Pat Hedley is an investor, advisor, author, and TedX speaker. She is the Founder and CEO of The Path Ahead, a company that offers financial advisory and planning services. Hedley is the author of Meet 100 People, A How to Guide to the Career and Life Edge Everyone’s Missing, a book that encourages young people (and all of us) to meet people and build valuable life-long relationships.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

I grew up in Passaic, NJ a small suburb 15 minutes from NYC. My parents were Hungarian immigrants. My mom started and ran a small business, and my father was a social worker. My mom’s values of hard work, persistence, perseverance, and fearlessness greatly influenced my view on life. My mom always said you can do anything you put your mind to.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I wish I would have realized earlier in life how important your network of connections can be. No one succeeds alone and it is important to recognize that. The more people you know, the more opportunities come your way. It is important to be helpful to others and ask for the help you need. I wrote Meet 100 People because it’s advice I wish I had earlier in my life.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Some people say it is important to go deep within an area of expertise. I don’t discount the value of developing expertise, but it’s as important to know that you don’t need to know everything, as long as you know how to find those people who can help you. The most important skills are the ability to learn, analyze, synthesize and communicate effectively. Your personal and professional networks matter. The people you know can help you along whatever path you pursue. They can help you get there faster and better than you can go it alone.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

After I left my last job, I felt a bit unmoored. I wasn’t sure what I’d do next. I learned many things during this time of self-discovery. I learned that people are willing to help, but you need to be specific about what you need. I also learned that the more people you meet, the more opportunities come your way. When meeting new people and in renewing relationships, it is important to approach these meetings with a generous and authentic mindset. Everyone has treasure – it is up to you to uncover what that is.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success
so far?

The one thing that is the greatest contributor to my success is that I get things done. It’s so important to act, not just to dream and plan. Executing on your plans, proactively, consistently and with energy, makes all the difference in the world.

What is your morning routine?

I’m an early riser, awakening around 5:30 or 6 am. I’ve made it a habit to drink two large glasses of water first thing, to be hydrated and start the day well. Then I take time to review any new emails, check social media and read the news. I also make time in the morning for some form of exercise: barre for an hour or indoor or outdoor biking. I have a strong belief that taking care of your body helps in everything you do. I’m most productive in the morning and try to attack the hardest or least desirable items first, then I can tackle more creative or thoughtful projects in the afternoon.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Regular physical exercise has significantly improved my life. My mind is sharper, I feel calmer and I can be highly productive after I work out. I also love to read which I view as an exercise for my brain and a way to satisfy my endless curiosity.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I have found that ‘to do’ lists are inefficient. Instead, my calendar has become my ‘to do’ list with a date/time scheduled for what needs to get done. If it doesn’t get done as listed, it must be moved to another time forcing my commitment to get things completed.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?

I take a deep breath and take stock of the situation. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed because there seems like there is too much to do. Writing down all the things I need to do helps reduce my stress because then nothing can fall through the cracks. I can then mark when I will get those items accomplished on my calendar.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I’m an avid reader and so many books have been influential in my life. A book that made a difference to me last year was Undaunted by Kara Goldin, the founder and CEO of Hint. Kara describes her entrepreneurial journey and encourages us all to be fearless in our pursuits despite pitfalls and setbacks. I resonate with her message and agree you must set audacious goals and work hard to achieve them. Living life in an ‘undaunted’ way offers tremendous rewards.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

Erno Rubik, of Rubik’s cube fame, once said, “If you are curious, you’ll find puzzles around you. If you are determined, you’ll solve them.” I have learned that my curiosity keeps my life interesting and fun. I love puzzles and challenges are just that, puzzles to be solved, from which one can derive great joy.