Success on Your Own Terms

Summary Written by Maria Donohue
“Life is too long not to be spending it doing something that you are genuinely passionate about.”

- Success on Your Own Terms, page 15

The Big Idea

Embrace the Six Promises or Committments

"One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you."- Jeff Bezos, Success on Your Own Terms, page 17

The heart of the book is built on six promises or commitments you can make to live your passion and have a meaningful, self-directed career. Here’s a bird’s eye view:

  1. Embrace your passion. Don’t discount your dreams. Revive them. Identify what you truly care about, what values you hold, and what your life and career goals are. In some ways, this step could be the easiest, and in some ways, this could be the toughest.
  2. Perform to progress versus perfection. Perfection is paralyzing, celebrate the progress you make. You’ll feel energized to keep making more progress.
  3. Promote with purpose. Let people know who you are in a way that is authentic and purposeful. Craft and hone your personal story. There’s no one else in the world like you with your unique blend of experiences, skills, and talents.
  4. Parlay your platform. Your station in life is comprised of all your experiences and skills. You’ll get a chance to parlay your platform when you are promoting yourself with purpose.
  5. Put it into action. Luckily for you, opportunity knocks not just once, but many times. You’ll have ample opportunity to practice these commitments you’ve made as you traverse the pool of career choices. None of these promises to yourself mean anything if you don’t act on it.
  6. Practice philanthropy. Not just with your money but also with your time and talent. Align your philanthropy to what you are truly passionate about.

Insight #1

Embrace Lateral Career Moves to Achieve Growth

"It is so important not to gravitate toward the bright, shiny objects such as chasing money or titles."- Success on Your Own Terms, Page 96

Chase skills and experiences instead of just linear advancement. Sure, more money and a better title is always welcome, but should not be your sole motivator. Money and title won’t help you if you hate what you’re doing, if you’re not learning, or if the role is not aligned to your values. The author stresses the importance of having a developmental plan as part of your master plan. After you’ve identified your goals, identify skill gaps you’ll need to close, and actively seek career opportunities that will help you close these gaps.

For example, if you’re looking to become the head of a company one day, you’ll need to understand the business in its entirety. If you’ve worked in different pillars of the company but have no experience in revenue generation, as was the case with the author at one point in his career, you can choose to close this gap by purposefully seeking a role in that area. The author identified a downside to this—if you’re already at senior executive level, you might need to take a role in the directorship level. The title and pay might not be where you want it. Stay true to your plan, and these things will come.

There’s also another option.

Switching organizations or industries can allow you to grow and round out your experiences and skills. This is better than a status quo in your current role if you’re stagnating. As much as the author dissuades from chasing money and titles, switching companies or industries can also come with better pay. You’re learning, gaining experience and you’re getting better paid while doing so. Often, the longer you stay in one company, the raises you’re given are only cost of living allowances and not really what you’re worth. You gain better negotiating power if you have the flexibility in your plan to make the shift.

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Insight #2

Treat Networking like a Second Job.

"If you are the only one who can speak on your behalf, you are probably in trouble."- Success on Your Own Terms, page 131

You’ll need people on your team. Next to having a mentor and coach, networking is another key arsenal in your toolkit. If you’re like a lot of people who dislike networking, start easy. Start within the company: eat lunch with someone in another department to get to know them better, or use this time to connect with members of your own team. Take advantage of various internal meetings like lunch-and-learns. Stay in touch with colleagues who have moved on to other roles.

According to a report from ABC news, 80% of today’s jobs are found through networking. The hard fact is that employees who are known in some way to their future employer are perceived as being better hires.

It is equally important to schedule standing meetings (or coffee) with certain key people: quarterly, monthly and annually to maintain a healthy connection with key people you’ve met.

At 205 pages, this book was an easy read. I was drawn to this book initially because I wanted to know how to pursue my passion points, how to make the leap from careerist to entrepreneurship. Perhaps, this book should be more aptly titled Successfully Managing your Career. It’s not so much about pursuing your passions as it is about climbing the career ladder.

Read the book

Get Success on Your Own Terms on Amazon.

James B. Rousseau Sr.

James currently serves as President of LegalShield Business Solutions with oversight for the affinity, broker, employee benefits, national accounts and small business divisions, along with company partnerships.Prior to joining LegalShield, James served as the President of Allstate Affinity Solutions where he launched innovative partnerships with Bass Pro Shops, United Airlines, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Office Depot and the Fuel Rewards Network, differentiating Allstate in the insurance industry.Prior to Allstate, James served as a Senior Vice President at JPMorgan Chase Card Services where he was responsible for Affinity & Co-brand partner relationships.His responsibilities included profitable growth, marketing, partnership rationalization and the oversight of a number of partnerships that included: AARP, AAA, La Quinta Hotels, New York Life, Notre Dame, Subaru, and the Military branches of service.During this time he was able to drive significant profit increases through increased consumer acquisitions and retention, product improvements, increased wallet share and improved underwriting.

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