Words of Wisdom – Michael Smith

The Words of Wisdom (W.O.W.) blog series highlights local Sacramento executives who are making an impact in the Sacramento community so they can share valuable career advice with Metro EDGE young professionals! This month, we're spotlighting Michael Smith, Director Aggregate Resource Development at Teichert. Read Michael’s interview below to learn more about him and his advice to young professionals everywhere.



What are three things you wish you’d known as you embarked on your career?
From my earliest professional days, I have always wished that I trusted myself more to do and know then what I do and know now. Not believing in one’s self can be one of life’s biggest impediments. This came to light for me in particular when I went through Leadership Sacramento in 2002. At the time I knew nobody in my class and was never one to initiate direction. As a function of our class project at Roberts Family Development Center, I was thrust into a leadership role and came to realize I was just as capable as my fellow classmates as they turned to me for guidance. It may sound cliché, but this was definitely a life changing moment for me professionally.

Secondly, be visible…but not in a forgetful way! Once again, when I began my career, I was new to Sacramento and hesitant to interact or participate in clubs, events, etc., where I felt like an outsider. I wish then I was more comfortable making my presence in the community known. My advice from that period in my life is don’t be afraid to attend a function, event or club, especially if you know you will not know anyone else. Approach each day with the attitude that new faces bring about new experiences, opportunities and lessons on life.

Don’t push off your long term goals!!! I have long had a desire to earn my Masters in Public Policy but kept postponing the process as I felt the time was just not opportune. As I have learned, there is no ideal opportune time to achieve our goals more so then when they are top of mind! We all have the opportunity to prioritize what is truly important for us and I should have done so with my educational goals.


Did/do you have a mentor? If so, what was the most important advice they gave you?
I have been fortunate to have several mentors during my professional career, both internally and externally. Individuals including Andrea Mayer, John Taylor, Randy Sater and Dana Davis have all left a lasting and indelible impression on me and my career. The beauty with multiple mentors is that each has their own strengths’ and each has taught me something different about myself and how to rise above, both personally and professionally. Andrea taught me to be the best self I can be. John taught me that sometimes you have to see a situation at its worse before you can begin to solve the problem. Randy taught me the importance of community engagement and friendship. Dana taught me the value of trust and hard work in leading to the most rewarding professional career I could ever imagine. I say it often, but every day at Teichert feels like a honeymoon for me.


How did/do you handle work/life balance?
Unfortunately, not very well as it is 11 PM on a Tuesday evening as I put my thoughts down on paper. The best that I can do is recognize that and 8 hour work day is not necessarily my goal, but rather to complete the tasks before me in a timely manner. If I have the opportunity to have lunch with family or go to the gym during the work day, it just means I work a bit more in the evening when I get home. For me, it is also helpful to know that my boss trusts me to fulfill my job duties and gives me all the flexibility I need to do so.


Do you have any books, articles, websites, podcasts, etc. suggestions that might help a young professional?
Besides reading any updates on my Dodgers or Rams, the first thing I read in the morning is Politico. In this chaotic political world, I am not a fan of tv personalities shouting their opinions at me and I find solace in reading well written, predominately unbiased political pieces.

In addition, I would recommend a book called “Ask More” by Frank Sesno. It is such a simple concept but a trait not often enough respected and followed in this world. I am a firm believer that asking more questions before weighing in on any subject matter will only result in a better outcome.


What do you love about Sacramento?
I am a huge fan of the weather and don’t think we advertise or play it up more in the marketing of our region.

I also think our City and region is exceptional as a mid-size community. I have to credit Roger Dickinson with this quote but he has said that Sacramentans should strive to “be best in class…not world class”. I fully agree with his take on Sacramento as we may never have all the amenities of a larger metropolitan region like San Francisco or Los Angeles, but we can certainly make what we do have the absolute best of its kind and I believe we are doing just that.


Is there anything else you’d like to tell the 40-and-under business professionals in our region?
The Sacramento region is very small in reality. The usual six degrees of separation are really more like two degrees locally. For that reason, always be cognizant of your actions and words and, if possible, refrain from the negative…in other words…don’t piss anyone off. In a region like ours, it could certainly come back to bite you someday in your career path.

Do something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Fear of the unknown is the biggest hindrance to growth but also the greatest feeling of elation once you have completed or succeeded in the unknown.

Carry passion on your sleeve and let it be known. You don’t have to be the life of the party every night, and nor should you, but passion is addictive and will encourage others to follow in your footsteps.

And finally, listen more, speak less, and refrain from making judgments before fully understanding a situation or individual. This is something I continue to work on to this day and have a fair amount of room to grow. After all, I don’t have words of wisdom unless I have failed along the way and taken note.😊


To connect with Michael, you can reach him on LinkedIn.