Filed under "Career"

After you finish writing that next email, read it back to yourself in the snobbiest, most rude tone you can conjure.

Doing so will reveal how that email could potentially come across to the recipient.

Remember: the way you type it isn’t always the way it’s received.

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There’s a very simple way to become an overnight success.

Work every night.

And on one of those nights, you just might find the success you’re looking for. It might take 10 weeks. It might take 10 years.

As it may seem, overnight success is a myth. Those that achieve that level of prestige only got to that point by stumbling into it over the course of multiple years of consistent work.

If you want to be a writer, write every day.

If you want to be a musician, practice every day.

If you want to build a great company, build it one brick at a time.

If you desire to be successful, persist consistently.

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April 25, 2016

5 ways to do great work

Do your best work this week. Here’s how.

Optimize your time. Two hours of focused work can accomplish more than most people accomplish in eight.

Make a habit of hitting deadlines. It’s a great way to garner praise within your work environment. Additionally, if a task you’re working is behind schedule due to the actions of another coworker, be the one to get it back on track (and don’t cast blame on anyone).

Show up where you’re needed (on time). We all have people we rely on in any workplace. Unless you’re taking time off, make an effort to show up to meetings on time and provide a reliable work schedule that your coworkers can be familiar with.

Take responsibility. In any task, it’s important to take responsibility in both the successes and failures that may come about. Own your work.

Set a standard for quality. No matter how big or small the task, focus on providing a quality result. It’s a great way to gain a reputation for reliability and value within your workplace.

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April 15, 2016

What do you work for?

It’s a simple question with perhaps a difficult answer.

What drives you the most in your daily work? For most, it’s probably money. But let’s disregard that for a moment. Not counting money, what’s your primary motivator in your workday?

For me, it’s praise from my coworkers or my wife. Hearing the words “good work” is a virtuous cycle that leads to more good work on my part.

Self-centered? Yep, but take some time to examine this in your own life. Your motivator might not be self-centered at all.

Perhaps you’re motivated by the knowledge you gain through your job. You might be motivated by the happiness you bring to the world around you.

Exploring this can help to focus your pursuits on the motivators that help you do good work.

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April 13, 2016

Work worth doing

Let’s consider this quote from Theodore Roosevelt.

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

How do you feel about the work you do? Is it rewarding? Does it provide value to those around you? What good do you do through your job?

Also, don’t downplay jobs that might not seem like work worth doing. There’s a way to improve the lives of others in almost every job. All it takes is an eye of empathy and a kind attitude towards those you interact with.

Focus on adding value and work confidently. Good luck.

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Go in search of what you should do with your life, and many people will repeat the same tired advice: follow your passion.

Rather than determining your passion, the greatest achievements in life come from asking yourself what value you can provide to others.

A successful businessman doesn’t enter into his success through his love of producing a product or service. He’s successful because people have deemed what he offers to be valuable. While the passion may be what helps him get up in the morning, it’s the value he produces that helps his business endure.

In your search for your perfect career or passion project, first ask what value you can provide to others and how you can use your gifts and skills to achieve that value. Passion alone won’t lead to success. It requires an empathetic eye and a willingness to direct your passion towards improving the lives of others.

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How we approach leadership has a lot to do with how we follow our leaders.

Those with a rebellious attitude towards leadership are destined to instill that rebelliousness in their followers.

Those who show gratitude to their leaders are destined to earn gratitude from their followers.

Those who empathize with the difficulties of leadership are well equipped to be leaders themselves.

Those that follow with humility will lead with humility.

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March 23, 2016

How to nail an interview

Interviews can be grueling experiences for some, but you can significantly improve your interview skills by remembering just a few key lessons.

Don’t try to “win” the interview

Many people approach interviews as tests with right and wrong answers. While there are definitely preferred answers (and hilariously bad answers) to all interview questions, it’s important to remember that an interview isn’t necessarily a test.

At its core, an interview is a conversation designed to inform both parties on whether a hire is mutually beneficial. The interviewer simply wants to get a sense for who you are as a person and whether or not you can carry out the job you’re being hired to do.

It’s best to avoid designing what seem like “correct” answers, such as the classic “my weakness is caring too much”. Barf.

Instead, approach each answer rooted in honesty while also focusing on what makes you an ideal candidate. “My weakness is that I often don’t speak my mind on the spot, but the benefit of this is that my ideas are usually well researched and useful for my team.”

