Find a Mentor

As you get to know the people in your organization and industry, seek out a few mentors. You don’t have to formalize a mentor-mentee relationship for it to be beneficial. Look for people who have forged a path congruent with your own career goals. If your organization offers a formal mentoring pro- gram, be sure to take advantage of this valuable resource.

Adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 7: Organizational Awareness.

Reading List: The Image of Leadership by Sylvie Di Giusto

Why read this book? In her book, The Image of Leadership: How leaders package themselves for the right reasons, Di Giusto does a masterful job with a very difficult subject — your professional image in the workplace. The author, a Personal Branding Strategist and Image Expert, describes her work as “people packaging” and her book goes deep on all aspects of how one’s appearance speaks volumes about their abilities and potential for leadership.

The Image of Leadership

Di Giusto uses the term, “professional imprint,” which is far superior to “personal brand” in a professional setting. In my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, I wrote a chapter titled, “Your Personal Brand” and I struggled with the vague and varied definition of that term, as well as, the seeming contradiction of the idea of a “personal” brand in a “professional” context. I considered other chapter titles including “Professional Brand” and “Personal-professional Brand,” but neither seemed to work. I like “professional imprint” because it includes it clearly refers to a professional context and emphasizes the enduring aspect of this concept.

Di Giusto summarizes the concept of professional imprint with a great analogy involving product packaging. From the book:

Chips packaging is always fascinating. . . Not one word, even not a lot of talking and describing the chips can do as much on the package as the picture does. It shows what you get. Period. . .

Yes, there are chips inside, but not those we saw on the outside. Inside, they seem more ordinary, and there are usually many that are broken into little fragments. But we still like them. . . What’s the lesson here? With a perfect appearance on the outside, people are willingly buy into you and might still accept you if you’re not as perfect on the inside. The other way around is invariably much harder. #imageofleadership

 

Reading List: Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Why read this book? Written by the international best-selling author and leader in professional development, Eat That Frog will help you jump- start your professional development (or any other task in your work) with twenty-one proven methods and techniques. These methods are integral to accelerating your career: #7 Focus on Key Result Areas, #10 Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time, #11 Upgrade Your Skills, #13 Identify Your Key Constraints, #21 Single Hand Every Task.g your career: #7 Focus on Key Result Areas, #10 Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time, #11 Upgrade Your Skills, #13 Identify Your Key Constraints, #21 Single Hand Every Task.

Adapted from my new book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of A Successful Career, Chapter 2: Accelerate Your Career Experience. Click here to download two chapters of the book for free!

Reading List: Who Moved My Cheese?

This book tells the story of 4 characters– Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw– and the different ways they interpret and ultimately deal with change in their environment.  This story of adaptability is parable which makes the story fun and easy to read.  The characters in the story include two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two mice-sized people named Hem and Haw with all of the human traits and flaws (human characteristics).  The four characters live in a maze and search for cheese which represents food and happiness– the ultimate prize.

The story is woven around several key lessons about change: Read more

Teamwork – There is no “I”

In November of 2012, I wrote a blog post about the culture associated with Tough Mudder– the obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie (see A Muddy Corporate Culture). I also discussed the need to understand the culture of your organization.

This past November, I participated in my first GORUCK Light. Fellow Georgetown alumnus, Jason McCarthy is a Special Forces veteran and launched GORUCK events to prove the quality and durability of the rucksacks he was selling. The story of how Jason built this company is very interesting, especially for entrepreneurs (or entrepreneur-in-training). Read more

Gratitude in the Office – An Experiment

This is a great experiment by SoulPancake showing the personal benefits of expressing gratitude. Gratitude is not only for your family and friends. . . tell you colleagues, peers, boss and customers what it is about them that you appreciate.

Who in your career has been influential? Who did something really amazing for your career? Remember professional relationships are the key to your success. By expressing your gratitude, you’ll improve the quality of those important relationships and feel good yourself. Everybody wins! Check out this 7 minute video.

Best Advice from Leading Executives

Business Insider compiled a list of “best advice” from 22 top executives. I’ve pulled the top 10 bits of advice that apply to new professionals and summarized it here.  The full Business Insider post will provide the context for each quote and reveal who the wise sage is behind each pearl of wisdom.

