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The Best Career Advice From 15 World-Class Leaders To Millennials

The Best Career Advice From 15 World-Class Leaders To Millennials

“What am I supposed to do?”

Maybe you’ve found yourself asking that question, and not really getting a good answer.

For us millennials, it’s a different game than it was for the generation before us. While there isn’t a concrete step-by-step process for us to take, there are basic principles to follow, whether we’re early in our careers or seeking to further develop it.

To help you with that, here are 15 world-class leaders offering their best career advice:

1. Steve Jobs: It’s not just about your passion.

Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs’ biographer, summarized one of the major insights he gained from his last interactions with Steve Jobs, saying, “The important point is to not just follow your passion but something larger than yourself. It ain’t just about you and your damn passion.”

It’s about finding where you can contribute and benefit other people, “so that 20, 30, 40 years from now … people will say, this person didn’t just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.”

Career development will be difficult if you’re always only thinking about how you will benefit. Think about how what you do will help your manager, the company, or your customer succeed. When you provide value to others, you open up opportunities.

2. Eric Schmidt: Say yes often.

In his 2012 commencement speech, Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said, “I ask each of you [to]… Find a way to say ‘Yes’ to things.”

“Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learning a new language, picking up a new sport. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job. Yes is how you find your spouse, and even your kids.” – Eric Schmidt

Yes is a tiny word that can do big things.

So when you get an offer for your first job and it isn’t exactly what you want, say yes. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll learn. If it works out- perfect. If you don’t feel comfortable applying for a job that’s out of your league, tell yourself yes. Apply for it anyway. You never know what may come out of it.

3. J.K. Rowling: Failure is a part of reaching success.

J.K. Rowling, now one of the wealthiest women in the world, got to know failure very well before she wrote the Harry Potter series. Her short-lived marriage had imploded, she was jobless, a single parent on welfare in the UK, and borderline homeless. If anyone had hit rock bottom, she had. “I was the biggest failure I knew,” Rowling said in her 2008 Harvard commencement speech.

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Even when she wrote Harry Potter, she received numerous rejections.

“I don’t think we talk about failure enough,” Rowling told Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today. “It would’ve really helped to have someone who had had a measure of success come say to me, ‘You will fail. That’s inevitable. It’s what you do with it.'” – J.K. Rowling

It isn’t always easy to grow your career nowadays. You have to work harder than the people around you. And even when you work hard, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the results you want. You will fail.

Then you dust yourself off and try again.

4. Warren Buffet: Practice humility.

Early on in your career, you’ll get frustrated with co-workers, managers, and people you don’t really like, but don’t give into it. The best advice Warren Buffet ever got was, “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.”

Take the stance that you’re wrong and your goal is to learn how not to be wrong often. This means swallowing your pride and asking for help when necessary. And don’t get defensive if you’re told that you’re wrong.

5. Oprah Winfrey: Do what you have to do.

Sometimes, you can’t always do what you want to do. Oprah’s creed is, “Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.” You won’t be able to get everything you want immediately, so you have to work toward it. Gain the skills and experience you need.

Don’t expect to get your dream job right off the bat. Don’t expect your first business venture to succeed. If it works out that way, great. Just know that you may have to do work you won’t enjoy to get where you want to be.

6. Tiger Woods: Play your game.

Tiger Woods, perhaps the greatest professional golfer in history states, “There is no ‘correct’ way to play the game”:

“You have a find a system that works best for you. Whatever makes your game better, do it… If you hit the ball better, and you get the ball consistently better, do it.”  – Tiger Woods

You have a different educational background, a different familial upbringing, and different goals from the people around you.

There’s no “right way” to develop your career. One friend might end up moving across the country to improve his career trajectory. Another friend might land a huge opportunity five minutes from home. Whether you’re in software development, marketing, music, nonprofits, or any other industry, play your game.

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Don’t feel the need to copy someone else’s career path.

7. Sheryl Sandberg: View your career as a jungle gym, not a ladder.

While a ladder has two directions (up or down), career paths generally don’t usually follow such a simple path. A jungle gym, on the other hand, allows you to move not just up and down, but sideways, over and under, twisting and turning. You can get creative and explore new options.

Sheryl Sandberg has been in law, journalism, government work, and tech. She was the Chief of Staff to the United States Treasury, became the VP of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, and now Chief Operating Officer at Facebook.

People often scoff at those who make such drastic changes in their career, jumping from one industry to another, but Sandberg shows the benefits this kind of approach can offer:

“Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration. There are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym. The ability to forge a unique path with occasional dips, detours and even dead ends presents a better chance for fulfillment.”

When you’re planning out your career, don’t think of it as simply moving up. Think of all the different options you have that can help you get to where you want to be. You’re in a jungle gym.

8. Michael Bloomberg: Never stop learning.

Bloomberg states, “I’ve never met a Nobel Prize winner who didn’t think they had an awful lot more to learn and wasn’t studying every single day.”

