Game Time! 8 things that accelerated my career..
Game Time! 8 things that accelerated my career..
Here are 8 things that accelerated my career recently (in my 30s) that I wish I learned in my 20s:
[IF IT CAN BE IMPROVED, IMPROVE IT] Carol Dweck, a Stanford Psychologist, studied and wrote about this concept of “Growth vs Fixed” mindset.
A fixed mindset believes that all our talents and abilities are something we’re pre-programmed, or born, with. People with fixed mindsets, then, believe that certain people are just “lucky” when it comes to their skills and abilities. So they avoid anything that could possibly help them get better because “it won’t matter in the end.”
A growth mindset, however, believes that most things are malleable. Almost anything can be improved through learning and work. Your physical appearance. Your social skills. The quality of your work. All can be better if you have a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is the key to improving in all areas of your life.
What You Can Do Next: Watch Carol Dweck’s TED talk “The Power of Believing You Can Improve”
[BE THE SOLUTION] Imagine walking into a huge grocery store for the first time, looking for bread. You ask a worker in the fruit section for help, and they reply “That’s not my section.” Then ignore you.
You walk a few steps to the meat section and ask a worker behind the counter the same thing. This time, they reply “That’s not my section. But let me find out for you.” And they go and help you.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, who will you ask for help if you need it? Who’s more useful to you?
Now imagine you’re the person behind the meat counter, and the lost person is your boss, a customer, or a VIP.
Schools (at least in America) train us to only solve problems we’re given. When we’re thrown problems that weren’t meant for us, our default mindset is “It wasn’t assigned to me, so I don’t have to do it.”
Be the solution. Train your mind to “default” to searching for solutions, to take action, on anything you can. Business is a team effort. Even if you’re a solopreneur, the rest of your team are your customers. If you aren’t willing to constantly solve problems for them and go above and beyond, you don’t have a business.
What You Can Do Next: Start small. When you see a piece of trash on the ground that people are walking past, pick it up and throw it away. Overhear someone lost and asking for directions and you know the way? Jump in and help them. Don’t know and have your phone on you? Jump in and offer to look it up.
[PRACTICE GIVING 10x MORE THAN YOU ASK] There’s a great video by Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk where he gets brutally honest with a guy he just met who asked Gary to give a shout-out for his company.
Everything in life comes down to the quality of the relationship — your family, friends, romantic interests, and yes, business network.
And the man in the video is a perfect example of how to approach relationships wrong. He tried to take / ask for something before he developed a valuable relationship. And to develop a relationship you have to give. And give a lot.
Picture meeting someone on the 1st day of college. You get friendly, talk about your majors, swap numbers to set up study times. The next day, they’re texting you, asking you if they can borrow $100. Would you give it to them? Probably not. But if your best friend of 5 years (who’s saved your ass a handful of times) hits you up, you’ll be sending him money before he could start telling you why he needs it.
Gary calls this “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hooking”. Psychologists call this The Law of Reciprocity. When someone does something nice for you, you have a deep, psychological urge to return the favor. Studies have shown that the return favor often far exceeds the original kind gesture.
To say it another way: When you do something (nice) for someone, they’ll repay you with interest.
Career wise, this is where people get it wrong. They think they deserve a raise for just showing up (remember action mindset?). When building a network, they ask too soon after connection with a VIP before ever giving.
This comes back to being action/solutions minded.
It’s not about you anymore (at least, yet). You’re solving people’s problems. Giving away your good ideas. Connecting high level people with one another.
You become known as the person that solves problems, helps people, make them look good. Who doesn’t want to work with someone like that?
What You Can Do Next: Read these books/posts on the topic:
Never Eat Alone by Keith Farrazzi
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
How to Get The Attention Of Your Favorite Expert by Selena Soo
[LEARN TO CREATE SYSTEMS FOR TASKS YOU REPEAT OFTEN] I love life hacks.
But if you want to truly skyrocket your career and life, you need to develop systems for anything you repeat often.
That means — e-mails, your work process, your fitness routine, how you reach out to people…everything you do more than once a week.
This isn’t just about saving time, but mental energy.
Compare a Professional Chef with a new cook.
A new cook is frantic. Stressed. They’re digging in their drawer for the measuring spoons. They’re burning food because they’re taking too long to cut the carrots. They’re sweating. They look lost.
A Professional cook, on the other hand, breezes through it because they have a system. It’s called Mise en place (everything in its place). They take out all the tools they need. They precut, pre-measure all their ingredients before they ever turn on the stove. All that’s left to do it now is cook.
A life hack is learning how to cut onions without crying. A system is mise en place.
I have a system to process emails. I precook 3 days of meals at a time so I can hit my nutritional goals and not worry about what I’m going to eat. I have a system to write 30k+ words a week for my job.
Yes, it’s saved me time here and there, but what’s most important is that is has reduced my stress levels (raising the quality of the work and my life) and has made me extremely efficient.
How you can start to practice this: I recommend a great site with a genius name –Asian Efficiency
[STUDY WRITING/COPYWRITING TO SKYROCKET YOUR TEXT COMMUNICATION SKILLS] Text communication is, by far, the dominate way to communicate today.Especially with the adoption of software like Slack.
