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7 Of The Greatest Career Lessons We Learn Too Late

7 Of The Greatest Career Lessons We Learn Too Late

    “If I had the experience I now have, I would’ve acted differently back then.”

    How many times have you thought that? We usually have those regrets when thinking about relationships. However, we can also translate them to professional success. When we are young and inexperienced, we tend to make mistakes we later regret. That’s because we haven’t learned the most valuable lessons.

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    Shannon McDaniel, a career expert working for Careers Booster, has an important piece of advice to give: “First, learn and gain some experience. Then, you can take important actions. I recently read a book by an author who is a completely anonymous, but was trying to convince everyone he was a PR expert. Why? If he was successful enough, we would recognize his value and he wouldn’t have the need to brag about his exceptional virtues. My only thought was: ‘too soon!’ He wrote the book too soon. He’ll learn the lesson sooner or later: you first get the experience, then you share it.”

    What are some lessons we usually learn too late? If we know them, maybe we’ll prevent the regrets we’d have about them later. Here are 7 career pearls of wisdom that usually require more time for processing:

    1. You Have No Time to Waste On a Job You Don’t Like

    When we’re young and we need a job, we’re willing to take any job. That’s a mistake. We are wasting our time working just for the money and we’re not getting any valuable experience in return. This investment, or lack thereof, results not only with a waste of time, but with a waste of nerves and patience as well.

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    • Don’t like your job? You thought it would be temporary, but you ended up spending years in the same office? Here’s a drastic solution: quit! There’s no progress without risks.[1]
    • If you really have to work just for the money and you’re not ready to quit just yet, then try to learn as much as possible while you’re there. Analyze the industry. Try to make progress within that company. Take part in different projects. Take online courses! Do anything to spend your time in a way that gives something back.

    “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

    2. Mind Your Health

    This is the hardest lesson to learn. When you’re after great career success, you don’t mind working until you’re completely exhausted. You want more money, more success, more everything. You’re not concerned about your health. It takes a large hit from life for you to start thinking: “I should’ve been more mindful about being healthy.”

    • Don’t wait for that moment of realization. Without your health, you can’t reach ultimate success.
    • Stay fit. When your body is healthy, your mind is more focused.[2]
    • Eat well. Instead of ordering a pizza when working late, make yourself a healthy meal. It doesn’t take a huge investment of money and time to change your eating habits. You’ll get tons of benefits in return.

    3. The World is Worth Experiencing

    The progress in any profession comes with a lot of work. Life is what happens outside that frame. Your job is an important part of your life, but it’s not your life.

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    • Never skip the holidays and vacations, no matter how much work you have. If you have so much work that there’s no time for a vacation, then you’re doing something wrong.
    • Get more space for yourself and your family. Otherwise, you’ll regret being too committed to a single aspect of life while missing everything else that’s worth living for.

    4. Social Networking Matters

    You might think that Facebook is wasting your time. It is, if all you’re doing is scrolling down the feed looking for time-wasting updates. If you’re using social networks for making valuable connections and building your online reputation, they are not a waste of time.

    • Become an authority! Comment on important updates and share your opinions on crucial events and trends related to your industry.
    • Connect with people from your job market. Nurture those connections; they will help you become more successful.

    5. Learning Matters

    All industries are changing with the speed of light. Technology influences the way we work and it’s constantly making progress. We have to keep learning so we’ll never lag behind. However, our learning potential shouldn’t be limited to mastering new technologies. There’s a whole world of knowledge waiting for us to explore.

    • Find the time for an online course.[3] Pick something you’re really interested in. Even better: pick something that’s not related to your profession. That’s how you’ll expand your viewpoints.

    6. Blogging Matters, Too

    Don’t be one of those people who will grow old with the thought, “I should’ve blogged.” You have tons of stories to share. Speak up! The blog can help you cement your status as an expert in your niche.

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    • Build a blog with a precise posting schedule.[4] Find out what your target audience wants to know and answer their questions. Help them solve problems. Be useful for the community! That’s how you’ll leave a trace in the online world.

    7. You’ll Make More Progress With The Right Team

    You can make progress alone. No one can deny that. You can hire people when you need support, but you’re not obligated to keep them in the long-term. If you’re too attached to an employee even though they are not doing the best job, you don’t have to fire them. However, both of these extremes make you weaker than you could really be.

    • Teamwork makes you stronger. Always try to make your team better and more effective.
    • If there’s a weak link, you either replace it or you do something to make that worker better.

    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

    Why wait to grow old to learn the most valuable career lessons? If you get these things on time, you’ll have nothing to regret when you’re experienced enough to reflect. Stay smart, strong, and persistent! That’s the most important lesson to learn.

    Featured photo credit: NIIT via niit.com

    Reference

    [1] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237092
    [2] http://www.yogajournal.com/article/health/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit/
    [3] http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/50-top-online-learning-sites/
    [4] http://coschedule.com/blog/plan-a-blog-schedule/

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    Eva Wislow

    Career Coach

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

    10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

    Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

    You have to work hard to develop the right skills

    If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

    1. Make your presentation short and sweet

    With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

    JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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    2. Open up with a good ice breaker

    At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

    • Joking
    • Tugging on their heart strings
    • Dropping a bombastic statement
    • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
    • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

    You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

    3. Keep things simple and to the point

    Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

    4. Use a healthy dose of humor

    Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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    It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

    5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

    Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

    6. Practice your delivery

    Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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    7. Move around and use your hands

    Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

    8. Engage the audience by making them relate

    Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

    9. Use funny images in your slides

    Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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    10. End on a more serious note

    When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

    As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

    Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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