  1. There’s a finite amount of time you’re going to be doing this. Do this really, really well. – Terry J. Lundgren, CEO, Macy’s
  2. Never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. – Richard Branson, founder and chairman, Virgin Group
  3. I see a bunch of good choices, and there’s the one that you pick and make great. – Marissa Mayer, VP, Google
  4. First, it’s good to solicit your people’s opinions before you give them yours. And second, your people will be very influenced by how you carry yourself under stress. – Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
  5. You’ve gotta learn to listen!” – Maureen Chiquet, Global CEO, Chanel
  6. Follow my instincts and take the risk. I wanted to create a new way of looking at retail – Tory Burch, co-founder and creative director, Tory Burch
  7. Never forget Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow — you don’t give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today, and see if you feel the same way tomorrow. – Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
  8. Just remember, it’s a small business and a long life. You’re going to see all these people again. – Richard Parsons, former chairman, Citigroup
  9. Always have the courage of your convictions. Always state what’s on your mind. Follow your gut. And observe what other people are doing around you. – Joe Uva, former CEO, Univision
  10. Remember—you’ve got to make your deposits before you can make a withdrawal! – Steve Schwartzman, chairman and CEO, Blackstone Group

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 3 of 3

And here’s the final installment of the 15 point list. . .

11) Persevere – You will encounter many challenges in your career.  Your response to those challenges will say more about you than your successes.

Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try. ~YODA, Jedi Grand Master

12) Communicate with confidence – Communication via the spoken and written word are one way to demonstrate your professional abilities.  Practice public speaking and perfect your writing skills, until you far surpass your peers—the bar is usually not that high.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. ~Mark Twain

13) Display humility – Demonstrate humility and personal accountability in your career and you’ll never go wrong.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. ~Ernest Hemingway, Author

14) Be flexible – As a recent graduate or new professional, be flexible in your career path.  Build career skills that transcend your current function, role and industry make you invaluable in the marketplace and provide more opportunities.

Change is the only constant. ~Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

15) Make connections – Networking is a key professional skill.  If you focus on what you can do for others, networking won’t feel like a chore.  Your efforts will be rewarded in what you’ve given and what you will receive.

Dig the well before you are thirsty. ~Chinese Proverb

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 2 of 3

Continuing with our list. . .

6) Connect the dots – Consider the big picture and where your career fits in your company, industry and the worldwide economy at this moment in time, in addition to, the past and the future.

We often need to lose sight of our priorities in order to see them. ~ John Irving, Author

7) Display realistic optimism  – There will be plenty of opportunities in your career to be optimistic (or pessimistic) depending on which you choose.  Choose wisely.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. ~Winston Churchill, Politician

8) Continued improvement – Throughout your career, there is one constant which is YOU.  Be the best professional you can be.

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune. ~Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur

9) Commit – Your commitment to a task, the project, your job and your organization is being measured everyday by your subordinates, peers, colleagues, managers, share holders, customers and clients.  If it is not 100%, others will know it.

The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.  ~Henry Ford

10) Be alert – Opportunities in your career won’t always find you.  Be on the look out and willing to create opportunities for yourself.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. ~Milton Berle, Comedian & Actor

Stay tuned for “15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 3 of 3” next week.

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 1 of 3

Ilya Pozin wrote a great post on LinkedIn titled, “15 Things Successful People Do.”  Here is the Career-ology version of Pozin’s list with a focus on your career and professional success.

1) Fail – At some point in your career, you will encounter failure—your position is downsized, you get overlooked for a promotion or bonus, you choose a job that isn’t the right fit.  You cannot have success without failure. Stop.  Assess. Adjust. Keep moving forward.

When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures.  So I did ten times more work.  ~George Bernard Shaw, Playwright

2) Set Goals – You must identify and develop the critical career skills with the same discipline of your formal college curriculum.  As a professional, you are responsible for establishing and working towards your goals.

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. ~Brian Tracy, Author

3) Don’t rely on luck – Luck is only one small part of the professional success equation.  Without mastering the right skills, you cannot rely on luck alone.

I am a great believer in luck.  The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have. ~Coleman Cox, Author (interesting note: Thomas Jefferson is often incorrectly cited as the source of this quote)

4) Track progress – Like setting specific goals, tracking your progress against your career goals is important.  Make adjustments when required, but stay focused on your progress.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. ~Benjamin Franklin

5) Act – This is your career.  Take responsibility and take action.

If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. ~Michael Jordan, Professional Athlete

Stay tuned for “15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 2 of 3” next week.