Words of Wisdom with Arlen Orchard

Arlen Orchard

What are three things you wish you’d known as you embarked on your release-2014-03-26-Arlen-Orchardcareer?

1.  Relationships are incredibly important. My first job I started out with my nose down exceeding my billable hours and doing good work but missed the opportunity to create relationships with my colleagues. After a few months a younger partner drug me out for a beer, praised my work but then told me I would never make partner unless I created friendships and relationships in the firm. I learned the lesson and at least some part of my success is directly related to understanding the importance of relationships - it is also a large part of what drives my career satisfaction. Strong soft skills are as important as strong analytic or creative skills.

2. Understanding the culture of an organization is crucial to your success within the organization. Analyze it - and don't rely on the company definition of its culture which is often aspirational. Understanding the culture will tell you how to maneuver in the organization and how to get things done. It will also tell you if you are a good fit in the long run.

3. Don't sacrifice your personal life for the job.

Did you have a mentor? If so, what was the most important piece of advice they gave you?

I had a great mentor in my second job. Her advice wasbe positive even during a crappy work day. Don't be shy about sharing your ideas. Be the person that says "I can do that" and then deliver.

How did/do you handle work/life balance?

I have always struggled with work/life balance and have failed spectacularly at times. It is difficult if one is ambitious and passionate about achievement. However, I have learned a few things from my failures - above all it takes discipline and scheduling. So here are my balance tips:

- Find time to work out; it will keep you sane and reduce stress. The only way I can get it done is early in the morning -it sets the tone for the day and you start out the day with a success.

- During the work week try to find time each day with your significant other or family. We get up earlier than necessary (even on work out days) to ensure we have coffee together, share the paper, talk about the day. It is a way to connect and the rule is no electronics. When I am home for dinner, I cook and we chat over a glass of wine. I try to ensure that we have most of at least one weekend day to spent together. We try to get out of town every couple of months for a weekend.

- I need down time - so I find at least 30 minutes of quiet time every day to read a non-business related book for pure enjoyment.

- Work is tough and serious - but don't take yourself too seriously and find the fun in it. Laugh a lot.

Do you have any suggestions of books, articles, websites, etc. that might help a young professional?

Local papers because you need to know what is going on in your community and the local business environment. The Harvard Business Journal because the articles are thought provoking, trend focused, and will broaden your views about business. A book called The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb.

How important is it to be involved in organizations outside of work (church, networking, philanthropy, alumni, athletics, etc.)? Why?

It is very important for a number of reasons. First is the obvious networking benefits. Second being involved in a community organization will allow you to use your skills in a new way and learn new skills. Third is the resume value. Fourth working with a community organization allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself - giving back actually feels good. Fifth it will give your views into our community that you might never otherwise have.

What do you love about Sacramento?

The food, the weather, and the sense of community. I like that it has its own level of sophistication but hasn't lost that friendly mid-west feel. I like that it feels like there is really only 2 degrees of separation from everyone else. I love that Sacramento feels like it is finally finding its own identify and defining what makes us cool. I love that we are on the cusp of something great.