"If you believe in yourself, try new things, and spend some time outside your comfort zone, you can do anything you want."
When my first daughter was born, I devoured Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher. A little early to think about the teen years, I know, but I wanted to be prepared. So now that she has started university, I thought it was about time I started reading up on how to help her with her career.
I started with Dan Schawbel’s Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success. Dan has made a name for himself as a personal branding guru and was named to both the Inc. and Forbes “30 Under 30 List”. You may have read some of his work in his columns in Time and Forbes.
As a bonus for me, Dan wrote this book not just for Millennials but for anyone who works with them or who wants to exchange the outdated rules for getting ahead for a step-by-step process for building a successful career at any age. He answers questions like:
- How do you get the skills you need to advance in your career?
- How do you prepare yourself to deal with any problems that may come up in this uncertain time?
- How do you network with executives and managers?
- How do you manage relationships between people from different generations?
- How do you create a personal brand that showcases your uniqueness, will help people notice you at work, and help you promote yourself faster than your peers?
Because there were so many tips, I encourage you to not stop with this summary but to enjoy the full book itself. I am sharing a general overview and then a deeper dive into two of his GEMs.
New workplace, new rules
"If you want to succeed you will need to master these new rules."
Our economy seems to be changing every day. So what are the new rules to navigate through those changes? Dan explores the following 14 rules throughout the book.
- Your job description is just the beginning. You can’t be doing just the bare minimum if you want to get noticed. Intrapreneurship is a great way to identify what is needed within your organization and create the solution.
- Your job is temporary. Statistics tell us that the average American will have about eleven jobs between the ages of 18 and 34. (That’s a job change every 1.45 years!)
- You’re going to need a lot of skills you don’t have right now. 60% of all new jobs in the twenty-first century will require skills that only 20% of current employees have. But it’s never been easier to acquire those skills. The soft skills (interpersonal) have become more important that the hard skills. Companies want leadership, organizational, teamwork, listening, and coaching skills.
- Your reputation is the single greatest asset you have. It’s not your title but rather what people think of you that matters most. Do they trust you? What aura do you give to those around you?
- Your personal life is public. The average Gen Y is connected to 16 coworkers on Facebook. Even the smallest things – how you behave, dress, your online presence, body language and with whom you associate can help build your brand or tear it apart.
- You need to build a positive presence in new media. Expanding your social network will help you get in touch with people who can help you get ahead.
- You’ll need to work with people from different generations. The increasing life span and economic needs are keeping people in the workforce longer. There are now 4 distinct generations in the workforce: Gen Z (interns), Gen Y (employees), Gen X (managers), and Baby Boomers (executives). Each was raised differently with different views of work and different communication styles. Learning how to nurture relationships with different ages will help you.
- Your boss’s career comes first. If you support your boss’s career, make life easier and earn her trust, she will take you with her as she climbs the ladder or goes to another company.
- The one with the most connections wins. Our information economy has changed to a social economy. It’s less about what you know and more about whether you can work with others to solve problems.
- Remember the rule of one. It just takes one person to change your life. When everyone is saying no, you just need one person to say yes.
- You are the future. By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be Gen Y. Soon you will take major leadership roles when the workforce shifts and the older generation retires.
- Entrepreneurship is for everyone, not just business owners. An entrepreneur used to mean someone who started a business but today it means someone who’s accountable, who’s willing to take risks, and who promotes his or her ideas.
- Hours are out, accomplishments are in. Stop thinking you need to put in crazy hours every week. Instead, figure out and deliver value, measure it and promote it.
- Your career is in your hands, not your employer’s. Companies will look out for themselves. While you should focus on contributing to their success, be a smart giver and make sure you are learning and growing. Don’t rely on anyone or anything. Be accountable for your own career and take charge of your life.
Entrepreneur is a mindset
"…90 percent of people say being an entrepreneur is a mindset instead of someone who starts a company."
As an entrepreneur I was worried I would bias my daughters to the benefits of starting a business. What Dan helped me realize is that an entrepreneur is a mindset, not just a person who starts a company. With the right mix of passion, expertise, ambition and confidence and a skill set that includes selling, motivating others, working with teams and persistence you can control your own destiny in any organization.
Working for a large company first can help you start your own company later. I know, in fact, that I could not have identified my passion or created my ability to serve others without having first worked for a large pharma company. It was essential.
Everything you need, you learned in Kindergarten
"When my company interviewed employers about the most important traits they look for when hiring students, 98 percent said ‘communication skills,’ 97 percent said ‘positive attitude’ and 97 percent said ‘teamwork’."
Why do you think people get fired? Because they can’t do their job? Interestingly, only 11 percent are fired because of lack of skills. 89 percent of people who get fired within the first eighteen months are let go because of attitudinal reasons.
Having the technical (hard) skill just gets you to the starting line. The big questions that take you to the finish line relate to your interpersonal (soft) skills like:
- How well do you fit in with the corporate culture?
- Can you build relationships with the people you work for and with?
- Can you overcome personality conflicts?
- Can you motivate yourself and your teammates?
- Can you sell your ideas to others?
Before you can begin to develop these skills, you first need to know yourself. It’s crucial to improve your communication skills, your attitude and your teamwork. As a good start, just think back to what your kindergarten teacher taught you about listening to others, caring about their needs, minding your manners and making friends.
Ask yourself “Am I one of them? Am I someone who cares about my career and won’t be content to just sit on the couch waiting for a big break? Am I prepared to stockpile achievements and skills that can’t be ignored?” If you are, reading Dan’s book is a good place to start.
As Dan says, do something to grow yourself every day. I block an hour a day for learning; reading, watching or listening to people who have ideas to share. Why reinvent the wheel or worse, not use a wheel at all, when someone else has already figured it out. Dan has figured out the new rules for career success and shows you how to promote yourself. Thank you Dan.
What will you do to grow and promote yourself?