Blog Archives

20 Things Twenty-Somethings Don’t Get….BUT SHOULD!

Here at Denali Executives, we specialize in leadership and entrepreneurship. Running a business and hiring “millennials” has been quite interesting and after reading this article on Forbes.com, a lot of things make since!

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Time is Not a Limitless Commodity – I so rarely find young professionals that have a heightened sense of urgency to get to the next level.  In our 20s we think we have all the time in the world to A) figure it out and B) get what we want.  Time is the only treasure we start off with in abundance, and can never get back.  Make the most of the opportunities you have today, because there will be a time when you have no more of it.

You’re Talented, But Talent is Overrated – Congratulations, you may be the most capable, creative, knowledgeable & multi-tasking generation yet.  As my father says, “I’ll Give You a Sh-t Medal.”  Unrefined raw materials (no matter how valuable) are simply wasted potential.  There’s no prize for talent, just results.  Even the most seemingly gifted folks methodically and painfully worked their way to success.  (Tip: read “Talent is Overrated”)

We’re More Productive in the Morning – During my first 2 years at Docstoc (while I was still in my 20’s) I prided myself on staying at the office until 3am on a regular basis.  I thought I got so much work done in those hours long after everyone else was gone.  But in retrospect I got more menial, task-based items done, not the more complicated strategic planning, phone calls or meetings that needed to happen during business hours.  Now I stress an office-wide early start time because I know, for the most part, we’re more productive as a team in those early hours of the day.

Social Media is Not a Career – These job titles won’t exist in 5 years. Social media is simply a function of marketing; it helps support branding, ROI or both.  Social media is a means to get more awareness, more users or more revenue.  It’s not an end in itself.  I’d strongly caution against pegging your career trajectory solely to a social media job title.

Pick Up the Phone – Stop hiding behind your computer. Business gets done on the phone and in person.  It should be your first instinct, not last, to talk to a real person and source business opportunities.  And when the Internet goes down… stop looking so befuddled and don’t ask to go home.  Don’t be a pansy, pick up the phone.

Be the First In & Last to Leave ­– I give this advice to everyone starting a new job or still in the formative stages of their professional career.  You have more ground to make up than everyone else around you, and you do have something to prove.  There’s only one sure-fire way to get ahead, and that’s to work harder than all of your peers.

Don’t Wait to Be Told What to Do – You can’t have a sense of entitlement without a sense of responsibility.  You’ll never get ahead by waiting for someone to tell you what to do.  Saying “nobody asked me to do this” is a guaranteed recipe for failure.  Err on the side of doing too much, not too little.  

Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes – You should be making lots of mistakes when you’re early on in your career.  But you shouldn’t be defensive about errors in judgment or execution.  Stop trying to justify your F-ups.  You’re only going to grow by embracing the lessons learned from your mistakes, and committing to learn from those experiences.

You Should Be Getting Your Butt Kicked – Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” would be the most valuable boss you could possibly have.  This is the most impressionable, malleable and formative stage of your professional career.  Working for someone that demands excellence and pushes your limits every day will build the most solid foundation for your ongoing professional success.

A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing ­­– 1-year stints don’t tell me that you’re so talented that you keep outgrowing your company.  It tells me that you don’t have the discipline to see your own learning curve through to completion.  It takes about 2-3 years to master any new critical skill, give yourself at least that much time before you jump ship.  Otherwise your resume reads as a series of red flags on why not to be hired.

People Matter More Than Perks – It’s so trendy to pick the company that offers the most flex time, unlimited meals, company massages, game rooms and team outings.  Those should all matter, but not as much as the character of your founders and managers. Great leaders will mentor you and will be a loyal source of employment long after you’ve left.  Make a conscious bet on the folks you’re going to work for and your commitment to them will pay off much more than those fluffy perks.

Map Effort to Your Professional Gain – You’re going to be asked to do things you don’t like to do.  Keep your eye on the prize.   Connect what you’re doing today, with where you want to be tomorrow.  That should be all the incentive you need. If you can’t map your future success to your current responsibilities, then it’s time to find a new opportunity. 

Speak Up, Not Out – We’re raising a generation of sh-t talkers.  In your workplace this is a cancer.  If you have issues with management, culture or your role & responsibilities, SPEAK UP.  Don’t take those complaints and trash-talk the company or co-workers on lunch breaks and anonymous chat boards.  If you can effectively communicate what needs to be improved, you have the ability to shape your surroundings and professional destiny.

You HAVE to Build Your Technical Chops – Adding “Proficient in Microsoft Office” at the bottom of your resume under Skills, is not going to cut it anymore.  I immediately give preference to candidates who are ninjas in: Photoshop, HTML/CSS, iOS, WordPress, Adwords, MySQL, Balsamiq, advanced Excel, Final Cut Pro – regardless of their job position.  If you plan to stay gainfully employed, you better complement that humanities degree with some applicable technical chops.

