No matter what is going on in your career, good advice is universal. No matter what problems you are trying to solve, chances are someone else before you had a similar problem.
I’ve been a journalist for the better part of two decades and during that time I’ve interviewed and written about thousands of people in various stages of success, from billionaires to entrepreneurs launching startups (one while fighting brain cancer).
All of that has led me to conclude that there are certain universal “business truths” — tips and tricks that work for nearly everyone in every business. They are:
- Have a passion for your work. If your work is meaningful to you, your work life will be a joy.
- If you can’t be passionate about the work itself, be passionate about the reason you do it. Maybe you don’t love your job/company/career, but the money and benefits are good for your family. Be passionate in your choice to do right by your family.
- If something needs changing, be the one to lead the change. If you dislike your job but are stuck, work on getting the skills that will get you unstuck. If there’s a problem at your office, work on being the one solve it.
- Start small and build from there.
- Do the obvious stuff first, then progress to the harder stuff. (Otherwise known as going for the low-hanging fruit.)
- If it’s not broke, don’t fix. Do improve it.
- The hardest lesson to learn is when to keep going and when to quit. No one can teach you that. At some point, you have to choose.
- The definition of crazy is to do the same thing the same way and expect a different result. If the result isn’t good, change something.
- No one succeeds alone.
- Ask for help. Be specific when asking. Be graceful and grateful when help comes.
- Surround yourself with positive people and you’ll have a positive outcome.
- Embrace diversity. The best way to compensate for your own weaknesses is to pick teammates who have different strengths.
- People experience the world differently. Two people can attend the same meeting and walk away with different impressions. Don’t fight that. Use it.
- You don’t have to like someone to treat that person with respect and courtesy.
- Don’t “should” all over someone, and don’t let someone else “should” all over you.
- No matter what you do or how much you achieve, there are always people who have more.
- There will always people who have less, too.
- No matter how much you excel at things, you are not a more worthwhile human being than anyone else. No one else is more worthwhile than you, either.
- If you spend most of your time using your talents and doing things you are good at, you’re more likely to be happy.
- If you spend most of your time struggling to improve your weaknesses, you’re likely to be frustrated.
- Practice is the only true way to master a new skill. Be patient with yourself while you learn something new.
- The only way to stay fresh is to keep learning new things.
- To learn new things means being a beginner, and that means making mistakes.
- The more comfortable you grow with making beginner mistakes, the easier it is to learn new things.
- You will never have all the resources (time, money, people, etc.) that you want for your project or company. No one ever has all the resources they want.
- A lack of resources isn’t an excuse. It’s a blessing in disguise. You’ll have to get creative.
- Creativity and innovation are skills that can be learned and practiced by doing your usual things in a new way.
- Take calculated risks.
- In the early stages of a company, career, or project, you’ll have to say “yes” to a lot of things. In the later stages, you’ll have to say “no.”
- Negative feedback is necessary. Don’t automatically reject it. Examine it for the nuggets of truth, and then disregard the rest.
- When delivering criticism, talk about the work, not the person.
- Think big. Dream big. (The alternative is to think small, dream small.)
- Treat your dream as an ultimate roadmap. You don’t have to achieve your dream right away, but the only way to get there is to take many steps toward it.
- If you think big, you will hear “no” more than you hear “yes.” They don’t get to decide. You do.
- How long it takes you to create something is less important than how valuable and worthwhile it will be once it’s created.
- If there is one secret to success, it’s this: communicate your plans with other people and keep communicating those plans.
- Grow your network. Make an effort to meet new people and to keep in contact with those you know.
- No matter what technology or service you are creating/inventing at your company, it’s not about the product; it’s always about the people and the lives you will improve.
- No matter how successful you get, you can still fail and fail big.
- Failure isn’t a bad thing. It’s part of the process.
- Things always go wrong. The only way to keep that from hurting you is to plan for that.
- Learn how to respectfully, but firmly, say “no.”
- Say “yes” as much as you can.
- In order to say “yes” often, attach boundaries or a scope of work around your “yes.”
- No matter how rich, famous, or successful another person is, inside that person is just a human being with hopes, dreams, and fears, the same as you.
- Getting what you want doesn’t mean you’ll be happy. Happiness is the art of being satisfied with what you already have.
- Working with difficult personalities will be a part of every job. Be respectful, do your job well, and nine times out of 10 that person will move on.
- For that one-out-of-10 time, remember you aren’t a victim. Do what you need to get a new job.
- As soon as you have something to demonstrate, get an executive champion to back or support your project.
- Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
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