The best way I’ve found to improve my writing skills is to study copywriting. That is, writing meant to persuade/move someone to take action. While this is definitely a useful skill to have when it comes to sales, what it really teaches you is empathy.
Great copy speaks to the reader. Great copy connects. Great copy feels like the writer is reading your mind.
In order to do any of that, you have to develop an ability to see the world from the reader’s perspective. To understand what it’s like not to know something, in order to teach them.
This extremely useful when it comes to communicating on projects, giving advice, offering feedback, etc.
What You Can Do Next: While there are tons of great material out there to learn copywriting, my personal favorite is Ramit Sethi’s “Call to Action” course.
[IMPROVE YOUR SOCIAL SKILLS] While we’re texting more these days, it isn’t an excuse to avoid working on your social skills.
Social skills is often the last thing people consider working on when it comes to their careers. But you’ll find as you move up the ladder (or meet successful VIPs), their social skills are miles ahead of everyone else.
Think about it. The more you move up the chain, the less it’s about doing actual “technical” work you did when you were entry level. Your job becomes more about managing people. Meeting people. This is especially important if you’re an entrepreneur or business owner looking to build their network or get press. (Bonus, you’ll get much better at dating too.)
Learn social cues. Learn how to start conversations. Learn how to keep a conversation. Learn how to gracefully leave a conversation. Learn how to give feedback. Learn how to ask questions.
Most technical skills are easy to improve because it doesn’t require human interaction. If I wanted to improve my video editing skills, I’ll just have to sit in my apartment, open up a course and Final Cut and do some lessons.
Improving your social skills requires you to go out and talk to people. And that’s scary. And because it’s scary, a lot of people don’t do it. And that’s why if you apply your growth midset and take action mindset, you’ll get an unfair advantage.
What You Can Do Next: Two great resources: Ramit Sethi’s Ultimate Guide to Social Skills and Felicia Spahr’s excellent website Instantly Irresistible
[IMPROVE YOUR STYLE/APPEARANCE]
Having worked first hand with entrepreneurs to help them improve their style, I’ve seen how much this can be a gamechanger. Take a look at Entrepreneur Neil Patel’s fascinating article How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500
When you first meet someone, the majority of what they think about you comes from your appearance. It’s called thin slicing — to make snap judgments about a person based on all the information that have of you at hand. If they’ve never spoken to you before, the only thing they can judge you on is how you look. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s evolutionary survival. It’s the caveman way of trying to figure out if the person approaching you is a friend or foe. It’s reality.
How you look can say a lot about you. It’s a safe bet that someone that is well kept takes care of themselves and has their life in order. It’s also a safe bet to assume someone in nice clothes is successful, and might be worth a conversation or two.
By contrast, someone that looks like a mess most likely has a messy, out of control life. It’s best to stay far away.
The great thing is, we can control the conversation. And it can be a very powerful tool. Take a look at this study showing patients were more likely to trust a doctor when they’re wearing a white lab coat.Whether you’re trying to tell a first date you’re someone worth seeing more often, or tell a potential client you’re successful and want to make them successful too, dressing well is a powerful weapon to give you the edge in life.
What You Can Do Next: I wrote a free, 14-page guide “7 Common Style Mistakes Men Make (And How to Fix them)” that I send to all my new readers and clients. A few other great resources to check out: Effortless Gent and Articles of Style.
[CREATE AND MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE] A BIG way to improve your appearance? Adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine.
There’s a reason why a lot of successful entrepreneurs adopt a workout routine. (This is the #1 thing I wish I started sooner.)
Here are the obvious reasons:
You’ll have more energy to work harder
You’ll live longer.
You’ll be less likely to get diseases
You’ll be less prone to injury
You’ll be happier
Here are the less obvious (slightly un-PC) reasons:
You’ll be more attractive, which has been shown to make people more willing to work with you
You’ll have more confidence, combined with your great social skills, you’ll be unstoppable
You’ll get better sleep, which will improve your ability to think and make decisions
What You Can Do Next: A lot of great resources out there, but I love Mike Vicanti’s On The Regiment website (who actually got Gary Vaynerchuk into shape)
Hope these help. Now go kill it!
*EDIT* BONUS ONE
[BE A GOOD PERSON]
I can’t believe I forgot this one. This is, by far, the most important one.
Take a look at this thread on Reddit where someone asks “If you had to make $5m dollars in the next 10 years, how would you do it?”
What do you notice about the most common answers?
There’s an assumption that in order to be successful, one must be ruthless and/or do things that are unethical and illegal.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some very successful people (The very best run $100m+ companies). And while I’ve met a few assholes thanks to sheer numbers and probability, the vast majority (95%) are good people who do good work.
If you’re a terrible person who is scammy and uses people, you won’t have a great or very long career. Especially in this day and age of the Internet, it will eventually catch up with you.
If you truly follow the 8 points I talk about above — constantly learning, being the solution, being empathetic, learning social skills, it’s almost impossible to be a bad person unless you’re doing it on purpose.
So be good.
Because being a good person is good business.