Last month, John Zissimos came to my class to talk about his inspirational journey – from being a Temple alum to being VP of Creative, Brand & Media at Google. Although several weeks have passed by since the day I listened to Mr. Zissimos’s story, the lessons I learned from him remained to be everlasting.

Be curious.

One of the first things that Mr. Zissimos emphasized on was the importance of curiosity. In his perspective, asking the right question is the thing that will help marketers find the right solution. When he walked into a meeting, some key questions that he kept in mind were: Why is this important? What is the problem that we are trying to solve? Who are we talking to? Why should anyone believe us? In fact, asking question is something that marketers should do frequently if they want to arrive at that unique insight that helps them build connection with their audience, said Zissimos. Consumers have a lot of options, and marketers’ job is to persuade them to come over to the thing that they are selling. In order to do that, being curious, questioning everything about the consumers and the market, then building trust from the fundamentals – research, insight, influence, execution, impact – are what will take marketers to their goals.

Taking this lesson into action, for the past month, I have tried approaching every assignment – whether it’s a hypothetical client from my class or a real client at my internship – by staying curious about everything and finding the courage to voice up the questions that I’m having in mind. This approach has paved the way for me to better understand consumers’ behaviors, as well as getting a better sense of what exactly I am trying to achieve.

Be opened, be vulnerable, be willing, be honest.

Even after graduating college, John Zissimos did not stop learning, even just for a day. From teaching himself how to use editing software to learning to adapt to the “.com era”, John Zissimos never left his “learning mode”. For him, what got him through his difficult times was his persistence and openness. Although stepping in this industry as a creative, Mr. Zissimos was opened to the concept of “data-driven creative” and the acceleration of the digital age, and has in fact, learned to adopt and master it. Before coming to Google as the VP of Brand & Creative Media, John Zissimos has left a legacy at Salesforce as the Chief Design Officer as he created a data-driven and design-led culture to build a full-service agency within Salesforce, earning the software company $10 billion in revenue.

As a student in the Radio, TV and Film college at Temple University, John Zissimos had to write a lot. His writing experiences have taught him that “pain is a fuel for stories”, and that pain can be channeled: do something with it, Zissimos said, but don’t complain because complaining is for losers. Instead, channel it through your writing, through your optimism, through your willingness to learn and get better. Be a sponge – be someone who has a beginner’s mind, who is opened to listen to other people’s opinions and feedback, who takes every obstacle as an opportunity. Last but not least, find a mentor and be a mentor – be willing to learn, to teach, and to give back.

Listening to what John Zissimos’s journey to where he is today made me realize how important self-development is. Mr. Zissimos is right – success is a choice and it’s worth working hard toward to.