An employee recently left Kapost (sad to see you go T) and i was out to lunch with her and she asked some advice. I thought back to two pieces of advice that I was given or things that i have witnessed from successful colleagues. Here’s what popped up:
“90% of Power is Taken not Given”
This is a quote from my old boss Bill Raduchel. Bill loves saying phrases like this to me, and this was one juicy nugget he spat out in 2002 when I was working at AOL. I took it to heart. I was a product manager at the time and aspired t
o have even more responsibility within the company. He noticed that and delivered this great quote. What he meant was that nobody is going to give me extra responsibility. If i want it, i have to go take it and earn it.
That’s what i did. I wanted to run video services within the company. There were lots of people running bits and pieces but nobody was owning it. Instead of waiting for a title and position to be created, i just started acting like i was the defacto video product manager. I had weekly all-hands meetings with the other stakeholders, came up with a product roadmap, and basically acted like the product owner. What happened? Eventually the company realized i was the product owner and rewarded me with that title.
In small companies there are too many things to do. In big companies there are lots of ambiguity, swirl and gray space. In both instances, there’s an opportunity to do what you want. Just be proactive and go do it. In real estate, ownership is 9/10 the law. In startups, doing is 9/10 the position.
Don’t Eat Alone
This is just something i’ve realized. Most of the people we hire at Kapost come from referrals. Most of the opportunities i’ve been given in my career come from contacts of friends of friends. The size and strength (i.e. authenticity) of your network matters in today’s work world and in your career. I’ve seen people (Nick O’Neil) go crazy about this where they actually track in a spreadsheet the people they’ve met and want to keep in touch with and make sure every X number of days that they give them an update. It may sound excessive but it works. He has a ton of connections who regularly help him out.
There’s even a pretty good book, called “Never Eat Alone” which talks about the power of these connections.
Those are two things that immediately came to mind. I’d be curious if any of you have heard any other nuggets of great advice that you’d like to share.
I once asked a senior partner at my consulting firm how he got to that point. He had started with the firm as an entry level analyst and worked his way up. The thing he said helped him more than anything else was “being indefatigable”. After I made him define that for me, he went on to say that it’s easy get tired, and it’s easy to move on to the next interesting thing, be it project or job, but maintaining focus and not getting frustrated when you’re tired is an important skill if you’re playing ‘career long game’
I’m a big advocate of the ‘never eat alone’ principle, as well as the ‘just do the job you want’, but I always have to remind myself during the harder days that refusing to give in when it’s tiring is the key to moving through – and up.
Ok the second bit reminds me of some… thing that some frisbee friends cooked up, Relate.ly (http://relate.ly/) – it’s like a network/relationship mananger that helps you do what your friend Nick does manually. Might be worth checking out, though I haven’t used it myself. My field/level of ambition doesn’t require that level of effort.
LizScott I’m feeling sort of unfairly targeted here, Elizabeth. Some people have narcolepsy. I am defatigable.
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