The focus of Strategic Momentum has always been helping listeners understand the strategies, approaches, and perspectives needed to solve the common challenges plaguing businesses today. But another factor in breaking through business inertia is developing the foundational hard and soft skills needed to thrive today and in the future.
The guests on this show have been through a lot of trying situations as their careers have progressed – from dealing with leadership conflicts, to watching their startups fail, to losing their jobs, to jumping from company to company in search of the right fit – and these experiences taught them valuable lessons that, ultimately, lead to career success in the long run.
So, for our 50th episode and the first major milestone for the Strategic Momentum Podcast, we’ve decided to round up the best career advice our guests have given on this show so far. Because it is our mission to help up-and-coming leaders gain the personal and professional skills needed to navigate their career and reach their full growth potential.
Leveraging the “Fake it ‘til You Make It” Mentality to Get Your Start
While some guests started with a more linear path of going from school into their first jobs and then progressing upward within their field, others relied on their own confidence and a leap of faith to find opportunities that lead to the roles that ultimately laid out the rest of their careers.
For example, when Aline Cox, Executive Producer at WGN Morning Show, the #1 Morning News show in Chicago, was looking for a summer internship while in college, she called the first company she found intriguing and told them they needed to hire her:
“That day, I called up the television station that I watched the evening news the night before and got to the anchor… And the woman told me that they had picked her interns months and months earlier than when I called, but I convinced the woman to give me an interview and told her that she'd like me. And in the end, she did hire me.”
Similarly, Tom Schuh, founder of management consulting firm Optimum Effect Group, told his prospective employer that he would be the best salesperson the company would ever hire. He was a military veteran with no sales training or formal degree, but his determination spoke volumes and he easily landed the job.
“Everything I do, I do it 100%. I don’t stop for obstacles, I don’t allow self-defeat to creep in. Then only thing that can defeat you in life is yourself.”
Adopting a Habit of Experimentation to Find Your Purpose
Some guests, however, found an alternative path to finding what makes them feel fulfilled. Both Stephane Fitch, Founder of FitchInk and Dr. Richard Shuster, Host of The Daily Helping Podcast already had successful roles – but they ultimately decided to change paths when events happened that caused each of them to rethink their career path and create a life that was more purposeful and authentic. For Stephane, it was about creating a working environment where he was free to produce his best work, while also providing for his family. For Dr. Shuster, it was about finding a way to truly give back to people and live a life he could be proud of.
Mehtab Bhogal and Deepak Shukla took more experimental routes. Both millennial entrepreneurs, each one tested and learned through a series of different startups to end up where they are now. And neither is done yet.
“I think it's about doing anything that borders or journeys into your stretch zone.” - Deepak Shukla
“It is more risky to not be taking risks and learning. It's better for us to lose money and have learnt a really good lesson than for us to have not taken that risk.” - Mehtab Bhogal
For some people, they might not know that they even need to experiment with their careers because they’ve grown comfortable in existing roles. But that can lead to stagnation, which ultimately limits your growth potential. Anita John, Founder of ARJConsulting was feeling unfilled in her job in the DC area when she decided to take a vacation to visit a friend – that friend set her up for an interview at his company, which immediately led to a new life and new role three weeks later in San Francisco.
“I always believed, and still believe, that even if you're comfortable in a job, you should always take an interview. You should always interview and keep not only yourself fresh, but you never know what the opportunities are.”
Developing a Commitment to Learning, Building Relationships and Managing Your Career
A common theme that ran through many interviews was always challenging yourself to learn new things. Testing-and-learning is something we often talk about in regards to transforming business, but in reality, it applies just as equally to transforming yourself and reaching your growth potential.
Part of that is actually taking action, not waiting too long or waiting until things are perfect to start something new. Starting small helps, and both Erin Gargan King, founder of author of Digital Persuasion and Michael Zipursky, CEO of ConsultingSuccess.com spoke to this:
“If you want to start a business or a new initiative, test it...Try to ensure that a little bit works first as insurance to set yourself up for success. And then, take that risk, but take a calculated one.” -- Erin Gargan King
“There's a lot of people who will say they want to do something, but they never actually take action on that plan...The big thing is getting very clear on what you want, and then deciding you're going to be committed to it.” -- Michael Zipursky
But in addition to gaining skills from taking action, John Newtson, Co-Founder of the Financial Marketing Summit tells us that you should make sure to build a genuine network of people.
“Fish for the people that you have genuine connections with and that you enjoy doing business with because, over time, that's really what matters.”-- John Newtson
As you test, learn and grow, it’s important to have some sense of direction even as you try out new initiatives. Dan Yu, Founder of Fastbook Advisors advises that you think of your career itself as a business, devoting almost as much time to its business development as to producing work.
In the end, everyone’s path is different. But to be successful it takes identifying your values and priorities and building from there and always thinking about your personal bottom line -- whatever that really means to you.
“Apply for jobs and even if you're not the most qualified - you may get it because you were the most liked.”
“You are the only person that’s going to make yourself successful.”
“Ask yourself, what would you do if you knew, like some magical being had promised you, ‘You will not fail, you will not fail if you do this thing?’”
“Recognize that [your career] is a marathon. You do not need to make all the big decisions this year.”
“Part of becoming in alignment and finding your purpose is once you've really become very crystal clear on what your values are and find what's important to you, you have to surround yourself with people who share that mindset or share that commitment.”
Dr. Richard Shuster
“It's often been fear of the course that stops many of us from actually taking the action. When you discover what's on the other side, it's 95% of the time a lot less worse than you think it will be.”
“It's better to lose money and have learnt a really good lesson than to have not taken that risk.”
“Choose the people you want to work with, not the companies.”
“Don't look backward, always forward, and live a life that is complete. Not just about work, and not just about having fun -- but you need to actually live a life full of both.”
“Run your career like a business...So half your day, in an ideal world, is doing your job. And the other half is actually managing your career.”
“It's so important to be generous and kind, especially in networking, helping people, and giving back to your community, which [involves] half of your day in managing your career.”
“If you want to start a business or a new initiative, test it. Try a little teeny bit and just see what happens...Try to ensure that a little bit works first as insurance to set yourself up for success. And then, take that risk, but take a calculated one.”
Erin Gargan King
“Education is great. Knowing how to do things is really important. But knowing people is just as important.”
“There's always room for improvement...Make those commitments, stick to those commitments, and benefit from them, and create stronger relationships and more success both in business and in life.”
“When you make a commitment to something or to someone, then whether you show up or not, and do what you say that you were going to do or not, defines who you are.”
“Save more money and stop procrastinating.”
Subscribe to the Strategic Momentum podcast: