With the CEO of Cassaday & Company

“Differentiate yourself,” says Stephan Cassaday, kicking off the Jumpstart Career Development event on Sep. 23 as an alumni of Radford University from the class of ’76, now the CEO & Founder of a major wealth management firm in Northern Virginia. He brought with him this exuberant personality that many of the attendees could relate with along with some advice for whomever was looking to succeed in life.

“In order to differentiate yourself, you need to think differently.”

But how do you set your mindset apart from others?

  • According to Cassaday, the first step is to be fit. Exercise not only builds your strength and endurance, but it also boosts your energy. It was the first time hearing a career coach list the gym as the number one secret to success, …but it made sense. Having a healthy mind is just as important, too, that’s why he made sure to touch on mental fitness by playing games or taking quizzes that work your brain muscles. Take Lumosity, for instance. It’s an app meant to improve memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving skills, and the games are actually really fun! 
  • The third step has to do with being a good listener. Challenge yourself to respond to others with nothing but questions to show that you’ve been attentive. “Helps keep your marriage life spicy as well,” said Cassaday with a laugh. 
  • Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. “It may cost you,” he added. “But that’s how you know you’re doing the right thing.” It also earns you a good reputation. 
  • SACRIFICE: sometimes you need to do what you need to do instead of what you want to do.
  • PRACTICE: If you’ve ever wondered how to truly help prepare yourself for an interview, his advice is to role-play. Have somebody ask you questions and film you answering them. Then go back and look at yourself.  
  • “You’re a brand and everything’s in your control. Refine yourself [from your appearance to your skills] to the point that no one can touch you.” The average college student, females especially, are known to run into some challenges when it comes to their wardrobe which is why, understanding this need and the importance of first impressions, the career center at Radford University along with the support of Cassaday have actually set up a “Career Closet” for its students. Contact them for more info here
  • INTERN: “Scope out the hotshot- learn from them, shadow them. You have to find a mentor.” Cassaday had multiple. 
  • Learn how to “ethically persuade” people. “You can’t be a complete person just by going to college,” he said, and recommended reading a book by Robert Sandler called Persuasive Abilities.  
  • His final advice was being money literate. “It’s all about money. Understand it, learn about it (from taxes to personal investments).”
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