Both the Size and Quality of Your Network Matter – It’s who you know more than what you know, that gets you ahead in business.  Knowing a small group of folks very well, or a huge smattering of contacts superficially, just won’t cut it.  Meet and stay connected to lots of folks, and invest your time developing as many of those relationships as possible. (TIP: Here is my Networking Advice)

You Need At Least 3 Professional Mentors – The most guaranteed path to success is to emulate those who’ve achieved what you seek.  You should always have at least 3 people you call mentors who are where you want to be.  Their free guidance and counsel will be the most priceless gift you can receive.  

Pick an Idol & Act “As If” – You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does.  I often coach my employees to pick the businessperson they most admire, and act “as if.”  If you were (fill in the blank) how would he or she carry themselves, make decisions, organize his/her day, accomplish goals?  You’ve got to fake it until you make it, so it’s better to fake it as the most accomplished person you could imagine.   (Shout out to Tony Robbins for the tip)

Read More Books, Fewer Tweets/Texts – Your generation consumes information in headlines and 140 characters:  all breadth and no depth.  Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you’re forced to read a full book cover to cover.  All the keys to your future success, lay in the past experience of others.  Make sure to read a book a month  (fiction or non-fiction) and your career will blossom.

Spend 25% Less Than You Make – When your material needs meet or exceed your income, you’re sabotaging your ability to really make it big.  Don’t shackle yourself with golden handcuffs (a fancy car or an expensive apartment).  Be willing and able to take 20% less in the short term, if it could mean 200% more earning potential.  You’re nothing more than penny wise and pound-foolish if you pass up an amazing new career opportunity to keep an extra little bit of income.  No matter how much money you make, spend 25% less to support your life.  It’s a guaranteed formula to be less stressed and to always have the flexibility to pursue your dreams.

Your Reputation is Priceless, Don’t Damage It – Over time, your reputation is the most valuable currency you have in business.  It’s the invisible key that either opens or closes doors of professional opportunity.  Especially in an age where everything is forever recorded and accessible, your reputation has to be guarded like the most sacred treasure.  It’s the one item that, once lost, you can never get back.

                                                    –Written by Jason Nazar, Owner of Docstoc

 

Let us know your thoughts!

 

6 Unique Ways to Be Successful and Happy

What if the key to becoming successful and happy is to quit trying to be either? Would that throw a wrench into your career goals? Make a mess of your life plans? If so, then you need to read this.

Here’s the thing. Never before have there been so many people spending so much time searching for the secrets to a successful career and a happy life. Which is really a shame because they’re not going to find either, at least not that way.

There are lots of reasons why that is, but the most glaringly obvious one is that nobody ever got anywhere by doing what everyone else is doing.

Think about it. The world has never been more competitive. If you want to have a fulfilling career and live a good life, you’ve got to get ahead of the competition. The only way to do that is to do things differently, to find your own unique path that works for you.

Here are six ways to do that, to become successful and happy.

Build real relationships. What a novel concept, right? While everyone else is wasting their time developing their personal brands and building huge online networks, get out and spend time with real people in the real world. One-on-one in real time. That’s the only place you’ll find real opportunity and friendship. And that’s where success and happiness comes from. No kidding.

Groom yourself. Want to know how great companies that churn out hundreds of future CEOs develop their talent? They identify and recruit up-and-comers and then groom them by moving them around into different areas and situations. That’s how they learn a broad range of skills. Experience. Get out in the world. Try different things. Get your hands dirty. That’s how you’ll find opportunity and figure out what makes you happy.

Do nothing. So much of life is out of our control. We never seem to have enough information to solve tough problems and make important decisions. When you need to gain some perspective, resist the urge to seek out more information. Turn off all the sources of communication, all the noise that distracts you. Just be quiet and listen to your own inner thoughts. Don’t judge them; just listen. The answers to life’s most difficult challenges are always there.

Work for a great company. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days. Here’s a novel thought. Go work for a great company. Learn from people smarter, more accomplished, more experienced than you. Learn from the pros. Find a mentor or two. Learn how business works in the real world. Figure out how you can help that company be even better. What you can bring to the party that really matters and nobody else is doing. If you’re meant to be an entrepreneur, an opportunity will come to you. And you’ll be ready for it.

Do one thing at a time. Everyone’s so distracted with social media and all their slash jobs these days, try picking one thing you really want to do and just get it done. Prioritize. It’ll provide a sense of accomplishment and control. It’ll help you build confidence. Even if it fails, you’ll learn from the experience. And you’ll gain strength from knowing that failure didn’t kill you. That will make you more resilient and give you courage to tackle bigger things.

Be good to yourself. Most people who want a lot out of life are their own worst enemy. They take themselves too seriously. Judge themselves too harshly. Expect too much out of themselves and others. If you can learn to let go of all your expectations, quit trying so hard to get somewhere, you’ll learn that just being you, present in this moment, is all that matters. That’s what life is all about. And that’s when all good things will come to you. Success, happiness, everything.