I recently gave a talk to a group of Kickstarter training young people who are just starting out in their careers. Here’s the advice I gave them – and more advice my colleagues added.
1. Be good to people – business is all about people, and your relationships and reputation are everything, so be nice to people, help people, work well with people, and you will be successful.
2. Work well no matter what the task – we all start off doing jobs we don’t like, but no matter what you are doing, if you do the best possible job, you’ll learn to do it well, and people will appreciate your work.
3. Ask for help – most people actually love doing someone else a favour, so if something’s hard, if you don’t understand, if someone’s being mean to you, ask for help early and you will find people to give you advice and support.
4. Focus on solutions not problems – if something’s not going well, suggest better ways to do it, you may come up with something no-one else has thought of and improve it for everyone!
5. Look after your health – great work takes energy, energy comes from being well looked after, body and mind.
6. Be on time – respecting your commitments, other people’s time, doing what you said you would, and being reliable are all important behaviours that will help you build your career.
7. Pick up the phone – especially when we spend our lives emailing and texting, an actual conversation can solve all sorts of issues and save time too.
8. There’s always something to learn – being good at your work requires a lifetime of learning, and there’s always something (or someone) interesting to learn about, so be open to evolving and improving yourself through the whole of your career.
After I posted this on LinkedIn, here are some of the other useful points my colleagues added:
9. Listen carefully – when people are talking, really focus on them, and ask lots of questions. Write notes of everything you hear – not only does it make a huge difference as you learn, it makes you appear interested and engaged too. (thanks Sarah Mahoney, Jonathan Williams and Ross Antrobus)
10. Be patient with yourself – be open to finding the work and topics that you find interesting and rewarding and see where they take you. Stay curious about what feels meaningful and rewarding in your work – while more linear careers may still feel more in keeping with convention, there’s so much opportunity to express your full potential by taking detours, even though they may feel a little icky at the time and don’t always happen on your own terms. (thanks Peter Harrison, Vanessa Rosado and Conny Weyrich)
11. Openness to change is key to thriving in today’s working environment. That includes not staying in the same role or company too long so you keep learning and have fresh eyes, appreciating how other or alternative approaches can tackle the same issue in different ways, in working so you don’t settle and potentially become stale. (thanks Richard Matthews)