13 Pieces of Career Advice to Help You Flourish at Work
Smart tips to succeed in the professional world
Whether you’re just starting out, fresh off campus, or celebrating an impressive work anniversary, there’s always chatter: Make sure you do this. Are you doing that? Don’t do this. Here’s my advice…
But chatter gets lost, forgotten. And that’s unfortunate. Because some of that chatter is good stuff—really good stuff.
So we asked the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share the best advice they’ve ever gotten from a colleague—and now it’s all in one place, found again, for you to read, reflect on and apply.
Here are 13 tips to succeed in your career:
1. If it doesn’t make you better, it’s not worth doing.
“Quit” is the ultimate four-letter word of the business world. Quitting just because something is hard can be a terrible decision, but quitting when something is not helping you improve can actually benefit your career. When I was at a job that wasn’t working, the colleague who heard me out urged me to go pursue something that made me better. That piece of advice has made all the difference.
—Brian Honigman, BrianHonigman.com
2. Leadership is the art of doing through others.
I was told, “Leadership is not just getting things done. Rather, it’s the art of getting things done through others.” This statement has caused a focused effort to delegate and empower our employees to get things done so I can focus elsewhere. I was often guilty of doing things myself but have noticed a shift in myself and in some of our employees since I’ve started owning that statement.
—Angela Harless, AcrobatAnt
3. Over-prepare, and then go with the flow.
Whether it’s sales calls, meetings, presentations or anything else associated with job-related duties, over-prepared individuals can relax once they are in the hot seat. It gives you the ability to maintain a grace under fire and creates room for necessary improvisation and flexibility. Nothing will ever turn out as planned, and when you are over-prepared, you can compensate for this dynamic.
—Jon Cline, Rokit SEO
4. Listen more than you talk.
Listening carefully and with real intent is such an important thing. My colleague is great at it, and every time I am reminded that by just listening well, you pick up a lot of what it eventually takes to succeed, or, for example, to complete a final sale. Customers will literally tell you what they need when asked.
—Ridaa Murad, Christina Ventures
5. Your colleagues are not your friends.
Just because you happen to be spending a majority of your day in the same building—or work situation—with these people doesn’t automatically mean that you can trust them or rely on them to have your best interests at heart. Save yourself disappointment by realizing that it takes time for a “work friend” to become a “real friend.”
—Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work
6. Race your own race.
When doing business at all levels, people lose the forest for the trees and get lost in the details. My business partner saw me doing this and told me his old swim coach’s mantra: “Race your own race.” The idea is that you ignore the details of what others are doing, and you do your best based on the objective information at hand. It has helped us stay focused and pass competitors.
—Brennan White, Cortex
A former manager of mine noticed that I was doing good work but that I wasn’t being public about my own success. He said that I had to self-promote in order to get credit—and once it sunk in, I realized it was excellent advice. I have to make my own case as an awesome team member and show the milestones I’ve achieved.
—Jared Brown, Hubstaff
8. Slow down.
I walk quickly, especially when I’m at an event location and getting things done. At one of my first large events, a colleague told me to slow down—more specifically, to saunter. When I slowed down my walking, my brain slowed down. And during the walk from Point A to Point B at an event location, I could better assess how to handle four tasks at once. Saunter is my new middle name.
—Sydney Owen Williams, Planet Green Socks
9. Write out your plan for the day.
I learned from one of my first bosses the value in writing things down and creating a game plan for your day. Have a list of the things you want to accomplish for the day and prioritize the one or two big-ticket items that are most important. Tackle those first.
—Matt Murphy, Global Citizens Travel
10. Focus on the problem in its simplest form.
One of the most important things you can learn as an entrepreneur is to focus on the problem in its simplest form, one that you can describe in one sentence. Then come up with the simplest answer to that problem. If you know a problem exists, then you can determine the demand for an actual solution.
—Andy Karuza, SpotSurvey
11. Get things done early on.
Focus on identifying specific tasks or objectives you can achieve early on to establish your reputation as someone who gets things done. Be sure to choose a goal that matters to the company and its business objectives.
—Ryan Stoner, ryanstoner.com
12. Stay hungry, stay humble.
This advice was given to me by Scott Van Pelt, the ESPN SportsCenter anchor. The key to never faltering in business or life is to truly stay motivated and to not get overly confident when things go well.
—Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk
13. Cheerfulness makes for usefulness.
When I started, too often stress showed on my face and I was projecting fear and anxiety, rather than confidence and faith. A co-worker pulled me aside one day and simply reminded me that I was the face of the company. “Cheerfulness makes for usefulness,” were her exact words. Since then, that has been my mantra.