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You don’t have to work in a corporate environment to have a team,

in fact, you don’t even have to have a job. All you need is the desire to have a team that suits YOU and makes you better. We need teams for our personal lives AND our professional lives. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t on a team. Field hockey, lacrosse, Oprah, my family – all these teams have shaped and prepared me for every role I have ever played – boss, co-worker, friend, wife, mom, daughter, sister and entrepreneur.

What I have learned along the way is that as we build our teams, we should look for people who are different from us. We need to go out of our way to bring people into our lives who have opposite skill sets than we have.  And, we need to embrace differences and let those differences make us more diverse people.

“…embrace differences and let those differences make us more diverse people.”

If you are skilled at speaking in public, but struggle with technology (like me), find a techy friend and invite them into your life. If you move fast and sometimes make hasty decisions (like me), find someone who can slow you down when you need to make important decisions. If you count on your fingers (like me) and have to come up with a budget for a client, you better have a financial genius on your team. These are not people you are paying necessarily; these are people with whom you are exchanging ideas and talents. There is a difference. You lend your skills to them, and in return, they lend their skills to you.  Building a diverse team can be our greatest career asset. Each member on our team is able to help us with our struggles. And suddenly, we find ourselves struggling less.

The team I built at Harpo is still my team today. We don’t share an office or work for the same company anymore, but we collaborate all the time. The walls of an office do not define a team. Connection and respect define a team.

“Connection and respect define a team.”

If you are in college, start building your team now. Find people on campus who can help you out with the skills you may not have such as resume writing, story telling, or networking. If you are re-entering the workforce, find friends through your children’s schools or volunteer boards who can do the same. Use the greatest resource that surrounds us – talented people!

The next time you see someone who you can’t imagine being friends with because they are completely opposite of you, instead of passing them by, invite them into a conversation and feel yourself grow in that instant. If we were all alike, life would be so boring. Celebrate and welcome the differences in people because if you want your dream to work, your team should look nothing like you.

“Celebrate and welcome the differences in people because if you want your dream to work, your team should look nothing like you.”

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