At Business Insider’s Ignition 2012 conference today, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner spoke about how his father always told him that he could do anything he put his mind to. “I assumed every kid got told the same thing,” Weiner told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget. “It didn’t occur to me until much later how much of an influence that had on me.” According to Weiner, the big career mistake most people make is not having a real destination or goal in mind.
That feeds into the one question he asks the young graduates and professionals that come to him for advice. “It always starts with asking, ‘In 30 years, what do you want to have accomplished?'” Weiner said. “It’s OK not to have an answer, but you need to start thinking about it. Once you know that, things start to become clear. The people you meet, the opportunities and situations you find are often a function of that objective.”
When people don’t have that goal, they run into challenges. They pursue what they’re skilled at or what they’re passionate about exclusively, instead of applying both towards a real goal. That’s when people get sidetracked. “They get attracted to the promotion, the raise, the hot company as opposed to what they want to do,” Weiner said.
Weiner has lived his advice. A passion for levelling the playing field and democratizing access to information, and his skill and fascination with digital media eventually led to him being CEO of LinkedIn, which has increased access to economic opportunity and information.
Jeff Weiner never wanted to be a CEO. But he was driven by purpose and passion, and despite not caring about his position or title, he ended up on top.
It’s a different path and a different perspecitve, but good advice.
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