If I were to start my career over…

I love the energy new hires bring to their first corporate job!  They just graduated and joined a company with something big to prove!  Look at me, I can do this, I can learn, grow and deliver results; I can also work hard, build relationships and love the rush of pleasing my superiors, peers or anyone else.  With all of the raw horsepower and blind faith that hard work will make it happen, there are some things that I wish I knew during these times

  1. Plagiarism needs to be encouraged at work!   Remember in school, if you copied something from someone else you would get a zero!  it is not like that in the work world!  I think of it like this: Imagine you are in Grade 9 Science class and the person in the back of the class has been in that class for 25 years.  They have written the tests 25 times, they have handed in the assignments 25 times, they have talked to the teacher for 25 years.  They know what the teacher likes, they know what they got wrong last year, they have the tests and assignments and are happy to give them to you so you don’t make the same mistakes they did.  My advice: Copy their work, change the things they got wrong, get the results and share back the results you got and give credit to them for helping you too.  They will help you whenever you want going forward
  2. Networking with higher ups not is kissing ass! This is simply not true; here is a different perspective: People higher up than you are smarter and have proven they can deliver better results.  Listen to them, use their ideas and when you get results, share back with them so they continue to help you deliver better results!  Over time these people are also in positions that control funding and resources which when you are using their ideas, they are more likely to invest resources and money against that idea.  Networking with higher ups gets you more money and resources to get better results!
  3. Understand your data  Data helps you understand where to get the biggest bang for your buck.  This will point you in the direction where you can get the biggest result per unit of work; units of work are very finite and the more results you can get with a limited capacity the better.  Spend time understanding how to manipulate and look at data early in your career.  Understand analytical tools like Spotfire, PowerBI, Tableau, or even Excel or Access for those who were born in that era.  A foundation in this space will be a requirement for the leaders of the future.
  4. Get better at something than anyone else: After my first month with my company, I met a mentor who became a friend and was about 11 years ahead of me. His advise was extremely valuable to me and he said I should get as good as I could at one thing and use it as a differentiator vs. My peers. I chose something that I was naturally drawn to which was data. Being an analytical and science based person, I found myself drawn to charting and graphing things as well as automating analytics. I also read thick books on software to get better at it. It ended up helping me understand my business as indicated above but it also helped me help my peers. Remember this: one day you will work for or in organizations lead by your peers. If this is not they case, get with a better set of peers! During my time with them, I helped them in my area of expertise as much as I could. As many of them have now grown to be international leaders of massive companies, they have remembered the help they got back in the day. Also note it is super fun!
  5. Learning doesn’t stop when School stops! Many people have not invested a dime in their education since they left school. It is almost like they learned all there is to learn! I also found that the higher level of education I attended, the more the responsibility moved away from the teacher or professor. The term “hit the books” does not mean hit the professor but rather that most of the learning comes from reading. How much reading to people do post university? Is there a reading week at work to catch up with the work reading? Did you know that CEOs read on average 60 books per year? THe beauty about this is that books are free at the library and you can read what ever you want! Sign up for the library, try to get access to the research and scientific journals. You can still learn at lot even if you don’t have a paper due! Even if you don’t get a degree.
  6. Become financially independent as soon as possible! This will help you be truly authentic at work and say what you mean. If you are not scared of losing your job, you are in a far better place to tell people what you really feel and think. This will allow you to take bigger risks on the business that have a bigger upside and chance of paying out. Get there by not keeping up with the joneses, avoiding lifestyle creep and investing in low cost total market equity funds over the long term. When you get 25x your annual expenses you can consider yourself free! Go to Choosefi on the web to learn more.

Some of this is what worked for me and some of it is what I would tell my kids when they start their careers. Good luck!

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