Fishelisms Can Propel Your Career Success

Career Starter Success: Fishelisms can work for you

Brian Fishel, CHRO at KeyBank for eight-plus years, has seen the company through periods of rapid growth and pandemic lockdowns. Colleagues, staff, and friends find his success truths or “Fishelisms” memorable and applicable to their roles as leaders in the financial industry. However, these Fishelisms can work for you to ensure your career success in any industry.

Fishel sets high but clear expectations for recruiting talent. He shares those expectations across the executive and HR teams who should all have a firm understanding of a recruit’s responsibilities and accountabilities.

Brian delivers frequent, meaningful, and explicit praise for work well done. Fishel recognizes behavior and outputs, connecting their importance. He expects everyone to set aside personal ambitions and agendas to offer open and effective feedback

Leaders must create a sense of urgency and passion with a bar high enough to stretch potential. Fishel wants leaders to spell out their purpose, explain how they can help, and model the behavior necessary to achieve.


We have divided Fishelisms into five groups identified by their theme.

1.   Be purposeful

Be prepared – never just “wing it.” Pick your friends carefully and leverage your network. Surround yourself with those who fill in your gaps. Be present when present. Be an Energy Driver, not an Energy Drainer. Ask yourself what you want others to say after you leave.

2.   Be curious and inquisitive

·Be a voracious learner – from good and bad experiences, from inside and outside work. Be observant, and a student of others’ behavior. Ask good questions. Listen intently; then listen some more. Understand the WHY −not just the WHAT − behind decisions and questions. Challenge assumptions and predispositions – never be satisfied.

3. Demonstrate a strong work ethic

Work ethic − strong or weak − gets noticed. Show initiative as well as productivity. Execution matters, so deliver thorough, thoughtful, and accurate quality on time. Do your job well − really well; then, ask for more.

4.   Demonstrate strong teamwork

Collaborate − don’t compete with your peers. Channel competitiveness into problem-solving and better solutions. Credit others and avoid the need for the limelight. Avoid gossip about others; worry about yourself. The pack has power, so don’t be the lone wolf.

5.   Never avoid opportunity

Answer the door when opportunity knocks. Every opportunity − even work you consider beneath you or outside your functional role − presents a moment to learn, grow, and connect. Never say “No!” Go after new opportunities with energy and positivity.

Paying it forward

These Fishelisms have the advantage of being quotable. Anyone interested in leading can fall back on these quotes as individual and team guides for working together and succeeding as one.

Brian Fishel succeeds, in part, because he believes in life-long learning. He feels he learns from every experience. But he wants it understood that learning applies to more than increased content. He values lessons learned from doing, acting, failing, reaching, observing, and listening. Learning becomes holistic and pays huge dividends.

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Louis Carter
Louis Carter is CEO and founder of Best Practice Institute, social/organizational psychologist, executive coach and author of more than 11 books on leadership and management including his newest book just released by McGraw Hill: In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace. He has lectured globally in the U.S., Middle East, and Asia on his work and research in organization and leadership development and is an executive coach and advisor to CEOs and C-levels of mid-sized to Fortune 500 organizations. He was named one of Global Gurus Top Organizational Culture Gurus in the world and was chosen to be one of 100 coaches to be in the MG100 (Marshall Goldsmith) out of 14,000 people as one of the top 100 coaches in the world .