What I Wish I Knew: Larry Purpuro

"When I am in a meeting with three or more people, usually the smartest person in the room is not found speaking."

For this week's "What I Wish I Knew," Hill Navigator turns to Larry Purpuro, a senior policy adviser at DLA Piper who is proud to have gotten his start answering constituent mail. His record "day high" for responses? 38 letters.

Your early experience? 

First job in the House of Representatives was working as a 'legislative assistant'(that was the title on my business card). But I never really did much legislative assisting with the Congressman. The more mundane truth: I answered constituent mail but I eventually got productive in knocking out personalized replies: The first day on the job I completed just 1 letter after a full day's work; 11 months later, my record 'day high' was 38 letters.

Best advice received?

As one ex-boss and former U.S. Senator, once suggested: "Class A individuals hire class A people, and B level people hire C level people, and that's how A level people manage to stay at the A level."

"What I didn't know then but I do know now..."

That Churchill was right when he said: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

Having been forced to 'do-over' the first year of law school because of a technicality was a humbling lesson in perseverance. I also now know that when I am in a meeting with three or more people, usually the smartest person in the room is not found speaking.

What pays off in the long run?

Developing an expertise in a particular subject that others in your world don't have. Short of that, what's most helpful, is acquiring a diversity of experiences that take you out of your comfort zone. Whether its politics or policy, pushing yourself to pursue experiences that challenge you will ensure no regrets, and maybe even accrue real dividends.

Don't waste your energy: looking for a higher paying position where contact with others will be limited; but do put the extra effort: into finding a job where you get to meet five new people a week.

For more "What I Wish I Knew" check out responses from Eric Dezenhall and Gloria Story Dittus.

Topics: wish-i-knew