If I were to start my career over…

Rewarding career: Five ways to build a rewarding career - The Economic Times

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!

Are you important?

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Here are some things I have learned over the years that would have helped me back when I was 24!

  1. Take your health seriously
    • Get an annual physical that includes blood work, abdominal ultrasounds, shots, EKGs, blood sugar, urine, Vision tests, etc. you know the drill.  Men are really bad at this!  Don’t be that “guy”.
    • They can find little things when they are little and fix them before they get big.
  2. Understand your family history
    • Ask your parents and grandparents what is wrong with your family (loaded question) – these indicators help focus healthcare providers focus in specific areas for you.  They will get you specific tests that you need based on this.
    • Build a summary of your family history that you can take with you to doctor appointments.  When my grandpa was sick, I remember my grandma being so sick and tired of it that she wrote his history out and passed it to the doctor.  That way it is accurate and you can build on it as life unfolds – I do this in Excel of course.
  3. Build your own Bio Passport – no one else will
    • This should include all of the numbers in your blood tests – I have recorded the results in every one of my blood tests since 2001.  Now I have a blood passport so they call it – I got that term from pro sports where they are doing that now too – they will be able to tell if any one of the 50 or so numbers moves. 
    • The blood passport was super helpful to my doctor as he could tell where I have been over the past 20 years on some of these measures.   I do this in excel of course.
  4. Know what you are susceptible to
    1. Apart from family history, you can now get genetic screening that will show you what your genes say you are at risk of – understanding these markers could be of significant value to you – I have not done this yet but will likely do it soon.
  5. Workout over work
    • I can’t hit the gym or exercise because I have this due date at work… BS… just don’t do as good of a job at the work and be ok with that.   The fact is that an hour of exercise 3-4x per week will likely get you doing a better job at your work anyway.   The previous has been my thinking in the past including today when I had a deliverable for my boss!  I skipped my workout this am and did not really need to!  I also find playing sports to not be a workout at all rather Playing so that helps when it is not COVID.
  6. Collect data to make sure you know what is going on with your body:
    • Track your work How much time do you actually work – there are aps now that can tell you how much you actually work and where you spend your time. Here are some – I use life cycle for this and I use the office analytics that is in the web version of office 365 called “my analytics.  Book focus time with yourself automatically!  Also remove email notifications, and remove all notifications from your phone.
    • Track your sleep – I use sleep cycle for this and have 5 years of sleep history – I never use an alarm clock and if I do need to, I wake up in REM sleep vs. deep sleep.
    • Track your nutrition – I use my fitness pal for this – it keeps track of nutrition calories and macros.
    • Track your weight – I use fitbit Aria for this – connects to the wifi, then to my fitness pal, 1 lb / year for 30 years = 30lbs! 
    • Track your exercise – I use Runkeeper for this that links up to my Apple Health ap, I also use an HR monitor – Polar Bluetooth model to track my heart when I workout.
    • Track your heart – I use my Iwatch for this – I can tell my resting heart rate and how it changes when I exercise too.
    • Track your immunizations – I use CANimmunize for this I know when my shots are due etc. as well as the kids.
  7. Watch the drinking.
    • We bought a cool wine rack years ago and I thought… it holds 30 bottles, lets fill it up…it will look cool.  Then 30 days later there were way less bottles of wine on the rack… I love to drink beer and wine, so does my wife but… Not good for the liver, not good for the heart, not good for cancer, not good for calories, not good for the $$, So we now don’t keep it in the house to make us have to go through one more hoop to do it.

I hope you either learned one thing or found something useful in this one!