Manage Your Career. Have a Festival.
Life is not easy. Either is developing your career or business. From my two-decade career in the business of investing, I believe that three things are important to managing risk in your career strategy: people, happiness, and communication. Of course, you can’t execute your strategy or deliver on your promise unless you and the people around you possess traits that are critical to success. Manage your career risk and be Frugal, an Expert, Simple, Thoughtful, Inspired, Visionary, Adaptable, and a Leader. If all these are present, you career risk is low. More importantly, your career will be a festival that you enjoy.
People. You need them. They need you. A successful career strategy includes people at its core. We have one major constraint in our career: limited time. We cannot be everywhere, we cannot do everything, we cannot know everything. We must trust other people and their capabilities. Align yourself with experts in their fields and leverage each others knowledge. Whether empowering a team in-house or partnering externally, people with expertise provide insight that enable you to grow and stay focused.
Happy. Think of your career as a festival: have fun with other people and enjoy what you do. Happiness is at its essence awareness of yourself and others. Everyone has a unique motivation. Identify what makes you happy and find employment around that enjoyment. When leading, determine what motivates your team and ensure their happiness. There is little career risk if you are in a happy and productive environment. Make every day your best day.
Communication connects everything. Everyone views the world differently. Whether we are trying to understand motivation, articulate objectives, or convey technical knowledge, communication effectively tailored to the goal and the audience is required. The greatest risk is a failure to convey a strategy. Communicate clearly and coherently to link people and happiness. This action will align motivation and deliver knowledge.
The festival is starting. The people are arriving, everyone is happy, and there is lively communication. Are you invited? Careers are increasingly multi-opportunity journeys rather than lifetime engagements. In a constantly evolving career it’s hard to know the skills required in advance; however, a few personal traits can help you grow with the opportunity.
Frugal. Time is limited. Do you manage yours? Be assured that your competitors are frugal: they are trying to find a way to do more with less. How is your time best spent? Your teams? Your customers? Begin with the premise that there is no money and no one to help. What needs to be done? What can I do? What do I need others to do? Add resources as needed. When you start with a full fridge, you eat everything. Keep the fridge bare and buy fresh food as needed. You get the freshest ingredients and waste nothing.
Experts. Business needs experts. Do you focus? Knowledge develops over time, probably your whole career. Ideally, the expertise is a foundation skill that is transferable. Can you apply it to new challenges? Do other companies or customers require it? The world is big enough for many experts in the same field since one person can’t be everywhere. Experts grow their knowledge with effort and this effort provides them more opportunities.
Simple. Nature hates complexity. Do you simplify? There are complex challenges in business. Our job is to make the complex simple, whether we are communicating or designing. We’re all experts in our fields, while our team members or customers are not. Be frugal with their time: keep it simple and focus on the minimum required to achieve an outcome. Let poets make the simple complex; genius makes the complex simple.
Thoughtful. Anyone can copy. Do you think independently? Thinking like everyone else will give you similar results. Begin with people. Why is this important to them? How can I help them solve their problem? After considering people, turn your focus to first principals. Why is this being done? What are the assumptions? As you step through the assessment, you will naturally find places to alter the value proposition. The critical result is that everyone is focusing on outcomes for people, which helps to deliver unique insights.
Inspired. The world is exciting. Do you inspire? Defining what makes you happy will help ensure that you make a difference. Inspiration is better when shared. When we work with people, we need to understand their inspiration. How can we inspire others to achieve their goals? What products or services inspire our customers? Inspiration makes you step towards your goal, develop your expertise, and focus your thinking.
Visionary. The future is coming. Do you see it? Setting a vision of the future is the process of moving towards a better tomorrow. Where will you be? The company? The product? The customer? Your vision will motivate you to develop your expertise and bring you closer to people.
Adaptable. The world changes. Do you adapt? The world will knock you down. Will you get up? The future might be different from your vision even if you thought it all through. What was new yesterday, is old today. Career success is measured by how you adapt to change and the unexpected. Change is an opportunity to learn, extend our expertise, and adapt to a new vision.
Leaders. Following is easy. Do you stand apart? Developing expertise takes focus, thinking takes time, frugality simplifies, a vision needs inspiration, and adapting is the ability to learn. Not all people can do them. Those that do, lead. The reward is a fulfilling career and a business that endures.
As in any business or investment, a successful career is always a work in progress. When the right people are involved, the motivation aligned, and the communication clear, achieving success is just a question of time and reduces the risk in your career strategy. Individually, we reduce our career risk by developing personal traits that enable success. We have only one career: manage the risk and enjoy the festival.