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How You Can Be Successful With or Without a College Degree

How You Can Be Successful With or Without a College Degree

There are many stories of success that we have all heard time and time again of people who didn’t finish college or in some cases, even start college.  These people went on to have massive success.  Steve Jobs the late founder of Apple and Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft are two that come to mind.

I have been in the education sector for the last 10 years of my career and I hire lots of people that must have a college degree.  However, the ones that grow within the ranks of our company are the ones that continue to develop and make growth and development a top priority over everything else.

Since the context of this article is about how to be outstanding with or without a college degree, all 12 of these will work for you no matter what your educational background is.

1.  Start Early:

Find your passion and purpose in life and pursue that with vigor and dedication.  There are a lot of elite athletes such as golfers, tennis players, runners, soccer players, and many more other sports. In some cases they did go to college and in some cases they didn’t.  But most, if not all of them started early in their life and put in the work to be a success in their chosen field.  Steve Wozniak, who developed the first Apple computer, was playing around with electronics as a kid.

2.  Find a Mentor:  

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Yes.  Regardless if you have a college degree or not; find a mentor.  Maybe you are passionate about real estate.  You don’t need a college degree, but if you can find a mentor that can show you the ropes you can learn faster.  Even if you do have a college degree, find a mentor that can show you how to continue to grow and develop in a chosen field.

3.  Learn how to Sell:  

No matter what, if you start your own thing or you work for someone, learn how to sell!  If you can learn to sell or you already know how, you will always have a job.

4.  Expand Your Network:  

Job or no job, degree or no degree; if you can develop a strong network of people who know you, know what you are about, know your product, know your company that you work for, all of these things, then you can have massive success and be outstanding in whatever you decide to do.

5.  Read Lots of Books:

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How many?  As many as you can get your hands on!  Read anything and everything that is in your chosen career field/space. You can always learn more and broaden your knowledge. No amount of books is too many!

6.  Take Some Online Courses:

You can take an online course for just about anything these days.  You can get formal education online (a degree) or you can take specialized online courses that immerse you in a particular subject for a period of time.  Regardless of your educational background, by attending these kinds of programs you can take your career and success to the next level.

7.  Take a Short-term Specialty Program:

These are not degrees.  They are certifications and in some cases certificates in certain fields.  The medical field, the computer field, and other areas like skilled trades, such as welding and culinary have short quick programs that can teach you exactly what you need to know to get a job.

8.  Invent Something: 

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If you want to go from being just an employee with a company to a super star employee, create something that makes the company more money.  This will get you going on the fast track within your company.  If you’re just finding your way in life and you can invent something that the market needs, then you know what the results of that can be… Watch SharkTank or QVC.

9.  Be a Leader:

No matter what, every company needs leaders that are capable of leading others to get the desired results that the company needs.  It isn’t a popularity contest to be a leader though, its hard work, long hours, and hard decisions.  That is why good leadership is hard to find.  If you can lead others you will always have a place within a company, with or without a college degree.

10.   Put in the Work: 

Sorry, I had to put this one in here.  Some people think that they can get a college degree and then coast for their rest of their career.  Then you have other people who just don’t want to put in the time, but complain about their situation.  If you put in the work and extra hours, you can become outstanding in your job and career no matter what your educational background is. The 41st hour is where the herd separates.

11.  Learn how to Negotiate:

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This is a valuable skill for anyone, no matter what.  Sometimes you have to negotiate your salary with a potential employer, or negotiate a contract on a product you have developed. In everyday life, it seems as if everything we do really comes down to helping other people see that it’s a win-win situation.  Negotiators are able to show others a win-win situation.

12:  Be a Problem Solver: 

Most great inventions and start-up companies start from an idea for a problem they can solve. If you can solve problems for people, you can become an entrepreneur, which doesn’t require a college degree. If you are an employee for a company and can solve problems for your manager and your company, that skill will get you to the next level in your career at that company or somewhere else. Solving problems and saving the company money will get the attention of executives, and lead to positive outcomes for you.

Try doing some of the things above and I will guarantee you will have massive success, and be outstanding no matter what your educational background is!

Featured photo credit: Dinn Bros. Trophy Company via dinntrophy.com

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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