I’ve learned there is no one-size-fits-all career advice, no secret decoder ring for every fork in the road, no one way to recover from failure or one way to be successful. As with all lessons in life, experience is the best teacher. After 25 years of working at the best brands in tech, I have a top ten list of personal insights.
- You have a story to tell. Tell it. Your story begins by knowing what you are good at and being able to share that with others. My friend Lea Clingman “cleans up messes.” Carla Harris of Morgan Stanley is a deal-maker on Wall Street and “she’s tough.” Me, I “get $h*t done” (Note: Professional translation – “I turn insights into action”).
- Develop a point of view….and use it. You change the conversation when you share your unique perspective on your industry, your company, your project. People perceive you differently. You don’t always have to be right, but do be insightful and thoughtful.
- Get comfortable being uncomfortable. If you are learning, challenging, and stretching yourself, you should be uncomfortable. You are growing. I am uncomfortable. Everyday. Get used to it.
- Network. It can be purposeful. It can be casual. It can be inspiring. Network with people you know and those that you don’t. It can be…(yup wait for it)…uncomfortable. It can be a five minute chat or a 30 minute meeting. Just Do It. With women and MEN!
- Don’t be the note-taker. You’ll miss the point to make a point. Be present and take your seat at the table.
- Be visible, be valuable, be easy, and be ready. Let people know what you are working on. Get on that big project. Understand what your organization values and work on those things! Be the person people like to call. Don’t be the person someone has to gear up to talk to. And when opportunity strikes, TAKE IT! You are ready!
- Let the infrastructure do the heaving lifting. Find a process or methodology that works for you. I live by my calendar. If it’s not in my calendar, it’s not happening. That includes meetings, work time, think time and me time! (Pro tip: Spouses don’t always appreciate getting calendar appointments for date night!)
- Take the line job. Stay close to the revenue. Companies are measured on revenue. Revenue drives growth. Find functions that closely align with delivering revenue and/or areas of growth for the organization.
- Be Authentic. You are who you are. I am an English major who has been successful in tech. I’m smart, funny, girly, interested in people, and I connect dots really well. I am also very grateful for the work that I get to do, the people I get to do it with, and the impact it has. My career expanded once I came to work authentically as myself.
- Be Brave. Everyday I go to work, I have to have courage. Whether it’s the conversation I’d rather not have or the project where I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to get it done, I feel the fear and do it anyway. It inspires others and it matters.
And when all else fails, inhale, exhale, repeat as needed.
Must read for recovering perfectionists:
I’m pretty sure Brene Brown and I would be BFFs if we ever met IRL.