LOS ANGELES, May 23, 2016 — When I was a child, my dad gave me some very sound career guidance that I still carry with me today... “80% of people suffer from deficits that will hold them back professionally – make sure you are in the 20%, kid.”
At the time, I thought my father was just rattling off some unsolicited advice. I hate to admit it, but Pop’s sage guidance was spot on.I learned very early that if I wanted to be successful, I would need to avoid the common pitfalls my peers were experiencing daily! It was all around me--like watching a great tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.The quiet little voice in your head as you watch your colleagues commit career suicide, “What the hell is he doing?” “Why is she talking to her boss like that?!” “Why does he treat his staff like medieval plebes!?” The list of “thinky, no speakies” goes on and on and believe me, I took mental notes along the way.
Since my early days of sitting in a windowless 6x6’ cube, vowing to escape, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about where people screw up. Over the years, I’ve seen colleagues struggle over challenges that could have been avoided entirely. There are some basic rules I try to follow as a professional that I think are worth sharing and will help young professionals get ahead in their careers. The old-timers could learn a thing or two as well. Enjoy the read!
- Create a plan and stay organized, but don’t be afraid to pivot from the plan if it makes sense. In fact, common sense is your best friend. This ability will get you through the many storms of your professional life. I’ve seen colleagues get so obsessed with their plan that deviating from it becomes non-negotiable. This is craziness and makes no sense. Don’t fall in-love with an idea so much so that you can’t see beyond it.
- Never assume anything. Ever. Ever. If you think it is right, it is probably wrong. Check it again. Attention to detail is everything and yet most people simply don’t invest the time required to produce a high quality output. People get promoted because they invest extra effort, that’s it.
- There is no crying in business. This one seems like an obvious one to avoid, and yet I’ve seen my fair share of men and women get highly emotional at work. I’m talking ugly face crying here. It happens more than it should. No matter what the situation, keep cool and save your tears for your significant other. Crying frequently at work will get you judged harshly and your colleagues will lose respect for you.
- Anticipate bad things before bad things happen. I’m not saying to channel Debbie-downer here, however anticipating all possible outcomes will help you prepare and give you a false sense of control. Heck, a false sense of control is better than feeling out of control! Over time, you will see things happening before they happen. You will make the appropriate maneuvers to avoid clusters that can derail you.
- Communicate, communicate and then communicate some more. I can’t stress this one enough! Ask others to rephrase what you communicated to ensure there is common understanding and clarity.
- Ask questions. Learn every day. Be a lifetime student. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason! Listen more and talk less.
- Be kind. Everyone is a client. From your multi-million dollar client to the guy who empties your office trash can. If you are cruel and disrespectful, I promise it will come back and bite you later.
- Share information. Contrary to what others think, sharing information and helping others around you improves your job security. Don’t be afraid to delegate. You can’t own everything. Effective delegation lets you achieve more and helps you become a true leader.
- Work hard. Anticipate what is needed before it is requested. Doing what is expected of you is not enough. You won’t climb the ladder just doing “enough.” Impress and ask for more.
- Don’t be a jerk. There is just no need for it. And for the love of God, stay calm. No one likes to deal with a hothead who can’t control his/her temper. You will catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. Over 80% of people leave their company because they dislike their boss. Be likeable, open, fair, and firm.
- Be confident and believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. If you need to, fake it until you make it. Your CEO probably had to do that at one point in his/her career. There is no shame in it.
- Practice makes perfect. Athletes train for years to perfect their sport. Navigating a successful career is no different. Visualize your success, your future role, your future paycheck and be relentless in your mission.
- Drumroll please…the final tip for luck in business is….Take risks! Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. As people, we spend a lot of time saying “no” or “can’t.” Are you afraid of public speaking? Who isn’t? Fight your fears and lean in to the opportunity. Over time, it will get easier and you will get noticed. Afraid to leave your current job? Change is hard, but remember…there is no growth without fear.
So, now you see there is no luck. You are the creator of your career destiny; make it a good one: follow these tips and make smart choices.
Lisa Wilding-Brown leads Global Operations for Innovate and has over 13 years of experience in the Market Research space. She started her career at Harris Interactive on the client services team helping clients migrate their traditional telephone studies to online research. Later, Wilding-Brown moved to the panel management team where she was responsible for panel recruitment and retention of the Harris Poll Online, the industry’s first premier online research panel. In 2009, Lisa joined uSamp, an online global sample supplier. As a member of uSamp’s executive team, Lisa was responsible for many of the company’s technology initiatives including the firm’s mobile business division and online panels. During her tenure, Lisa served as the primary thought leader for developing the company’s mobile strategies, methodologies, quality protocols and API solutions. Now at Innovate, Lisa and the Innovate team have set out to redefine the user engagement model; their new twist on panel management is staving off typical attrition challenges which in turn provides clients with greater reach and improved quality.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me directly at [email protected] or 818-584-2090 x706
Innovate's founders pioneered the modern digital sampling industry, creating the world-class uSamp and goZing panels. Today, Innovate’s global First Class Panel™ and Human-Powered Sampling Service™ generate the highest-quality data from its engaged audiences. By applying out-of-the-box creative thinking with exceptional client service, Innovate offers a superior panelist experience and the timely delivery of relevant consumer insights. With offices around the world and an experienced team of sampling veterans, Innovate provides 24/7 client service to thousands of market researchers and research departments.