No matter how successful you are, the need for learning never stops. Bloomberg believes that there’s nothing so powerful as an open, inquiring mind:

“The world is full of people who have stopped learning and who think they’ve got it all figured out. You’ve no doubt met some of them already – and you’ll meet plenty more.”

9. Serena Williams: Focus is more important than luck.

Serena Williams had a rough childhood growing up in Compton, California and says this about concentration, “If you can keep playing tennis when somebody is shooting a gun down the street, that’s concentration.”

When asked about being lucky, Serena said:

“Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.”

There’s a lot of noise out there (maybe not often gunshots), but you have to ignore it. There’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; and people sharing photos of their recent backpacking trip across Asia, their recent engagement, or their new dream job. Ignore all of that.

While other people are focused on what everyone else is doing, you have to stay focused on what you’re doing.

Focus on your career path. The jobs you want. The goals you have. Focus.

10. Richard Branson: Never look back in regret — move on to the next thing.

Richard Branson observes, “The amount of time people waste dwelling on failures, rather than putting that energy into another project, always amazes me. I have fun running ALL the Virgin businesses — so a setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.”

His mother also taught him the importance of moving on to the next thing.

When you apply for jobs, or even make a mistake at work, don’t get frustrated, don’t regret it. Move forward to the next application. Focus on the next project. It’s all a part of the learning process.

The time you spend frustrated and regretful is wasted time.

11. Beyoncé: Surround yourself with hard-working and talented friends.

Queen Bey shines much more prominently than her former bandmates from Destiny’s Child. The unfortunate thing is that they’re often compared.

In our lives, we’ll find ourselves comparing our success to people who are much more successful, and well, it makes us feel terrible. However, if Kelly Rowland can accept that being friends with Beyoncé makes her shine more, not less, we can learn something from that.

By being friends with hardworking and talented people, instead of competing with them, you’ll further push your career forward.

Working with the best will only make you better.

12. Arianna Huffington: Don’t work too hard.

Contrary to what many people believe, it’s important to not work too hard. Arianna Huffington learned this the hard way when she burned out, collapsed from exhaustion, hit her head, broke her cheekbone, and woke up in a puddle of blood.

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When asked whether young people pursuing their dreams should burn the candle at both ends, Arianna Huffington wrote, “This couldn’t be less true. And for far too long, we have been operating under a collective delusion that burning out is the necessary price for achieving success.”

She’s convinced that if she had known that when she was 22, she would have achieved all she had achieved but with less stress, worry and anxiety.

Yes, career growth is important. Yes, we should work hard to get where we want to be. But remember that your health is important. Without it, you won’t be able to achieve your goals.

13. Stewart Butterfield: Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr and CEO of Slack, told The New York Times, “Some people will know exactly what they want to do at a very young age, but the odds are low. I feel like people in their early- to mid-20s are very earnest. They’re very serious, and they want to feel like they’ve accomplished a lot at a very young age rather than just trying to figure stuff out. So I try to push them toward a more experimental attitude.”

It’s easy to get jealous of people who have it all figured out and know exactly what they want to do. The rest of us have to find out what we want to do, and the best way to do that is experiment. Take on new projects at work, learn new skills on your own, like programming, graphic design, or even brewing, to find out if you like it.

14. Mark Bartels: Have a timeline for success when you start a new job.

StumbleUpon CEO, Mark Bartels tells Business Insider, “Mapping out a concrete timeline for yourself should be one of the first things you do when you start a new gig.”

“We talk about budgets; we talk about planning your finances; but what a lot of people don’t do is plan out the next 12 to 18 or 24 months of their careers.” – Mark Bartels

A lack of planning can be costly, both in terms of your time and energy- and it could also potentially cause an existential crisis.

Having an agenda helps you define success for yourself in a new role. Otherwise, you may work for two or three years, then ask yourself, “Why am I still here?” If you don’t have concrete goals, you can’t answer that question. But if you set out a plan, you can say, “I still haven’t achieved my goal because … x, y, z, but I’m closer and can achieve it in six more months.”

15. Brian Chesky: Don’t listen to your parents.

When asked about advice for college graduates, Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, told The New York Times’, “I’d say, don’t listen to your parents. They’re the most important relationships in your life, but you should never take your parents’ career advice, and I’m using parents as a proxy for all the pressures in the world.”

Your parents may want the best for you, but their “best” and your “best” may be different. In some cases they may limit you out of fear that you’ll fail if you reach too high.

He continues to say that, “… whatever career you’re in, assume it’s going to be a massive failure. That way, you’re not making decisions based on success, money and career. You’re only making it based on doing what you love.”

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Don’t let success, money, career status and other glamorous thing cloud your judgment about what you want to do. Find something you enjoy doing and do it. Make it work. Don’t try to fulfill someone else’s idea of career success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via images.unsplash.com

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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

Reference

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