Be the Character You Are

Mary Todd McGinnis
Mary Todd-McGinnis, vice president of sales and e-commerce for Ben Bridge Jewelers, at the 2009 Jewelry Career Fair in Carlsbad. Photo by Kevin Schumacher/GIA
Mary Todd-McGinnis has worked for Ben Bridge Jewelers since the early 1980s and is vice president of sales and e-commerce. She shared her journey in the gem industry, pointing out the way trends and culture affect how people buy jewelry, at the 2009 Career Fair in Carlsbad. She used music, interest rates, fashion accessories and television shows as examples.  

She also shared seven things she looks for in people that will make you “irresistible” to an employer:

1. Associate yourself with the best in the industry – GIA, WJA (Women’s Jewelry Association), AGS (American Gem Society), AGTA – “the best people travel in a clump and are very involved and active” in these groups.

2. Do your very best. “No matter what you’re given to do, do it better than anyone else is going to and you’ll always get recognized and you’ll always get ahead.”

3. Use Facebook and Twitter. “Make sure you’re putting out there the ‘you’ you want your employer or potential employer to see – because we will. Don’t have a second page that is the business you, because that’s not what this is about. Your customers or the people you do business with want to know who you really are. This is how we are transparent today; make sure you are appropriate.”

4. Be the character you are. “We all have unique and individual qualities that make us special – that make us funny, interesting, sweet, intelligent – figure out what that is and develop it to the max, because that’s the gift you’re going to give someone who’s going to pay you.”

5. Read, continue to learn. “You have to be good at so many things, especially in retail, where you have to be good with people, know gemology, be good with money, have a good business sense, and have customer service skills. You have to rely on people who are expert in only one area and suck the information out from them.”

6. Find out what makes you happy. “It’s a hard, deep, but important question that shows who you are.”

7. Show passion. “The people I’ve seen within any industry who are successful have a real passion for what they are doing. Find what you love to do and do it with everything you’ve got and you’ll have great success.”

Amanda J. Luke is a senior communications manager at GIA. She is the editor of the GIA Insider and Alum Connect and was the editor of The Loupe magazine.