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30 by 30: Professional Lessons Learned

These twins spent their 20s learning A LOT about themselves and navigating careers as women in the workforce. In honor of their 30th birthday, these are the 30 lessons that have helped them find success and stay sane.

We’re identical twins, born one minute apart. A lot of our childhood was spent doing nearly the same things from field hockey to AP Biology to (of course) sharing a bedroom and wearing matching clothes. 

But, our college years changed everything for us. We went to different colleges — Virginia Tech for Jordan and the University of South Carolina for me. I focused on comparative literature, public relations, and business. Jordan focused on biology and pre-dental. 

From there, graduating in 2012, I went on to work in marketing in industries ranging from consulting to hospitality to technology while Jordan spent nearly a decade becoming a pediatric dentist. 

We spent our 20s learning A LOT about ourselves and navigating our careers as women in the workforce. In honor of our 30th birthday, these are the 30 lessons that have helped us find success and stay sane. 

TL;DR: be yourself, work hard, stay learning, and have a process. Oh, and brush your dang teeth!

Here we go!

On Owning Your Value

  • Know your worth, and stick with that knowledge.
  • Don’t be a doormat, stand up for yourself, your feelings, passions, and goals. 
  • Celebrate your accomplishments – feel the moments when you succeed! 
  • Keep pursuing your passions, don’t let failure hold you back. 
    • More on that from Dr.J: I did not get into dental school the first time I applied. I was crushed, but I kept studying hard and working as a dental assistant. That extra year between rejection and acceptance helped me a lot.

On Just Starting Out

  • Explore your curiosities – stay learning
  • When God closes a door, he opens a window. 
  • It’s ok to feel awkward and out of place. Everyone does! Accept it and keep moving – those feelings will fade. 
  • Allow yourself to be a beginner – everyone has to start somewhere. Learning feels awkward.
    • More on that from AV: I’m learning to play the banjo – I feel awkward, but I set an intention each time I practice – it’s ok to mess up, it’s ok to be a beginner, it’s ok to progress fast AND slow. 
  • For better or for worse, first impressions matter. Be confident, be pleasant, pave the way for your success.
  • Manners are important. Be polite. Say “please” and “thank you,” hold a door, and show respect.
  • Take time to clear your mind. Journal. Talk a walk. Stand up and stretch. Stay fresh. 

On Doing You

  • Like what you like! It’s all good. You don’t need to impress or fit in with anyone.
    • More on that from Dr.J: I’m a 30-year old dentist who loves glitter, unicorns, and Hello Kitty. So?!
  • You can’t pour from an empty cup – recharge, refresh and refuel.
  • Give yourself time, patience, and respect your progress.
  • Clean up – physical space and mental clarity are keys to success.

A repeat, but it’s important: Throw yourself into your passions – the more you put in, the more you get out.

  • Enjoy time with people and things that bring your happiness and peace (reread bullet two in this section).
  • Call your parents, grandparents, best friend, sister, brother, friend, partner. Human connection is a powerful thing. 
  • Take the time to travel. Whether it’s the city over or across the globe. 
  • Volunteer – time or money. Explore your passion by helping others. 
    • More on that from AV: Volunteering helps me better connect with myself. Whether it’s mentoring someone or helping to pack lunches for the homeless of D.C.

On Practical Work Stuff

  • Straight from our Grandmother, Nonnie: think twice, write once. 
  • Take your vacation. 
  • Work hard. You don’t have to be the smartest, but you do need to work hard.
  • Use apps that help you move faster with more accuracy.
    • More on that from AV: Examples of apps/platforms I use: Grammarly, Trello, and Slack to name a few.
  • Plan out your steps – process matters! 
  • To the point above – make a to-do list. Knowing how you’ll get from A to B ensures a higher success rate.
  • Not everything has to be done in a meeting. The real cost of bad meetings is staggering: $37 billion dollars are wasted every year in the U.S. on useless meetings.
  • Get comfortable with the fact that not everything needs a “sorry.” Practice saying “thank you” instead. It helps show appreciation and gratitude. 
  • And, to the point above, say THANK YOU. Not “thanks,” “thnx,” “thx,” and definitely not “k. thanks.”

The Last Word

  • From the Doctor: Brush twice a day and floss once. The correct order is floss first, brush, and then rinse. 

To watch us talk about each of these, watch our recap here. What are the professional tips you learned by 30? 

Co-written by Dr. Jordan Virden, Alex’s twin sister.

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