seem daunting. But if you break it down into something you can digest, such as earning $1 million in the first year, and build from that, you’ll be more likely to embrace the challenge instead of shying away from it.

Celine del Genes and Marat Safin
An early shot of my first year with adidas and the brand activation fun I had with assets like tennis player Marat Safin.

4. Don’t plan so much

I’ve never had a plan. I originally started with adidas on a six-month internship and now I’m here 15 years. I never had VP as a target.

You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do right now; it’s not necessary for success. Focus on the smaller, day-to-day tasks and projects; your hard work will be recognized and rewarded. And above all believe in yourself without being cocky… Trust me, I am proof.

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by Frank 20.04.2017
Great article, Celine. Thanks for sharing this. I especially like what you said about having trust that opportunities will come...even if it's not always easy. But I guess trust in your own future needs to be a conviction, not a hope.
by Celine Frank 20.04.2017
Thanks Frank. Absolutely agree your trust in the future has to be a conviction, and that's why you have to put your hand up... it will never come "just like that by accident" (in my opinion)... Create your own luck and it will come to you.
by Gemina Stroud 20.04.2017
Every time doubt TRIES to set in my mind, you all post something to get my head back in the game. It's like reading a motivational quote. Thanks Celine (and GamePlan A)!
by Celine Gemina Stroud 20.04.2017
Glad if we could help this time Gemina... doubt can try to set in your mind, but you've got it to keep it out ;)
by Howard Proctor 20.04.2017
I love the part about the news - great tip to change the way you perceive the world.

"Watch the news from all sides, particularly from sources that you disagree with."
by Celine Howard Proctor 20.04.2017
Thanks Howard.
It is not always about the big things... Personal development starts with small actions/gestures... and making it a regular practice !
by Alberto Sanjaya 20.04.2017
Thanks for sharing your great career journey and the lessons around it.

1. Your alternative solutions when travelling isn't possible (reading news, etc.) - I totally agree. Not everyone who travels have bigger perspective and not everyone who doesn't means not having a great knowledge.
2. Your last sentence "… Trust me, I am proof." is a superb ending. The article isn't a theory, it isn't fake, it's true from personal experience.

Nice read.
by Celine Alberto Sanjaya 20.04.2017
Thanks Alberto. Indeed it always depends on personalities, perspective and priorities!
I am indeed the proof and like to remind myself to never forget where I come from...
by Tracy Stalter 20.04.2017
This is really valuable advice. As I was reading #3 it dawned on me that often times I do find myself doubting my abilities versus recognizing my strengths. I agree, that often times as women, we tend to be harder on ourselves. I walked away from this article with the intention to be more aware of my thoughts and continue to focus on changing that mentality.
by Celine Tracy Stalter 20.04.2017
Thanks Tracy. Yes remain aware of your own thoughts, be positive, confident (without being cocky!) and chin up even in challenging situations. You grow and learn more when challenged than when on cruise control! :)
by Biji Samuel 20.04.2017
Great article. An open mind, a willingness to learn, accepting feedback (including negative) and pushing yourself to do more - great qualities to have.
by Celine Biji Samuel 24.04.2017
Thanks Samuel. Great summary! Now it is all in the daily practice :)
by margarita 21.04.2017
inspiring article! thank you!

Loved this "The risk is never as high as you perceive", specially for all of us who dare to take challenges! Reminds me on how important is to always work in our C - Confidence!
by Celine margarita 24.04.2017
Thanks Margarita.... Confidence can definitely change the game (from perception to results!) You've got it!
by nitesh 21.04.2017
Hi Celine,
thanks for being so candid. I love what you said about having an open mind. It's not that easy especially when your confidence is blooming high and you know what you are doing or where you are going. It's a great reminder for aspiring leaders.
by Celine nitesh 24.04.2017
Thanks Nitesh. Never forget where you come from is in my opinion something to live by too...