Six Steps to Six Figures: Career Coach Robert Naylor Jr.’s Inspiring Vision




Early in my career, I remember meeting Robert Naylor Jr. at a journalists’ conference and discussing the path I was on professionally. At the time, I was a copy editor at a Ohio newspaper, but considering change. He refrained from recruiting mode and really listened. Our conversation that day made me look deeper at personal development, which led to my invaluable experience at The Associated Press, where Naylor was director of career development/news. Now, he heads up Robert Naylor Coaching and Consulting, and continues to inspire innumerable people from the boardroom to the trenches.

Naylor is a longtime diversity advocate and respected National Association of Black Journalists’ member. In an exclusive interview with Tania Fuentez Media, he tackles some tough questions, including the corporate holy grail _ six steps to six figures. With more than three decades of experience as a high-profile reporter, editor, news executive, mentor, coach and trainer, I find it intriguing his first career choice was a pianist. Life often flips the script on us _ clearing the way for greater opportunities.

TFM: Create. Achieve. Inspire. Three words prominently featured on your Web site. How do you get inspired?

RN: My greatest inspiration comes from interacting with other people. I know that sounds a bit corny, but it’s true. I love sharing information and opinions with people, doing things with people, learning from people, and generally being around people. It’s one of the reasons I do the type of work I do and that I’m moving into the areas I am now. When I’m working alongside others in whatever way, I get energy from that. I’m always encouraged and motivated when people seem to connect with something I’ve said or done, and when they can teach me something new.

TFM: What’s the best career advice you’ve given and received over the years? Who are your mentors and why?

RN: The best career advice I’ve both received and given is to “get a life.” I was a college senior at Jackson State University and a speaker said that in response to a question someone asked. I don’t remember who said it, but I do remember the words. Basically, what he meant was to find things you enjoy doing that have nothing to do with work. By doing so, you learn so many things that can enrich your work and that can give you energy and motivation on those days when work is sapping all your emotional strength. People who do nothing outside of work tend to have tunnel vision about how to get their jobs done. When you have other interests, you’re able to apply things you’ve learned outside of work to the job you do. That advice worked for me, and I’ve been passing it on for years.

TFM: What’s the secret to success in terms of professional leadership and management style?

RN: I believe there are three important things. First is having a realistic vision of the future, but not a narrow vision. That means  having a good idea of where we want to go, but also being flexible enough to alter the direction in which we are going and adjust for the challenges we will inevitably encounter. Second is being willing to take risks and learn from the mistakes that we make. Third is knowing when to ask for help, when to accept offers of help, and what kind of help to accept. We can’t do it all.

TFM: Sure-fire way to promote yourself and stand out without turning people off. Any suggestions for those struggling to find their way in a competitive business field?

RN: I believe you must have something that’s distinctive to offer people and you must be able to speak confidently about what you have to offer. You have to care about helping people in some way, whether it’s solving a problem, helping them feel smarter, or doing something that makes life better. Those things have to be at least as important as being a success and making money. If individual achievement and inflating self-worth is what’s most important to you, people will see that and be turned off by it. I also believe you must do something you’re passionate about, but that creates some value in people’s lives that they can see and experience.

TFM: Six steps to six-figures, in your humble opinion. What do you hope to accomplish through personal experience and insight?

RN: This is a tough question, but here is what I would say:

  • I want to do something that I find personally rewarding and enriching. In my experience, if you don’t enjoy doing what you do, no one will enjoy having you do it for them.
  • Every job is people-oriented and understanding how to deal with people is always the key to success in any endeavor. I have worked with people who would like to lock themselves away and do something technical that does not require any human interaction. But how do you know people will like your gee-whiz, cool new gadget if you know nothing about people?
  • I want to do something I know I’m good at, because that’s when I’m able to project an image of confidence.
  • I want to experiment and take some calculated risks. Note that I said calculated. That means carefully considering the potential for any undertaking to succeed or fail, knowing that there are never guarantees.
  • I want to be distinctive. There’s no fun in doing the same thing others are doing or doing things in the same way. That uniqueness is what creates interest and value.
  • I want to continue to learn. In fact, I have to continue to learn. Without that, you stagnate and wither. There is definitely no enjoyment, value or reward in that.


Robert Naylor Coaching and Consulting, LLC:

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