Her allies taught her to “always come prepared to the table,” she says. “Not because I am a woman and need to prove my worth, but because that is how you create a respectable personal brand — and they wanted to help me create mine.”
“I first met Daron during a retreat hosted by Black44, President Obama’s black political appointee association, in October 2016. Starting at 9:00am sharp, he met with a number of political appointees looking to transition out of the Administration into roles where their skill sets and experience could thrive. I was one of those appointees. Many internships in government and think tanks had led me to the opportunity of a lifetime: to serve as the Confidential Assistant to the Deputy Director of the White House, Office of Management and Budget but this experience also came with a clear end date.
My post-administration goal was to join a big tech company and immerse myself in the world of innovation. Although my end goal was clear, I wasn’t quite sure how I would achieve it or the type of role that would be a good fit. Two minutes into my career coaching meeting with Daron I realized that I hand’t created my personal brand. I didn’t think I could have a ‘brand’ given the fact that I was a 22-year-old who got extremely lucky and landed a job at the White House post graduation, but Daron thought the opposite.
Daron made it clear that my age didn’t matter nor did my years of work experience, and that I should use my skills and experiences to sell myself to future employers. He started by giving me ‘homework’: 1. Research the three top players in the industry and take notes of any biographical trends 2. Translate your CV into a private sector document 3. Review your LinkedIn. Although Daron was only hired to provide career coaching for one day, his support did not end there.
Daron’s consistent investment in my career growth gave me the ability to strategize next steps and navigate difficult situations with confidence. After receiving several job rejections via email, he sent me a copy of his book Call an Audible — which I devoured while waiting for my flight at JFK. Contrary to what many books on success read, his book focused on the many rejections he received throughout his career and how he used them as motivation.
After many interviews, I finally landed a great opportunity to work with Airbnb’s public policy team. During the first few months on the job, Daron would actively reach out to check in and help me navigate this new world. A year later, I found myself transitioning again, this time out of Airbnb and on the search for an opportunity that would be both impactful and challenging. Because of his amazing mentorship, I accepted the second transition with much more confidence.
One of the best feelings a young professional can have is knowing that there is someone out there who will actively take the time to help you achieve your goals. I am so fortunate that Daron, along with Jonathan Lachman, Michael Deich, Anthony Webb, and Justin Tanner were always willing to give me their time and honest feedback. They took a chance on me and believed in my abilities even when I didn’t. They taught me that I should always come prepared to the table, not because I am a woman and need to prove my worth, but because that is how you create a respectable personal brand — and they wanted to help me create mine.”
– Stephanie Gaither, Former Obama White House and Airbnb Public Policy Staff