Lastly, remember that the interviewer wants you to do well in your interview. They’re not your enemy, and they’re not hoping for you to slip up. If you’re being brought in for an interview, it’s likely they already have a good suspicion that you’d be a great fit, and people love confirming their suspicions.

Make yourself the interviewer, and find the perfect candidate

This goes beyond simply imagining you’re interviewing yourself. To really understand the interviewer’s mindset and what they’re hoping to see, you need to go a bit deeper.

Imagine for a moment that you’re looking to hire a candidate to fill the position you’re interviewing for. Imagine that you wrote the job requirements yourself, and you’re hoping to find someone who meets each of those requirements.

From there, put yourself in the interviewer role and imagine speaking to a potential candidate about the role. Ask the candidate a series of open ended questions to determine their abilities and personality. Examples include:

  • In one sentence, why do you want this job?
  • What qualities make you a great fit?
  • Can you describe a time when you’ve performed well at [job related task]?
  • What’s your biggest weakness?

Along with imagining that your candidate is answering those questions, closely consider some of the qualities you value in yourself and others. What could they say that would please you most? What could they say that would totally repulse you? What key words would you want to hear to clue you into their core values? The key here is to imagine what you want out of the candidate, not what you’re thinking an interviewer would want to hear from you. In the end, imagine what your perfect candidate would look like.

It’s encouraged to think deeply about this scenario. By finding your own perfect candidate, you just might become a perfect candidate yourself.

Be direct, be brief

I once interviewed a candidate who spoke at length about his breadth of knowledge. But when tasked with showing these skills via an interactive programming challenge, he spent a great deal of time running in indecisive circles, and ultimately, was unable to complete the assessment. His downfall came in his inability to be direct and make confident decisions with me and the other interviewers.

Additionally, I myself have made the mistake of being indirect with my words, talking far beyond what was necessary to get my point across. This is often a symptom of nerves, but we must always be careful to focus on being clear and concise in an interview.

Talk about yourself, but don’t make it about you

As I’ve said before, the best way to get people to take interest in us is to take interest in them. Sadly, being in an interview doesn’t give you this opportunity, as avoiding speaking about yourself will quickly send you out the door.

A way to incorporate this idea of taking interest in others in an interview is to make the interviewer’s (and more specifically, the company’s) needs the forefront of the conversation. Instead of “look at me”, try ” look what I can do for the company”. 

Your truest self

Lastly, though it’s been said many times before, the best technique for nailing an interview is to be your truest self. By doing so, you’ll give the interviewer a clear indication of your fit for the role. Additionally, if the interview doesn’t lead to a job, you can walk away knowing that your truest self likely wasn’t a great fit for you or the company, and you’re probably better off anyway.

As always, go forward with confidence, and happy job hunting.

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How do you define a great career?

Some may associate a great career with high pay, excellent benefits, flexible vacation days, or other unique perks. But friends, this is not what to pursue in order to find a rewarding career.

This should be your rule of thumb for building an ever-evolving career:

Surround yourself with brilliant people, so that you might be more like them.

When considering a new job, take a close look at the people you’ll be working with. Do you find that they’re far smarter than you? If so, go work for that company.

Additionally, take a look around at your current job. Are you the smartest person in the room? It might just be time to move on to something new.

Surround yourself with great people, and some of that greatness just might rub off on you.

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To the onlooker, a musician toils away at his instrument in the hopes of perfecting his technique. But to the musician, he toils away in the hopes of perfecting his symphony.

Many of us have a list of skills we’d love to master.

I’d love to learn French, learn to play the piano, and learn to build a house.

But there’s a reason why I’ve yet to take a single step towards building these skills – I haven’t developed a passion or goal that requires them.

In 8th grade, I started playing guitar. I started not because I wanted to show off to my friends (though that was part of it); I started because I had a dream to write my own song and play it on a stage. I had a goal that was far bigger than the skill itself.

If you want to learn a new skill, you must first develop a need that goes beyond the simple act of learning. Learning without action is wasteful.

Also, avoid being the craftsman who seeks mastery before laying a single brick. The best learning is done in the actual pursuit of a goal; not once you’ve mastered the skill.

In short, learn a skill not merely for the act of gaining knowledge, but for what you will create with the knowledge you’ve gained.

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