Ashley Martin is a young woman who has chosen a path closer to her heart. When choosing a job she sat down and considered, what will make me happy and how can I create value in my work and be paid for it. I will share with you her letter to me and share it with you. I ask that you please let your child read this and inspire them in their choice.

Letter By Ashley Martin


One of my university professors once told me that the race in life is a marathon, not a sprint. Career decisions should focus on the future in order to build a steady platform for success. As a graduate of Queen’s University business program this past May, I decided to take this piece of advice to heart by turning down a number of employment offers with large, reputable firms and join a start-up boutique investment firm – a decision that has lower short term compensation and job stability but offers significant upside potential in growth, compensation, and career satisfaction in the long term.

This was certainly a different approach to the job hunt used by my classmates, where the general sentiment was the bigger the pay cheque and the more well known the company, the better.
My decision to join a start-up was influenced by my previous experience working for a large corporation over three summers. Although I had a stable pay check, money to pay off my university debt, and a job that looks good on my resume, I observed layers of management where I was far removed from having any influence on decision making, and my work had little contribution to the bottom line. The inner mechanisms of a large corporation simply did not fulfill my aspirations to make an immediate contribution and my desire to leverage my toolbox of skills. In the end, I felt my career would be richer both in satisfaction and potential compensation working for a smaller company.
While I have only been with the company for a short time, I have been exposed to much more than I had in previous work terms. I also see a much broader spectrum of the business world. I feel that I am an equal, not someone at the bottom of the ladder of the corporate hierarchy, not a recent graduate, not a woman, not a new hire who needs to prove their worthiness. I am more appreciated than I have ever been in a work environment. Everything I do makes a significant impact to the firm and provides an immediate sense of accomplishment. From researching a stock to designing a brochure, I know that each decision I make, and every hour I put in, is highly valued. All these experiences have reinforced my career decision.
I have gotten more exposure over the last few months to clients, brokers, and banks than I have in my past four years. I wish I could say it was my social skills or my raw talent, but the reality is that I am needed. Furthermore, there is a strong symbiotic relationship between me and the company. I am highly motivated to perform for the company; the company is highly incented to see that I succeed. While this may happen with big firms – it happens less so where the impact of any one person is often departmentalized. And while any given day can be exhausting, the opportunity to learn and grow more confident in my abilities is well worth the effort.

Just as the small business develops its brand over time, I, a recent graduate, must prove myself to a world that is well established and competitive. With a small entrepreneurial firm, resourcefulness and every dollar counts. This is where my new employer has taught me lean and competitive strategies. There are no one-time restructuring costs, no million dollar severance packages, no dual class voting shares, and no sense of entitlement.

This synergy of young talent and young business provides an invaluable learning experience. I am learning strategic, lean ways of business that avoid any and all types of waste. For the first time, I feel that I am coexisting in a world where business and values do not have to contradict each other; where I can do what is best for my clients, while doing what is best for the business.

So, class of 2011, my advice to you: do not make your employment decision on who will pay the most money, or who will look best on your resume; pick a firm that is the right fit – for me, this is a small firm, for you it may be different. Pick a company that will help you build a steady platform for success, and which exemplifies your morals and values, not just in company culture, but in actions and leadership as well. In following this advice, there is no doubt that when you see the finish line, you will be happy with the path you have chosen.

I hope you found her words as moving as I did. She is currently working for one of my financial planners. He too recently chose to leave the corporate world and follow his dream. He is very intelligent and wise to his profession and I love working with him. I send him as many clients as I can. To learn more about the firm go to FrontWaterCapital.

I want to wish everyone a great weekend. For those celebrating Yom Kippur – I wish you an easy fast.

All my love,


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2 Responses to “Words of Wisdom From a Relatively Recent Graduate: Our Future Leaders”

  1. Rhonda J. Shuter R.N. on September 17th, 2010 11:27 am


    You are simply the best. Love to read your newsletters, love what you have to share.
    Mike was just asking about you the other day, and I told him I keep abreast of what you’re up to, through you! So there you have it.
    All the best to you and yours! Shana Tovah!

  2. Sandra on September 17th, 2010 11:51 am

    Thank you. I miss you guys. I am really embarking on a journey to shift paradigms. Please share this site and have more people write in!
    Shana Tova to you and your family. May this year be blessed with much joy, happiness, laughter, peace and abundance!


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