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5 Pieces of Advice from Successful People for Those Just Starting Out

5 Pieces of Advice from Successful People for Those Just Starting Out

In a recent article by Richard Branson, he includes a letter he received from a 9-year-old girl named Annie. In the letter, Annie tells Branson she invented an airplane. She included blueprints and told Branson it would be nice if he took a look at them. She describes how she decided the name of her airplane, the D-12 Splash. how she included blueprints for Branson to look at. You can read her letter here.

Richard Branson responded with awesome advice for Annie and young people everywhere. His advice?

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1. Keep dreaming.

Branson writes to Annie, “Don’t ever let anyone prevent you from dreaming. Imagination is one of our greatest gifts. Without it we would never make the changes that make the world a better place.”

He has written in the past about dreaming big. On his company’s website, Branson states, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.” In the same article, he writes, “Those who achieve great things are the ones willing to be scared but not scared off. If you dream big and take big risks, impossible becomes just a word.”

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2. Write your ideas down.

In his response to Annie, Branson tells her he loves her airplane designs, and says, “But more importantly, I love that you took the time to really think things out and get them on paper. Keep doing this. As you get older you’ll find it will help you achieve your dreams.” He explains to Annie how he’s constantly writing down his ideas as they come to him, and tells her he has carried a notebook with him at all times since childhood.

This isn’t the first time Branson has explained his daily habit of writing things down. In this article, he explains, “If you have a thought but don’t write it down, by the next morning it may be gone forever. I’ve always carried notebooks and make daily lists, scribble ideas, and jot down thoughts.” He described a situation where he had no paper to write down a new thought, so he wrote it on the only surface he had at the time – his passport. And if he wouldn’t have had his passport on him, Branson says, “I would have written on my hand.”

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3. It’s important to innovate.

Innovation is defined by Merriam-Webster as the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods. Branson writes, “Innovation has been the key to many of humanity’s greatest successes.” He tells Annie he knows innovation is a big word but she’ll realize how important it is as she gets older.

4. Go for it.

Branson writes, “I also think it’s wonderful that you are looking at an industry that is largely made up by males. If you’re thinking about becoming an engineer or a pilot, then my advice is to go for it. Go out and grab it with both hands. The world needs more female engineers and pilots, and entrepreneurs. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it – you’ve clearly got drive, which is a necessary quality of all these careers.”

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In his book Screw It – Let’s Do It, he wrote about trusting his ability to do what he sets his mind to. Branson writes, “I also trust my own instinct and ability to do almost anything I set my mind to. If an idea or project is good and worthwhile, if it’s humanly possible I’ll always consider it seriously, even if I have never done it, or thought about it, before. I will never say, ‘I can’t do this because I don’t know how to.’ I’ll ask people, look into it, find a way.”

5. Ask for feedback in business and in life.

In closing, Branson thanked Annie for writing to him. He tells her, “It’s so important in life and in business to ask for feedback.”

Learning from advice from successful people can be incredibly valuable to young people. Hopefully these words of wisdom from Richard Branson will be as helpful for you as they have been for me.

Featured photo credit: Sir Richard Branson/Jarle Naustvik via flickr.com

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Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More About Continuous Growth

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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