MAKER Adrianne Yamaki believes that the key to success is to keep going.
At mile 20 of her first marathon, Adrianne Yamaki had to start walking because of a knee injury. “I couldn’t run more than a few steps before the pain made me stop. And I had six miles left! Heck – I don’t even walk six miles when running errands if I can drive them.” But Adrianne made a decision she’d made many times before. However hard it was, she wouldn’t give up. “The only person who could stop me from completing that marathon was me. Even if I had to hobble, I was going to cross that darn finish line.” And an hour and a half later, she did.
From running marathons, to learning to speak fluent French, Adrianne believes that “we can all do more than we think we can. Every one of us. We just have to try. And then not quit.”
This drive, combined with passion for hard work, has served her well. Adrianne is a successful San Francisco Financial Advisor and Senior Vice President and one of 18 outstanding women and men nominated by her peers and selected by Morgan Stanley executives to be a 2019 a national program that celebrates accomplished professionals from a variety of fields. Adrianne boils it down to effort: “There is no substitute for hard work. I don’t know one highly successful person who didn’t put in their time. And since it’s one of the few things we can control, we should.”
Descendant from Japanese immigrant great-grandparents who worked on Hawaiian sugar plantations and a grandfather who assembled cars in a factory, hard work runs deep in the family. Her father was the first to go to college. Adrianne, a “nerd and bookworm,” left public school as a sophomore to join an academic all-girls high school. “My Mom found a place where I could study to my heart’s content. But we couldn’t afford tuition. So I had a ‘work scholarship,’ meaning I scraped gum off desks and washed blackboards. My friends didn’t have to do this, but I didn’t mind – I had no ego and did what needed to be done.”
After graduation, Adrianne enrolled at the all-women’s Mills College, again paying her own way. “I delivered campus mail and served scrambled eggs in mess hall,” she says. “Putting myself through college taught me how to be resilient, because there were many days I was bone-tired but had to keep working and studying.”
After college, Adrianne taught English for a year in Paris, then returned to San Francisco to start a career. Having saved every business card ever given to her, Adrianne cold-called each person to ask if they’d be willing to share their career experiences. One call was to a Financial Advisor named Linda, and after a visit to Linda’s office, Adrianne decided this was the job for her. “A career helping people make better financial decisions to improve their lives sounded absolutely wonderful.”
Adrianne became a Financial Advisor at age 23. The head of the office, a woman, and her sales manager, Mike, were Adrianne’s first bosses. “They were always willing to teach me. I definitely couldn’t have made it without them.” Despite the odds, over six years Adrianne built a successful business.
Longing for more challenges, Adrianne gave up her practice to get her MBA at the University of Chicago and then moved to New York to be a management consultant. But after five years away from the industry, Adrianne found herself missing being a Financial Advisor.
In 2009, Adrianne decided to return to both financial services and the West Coast, so she and her pilot husband Rick packed up and left New York. And as if those life changes weren’t enough, on her first day at Morgan Stanley in August 2009, Adrianne found out she was pregnant. “What can I say, I’m efficient,” she quips.
At 34, Adrianne began to rebuild. Even with previous experience, it was tough. And this time, she was pregnant. She recalls “waddling out six-months pregnant” into an audience of workshop attendees to give a presentation. Nine years later, Adrianne has a burgeoning practice and is very happy. “I am doing what I love. And when you do what you love, working hard is easy. In this way, I am very lucky.”
Adrianne also feels fortunate to have strong mentors at Morgan Stanley, including Mary Deatherage, another MAKER. “Mary pushes me to improve and encourages me when I need it. She has made a huge difference in my life and in my career.”
Today, Adrianne is a mother to three young daughters. Given her all-women’s education and female role models, it’s no surprise that she enjoys mentoring women. “Being a Financial Advisor is tough,” she says. “And like it or not, it is different for women. So if I can help others by sharing my experience, I’ll do it. Many women did the same for me, which I’ll always be thankful for.”
And her advice to other women pursuing their goals? “You have to step up, before you’re ready. You’ll never feel fully ready. But then keep at it. No matter what anyone says, or whatever doubts you have, never stop. No one can stop you, but you.”
CRC 2427970 August 2019