If there’s one thing that Mandy Rennehan is passionate about, it’s getting the just dues for those in the trades. The host of Trading Up With Mandy Rennehan is an outspoken advocate for trade industries, which is immediately apparent in her interactions with the apprentices in the show, and through our chat when we sat down with her to get her best advice for those starting out.
Mandy’s journey and conviction of self are inspiring and she’s filled with plenty of great advice for anyone starting out in the industry. The Blue Collar CEO: My Gutsy Journey From Rookie Contractor to Multi-Millionaire Construction Boss author offers a no-bullshit approach and calm confidence that make her an excellent mentor. Mentorship is something that she says is invaluable to those starting out in the trades. “I think we underestimate having someone guide us—not give us the prize, not tell us what’s at the end of the path—but allows us to stay on the path.”
A founding pillar of her personality is her genuine nature. Mandy says it like it is and has found success through her connections with others by being real. When starting out though, it’s important not to take things personally, she advises. “You’re going to have scrapes and bruises and those all heal one way or another. And who doesn’t love somebody that really, truly has those scars? That’s what’s going to make you into somebody like me—who certainly doesn’t lack personality and character.” Through the show, Mandy has been able to inspire and connect with many people in the trades. The thing people are getting from the show, she says, are that hard work, personality and integrity still really matter.
As a self-proclaimed misfit, starting her own business always made sense for Mandy. “I’ve always been a misfit, and that was a really good thing. [Those] are the type of people that have realized they can’t work for another company.” Despite her misfit status, Mandy never saw her gender or sexual orientation as a barrier to her success. “I was ready. I think the world was ready,” she says of her success. “It made me into a revolution because I just didn’t let anybody into that little part of my head that said, ‘hey, you can’t do this. You’re not supposed to be here. You’re not supposed to be looking at her.’ Well, to hell I’m not!”
Owning who you are and your ability to make the changes you want to see for yourself is what continues to propel change for yourself and others, Mandy goes on to say. “Why can’t I make the same money he’s making? Because I’m better than him, respectfully.” That confidence is what make her a success in the business world. Mandy brings a combination of male and female traits to her professional life, marrying confidence with emotional intelligence and, always, authenticity. “It was authentically me to have this personality, to go out and say, ‘I’m interested in what you do and I respect you.’ So a lot of people think that I could have potentially been discriminated against in my career for being female and being gay. But I wasn’t. I was actually more discriminated against because I was young.”
Her early success is part of why she’s passionate about mentorship today. “I was doing stuff at 24 that most people don’t even think about until they’re 45.” Being able to mentor young people can get them a decade ahead and prepare them with the tools they need to succeed in any trade.
As for women and non-binary folks looking to get into the trades? “I was a pilot project that went really right.” Mandy credits other women for having helped her and advises continuing to pass the metaphorical baton to allow others to climb even higher. “Stop listening to those damn voices in your head and realize there’s a whole world and career out there that has your name on it.” It might take some effort, and not everyone in the industry will be aligned with your values. “That’s not on you, that’s on them. Move on. You have the power to move on to another company that shares the same values.”
It’s easy to see why she’s called “the people builder”. After talking with Mandy, it’s hard not to feel energized and inspired. She leaves us with one final thought on why she loves working in the trades. Mentally and physically, they’re the healthiest people, she says. “Using your heads, your hearts, your hands… It’s the trifecta of happiness.”