No matter what is going on in your career, chances are someone
else before you had a similar situation.
I’ve been a journalist for the better part of two decades and
during that time I’ve interviewed and written about thousands of
people in various stages of success, from CEOs of
multibillion companies to
entrepreneurs launching startups, to
entrepreneurs shutting down their startups to
CEOs selling their startups for
fantastic amounts of money.
All of that has led me to conclude that there are certain
universal “business truths” — tips and tricks that work for
nearly everyone in every business.
You don’t have to turn your
favorite hobby or pastime into your full-time living, but you
do need to have a passion for your work. If your work is
meaningful to you, your work life will be a joy.
If you can’t be passionate
about the work itself, be passionate about the reason you do
it. Maybe you don’t love your job or company, but the money and
benefits are good for your family. Be passionate in your choice
to do right by your family while also taking steps to find a
role you do love.
Surround yourself with
positive people and you’ll have a positive outcome.
CEO Satya Nadella has reinvigorated Microsoft driving the stock
to all-time highs in 2016.
If you spend most of your time using your talents and doing
things you are good at, you’re more likely to be happy.
- If you spend most of your time struggling to improve your
weaknesses, you’re likely to be frustrated.
Practice is the only true way
to master a new skill. Be patient with yourself while you learn
The only way to stay fresh is
to keep learning new things.
To learn new things means
being a beginner, and that means having a “beginner mind” and
The more comfortable you grow
with making beginner mistakes, the easier it is to learn new
If you think something needs
changing, be the one to lead the change.
Start small and build from
Do the obvious stuff first,
then progress to the harder stuff. (Otherwise known as going
for the low-hanging fruit.)
- Always try to get better at your craft, from the
technical aspects of your job to your leadership skills.
The hardest lesson to learn
is when to keep going and when to quit. No one can teach you
that. At some point, you have to choose.
- If you truly believe in what you’re doing and you have a
strong vision for the outcome and the basic steps to get there,
believe in yourself and don’t quit, even if (especially if), the
world is telling you you’re crazy.
The definition of crazy is to
do the same thing the same way and expect a different result.
If the result isn’t good, change something and then
No one succeeds
- Ask for help. Be specific when asking. Be graceful and
grateful when help comes.
People experience the world
differently. Two people can attend the same meeting and walk
away with different impressions. Don’t fight that. Use
Embrace diversity. The best
way to compensate for your own weaknesses is to pick teammates
who have different strengths.Apple
CEO Tim Cook took on the government over privacy in
You don’t have to like
someone to treat that person with respect and courtesy.
Don’t “should” all over
someone, and don’t let someone else “should” all over
No matter what you do or how
much you achieve, there are always people who have
There will always be people
who have less, too.
- You will never have all the resources (time, money, people,
etc.) that you want for your project or company. No one ever has
all the resources they want.
A lack of resources isn’t an
excuse. It’s a blessing in disguise. You’ll have to get
Creativity and innovation are
skills that can be learned and practiced by doing your usual
things in a new way.
In the early stages of a
company, career, or project, you’ll have to say “yes” to a lot
of things. In the later stages, you’ll have to say “no.”
Negative feedback (aka
criticism) is necessary. Don’t automatically reject it (or
accept it as the absolute truth). Examine it for nuggets of
truth, then disregard the rest.
Ditto for positive feedback
(aka praise). Don’t automatically accept it (or reject
it). Examine it for nuggets of truth, and then
disregard the rest.
Don’t let other people’s
opinions (good or bad) shape your opinion of yourself. Treat
that sort of feedback as you would any other feedback,
looking for the nuggets of insight, but deciding for yourself
what you believe, especially about yourself.
When its up to you to deliver
the criticism, talk about the work, not the
Think big. Dream big. (The
alternative is to think small, dream small.)
Salesforce CEO Marc
Benioff became a role mode for corporate social
via Getty Images
Treat your dream as an ultimate road map. You don’t have to
achieve your dream right away, but the only way to get there
is to take many steps toward it.
If you think big, you will
hear “no” more than you hear “yes.” They don’t get to decide.
- As you achieve successful outcomes, you will be pressured to
do more and do it faster. Be prepared to grab that golden ring if
it’s offered and trust you will learn how to handle the
added responsibilities. (Some people call this “leaning in.”)
- If there is one secret to success, it’s this: communicate
your plans with other people and keep communicating those plans
in every way possible. The more others understand where you are
going and why, the easier it will be to attract the ones who will
help you and let go of those who hold you back.
- Grow your network. Make an effort to meet new people and to
keep in contact with those you know.
- No matter what technology or service you are creating or
inventing at your company, it’s not about the product; it’s
always about the people and the lives you will improve. Stay
focused on that, and the project is much more likely to be
- No matter how successful you get, you can still fail and fail
Richard Branson plans to send people to space. His
Virgin Galactic space vehicle suffered a horrible crash in
2014. By 2016, it had completed two successful test
Failure isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the process.
- Take risks. Not wild risks. Calculated ones.
- Don’t expect failure, but do plan for it. The best way to
always win the big game is to have alternate plans for
losing various battles.
- Sometimes, you do have to throw caution to the wind and
simply gamble everything on your vision. No one can tell you when
to do this. If you feel strongly enough, just do it.
- Learn how to respectfully, but firmly, say “no.”
- Say “yes” as much as you can.
- In order to say “yes” often, attach boundaries or a scope of
work around your “yes.”
- Getting what you want doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. Happiness
is the art of being satisfied with what you already have.
- Working with difficult personalities will be a part of every
job. Be respectful, do your job well, and cheerfully don’t let
the difficult person derail your project.
Focus on what you want, not
on what you don’t want.
- If you truly want to change the world, you’ve got
to earn a position of influence or power and use that
influence to change your part of the world. Do it openly and
as a role model and you will empower others to
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