CONQUERING CAREER AND THE WORLD

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Meet Blair Zarb. A cheerful and welcoming woman who loves to travel and enjoy time with her sweet husband (Matt), friends, and family. During the week, she works for her favorite company, USAA, in the Human Resources department. On the weekends, she is typically squeezing in some serious world travels with her husband. Because of Blair and Matt’s love for travel and exploring new places, she decided to share her experiences and travel advice through a travel blog – Bon Voyage Blondie. Through the blog, Blair recaps her favorite places, spaces, and things to do. We are so fascinated with Blair’s ability to conquer her day job while mastering the art of the weekend warrior, that we asked her if we could interview her for Femme Thoughts. 

Check out the full interview below!

What do you love about working in the corporate environment?

I absolutely love working in the corporate environment. It’s fast paced, always changing, and filled with amazing people that I can learn and grow from. I have had the great privilege to work for USAA for almost 7 years! In my time at USAA, I have had 4 different roles and worked on numerous exciting and challenging projects that have allowed me to grow into the person I am today.

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You have done an amazing job at setting yourself apart amongst a large workforce. What advice would you give our Femmes on how they can achieve this in their workplace? 

These are the top 7 things I have learned from working in the corporate world that have allowed me to succeed:

  1. Believe in yourself: You were put at this table or on this project or on this team for a reason. They picked YOU! So, don't be scared to share your opinion, feedback, and lessons learned. For the longest time in my career, I was scared to speak up because I was either the youngest one in the room, or the only female at the table or I didn't feel like I knew the content well enough to speak up. Finally, one of my mentors encouraged me to speak up and "have a seat at the table"! I will tell you, believing in yourself and having confidence allows others to have confidence in your work as well. 

  2. Find awesome mentors: Finding great mentors who motivate you, encourage you and help you grow. This has been one of the greatest blessings of my career. 

  3. Leave an impact: In the corporate world, you are surrounded by amazing people everywhere you look, so how do you shine? On every task, assignment or project you work on, try to leave a lasting impact that people will remember you for. 

  4. Stay positive: There have definitely been times in my career that I don’t love what I’m working on or the leader I’m working for or the timeline for the project, but I always remind myself to stay positive and encourage others around me. Be that light in the room that people know they can come to for positive vibes! 

  5. Ride the “Yes!” Train: What I mean by this is, say "Yes!" to opportunities that come your way! "Yes!" to a new role. "Yes!" to a promotion. "Yes!" to leading a new effort. "Yes!" to starting an organization. Ride that "Yes!" train for a while and people will see your great work ethic and want you on their team.

  6. Be a Go Giver: One of my amazing mentors at work showed me the "Go Giver" book and it is amazing. If you haven't read it go buy yourself a copy today. It will change your mindset from getting to giving. This means constantly giving to others, providing value to others, and helping others grow. 

  7. Celebrate success: Don't forget to celebrate success! 

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Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be one of the most significant in your career?

One of the most significant accomplishments I have made in my career is helping launch Impact, a Diversity and Inclusion Business Group at USAA for emerging leaders. About 5 years ago I helped launch this amazing group to help emerging leaders at USAA grow and develop. I had the great privilege of getting to be the Chair of this group for 2 years and got to help launch it not only in the San Antonio office, but our other 5 offices as well. Today, this group has over 8,000 members and helps emerging leaders grow, develop and get leadership experience. 

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You launched your own travel blog last year, Bon Voyage Blondie – what prompted you to create it?

I’ve always loved to travel and for the longest time would just save notes in my phone on places I had been to because I always had friends asking for recommendations. Then, I was chatting with my husband one night and thought, why don’t I start a blog to share my tips and favorite travel spots so that anyone can access them? That sprung the creation of Bon Voyage Blondie which has been so much fun to create and has allowed me to share my travel tips and experiences with other people that love to travel. Go check it out! 

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Managing the structured schedule of a corporate career and squeezing in as much travel as you can seems like it could be a challenge. How do you make this work so well?

Yes, at times it can be challenging and tiring to squeeze everything in but I love my job and I love to travel so I have found a way to do it all. During the week, the calendar and "to-do" lists are my best friend! In order to get everything done in a week, I make sure to stay organized, always have my calendar up-to-date, prioritize my "to-do" list and stayed focused when I'm at work. In order to take numerous trips throughout the year, while still working a full-time job, here are some things that have helped us travel as often as we can:

  • Take short and quick trips: Short trips either 2 or 3 days long allow you to take numerous trips throughout the year instead of just one big trip. We usually will fly out Thursday or Friday for our trips depending on the location we are traveling to. 

  • Get the Southwest Credit Card: The Southwest Credit Card is amazing! It has allowed us to accumulate enough points for a "Companion Pass." The "Companion Pass," allows my husband to fly for free with me on every trip we take!

  • Book Plane Tickets in Advance: By booking your plane ticket in advance, you usually can get a better deal.

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You are one of the most inclusive people we have met. What has inspired you to be such an inclusive and inviting person?

Definitely my parents. Growing up, my parents would throw me birthday parties and invite the entire school to come. They taught me at an early age to be a friend to everyone I met. We also moved every couple of years for my dad's job, so I was used to being the new kid in school, which I think definitely shaped me into the person I am today. No one ever wants to be left out, so my motto in life has always been, "The more the merrier!" 

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Last, but certainly not least, you always have the cutest outfits, tell us where you find such adorable clothes!

I love to shop and love having new outfits especially when we are traveling to a new place! Some of my favorite places to shop are:

  • Impeccable Pig

  • Lulus 

  • Revolve 

  • Dillard’s 

  • Res Dress Boutique

Hannah Zunker