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Utah Business

Don’t underestimate young talent

Helping people is Mackey Smith’s life calling. As the senior strategy consultant at Tanner LLC, he helps organizations improve their corporate structure and realize projects. But even with his experience working in the field of strategic planning, Smith is still willing to learn and add to his knowledge.

Born and raised in California, Smith originally came from an entertainment background and mainly performed in show choirs. His mother was a singer and actress and many of his friends at school were involved in entertainment in some fashion or another. 

During a singing performance, Smith caught the attention of director Ryan Murphy who auditioned him for a flashback scene in the TV series Glee. Despite his success in acting, Smith felt it was not his actual calling. So after his father needed surgery and his mother had work obligations, he decided to pursue ventures outside of acting and get a college degree instead. 

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While in school at BYU, Smith snuck into a recruiting event for Tanner LLC. There he met Dan Griffiths, the company’s head of strategy and leadership. Smith and Griffiths developed a rapport at the event. He was hired at the company after graduating and became Tanner’s senior strategy consultant in 2019, working alongside Griffiths. 

“The kinds of projects I get to work on [at Tanner] are things that normally a guy my age shouldn’t get the chance to do until they’re in their thirties,” Smith said, highlighting that he is grateful for his caliber of work. After all, he’s only 28 and works with organizations in both the public and private sector. 

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Despite being younger than some of his peers, Smith does everything he can to provide his clients with the best part of the experience, making what he terms “active listening” a key part of that. Active listening is as important an element in Smith’s process as it is for his employer. It’s also something people in Smith’s generation are criticized for not doing.

An article from Entrepreneur lists “talking more than listening” as a bad workplace habit and Smith is aware of the reputation millennials have for being loud and overconfident but he distinguishes himself by having an openness for learning. 

“[I] realize that every time you go into a conversation with someone who’s more senior to you, you have the potential to leave that conversation smarter than [when] you started,” Smith said. Identifying as an “old soul” differentiates Smith from others in his age group who may not connect with older adults. It is a point of contention between them and millennials. 

“We [as a generation] have a lot of ideas, we’re visionary,” Smith said “but our communication skills might not be where we need them to be to deliver that message.” Sometimes the delivery of that message can put off others especially in industries like accounting and law which have established protocols of communication. However, Tanner and Smith address that by strategically adapting to the evolving nature of business and use listening as the primary tool to help clients and business partners better communicate.

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