Hello SOTGCY community,
It is an honor to introduce the SOTGC readers to Marissa Tager. Marissa is the daughter of Dr. Mark Tager who has been a professional mentor to “Alex” and me as we have started our journey into entrepreneurship. He has always spoken of Marissa as a woman who was going to take over the world one day. I have yet to have the pleasure of directly meeting her, however, this interview has been an amazing peek into what her father sees, and I wholeheartedly agree with his summation.
Marissa and her brother grew up in San Diego and she recently graduated with a business major and music industry minor from USC. From there Marissa landed a position at the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy.
What impresses me immensely in this interview is how self aware Marissa is for her age. She has obviously learned from and adjusted to issues that most people don’t conquer until farther into their careers. Her zest for life, enthusiasm for the course she has set for herself, and dedication to those that depend on her is remarkable. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have.
What is the one trait you admire most in others?
First, I’d say the ability to balance one’s social, work, and home life. It is extremely hard to manage a booming social life and to be very effective at work. There is a big transition between college life and working full-time, and I think that people who manage their time effectively have a much easier transition.
Second, people who can compartmentalize well. When they are at work, they focus on work. When they are home or in social settings, they live in the moment and don’t carry over the pressures of the day.
Thirdly, I am in awe of people who can stay calm under fire. The woman who heads public relations for our company’s western region exemplifies this. No matter how carefully you plan, things will go wrong….and when they inevitably do, the ability to stay positive, focused, and to reframe any negatives is an incredible trait.
What is the one trait you admire most in yourself?
Tenacity. I don’t give up. I don’t accept “no” for an answer. When confronted with what seems to be insurmountable obstacles, I work hard to find a way to overcome them.
Which quality or attitude internal to women have you observed that sets them back in the workplace?
I think that when women use their sex appeal to advance within a company, it detracts from their true abilities. It reflects poorly on our gender. That being said, I have found myself not carrying heavy boxes and letting some of the men in my office carry them. I justify this by thinking that, with my combination of clumsiness and high heels, I would plummet to my death on the stairs.
What is the hardest lesson for working women to learn?
The lessons differ depending upon the type of person you are. Many women need to be particularly observant about how their emotions are being perceived by co-workers. Expressing some emotion can enable you to work harder, better, and faster, however, expressing too much emotion can land you with a label for being “weak” or “high strung.”
There is also the inverse of this, where they suppress their emotions, flattening their affect. The downside to this extreme is that they come across as cold, impersonal, and lacking the empathy to relate well to others. These women rarely inspire co-workers to do their best.
What book is on your nightstand?
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I was a little late to the “Hunger Games” excitement, but when I found some time for myself, I picked up the first book, and haven’t been able to stop.
The quality you admire most in a successful man…or in a successful woman?
I don’t think that the traits I admire are colored by gender. In my job, I am fortunate to come in contact with many strong, successful women. I admire my direct boss because she is one of the most caring individuals I have ever known. She invests enormous time and energy in understanding what motivates her people, and then she helps provide what each one needs to be successful.
The culture of Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy is one of hard work. It takes enormous focus, in great part because we are an entrepreneurial group within a larger, established, and well-respected company. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in situations where we have to find solutions to unexpected challenges. This requires a blend of creativity, positive attitude and a willingness to take some risks. I was fortunate to be involved in the start up process and to work closely with my boss’s supervisor. It was a real treat to see the strength of her will power as she dealt with the problems that start-ups encounter. She was indefatigable. When you see the person at the top work as hard as she does, it inspires you.
A virtue you believe is underrated?
One’s opinion. I love opinionated people. Don’t give me a compliment if you aren’t genuine. If you think my idea is going to be a disaster, speak up. Question me. My ideas can only improve if challenged and fully developed. If I didn’t want anyone’s opinion, I would work from home and stay off the phone. I think opinionated people can thrive in the right environment.
What is your idea of happiness at work?
I have a job that allows me to do something meaningful and important. I work as a Marketing and Sales analyst for the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy in Los Angeles. The company takes enormous pride in our culture of safety. We make the safest vehicles on the road, and now we are teaching new drivers—most of them teens—to drive safely.
Most people my age know of a teenager who has died or been seriously injured in a driving accident. Many of these accidents are the result of distracted driving. Every day that I go to work, my co-workers and I save lives. It’s great to feel passion for your work.
What do you value most in friends?
Honesty. I talk to my family on a regular basis, but it’s my friends who see me most often. I need them to provide me with a reality check every once in a while because I can get too wrapped up in my own life. Listening to stories about their work helps me gain perspective on whether or not I have realistic expectations about my own job. This helps me maintain my perspective.
What, in your mind, would be the greatest of misfortunes?
Interpersonal Failure. I think that failure is necessary in order to grow, but I think the greatest travesty I could face is if I failed in my personal relationships. In no way do I believe that I am going to be flawless in any facet of my life. I am going to sometimes fail in tasks at work. My ideas will fail. My instincts may fail me at times, but I do not want to fail in the eyes of my friends, family and in any other meaningful personal relationship.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Like,” “I know, but,” “No,” “Um,” “But”
What do you think is the greatest difference between our mother’s generation and our own?
My mother had the luxury of being able to choose whether or not she wanted to work or stay at home with my brother and me. I do not think our generation has that option to the same extent. Working is deeply ingrained in our character, so I don’t see another option for my future.
One piece of advice to young woman in the workplace.